@Gamer — January 2013/February 2013
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Injustice: Gods Among Us

How the Mortal Kombat maker aims to reinvent the comic book fighter • Words: Andrew Hayward

Following the release of 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, series co-creator Ed Boon says his team had two stops on its roadmap: first, design an authentic, return-to-form Mortal Kombat game, which it did in 2011. And second, revisit the DC Comics brand without the shackles of an established game franchise and create a new kind of fighter—one that delivers on the over the-top action we expect from such mighty heroes.

Considering how spectacularly well the first idea panned out, there’s ample reason to be excited for the second. And based on an extensive hands-on with Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios appears on track to nail the concept of bringing bold, cinematic presentation into a traditional fighting aesthetic.

Key to that approach are destructible and highly interactive stages, which may see a fighter throw another through several buildings before crashing upon a rooftop, where the battle resumes.Also unique is the new character trait button, which triggers anything from a temporary attack boost to a totally different fighting style. Plus each brawler’s fully charged special move is a sight to behold, whether it’s Superman throwing a foe into space and then slamming him/her back down to earth, or the Dark Knight summoning the Batmobile to slam a dazed opponent.

Much as Injustice charts a different path than Mortal Kombat, thanks to revised controls and new play mechanics, it offers its own take on the lengthy story mode, showing how such disparately-powered fighters can hold their own in battle. And with such heroes and villains as Wonder Woman, Te Joker, and Green Lantern in the bunch, this fighter is stocked with reasons to suit up and start swinging.

INJUSTICE FOR ALL

The single-player story mode begins with a bang in Metropolis, setting the Caped Crusader off in search of answers—and a bit of action.

Injustice’s sprawling single-player story mode delivers a lengthy tale with various playable fighters, and was crafted by NetherRealm with the help of DC Comics veterans Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Here’s how it kicks off:

Picking up in Gotham City, the initial moments show Metropolis utterly devastated by a nuclear explosion. Batman is seen interrogating the Joker in Gotham, during which the Man of Steel blasts through the wall and attempts to kill the Clown Prince of Crime, saying something about being drugged and duped into causing the blast. We then flash back to before the nuke detonated and take the role of Batman checking up on Joker at Arkham Asylum, after seeing sequences of familiar heroes and villains fighting in Metropolis. Sights of such characters as Aquaman, Shazam, Doomsday, and Sinestro hint at coming playable fighter reveals.

You’re thrown into battle with mercenary-for-hire Deathstroke, who has been hired by Lex Luthor to kill the hero. Emerging victorious from the battle, Batman then appears on a space station where other DC legends are battling it out, and you’ll fight Bane and Luthor in alternating showdowns. It’s then that we see the nuke being planted at the center of Metropolis by Joker and Harley Quinn, with Luthor copping to masterminding the plan. Batman zaps back down to earth and the game shows a slow-motion sequence of him running towards Joker, while other heroes and villains fly in from above, and then—it cuts out.

Chapter’s over, and that’s all NetherRealm will talk about for now.What ultimately led to the blast, and how is it that scrappy fighters like Nighthawk and Catwoman can hold their own with Superman and Bane? Tat’s exactly what the full story mode plans to detail.

STORY MODE 3.0

NetherRealm describes Injustice’s standout single-player option as “Story Mode 3.0,” as it builds upon the template set by Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and the Mortal Kombat reboot. As with the last version, you’ll swap between different fighters as the narrative plays out (Batman kicks things off in Chapter One), but there’s a new twist in the form of quick minigame moments that can impact the following battle.

I saw the first of these as the Caped Crusader before facing Lex Luthor, who was walking towards me in his hulking metal suit. As he sauntered towards the screen, I was prompted to tap a certain button to throw a batarang; hit the wrong input, and the projectile veers off course. Nail the prompt, and it’ll hit for damage, resulting in the villain having less health at the start of the next fight.

Another example mentioned has you aiming Superman’s laser eyes to zap cars being hurled his way, so there’s bound to be a fair bit of variety. And the scale of the action is raised so much by the end of the story mode that Boon says, “It’s a superhero movie. It’s a full-fledged sequence.”

THE NEWEST COMBATANTS

Here’s a look at the four latest fighters revealed for Injustice’s well-stocked roster.

BANE

True to his hulking form, Bane is a power character and a master of grappling who uses wrestling-inspired moves without a projectile in sight. Te Batman villain’s character trait is to pump venom through his body.When triggered, it amps up his power and makes him even more dangerous.

