[Disclosure: This review based on a downloadable copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Superman has gone off the rails, Batman and Harley Quinn are besties, Aquaman is bowing down to a land dweller and, thanks to Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation Vita, I finally have a story taking place within the DC universe that has actually piqued my interest.
Before the DC Defense Force gets all angry and starts listing dozens of deep stories involving the Caped Crusader and the Boy Scout in blue and red spandex, let me start off by saying that, yes, I am fully aware that the DC universe is full of wonderful tales that are absolutely worthy of my time and attention. Until now, however, I’ve simply never felt compelled to seek them out. And that, dear reader, is one of the best complements I can throw at Injustice.
I came to Injustice a massive fan of the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, having missed out on this new game’s home console release due to, well, I can’t really remember why I skipped it. The point is that I did and, now that I’ve had the opportunity to dive into the Vita version, I’m ready to sing its praises.
Similar to MK before it, NetherRealm decided to include an overarching story that pulls all of these wonderful characters together in a dimension-jumping tale of vengeance, camaraderie and some good old fashioned butt-kickery. The tale in Injustice is decidedly shorter, only featuring a fraction of the game’s full 30-character roster and taking between two and three hours to complete. That’s probably for the best, as the story unfolds at a good clip and resolves before it overstays its welcome.
In that time, the player is treated to a delightful yarn about a Superman driven nearly mad with regret and anger, a world that has bowed down to his every whim, and a group of heroes and villains from another dimension that have been called in to put an end to his totalitarian madness. The story is full of clever nods to previous DC works, including games, movies, television shows and comics. The voice cast is great, the dialogue is clever and often genuinely funny, the cinematic cutscenes show off some epic battles, and that all blends in seamlessly with the 12 chapters of fisticuffs the player gets to take part in.
Along with the story mode, the player has a full suite of content to dive into, including the requisite single battles, tower-structured arcade modes, a boatload of mini-games and challenges in the S.T.A.R. Lab, and multiplayer match-ups.
Along the way, you’ll earn experience for your deeds that will unlock additional goodies including new skins (though most of the game’s characters already have several to enjoy), and customization items for your player card, which shows off all of your stats in online play.
Most importantly, though, the game is a heck of a lot of fun to play. Rather than just slap some new skins onto the Mortal Kombat engine, NetherRealm instead created a whole new system for the DC cast, incorporating their unique abilities, punishing Super Moves, multi-tiered levels, interactive environments and a Clash system that allows players to wager some of their power bar in order to put the hurt on an opponent. The hits are meaty, the action is explosive and, in general, it does a fantastic job of making the player feel like they are controlling uuber-powerful beings that could tear a building apart with their bare hands.
Despite all of this praise for the core game, however, I have to call Armature Studio out for what feels like a somewhat lazy port. The game looks decent enough while battling, but the cutscenes are especially troubling, often blurred and featuring washed out textures. It’s not exactly pretty to look at, which is upsetting.
The game also suffers from a bit of slowdown in especially explosive moments, though this didn’t pop up enough times to make me panic. Most of the time the action was crisp, responsive and clean. But when you’re playing a fighting game, even the occasional hiccup is enough to be annoying.
But even those issues couldn’t put too big of a hitch in the amount of fun I was having with Injustice. All of the content from the original game is present and accounted for, along with all six of the DLC characters and skins, a bunch of new S.T.A.R. missions, and a few inoffensive touchscreen within the campaign and plugged into the S.T.A.R. content.
Had I played Injustice back when it was originally released on consoles, maybe I wouldn’t be so blown away by this Vita port. It’s all new to me, however, and even if it isn’t the prettiest game on the planet, some less-than-stellar graphics and the occasional slowdown wasn’t enough to ruin my time. I’ve had a blast with Injustice so far, and I look forward to returning to its super-powered battles for some time to come.
Platforms: PS Vita
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment