TOP DOWN THUD
For a game administered its own comic book series for run-up promotion and produced by NetherRealm, the story is a tad disappointing, even for a fighting game. Injustice had a shot at making the case for the genre – even fighters could have a grand, overarching plot that evolves smoothly over multiple sequels. When dealing with the potential dynamism of super heroes and multiple dimensions, fresh game mechanics could always be whipped up for each iteration without fear of jumping the shark. Those aspirations aren’t here – it simply won’t happen.
While the premise of the plot line may be intriguing, the story beats themselves invoke equal parts confusion and head slappers. Not long after landing in a new dimension with the Joker, the #1 priority for the ever-pragmatic Bat is a distracting, meaningless scrap? DC comics surely revolve around violence, but this degree of pulp fit more in the Mortal Kombat universe, where any 10 minute stretch without fist-a-cuffs was cause for concern.
Netherealm wisely repeats their methodology of seamlessly interspersing transitions into fights from the cut scenes. But it’s also a Trojan Horse for the only real technical flaw in Injustice – the visuals deteriorate into crappy textures during close ups and overblown action scenes. These blemishes only stick out when compared to the otherwise slickly composed fights themselves.
Nothing about Injustice ever suggested that it would take a more ambitious approach to the “lunch table debate” premise of caveat-free hero/villain match-ups. It didn’t really need to – there’s tons of enjoyment to be had without the need to be fastidiously nerdy. But something like Ray Carsillo’s glee barometer is just so wrongheaded that he must be stopped mid-sentence.
Would Bane be able to go toe-to-toe with Solomon Grundy? Could Green Arrow ever stand up to Superman? Could Shazam, Earth’s Mightiest Mortal, strike down Ares? Could Nightwing surpass his teacher and beat down Batman? Now, NetherRealm Studios has provided me with an outlet for my musings that’s so perfect, so tailor-made for geeks like me, that there’s only one possible explanation: Ed Boon is psychic.
This really couldn’t be further from the truth – even Mr. Boon knows that. For better or worse, it’s very possible for Catwoman to beat the snot out of Superman…despite the fact that it’s probably not even possible for her to injure him at all in other mediums. Balance was placed above an accurate lore – there doesn’t need to be any apologizing for that. The relatively equal viability ends up outweighing the silly scenes of Doomsday obliterating Harley Quinn with a hit that knocks her through buildings…for 17% damage.
Could NetherRealm have taken a hint from the fighting game pariah that is Naruto: Gekit? Ninja Taisen series? It has long been known for its flagrant disregard for balance, acknowledging that certain characters are unquestionably more dominant than others. Some efforts are made for balance, but it’s not the traditional commitment.
That’s what I really wanted here. While satisfying, Injustice fails to scratch that uncompromising, totally unmarketable itch for a game where Superman betrays humanity and no one can stop him. I want two-on-one battles with Krypton laced brass knuckles; I want a legitimate fight against the ultimate Boy Scout. No dice.
The great lunch debate will have to continue.