previews\ Oct 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

NYCC 2013 Preview: Injustice and the ever-increasing Vita fighting game dilemma

Injustice: Gods Among Us - 6

I’m in search of the perfect portable fighting game, and I just can’t find it.

The Vita is a powerful platform with a quality d-pad and buttons deserving of a beautiful, well-designed, fully-featured fighting game. Yet while every new fighting game release on the portable seems better than the last, they're never perfect.

Mortal Kombat?  It’s one of the best in terms of features and replay value, but it’s by far the ugliest version of the game available. Dead or Alive? It’s technically impressive, but the gameplay isn’t my style, and the pandering swimsuits don’t appeal to me. Street Fighter X Tekken? Oh, how I wanted to love you, with your brilliant visuals and cross-platform play, but the fighting game community shunned you, and appropriately so.

Enter Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition, headed to Vita on November 12th with DLC characters Zod, Batgirl, Lobo, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, and Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion.  It’s the definitive package, featuring all the released DLC and some extras like touch controls. It sounds like it could be the perfect portable fighting game.

I had a chance to play the game at New York Comic Con. Heading into it, my first concern was that it would fall prey to the same graphical issues that struck down Mortal Kombat’s Vita port. In order to get the framerate at a solid 60fps, MK made some huge concessions to the visuals. This was hilariously apparent during the game’s story mode, where the console quality cutscenes were juxtaposed with the low-poly Vita fighters.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Injustice aims for the same 60fps mark, but it manages to hit it without drastic degradation to the graphics. In MK it was immediately apparent, with the characters sporting what looked like less than half the polygons and some grimy textures. Injustice, at worst, looks less sharp. If I had to guess, I’d say the game isn’t running at native Vita resolution. For the most part, though, it looks pretty much the same as its console counterparts. It’s honestly quite an impressive feat.

That accomplishment is made even better by getting to play Injustice on the Vita’s precise d-pad and buttons. Inputting a special attack is a joy on that thing, and quite a bit more reliable than a 360 d-pad.

On the other hand, there are a few things holding the game back – things that keep it from being that perfect fighting title I want to see on the platform. Firstly, the Vita community needs all the help it can get, and not including some cross-play online versus a la SFxT is a major miss. Cross-play is the key to maintaining a vibrant fighting community, since the playerbase is shared across PlayStation 3 and Vita, rather than splintered across platforms.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Secondly, and this is more my opinion than anything…I just didn’t really like Injustice very much. The changes NetherRealms made between MK and Injustice didn’t feel right to me. Their take on “back to block” didn’t feel as polished as it does in Capcom fighters. Characters’ super attacks quickly became mind-numbing to watch, and the game’s health system completely throws away the concept of a round-based fighting game. Stylistically, Injustice felt caught between the grey-grim visuals of Mortal Kombat and the more vibrant comic world, unable to commit either way and feeling a bit soulless as a result.

But I digress, because if you like Injustice and you have a Vita, this version of the game could be the one for you. Unlike MK, which was a bit trickier to recommend as a port, Injustice looks every bit as capable on Vita as it does on consoles. The graphical downgrade is so minor that it’s only a matter of what kind of gamer you are.

Now if I could just get a graphical overhaul of Mortal Kombat on Vita with cross-play, I’d finally have my perfect portable fighter…

Enjoy random thoughts about the latest games, the Sega Saturn, or the occasional movie review? Follow me @JoeDonuts!

About The Author
Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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