Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition (PSV)

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Title: Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (3.1 GB)
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios, Armature Studio
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation Network download version was used for this review.

Earlier this year, the original version of Injustice: Gods Among Us released to lukewarm reception from critics but unbearable excitement for fans of both the fighting game genre and DC Comics Superheroes.  Coming off of the successful launch of 2011’s Mortal Kombat, NetherRealm Studios secured their rightful place as one of the genre’s top developers and now had a slew of even more iconic characters at their disposal.  For the first time ever, a fantastic fighting game featuring the heroes and villains of the DC Universe was born.

Over the course of several months, NetherRealm slowly released DLC characters and skins – 6 and 30+ respectively – continuously breathing new life into an already fleshed out experience.  Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition includes the original game, all of the DLC, and all balance patches since the original release.

Gameplay:
If there is one thing that NetherRealm Studios does exceptionally well, it is the ability to bring a character’s most defining traits to his/her fighting style.  Kratos was a guest star on the PS3 version of Mortal Kombat and some of his exact combo inputs from God of War carried over into the 2D fighter.  He even had a special move that involved a Quick Time Event!
In Injustice, the 29 characters from the DC Universe move and fight just like you would expect them to.  Batman’s special moves involve a lot of martial arts and gadgets, Superman throws powerful fists when he isn’t using his heat vision or cold breath, and Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth combined with her sword and shield can create some devastating combos.

As if completely nailing each character’s persona wasn’t enough, Injustice dedicates a face button to exactly what makes these heroes super; their powers.  Pressing the character power button initiates a feature unique to each character and the creativity in variety is astounding.  Martian Manhunter’s character power extends his limbs for a limited time, allowing him to attack further away from his opponent.  Green Arrow can switch between fire, ice, electric, or normal arrows.  Bane can pump himself full of juice and greatly increase his damage output.  The list goes on and on and all 30 character powers are truly unique while somehow, perfectly working their way into the combat pace.

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All of the characters in Injustice are categorized into three types; power, agility, and gadget.  The main difference in these character types lies in the method with which they handle the interactive elements on each stage.  Power characters like Aquaman and Green Lantern will pick up and throw the cars and dumpsters of Gotham City at their opponents.  Agility characters like the Flash and Killer Frost will only leap off of these objects to evade incoming attacks.  Gadget charters offer a solid mix of character types as they can choose to either blow up the interactive objects to deal their opponent damage or use them to evade.

The Super Meter is built up of 4 sections and gradually increases as the fight rages on.  There are so many ways to expend meter in Injustice that the split second decisions can become overwhelming in their complexity.  If an opponent is too aggressive, you can burn one section of meter to back them up.  You can choose to enhance a special move and add damage or possibly begin a juggle combo.  You can burn two sections and initiate a bounce cancel which is used to extend combos.  And of course, saving all 4 sections of your meter allows you to deplete it at once with a super move, changing the tide of the battle if connected.

The Clash System is another classic comic touch that feels so right in the context of the game.  If your character is on the receiving end of a combo, you can interrupt it by initiating a clash.  Each player is given a few seconds to secretly wager an amount of meter.  The characters will return to their respective side of the screen, say their quirky catchphrases, run or fly at each other at full speed, and clash mid-screen with an environment rocking explosion.  The player that wagered more meter will win the clash.  If the clash-initiator wins, he/she will regain health.  If the other player wins, more damage is dealt to the initiator.

In this 2D fighter, the absence of background/foreground evading does nothing to suggest simplicity.  The meta-game of meter management is forever present amongst the fast paced fighting style and combo driven reward system.  The incredibly polished fighting is also the foundation for the surprisingly beefy story mode and 300 S.T.A.R. Labs Missions.  Injustice is the poster child for fighting games with sufficient content.

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Visuals:
The visual fidelity of Injustice is one of the only things compromised by the limitations of the Vita.  This game is just so beautiful on PS3 and PS4 that the toned down environments stand out to players that have seen the difference.  The worst visuals appear in the characters themselves.  Layers of costume detail are missing and there are some noticeably blocky edges.

It is impressive that the Vita version runs smoothly at 60 frames per second and a lesser resolution is really the only problem.  Story mode cutscenes suffer a tad, again due to the bar set by the consoles.  Certain corners had to be cut so that the gameplay remained in tact and the visual sacrifices are a fair tradeoff.

Audio:
The modern classic voice acting of Kevin Conroy and George Newbern once again bring Batman and Superman respectively to life.  Clash sequences come complete with character specific dialogue matchups.  When a clash happens between the two for example, Bats might say “don’t underestimate me”, to which Superman will reply, “wouldn’t dream of it”.  More impressive still is the occasional trash talk between characters when high damages combos are completed.  “Had enough Clark?” is the perfect cherry on top of the impressive 40-percenter you just pulled off.

The awesome sound effects are the co-stars of the audio.  Moans from the females and grunts from the males during matchups liven up fight.  We don’t have to use our imagination like when reading the huge, exaggerated CRACCCKKK and POWWWW speech bubbles we’ve seen in the comics.  They’re done for us with supreme accuracy.

Online/Multiplayer:
The other part of the Ultimate Edition that has been compromised for the sake of Vita functionality is the absence of some online components of the original game.  Most notably is the lack of King of the Hill Mode, one of my favorite features of online play for Injustice and Mortal Kombat before it.  It was sort of an online version of same-couch multiplayer or pass-the-controller party play.  The winner of a match was proclaimed King, and he/she continued to fight until they lost.  Up to 7 other players in the room could spectate until it was their turn to fight the King.

Ad-hoc and Wifi multiplayer fighting is supported and works pretty seamlessly.  There is the unavoidable lag that affects games with timing as tight as this one’s.  Playing online can feel sluggish, especially after some flawless single player action.  Ranked and private matches allow players to tailor their online experience to their liking.

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Conclusion:
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition exemplifies the spectacle of Superhero/Super Villain fisticuffs.  Environments crumble with explosive destruction, vehicles and monuments are tossed effortlessly across screens, and your favorite DC characters are sent careening through skyscrapers while some of the best fighting mechanics to date provide a very solid foundation for the chaos.  With 30 characters to master, hundreds of special moves to remember, and combat that never stops being fun, Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition contends for the spot of Vita’s number one fighter.  Fighting game fans, especially Mortal Kombat ones, will be delighted by Injustice and DC fans have never seen their favorites quite like this.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built-in screen capture feature.

 

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Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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