(WB Interactive for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
Injustice: Gods Among Us looks fantastic on paper. Coming off the stunningly-realized reboot of Mortal Kombat in 2011, the dreamy pitch is that developer NeatherRealm will take everything it learned with MK – the sharp, addictive fighting mechanics, the best-in-class story mode, the enormous suite of interesting single-player content – and apply those lessons to a fighting game set within the DC Comics universe. And not in the tentative, disappointing, half-step way that characterized 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but a gung-ho, superhero-worthy attempt that taps into the rich history of DC.
The good news is, Injustice is one of the rare too-good-to-be-true concepts that actually ends up delivering on its promises. The combat will be immediately familiar to MK fans, and that game did a great job of forging a play feel that was all its own, easily distinguishing it from the more technical Street Fighter IV or BlazBlue. Where it goes beyond MK is in the details and presentation. Interactive stages liven up the battles and give them an unpredictable nature (reminds me of the random items thrown into the fray in Samurai Showdown), while the expandable nature of the environments (triggered by smashing your opponent through the boundaries, similar to Dead or Alive) reinforces the over-the-top nature of these superhero clashes and gives the action a more dynamic presentation. That playfulness extends to the S.T.A.R. Labs mode, the home for a huge number of often-funny, brief character-specific challenges, and Story mode, which is as gloriously gonzo as it was in MK, with heroes and villains chasing each other across dimensions.
It’s exciting to witness NeatherRealm take the fighting genre and gleefully twist, contort, expand and generally just have all manner of fun crafting their own take on what a fighting game can be.