LEX LUTHOR

Superman’s nemesis is not only key to the story mode, but he’s also a heavyduty fighter, thanks to his armored suit. Luthor relies heavily on gadget-based attacks, and can launch missiles and suck foes towards him. His special trait is a shield that can be powered up by holding a button.

CATWOMAN

Speed is the centerpiece of Catwoman’s abilities, as she is able to easily bust out lightning-quick combos. Piercing claws make quick work of enemies, while her whip sets them straight, and she’s incredibly nimble: Interacting with obstacles, she can vault over foes and attack from behind.

DEATHSTROKE

Once dubbed “Te Terminator,” Deathstroke can do serious damage either up close or from afar.He’s a skilled mixed martial artist who also wields a sword, which makes him very difficult to deal with up close. But back off a bit and he’ll pin you down with machine-gun fire.

LIVELY LEVELS

Just how interactive are the stages in Injustice: Gods Among Us? Take the iconic Batcave, for example: On the upper level (where the fights begin), you can trigger rocket fire from the Batmobile at enemies when in range, or bash open the glass housing the Dark Knight’s various suits to unearth grenades, which can be grabbed and tossed at will.

Bash your enemy through the control panel on the far right, and he or she will be launched down to an entirely different section of the cave. Power characters can yank and toss a generator from the ceiling, which reveals electrical wires that offer a shocking effect. And that’s just a sampling of what’s available in one stage— imagine what’ll be found in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and the many other locations promised in the game.

ED BOON, CREATIVE DIRECTOR

HOW BROAD DID YOU WANT TO BE WITH THE GHTER AND LEVEL SELECTION?

We knew off the bat that we were going to hit the main starting lineup: Superman, Batman, Te Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. After that is where the discussion came, and we knew that we wanted to do some obscure ones and also some fan favorites. Off the top of our head, half the cast was written, just because if we were to leave out Superman, somebody would kill us.

DID YOU DRAW FROM SPECI C COMIC INSPIRATIONS FOR CHARACTER DESIGNS?

If you were to say of all of the ways the DC characters have been presented, our version is probably the closest to Te New 52, even though I don’t consider this part of it. In some ways, you can think of it as the Mortal Kombat team’s version of Batman [and other heroes]. We’re really into armor and chest plates and things like that, so we’ve incorporated some of those elements into the DC guys.

WERE ANY ELEMENTS FROM MORTAL KOMBAT VS. DC UNIVERSE CARRIED OVER?

We purposely tried not to do that. One thing we definitely set out to do was have nobody say, “This plays like MK vs. DC Universe.” Because that game had the Mortal Kombat skin on it, with the block button and all of the basics of the series. We wanted this to feel like its own game.

WHAT DO THE MULTI-TIERED ARENAS OFFER PLAYERS?

It’ll offer players variety. Te one thing that I’m really excited about with this game is that you play differently based on where you are. You play differently if you’re backed into a corner, and you’ll have this advantage here, or you’ll be jumping into the air and there’s something that you can grab onto and throw. At the same time, because the arena changes, it keeps things more interesting.

DOMINANT TRAITS

One of the most distinctive elements of Injustice’s fighting approach is the dedicated character trait button, which delivers a very different result based on which character you’re using. For Batman, it launches robotic bats that circle him and can be used as a shield or thrown at enemies. Superman and Bane, meanwhile, have powered-up attacks when their trait is activated.

But for such heroes as Wonder Woman and Nightwing, it allows them to switch between fighting stances; the former can wield either a whip or a sword, giving her a very different feel based on your choice. It’s one of the biggest ways that Injustice aims to deliver the superhero experience, while also moving away from the Mortal Kombat formula.

GAME DETAILS

INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US

INFO

Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U

RELEASE DATE
April 2013

MULTIPLAYER/ONLINE
2-player local or online

GENRE
Fighting

SUITABLE FOR
Die-hard DC nuts; fighting fans, both casual and hardcore

NOT OUT YET? PLAY THIS!

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe shows the MK team’s earlier take on the comic world.

WHAT’S GREAT:

♥ Varied cast of DC Comics characters

♥ Distinct feel from other fighting games

♥ Story mode packed with comic goodness

WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT:

• Will cinematic moves and transitions disrupt the flow of combat?
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