Injustice: gods among us demo review

Before properly beginning I must admit a bias, I don’t care about this game. I’m not a big fan of fighting games, I think the tone is horrible for mainline superhero gaming, and there are logical inconsistencies abound. However, I have friends who have interest in it; one of which continues to text me on updates for it, including the demo drop, despite my insistence that I don’t care.

I got the demo anyway; I figure since it’s free I have little to lose. Plus this way at least I’ll have some minor ammo to fire back with next time the game games up in conversation.

Injustice is a dark superhero fighting game promising over the top antics with well established and mostly liked characters. The demo gives us one arena to play in and three controllable characters. The arena is Gotham City and seems very fitting; most people know it, one of the playables lives there, and it’s a ‘major city’ which is where most super action goes down.

The three characters are Wonder Woman, Batman, and Lex Luthor. I played the demo first as Wonder Woman (because, Wonder Woman) and then as Batman. I ignored Luthor because I simply didn’t care about him.

The demo gives you little information on how to play. There is a moves list but no generic ‘this button does what’ list. Or at least I couldn’t get the cursor to go to the ‘options’ selection. From what I understand you have three attack buttons, a special power button, a grapple, and a button that lets you shift stance maybe? It didn’t even seem to do that, it really just seemed to make my guy turn back to front and front to back. I did it for a while but it did not seem to help me in my fight.

As I said I began with Wonder Woman. The demo puts you in four fights, one against each of the three playable characters and finally against Doomsday, the neigh unstoppable juggernaut whom once killed Superman. My first fight was with Wonder Woman and already I was disappointed, not only was it a same-on-same fight but there didn’t seem to be any difference between the two. And in fact during my stint as Batman I got really confused as to which Batman I was. And then Wonder Woman did a prayer to her goddess and received her lasso, and then the other one did the same. And this seems to be a trend, everyone appears to have the same cinematic every time.

Wonder Woman has the super power of swapping weapons. In her normal “hard-hitting lasso” form she does a bit more damage and can use her lasso to grab opponents and throw her tiara. In her defensive sword and shield mode she takes less damage when blocking and can pull a captain America. I do enjoy that using a sword is less effective than her punching you, because that feels like fact.

So I beat myself up, then Batman, and Luthor, and finally Doomsday. The moves list gives you info on each move, including how many frames it takes and delay times so you can better pull off unstoppable combos or whatever it is that people do with that information. I was more interested in testing out the interactive terrain and multi-tiered levels. It does not appear to be intuitive at all and not once did I use any thing in the environment to my aid. No matter how often I turned back-to-front at it. I did get a hydrant thrown at me though, and I was knocked off a building, onto a train track, and finally down into an ally; that was kind of fun. Of course then I just kept flailing at my attacker until I won.

So then I gave Batman a whirl. He has a grapple gun and batarangs so he can use those to grab an enemy or dodge a minor ranged attack…just like Wonder Woman. Exciting. His special power is that he can double jump and also summon three electric bats that can be used as a minor shield or be fired at the enemy like a…batarang.

It’s somewhat amusing how fast this demo ran out of steam.

So anyways, I fought Wonder Woman and won. I fought myself, got very confused and won. Then I fought Lex Luthor, and despite taking a orbital strike to the face I won. And then came Doomsday, so I slapped him a lot with my non-powered and weak human hands before sticking a bomb to his back (Batman’s standard grapple move) and winning. Superman is a chump, it’s all about the slapping.

Finally the demo shows you some footage of the game and a few features. There are some mini-games, a couple of which looked halfway decent (especially Bane beating up the batmobile, heh). Also it showed off a couple of the alternate costumes. Wonder Woman gets her ingame costume, what may be pantless Amazon armor, and a black version of her Amazon armor. Flash has his ingame suit, an extra armored version, and one the covers his whole face. I’m curious why neither has a ‘classic’ costume.

And then the demo ends.

I remain unimpressed. You could say “well it’s not your type of game” and you would be right…about the fighting portion. And honestly I’d be a little more excited if it was a big scale super hero game about epic combat. But it is not. This is a fighting game that features broad versions of super heroes. Harley Quinn and Joker are here because they are popular and must be, but even the most casual fan of either has to admit that this is a poor venue for them to appear in. Superman? Sure, toss him and Doomsday at each other and I’ll gleefully watch the city crumble.

I try to judge without favor, and if I can do so here I see a fighting game that felt repetitive and boring in the demo. There didn’t seem to be much innovation, nor did I feel like a superhero or larger than life figure. I’m not good at combos or pulling of special moves; I once beat Street Fighter II using Ryu and nothing but kicks. I get the feeling that I could do the same here using Catwoman, and if that’s the case I don’t care how many tiers are in a level, or what the environment does, or which big bad super villain the game has…I’m just some chick kicking them all.

