Platforms: PS3 | Xbox 360 (version shown) | Wii U
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
NetherRealm, the studio formed from the remains of Midway, have been one of the few developers outside of Japan that haven’t given up on providing us with beat ‘em up brawlers over the years. Most famous for the Mortal Kombat series, their last title Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe, whet our appetites for more from the DC collection as the two worlds didn’t quite connect as gamers wanted. Mainly because DC won’t let you gut DC characters in the way Mortal Kombat games are all about.
Now we’re free to play as these classic DC characters in a manner much more suited to their elaborate comic book backgrounds. The fighting style and feel may initially seem similar to Mortal Kombat, but it isn’t long before we start to see why this game is standing out from not only Mortal Kombat but other big name fighters too.
We’ve sat through many developer previews at Gamescom this year, where developers have boasted new features that will set apart their game from the competition and when Adam Urbano, senior producer on Injustice: Gods Among Us, says their game’s backgrounds are set to do that I was admittedly sceptical.
Until he showed me.
The fight I see takes place in the Batcave between The Flash and Cyborg. The Flash -unsurprisingly- has many rapid attacks like a series of punches followed by zooming off one side of the screen and appearing behind Cyborg and attacking him. Sliding attacks and speed are key. Cyborg seems to play with much more options. Rockets, lasers, pulse guns, and smashing with massive steel arms make him a much more interesting opponent. We’re not shown too many regular fighting moves, as Urbano is keener to show off the game’s interactive environments.
The Batcave is packed with ways to hurt your opponent. And as you fight, more options are unlocked. Every time you put your opponent down, the whole stage shakes, so expect to see the cave’s pillars eventually crumble making the fighters fall down to a lower level.
We’re used to destructible floors and walls thanks to games like Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive and Tekken Tag 2, but this game provides even more options. The Flash is able to back away to the right of the stage and smash a big red button on a console to fire missiles from the Batmobile parked in the background. You can keep firing, but opponents have ways of getting around this. Cyborg for example, can use a grappling hook to get above the missiles and smash down onto you, destroying the button console in the process and opening up more of the stage. In this case, we see The Flash bounce his head on every support beam on the long journey down to the sub-basement before bouncing off the Batboat and onto dry land again.
You can take the fight back to the upper level by using the elevator as Cyborg slams The Flash inside, pummels him all the way up then flings him out the door, tearing up the stone floor as The Flash slides in face-first.
A generator on the ceiling can be used by The Flash to bounce off for a special kick attack. Cyborg being a bit less energetic just rips it down and batters him with it. Interestingly, this opens up a new attack as four electrified cables dangle down dangerously from where the generator used to be. Both opponents can then uppercut each other into them for a nasty electrical dose.
Hidden parts of the stage can reveal more items to use. When the fighters find barrels they can fling them at each other, but Cyborg has an extra skill where he can fire a hot spot on the ground then roll the barrel over it to get it to explode in The Flash’s face. It’s little unique skills like that that will hopefully encourage players to try out all the characters in different stages to discover all the different attacks, rather than stick with one favourite throughout, which is admittedly something of a crutch for most fighting games.
We get to see each fighter’s super special move too. Cyborg’s is a two-parter, first a big wind up punch, then not realising that’ll cut it, an arsenal of weaponry emerges from his shoulders forming into one massive cannon that blasts a huge tunnel of blue energy. The Flash’s is a series of three punches, with the second two carrying the momentum of a quick burning lap around the planet first.
Other characters revealed so far include Superman, Batman, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Nightwing and Solomon Grundy. There were plenty of blank spaces on the character select screen so we expect there will be many more announced soon. If everyone’s as fun to play with as Cyborg and The Flash, I think NetherRealm may be onto a winner. It’s the environments that really make this an enticing prospect though as it looks like a lot of fun trying to find new ways to use interactive objects to put the Pow! into the action.
Injustice: Gods Among Us will be released in 2013.