E3 2012 Preview: Injustice: Gods Among Us

June 11, 2012

The presence of big name superheroes in fighting games isn’t a new concept, but ongoing interest in these masked and/or caped crusaders ensures that a steady stream of titles is released to the eager market. After the 2008 release of the crossover Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, all seemed to go quiet on the DC Comics front, especially with the prominent release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its update, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Now, the characters from the DC Universe make a long-awaited return to the fighting game genre with a title we got to see at E3, Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Injustice is developed by NetherRealm Studios, the developer that brought us the successful Mortal Kombat reboot last year. Similar to Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Injustice looks to be a darker take on the comic world, with new designs based on the reboot The New 52 for the various characters in the game. We only saw four characters present in the game at this stage – Superman, The Flash, Batman and Solomon Grundy – but visually, they look very impressive, with a lot of detail on the models and in the animation, complete with splashes of blood and damage.

The first battle we saw was a showdown between Superman and The Flash, which took place in the Batcave. All the moves that you would expect from these two iconic characters were there, including Superman’s heat vision and The Flash’s speed. At one point we saw one of The Flash’s super moves, which had him running around the Earth and using the speed accumulated to punch Superman in the face. Ouch indeed.

This stage was a great example of how the elements in each level affect gameplay. The environment gets damaged as fights progress, which in the case of the Batcave stage, resulted in a display case shattering and a couple of Bat grenades rolling out. These could be picked up and thrown at the opponent. Similarly, there are also background elements that can be interacted with but don’t impede movement, such as a console that, when activated by The Flash, launched missiles from the Batmobile at Superman. To add even more detail, there are environmental hazards that can be worked into combos, such as electric cables. Eventually the battle saw the ground give way, taking the characters down into another area of the Batcave. As a neat addition, there was the option to take an elevator back up to the original level of the cave and continue the fight there.

The second fight took us to the city (Gotham City, perhaps?), with this matchup being between Batman and Solomon Grundy. From these characters, we can see that character builds and fighting styles are quite robust, with Batman being more ninja-like, utilising gadgets like his grappling hook and remote-controlled batarangs in comparison to Grundy’s brawler abilities. So for example, while Batman can slam Grundy into environmental objects like a car, Grundy can go the full hog and pick up the car before throwing it at Batman. The match we saw did not bode well for Batman, with Grundy throwing him across the city onto a rooftop, before falling to the bottom of the tower and throwing Batman back into the original area.

Based on what we saw at E3, Injustice looks like it’s shaping up to be an exciting entry into the fighting game genre. I’m looking forward to seeing how NetherRealm does with the IP they’re given, as well as the dynamic gameplay mechanics they have in place for this game.