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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
NetherRealm Studios
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Release Date:
April 16, 2013

When you want to faithfully capture the godlike power of superheroes and combine it with a deep, satisfying combat mechanic, you turn to NetherRealm. The studio that successfully rebooted the ailing Mortal Kombat series a couple of years ago has shifted their attention to the world of DC Comics. And in so doing, they have created yet another great fighter, complete with crowd-pleasing special effects, an accessible yet robust combat system, and – surprise, surprise! – something that actually resembles an intriguing story and setting.

As you might expect, there are certain aspects of this production that look downright amazing. The hugely over-the-top effects generated by otherworldly skills will drop your jaw, and the slickness of the overall presentation is pretty special. Character design is excellent and the only slipup comes in the form of a unimpressive textures during cut-scenes. Other than that, the animations and general atmosphere will make you smile, and both fighting and comic aficionados will appreciate the effort. When it comes to superheroes, you’re just supposed to accept the impossibility of their abilities and revel in the spectacular impact of the spectacle. These visuals encourage you to do just that.

The developers probably could’ve saved a few bucks and skimped on the voiceovers and soundtrack. After all, do you really require such artistic elements? This is a genre that thrives first and foremost on gameplay and only crisp, resounding strike effects seem to top the fan’s priority list. But NetherRealm tapped all sorts of great actors, including Kevin Conroy as Batman and George Newbern as Superman. The soundtrack is fitting and nicely orchestrated as well, so the audio is actually quite fulfilling on a number of levels. Not all the performances are good and there’s a small balancing issue between the score and effects, but that’s about it in terms of drawbacks. And those combat effects are just excellent.

It may be blasphemous to do so, but blame NetherRealm for me putting such an emphasis on the story, characters and theme. The team has written a series of stories that comic book fans should really love, primarily because these tales stay true to the core principles of each superhero while still tossing in a few twists. Even those who don’t follow comics were aware of Superman’s “death.” We all know of his internal conflicts stemming from his not being human. But Injustice: Gods Among Us deals with something entirely new: A Superman who’s pretty sick of always saving the world, and who now simply wants to wreak havoc.

With the aforementioned cast helping to increase your awareness of and interest in the story, the game paints a lurid, unique picture. No character feels like a tacked-on afterthought, as each member of the Injustice roster has a full, compelling back story. It’s clear that NetherRealm has no desire to turn these superheroes into something different. That would be heresy. What the developers so skillfully do is as follows— They embrace all the campy yet largely dramatic overtones found in the Justice League animated series, and remain true to the comic book style. Then they paint on their own recognizable layer that involves, quite frankly, superheroes run amok.

It’s a little ridiculous that the superheroes not endowed with supernatural abilities (like Batman, for example) can do what they do in this game. That part doesn’t stay true to anything. But while this might irritate the comic purists, I’m not sure many will complain about the end result. That result is a fighting game that hits you right between the eyes; it insists upon its right to be acknowledged as over-the-top melee of cosmically epic proportions. The animations aren’t always quite right during the most insane gameplay segments, and that can detract from one’s immersion. But you’re almost immediately reabsorbed by a ceaseless array of wonderfully absurd action.