Injustice: Gods Among Us is an excuse for DC Comics heroes and villains to fight. Again.
Injustice: Gods Among Us, an upcoming fighting game starring the iconic heroes and villains of the DC Comics universe, has one of the more flavorless titles at this year's E3. In fact, I had to dig up the press release to recall the name. Then look it up again after I'd forgotten it by the time Microsoft Word had loaded. The title has something to do with the story, but any details about said story are yet to be revealed, giving us nothing really to hang the name to on our brain walls.
I dwell on this because the game itself is much more memorable. It features Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman and a slew of other characters many of us have loved or hated for a majority of our lives. And on top of that, they are available to recreate the match-ups from your favorite mash-up issues and/or nerdiest fantasies.
Just call it what it is: Batman Fights Superman: And Other Great DC Match-ups.
Injustice is developed by NetherRealm Studios, who last year performed a miracle by raising the Mortal Kombat franchise from the grave. Injustice: Gods Among Us feels similar to Mortal Kombat, albeit without the extreme gore.
NetherRealm intends for Injustice: Gods Among Us to receive a Teen rating from the ESRB. So if you're hoping to see internal views of bones breaking and organs rupturing, stop. Batman's head won't be ripped from his body, nor will Flash by burned alive, Solomon Grundy won't be gradually choked to death by Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth.
Solomon Grundy won't be gradually choked to death by Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is still plenty violent, but in more of a gutteral way. The characters have an inhuman weight to them, as if their muscular limbs were carved from marble. You can feel each punch kick through the loud, crackly sound design and the intense vibrating controller feedback.
Superman has a catalogue of moves that involve him slamming enemies to the floor and wall like they're nothing more than squirrels being flung by their tails. Batman has a move that's Scorpion's "Get over here" in reverse. He shoots the batarang around an opponent's chest, pulling himself towards them, delivering a jump kick to their core and knocking their crumpled body to the floor.
Charge moves, delivered at specific locations on the arena, can send an opponent into a new section of the map. On the Fortress of Solitude, we saw Superman knocked into the Phantom Zone, getting attacked by a purple demon before crashing to a rocky slab.
The heroes also have special moves in place of the bone breakers from Mortal Kombat. Superman lifts his opponent into space before tossing them back to Earth, Harley Quinn leaves an explosive pie beneath the opponent's legs. It's all a bit silly, and sort of incongruous with the game's futuristic, pseudo-realistic and most of all grimy art design.
The characters in the demo felt slower than those in Mortal Kombat, and the moves a bit kookier. Perhaps because they have an obligation to represent the strengths of characters designed for comic books, not video games. But it's silly to judge a fighting game off a couple of matches, long before we've memorized the move lists.
What we can report is Injustice: Gods Among Us already delivers satisfying match-ups between the characters we love. It's worth watching out for. If you can remember its name.