Forming after the unfortunate closure of Midway Games, NetherRealm Studios took on the task of rebooting the Mortal Kombat franchise and delivered arguably one of the best instalments of the series. Following this, they decided to develop a fighting game focusing entirely on the DC Universe – as opposed to the MK crossover released years prior by the aforementioned Midway. Injustice: Gods Among Us was the end result and now, five years since its release, it’s time to take a look back at how it fared.
Launching on 16th April, 2013 in the US and 19th April of the same year in Europe, Injustice: Gods Among Us came late in the day for the previous generation of consoles – Xbox 360 and PS3 – just before it could really take advantage of the new tech. It didn’t suffer at all though, with the graphics and gameplay both upholding a high standard at the time. Critics lauded the brawling aspect and the decent sized presence of single player content, but for me personally, the majority of the praise had to be given to the story. I witnessed an original story which saw many of my favourite superheroes shone in a new light, a much darker one.
Using cinematic cutscenes, a narrative was created that explored a world where the despicable Joker had manipulated a drugged Superman to kill Lois Lane and their unborn child, which led to a nuke detonating, destroying Metropolis in the process. Realising what had occurred, Superman then murdered the Joker and formed his own Regime to annihilate almost all the other villains, as well as targeting those heroes who don’t conform. On the flip side, Batman establishes a force of his own, Insurgency, in an attempt to resist Superman’s dictatorship.
Players join the action five years after these events, as the Insurgency discover a parallel universe in which the Joker’s plan failed. The plan is to recruit specific heroes from this universe, such as Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Aquaman, to help bring the Regime crashing down, whilst the likes of Batman and the Joker are teleported by chance too, further boosting their chance. Every so often the story calls on you to seamlessly take control of a character in peril in order to defeat the opponent in your path, thus the feature length tale gives a purpose to the battles.
I’ve been indulging in the DC Universe through various mediums since the early 90’s and I hadn’t experienced a similar all-round story, which turned everything ‘normal’ on its head. You know it’s utter chaos when you’re rooting for Lex Luthor, but it’s also intriguing to observe what would happen if the god-like Kryptonian lost the plot and decided to become judge, jury and executioner– something we’ve seen to a degree in the movies recently. NetherRealm made good use of their roster too, ensuring each chapter felt fresh as you fought using different characters.
And Injustice had a roster that’d delight casuals and long-time fans equally, with Justice League’s finest like Flash, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman alongside the slightly less mainstream Solomon Grundy, Ares, Raven and Killer Frost. Even more terrific heroes and villains turned up as DLC, seeing magician extraordinaire Zatanna, bounty hunter Lobo and Mortal Kombat’s very own Scorpion available to use – all of whom possess a Super Move which allows them to unleash a devastating manoeuvre that causes a mass amount of damage.
Unlike a lot of fighters, it’s rather easy to pull off all manner of special attacks and this makes it accessible to gamers of different ability levels. Mastering the art of combining the moves together is the difference between the good players and the best – as I often found out online by being beaten up with ease and thrown from pillar to pillar like a rookie.
It didn’t really matter about losing though, you see; half the enjoyment came from viewing the awesome attacks and taking in the environmental interactions. The latter of which tended to my inner fan boy. One of my favourite stages to fight on was Joker’s Asylum, mainly because of the nostalgic cameos of villains I’d grown up hating – in a love to hate way – throughout my childhood such as Penguin, Killer Croc and The Riddler. Needless to say, I took in everything that these 2.5D environments had to offer and spent ages interacting with them.
Whilst there was plenty to do in-game, a free-to-play mobile app that utilised an addictive collectible card-based battle system was released shortly beforehand to coincide with the release and this incentivised mobile play by rewarding players with special skins to use on console. Injustice: Gods Among Us spawned a tie-in comic series as well, focusing on the five year gap between Superman’s breakdown and the last ditch fight back of the Insurgency and their new recruits. So wherever you were, the Injustice world could be with you in some form.
Since then, Injustice not only managed to get a release on PlayStation 4, but also received a superb sequel – the creatively named Injustice 2 – which bettered the original in almost every way possible. The original story continued with a new threat to contend with, whilst the introduction of an RPG style progression system and collectible loot took the game to another level. Once more the roster, now slightly bigger, delivered a great mix of fan favourites and interesting characters people may not know e.g. Blue Beetle and Atrocitus. The downloadable content additions ripped up the rulebook and brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the fray – as if there wasn’t enough awesomeness present.
There’s no doubt that Injustice has had a terrific five years and here’s hoping that we’ll see a third instalment of the fighter from NetherRealm Studios within the next five!
What did you think of Injustice: Gods Among Us? Did it deserve the sequel and if so, would you like to see the DC Universe back for a third outing? Get in touch by leaving a comment or sending us your thoughts on social media!