Injustice: Gods Among Us just came out this week, and yesterday I was able to sink my teeth into the Story Mode. You guys…oh, you guys…
There are two main reasons why I don’t delve into fighting games anymore: 1) I’m absolutely terrible at mashing button combos. I used to be awesome at it back when I played Soulcalibur 2 and Dead or Alive 2 obsessively, but no longer. 2) The story modes are freaking terrible. I understand none of us go into a fighting game for the story, but…can’t they at least put some effort into it?
Who can forget Soulcalibur’s copout when they began resorting to walls of scrolling text or quick sketches of a sweeping last battle at the end? So disappointing…
There isn’t a very organic way to keep the main story of the game and focus on your fighter’s own story at the same time. Truthfully, one would just resort to Wikipedia just to find out what the hell was going on in that world. Furthermore, there’s always a canon ending as opposed to the million different ones you get after playing each character on the roster, but you never know which one that is.
NetherRealm Studios sought to remedy this hemorrhoid in the Mortal Kombat reboot and now in Injustice. Here’s the long and short of the synopsis:
After Joker destroys Metropolis and tricks him into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child, Superman murders him in front of Batman and establishes a new world order. A battle ensues between the forces of Superman’s Regime and those allied with Batman’s Insurgency. The Insurgency discovers an alternate universe where Joker’s plan did not succeed and transport several of its super heroes to theirs in order to help them defeat the Regime.
It’s a little Doom-ish, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Inserting the game for the first time prompts a tutorial to acquaint the player with the basics followed by a few intermediate level combos. Take advantage of this. There are times in the game where the computer will actually do some cheap moves and you’ll want to be ready to kick its teeth in for doing that.
I never played the new Mortal Kombat, nor have I heard how the story mode was built. Imagine my pleasant surprise upon discovering this new approach when I played Injustice. Almost immediately, the player realizes that Story Mode could in fact have a story. Gasp!
The city of Metropolis is in ruins. Everyone is scrambling or sitting dumbfounded over what to do next. We find Batman in the interrogation room with Joker, whom we find out is responsible for setting off a nuke some time before. Bats is interrupted by Superman who blasts open the wall behind them. Knocking Batman out of the way, Superman grabs the Joker and punches into his chest cavity. You don’t see the gore as it happens like one would expect from Mortal Kombat, but you know that’s what happens.
Big hitters from the Justice League are fighting it out with Lex Luthor’s merry band of super-powered rogues in the middle of Metropolis. Meanwhile, Batman is on his way to Joker’s cell in Arkham Asylum. He’s not there, but Deathstroke certainly is. And this is where the aspect ratio shifts and we finally take the reigns and fight as the Dark Knight.
After the fight, the scene continues seamlessly with Batman aiding the attack on the Watchtower.
The natural flow from cutscene to fighting and back to cutscene is extremely smooth. There is no blackout, no long pause, and no obnoxious loading screen. Instead an icon pops up at the bottom right corner right before the scene ends. That’s all it takes. Unless you lose, you are never taken out of the game or the story. After playing Assassin’s Creed 3, this little change of pace was much appreciated. Seriously, everywhere you went in AC3 there was something that always triggered a freaking load screen. A long one.
One thing that I sort of mentioned, but didn’t go into, was that when selecting Story Mode, you don’t choose a character. You are taken through the narrative, playing whomever the plot needs to move things along. In Story Mode, you play only as Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Joker, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Deathstroke, Wonder Woman, Alternate Lex, Alternate Batman, Alternate Flash, and finally Superman. Indeed, it’s a shame that we can’t play as many of our other favorite characters, but that’s what the other modes are for.
[WARNING! POTENTIAL SPOILERS START HERE]
The story itself is pretty enjoyable. It delves into the what-ifs. What if Superman goes berserk and decides to destroy everything standing in his path? What if he is finally fed up with how the world is run and decides to take it over for himself, creating a new world order? Where will the other superheroes of the world stand? I’m all of a sudden remembering Irredeemable by Mark Waid.
It’s stated that some heroes are on Evil Superman’s side out of plain fear, some think that he’s actually trying to do some good. It’s interesting to see who’s on who’s side, Batman’s or Superman’s? Nearly everyone is with Superman, save for the so very few with enough cajones to stand up to him. Poor Alternate Shazam. He was working with the regime because he thought Superman was genuinely trying to make the world a better place; his hero worship clouded his judgement, thus hiding the gravity of (Evil) Superman’s insanity. When he finally did stand up to Evil Superman, Alternate Shazam got two holes burned through his skull.
[SPOILERS END HERE]
Overall I really liked how everything was set up and presented. The pace kept you going as if you were playing through an interactive, full-length movie. The feel was enriched with complex and mature themes, unlike the straightforward black versus white formula. I say complex, because besides the Joker, you’re fighting characters who used to be the good guys. Good guys who are mostly forced to fight for the regime. And Alternate Superman isn’t all bad, he’s just insane. Fine lines.
This is a game I’m glad I was talked into buying. I was very hesitant to pick it, remembering the exaggerated remorse I felt from trying out other fighters I downloaded via Xbox Live. I may still suck at button mashing right now, but Injustice makes me want to exercise these combo-making phalanges and unlock some badass special moves on purpose rather than accidentally.
Side note: I have yet to input the Red Son DLC pack I received from pre-ordering the game. It’s supposed to add 20 more missions within the Red Son storyline. I’ll report back and tell you exactly what that means 😉