Today was the big day! Mandy and I visited a WB Interactive press event in Toronto to play an earlier build of Injustice: Gods Among Us and it’s awesome! I’m sure that surprises no one, so lets get into some details shall we?
Our preview showed us various game modes and let us get into combat ourselves including the story mode. April 16th is coming soon and we’re eager to see the release of the game. So what did we experience today? Read on to find out!
Injustice keeps a lot of concepts game mode wise that made the new Mortal Kombat so great. The challenge tower is replaced with S.T.A.R. Labs which has a similar setup sending gamers through various situations to complete each mission. One of the earlier ones we previewed featured Superman trying to catch some of the suns rays around the battlefield while in combat. Another focused on avoiding falling debris which damaged both you or your opponent. We ended on one featuring Superman protecting a civilian from explosive barrels while remaining stationary and using super powers to destroy the oncoming obstacles.
Of course there are modes allowing you to just jump in and beat up your favourite AI controlled rival while playing as your choice of the games cast. That and a usual combat ladder gameplay type as well.
Instead of all that, we went right for the story mode right away. Natually you’ll want to skip this paragraph if you’d like to experience the intro anew yourself. From what I gathered, I may be wrong, but it seems like the story follows a similar setup to Mortal Kombat beginning at the end, and then telling the story leading up to that catastrophic event. Either that or the game continues from the intro which begins with Metropolis laying in ruin after a nuclear attack. Needless to say, Superman is beyond furious as he breaks in on Batman interrogating The Joker who seems to be behind the nuclear attack. From there it’s super hero eye candy as you get to see much of the cast battling it out including Doomsday and the newly announced Ares as well it seemed. The gameplay kicks in allowing you to take over Batman in a similar flowing storyline that gamers experienced in Mortal Kombat’s story mode. Training also returns to allow gamers to see what’s new and get used to Injustice’s combat. I didn’t try that out but I’d assume it’s very similar to MK.
At the end of S.T.A.R. Labs missions and combat in general, you’re rewarded like in MK with points. Instead of koins, you’re gaining XP this time and leveling up. We didn’t get much into this concept but you’re leveling your profile, not individual characcters, and XP is how you unlock various skins and extras.
Combat is similar but definitely different than Mortal Kombat, which is good! The team at NetherRealm seemed eager to experiment and enjoy the freedom of a new franchise. It really paid off! Starting with the basics, characters still seem to all have the uppercut ability. Players hold back to block instead of an actual block button. Instead the right button at the top of your controller activates various environmental attacks. These can range from knocking your foe into background objects or triggering hazards within the arena to hopefully cause damage if your target is in the right spot. You’ll know when you’re near an object you can interact with when a propt for the interaction button appears next to your characters health meter.
The environment plays a big role in Injustice and the results can vary depending on your character. It seems some characters have special interactions, but in general your roster is a mix of lighter and heavy characters. Light characters such as Harley Quinn can playfully bounce off certain background objects to get behind her foes and deliver some damage. Alternatively, heavy characters can tear up the same object and throw it at their opponent which also serves as a way to destroy tactical objects light characters can do their fancy footwork off of.
You can access different areas in most battlefields by using something similar to a smash attack to hurl your foe back through a wall or into an obstacle to boost them away. It’s either holding forward or backward along with A, (or X for PS3 gamers) and then releasing it to deliver a knockback punch. These aren’t just transitions, they’re quite cinematic. For example, in Arkham Asylum you can knock your enemy back into a room with Scarecrow who ends up becoming his huge halucination self from Arkham City and slams the helpless target down into another area of the asylum.
Returning as well from Mortal Kombat is the dual trigger concept of x-ray mode, however this time it’s to unleash a built up super move instead of an x-ray thrashing. These vary from character to character but definitely have a lot to them. Unlike MK’s more visceral assults, super moves tend to focus on abilities and gadgets of the character. They’re usually brutal in their own right, just more cinematic and themed. The animation for these seemed more involved at times than in Mortal Kombat as well, however they still don’t drag on or distract from the battle for long. I guess it’s understandable that these would seem improved over MK since Injustice is a newer title after all.
Some characters such as Wonder Woman and Nightwing have two selections of weapons. Switching between these is as easy as pressing B or circle. This allows you to switch up your play style with these characters. They seem to have split special moves meaning your list is divided between one weapon type or the other. However with such a quick swap option it’s easy to change to what you want in a hurry.
Battles stay fast and furious with a new dual layered health bar. Instead of rounds you’ll have two bars to drain. A brief pause happens when a character is knocked down to zero on their first bar, but then it’s right back into combat to chip away at that second health bar.
Another great addition we found was the ability to pause and instantly see your special moves. Presumably many gamers were pausing to check out their special moves in Mortal Kombat during the story modes flowing rotation of characters you control. This feature gets you back into the action faster by showing you a quick reference and letting you go right back in. I don’t know if there is a combo list still however, but they are definitely in the game similar to MK’s it seems.
Injustice takes the story telling combat formula of the new Mortal Kombat and expands it into it’s own concept. The game truly shines in letting you play out a cinematic experience that drops you into the big battles to fight out yourself. I don’t recall any moments in MK like it, but Injustice featured at least one moment in our preview where you could act out quick time events before combat. I’m not sure if it really made that big of a difference to combat, but I’d assume it did something at least allowing us to pepper our foe with batterangs as they advanced on the caped crusader.
Lastly, I had to give Aquaman a go after my video interview with Senior Producer Adam Urbano. I’d asked what they’d done with him and NetherRealm considered it a challenge to make him just awesome. They’ve definitely done a good job with that! Aquaman is quite vicious with his trident both in a blur of jabs and flipping his foes away after picking them up with it. He’s definitely a fun addition and a character I look foward to playing.
We’re eager for April 16th. The game is an absolutely treat. Even details like The Joker’s voice acting feel right in this gritty NetherRealm representation of the DC Universe. It’s an epic storyline, an exciting game in itself, and such a huge collection of things to do in the S.T.A.R. Labs missions mode. This is a huge title that is definitely a quality production we’re looking forward to experiencing in it’s entirety. Look for it on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and the new Nintendo Wii U.