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7 thoughts on “Injustice: gods among us demo review

  1. Let me be the first to say that …I did not text you anything about this game like what you’re describing. So you have a different friend who is also interested in the game! Interesting…

    Let me first agree in that the demo does not explain any of its mechanics to you. It doesn’t even give you a training mode to work things out. As a fighting game fan I was able to work out what does what with some experimentation, in the same way that I don’t need a manual to tell me how to play my shooter du jour.

    So I will tell you the mechanics.
    A – light
    X – medium
    Y – heavy
    B – character power
    LB – throw
    RB – Interact
    RT – meter burn (ex moves, etc)
    LT – stance shift

    RB to interact with stuff changes depending on your character; Batman will use a dumpster to evade, while Wonder Woman will throw it.

    When you move near an interactable object, you should see an “RB” thing flash next to your health bar in the corner.

    Each character has a chargeable wallbounce and groundbounce move (hold back and A / hold forward and A). This can be used to knock people into other parts of the stage.

    Meter can be burned by adding RT to a special move; if the move hits, meter is expended and the move is enhanced.

    You can also extend combos by pressing back-back or forward forward + RT, which cancels the combo into a ground / wallbounce. If near an edge, this knocks them to the next stage.

    With that out of the way (maybe you can wring a bit more fun out of the demo now)…

    The game plays like an enhanced version of 2011’s Mortal Kombat (9). People jump in parabolic arcs, combos are short but “easily” linked via juggles and special moves and so on. There’s less emphasis on big, flashy supers and more emphasis on smaller, quicker exchanges.

    So I would say you are fair in saying it’s a poor fit for a superhero fighting game, outside of street level heroes like Batman. And it doesn’t look like they’re offering even a token excuse as to why Bats can take on Doomsday, not even the silly “rage” thing they did for MK vs DC. It’s not really capturing the spectacle of superhero fights like MVC3.

    But that’s okay. I think it’s just going in a different direction.

    I enjoy fighting games and the general easy-to-play-fun-to-master niche Mortal Kombat has. I feel like Netherrealm studios effectively captured the essence of each character in crafting their fighting style and animating it, without restricting themselves to matchups or power levels that would make sense.

    It looks spiffy, the stages are neat and you can punch people through them, and the gameplay fits a style that suits me.

    But yeah, like Mortal Kombat, character intros and super animations (like X-Rays from MK9) will likely get stale after a while.

    Do I think it’s silly Harley can take on Doomsday? Yes. Would I prefer to have the option taken away? No. The way they are doing it is the second best method of dealing with varying power levels (ignoring them). The first best would be to offer an optional “realism” mode, but we’re sadly not going to see that.

  2. Yeah, another friend of mine is way into this game. For reasons unknown.

    The first time I played with all the buttons and couldn’t get an interaction going, because button mashing is all these games are good for, but knowing now which button specifically activates it I’ll give it another go.
    The other buttons I did indeed work out for myself.

    I do like the idea of interacting with the environment, I think we had that idea back with “Nemesis”. I doubt this one change will manage to make me impressed with the game. The characters move too slow, combat does remind me of MK (not a good thing), and in general the controller felt awkward for controlling the game.

    I imagine it will become a game I play randomly when various friends bring it up and want to play it. I will thus enjoy it as much as I enjoy MvC.
    Honestly I still think Nemesis is the better super-based fighter. One day a good super hero fighting game will come out, and not a fighting game featuring super heroes.

  3. Since the subject is up, I suppose I’ll toss in my two cents.

    I’m looking forward to this game. Generously, at least.

    I’m excited enough about the idea, particularly because it reminds me in aspects of the Justice Lords back in the Justice League animated series (which I can now sadly say is more than a few years back) so I’m interested in this from a narrative standpoint.

    Which is silly for a fighting game, I know.

    I have mixed feelings about it coming from the Mortal Kombat camp, as I’ve never really been into their games, but I’ve heard the overall play value of MK9 is quite good, and so far I haven’t seen anyone punching the vertical air repeatedly.

    Whether Harley Quinn (as she’s the token example) should be able to take on Superman or Doomsday or whomever… I kinda care. I don’t really mind if there’s not a reason I suppose since maybe it’s just fighting game for the sake of fighting game, but I’d appreciate it if there was a consistent internal logic to it all.

    To that end though, haven’t played the demo, probably won’t. I usually don’t unless I’m really unsure about the game, and in the cases of some demos, they didn’t accurately inform the final purchase anyways (such as El Shaddai which didn’t really work out, or DmC which largely did).

    So hopefully your negative experiences with the characters feeling similar(ish) will not be reflected in the larger game as a whole, but I’ll have to see. There are differences to be observed with speed and strength that have to be considered and hopefully every character will not suffer the same overall moveset.

  4. I feel like it might make you both feel better to know that this game will feature an option to toggle the controls to something more Street Fighter esque.

    To whit: MK relies on just the four cardinal directions; so a “hadoken” instead of being down, quarter-circle forward, is down, forward.

    This can make MK games a bit touchy when using an analog stick, because the game will seemingly register random inputs and you’ll biff the special move or fatality.

    I don’t know if the SF mode will completely remove this problem, but it’s an interesting feature none the less.

    Poe > the overall play value of MK9 is indeed quite good. Overall the production values and breadth of modes and options put games like Street Fighter to shame, especially considering MK was always the lesser of the two on the FG circuit.

    I mean, there were separate story and arcade modes, separate fatality and general training modes, 1v1, 2v2 tag and something like 20+ stages to fight in, and a challenge mode.

    As well, the story mode was actually very fun and seemed to make something coherent and, dare I say good, out of the plot for MK1-3.

    Compare this to a big contender like UMVC3, which has, like, nothing.

    If Injustice is on par with that I think there’s plenty of game to go through, and the gameplay is solid from the perspective of someone who is into fighting games.

  5. Street Fighter mode, eh? I’ll likely be using that then. As few fighting games as I play, I’ve touched far more SF than Mortal Kombat.

    Aside from Persona 4 arena (which was such a dense example in the opposite direction) I have been disappointed in the single player experiences of the last few fighters I’ve checked out. Soul Calibur V was the worst offender since the series used to offer so much more in the past, but MVC3 was definitely a close second, though I would add in point that I wasn’t expecting much in the way of content from it to begin with. I had more issues with the Ultimate version, which I played for the entirety of one night and was for all intents and purposes superior, but lost me in that none of the work I put in on the original version (achievements, endings seen) really factored in at all.

    So, yeah, I’m hoping/reasonably expecting good value for the single player front on Injustice.

  6. Poe, speaking of Justice Lords have you checked out “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths?” It’s a vague revisiting of the concept, also a loose adaptation of a popular comic arc, and an unofficial bridge between “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited”. Also, it’s really friggin’ awesome. I had a couple players watch it since their comic knowledge was limited and this helped prime them for an adventure. As a bonus the DVD also contains the Justice Lords episodes.

    Trod, yeah I think the SF mode could help. I dearly love the 360 controller but the stick doesn’t work for me and fighting games, and the Dpad is just abysmal. Perhaps the SF mode will create a workable bridge. Also one day I need to replace one controller due to it’s finicky habit of resting in the vaguely up position. Sometimes during the demo all my dude did was jump.

    I have also given the demo another run through, with both Bats and Wondy (I simply could not care about Lex any less). I do enjoy the environmental interactions, they do bring a fun level to the game. I wish there were more, and again a more sprawling fighter would push that, but they are fun here. I even admit to having a bit of fun as bats by repeatedly smashing doomsday with the dumpster. I like that bats can reuse the environment items. But then doomsday grabbed the dumpster and smashed it and I had an ‘uh-oh’ moment. So i’ll totally give the game that.

    I must also state that bats and Wondy still feel too similar. I can also easily imagine Green Lantern feeling the same. That said I’m sure there will be vast differences between characters I just wish they had went with a bit more variety in the demo. Maybe given us Flash or something.

    I also realized (actively, I had noticed it but not registered it) that you have two life bars in the game, likely as a ‘seamless’ way of integrating a two out of three round structure. This is a way I feel the game could have altered itself to give me the sense of separation between the classes of heroes.
    I think the different classes of heroes should have had varying levels of health bars. Lowly humans such as Joker, Quinn, and Catwoman could have one bar. You powered, but ‘fragile’ heroes such as Cyborg and Flash could have two. And Heavies like Superman, GL, and Wondy could have three.

    This would make the niche characters who shouldn’t be able to hang more of a challange and to win you would literally have to rely on skill. Whereas the heavy hitters could get by with flailing. Also you could further customize a few characters by adding bars. Batman is human so should be one, but he’s peak human and has an armored suit so he gets two. Lets him hang with the big dogs. A way better ‘power’ option that electronic bats.
    And doomsday could have four life bars, because he’s unstoppable.

    That right there, that one change would actually make me interested in the game. Also, add innovation as opposed to the same basic ‘two out of three’ that every main fighter has.

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