E3 2012: Injustice: Gods Among Us Preview
With liberty and INJUSTICE for all
Before the Los Angeles Convention Center opened its doors to E3 2012 a trailer had been released for a game called Injustice: Gods Among Us. The trailer was for a brand new game by NetherRealm Studios, the masterminds behind Mortal Kombat. Now I know what you're thinking -- or rather, I know what you should be thinking. Didn't Mortal Kombat and DC cross paths before? Let's go back to a distant year you may remember, a little diddy I'd like to call 2008. That year, the MK vs DC campaign proudly proclaimed that worlds would collide, and boy, they certainly hit each other in a forceful way. It's a conversation all gamers have had at least once, ever since the birth of titles like Marvel vs Capcom and Super Smash Brothers, "Hey guys, what if Mortal Kombat went up against Street Fighter? Or Tekken? Or hell, Marvel or DC? Har har har, that'll never happen."
But then, it did.
The game wasn't bad but it wasn't the greatest. The story was entertaining, if not a tad bit short. The combat was... o.k. I've never been a big fan of the 3D fighting style of Mortal Kombat. To me, it always felt a bit choppy, not as smooth as the 2D combat the game had started with. So after recently hearing that DC would once again be involved with Mortal Kombat I thought, "Oh god, we're going back to 2008. Unimpressive combat and lame 'fatalities.'"
I'm the type who will happily eat crow, and after seeing Injustice: Gods Among Us at E3 I've been stuffing my mouth with an unhealthy amount of black bird.
The demonstration at E3 has managed to turn my simple curiosity into a desperate need to have this game in my collection. After standing in line for about forty-five minutes we were all taken into a room to watch a live demonstration of the game. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed, but everything is still fresh in my mind as if I had seen the gameplay five minutes ago. The first thing to comment on is the graphics. This may very well be the most beautiful fighting game I have ever seen. Even the main screen of the characters just standing there was impressive, from Wonder Woman's flowing locks to the details in the Flash's costume. The demo featured six playable characters: Superman, Batman, Woman Woman, Flash, Harley Quinn -- who's got yet another wicked new redesign -- and Solomon Grundy. This tells me that it's going to be more than just heroes battling it out, but villains.
The first match up was between Superman and the Flash. The two men giving the demo first showed us some close-up shots of both combatants. For a game still in development the details are ridiculous. The shading, the amount of effort put into each costume, even the way each character stands shows how much work is being put into this game. For example, the Flash can't seem to stay still, and can you blame him? Besides a certain blue hedgehog he's the fastest thing alive. Superman, meanwhile, floats off the ground -- we get it, you can fly, and we're all jealous o.k.? Characters also enter into stages in their own, unique way. The Flash, of course, runs into battle faster than the eye can see. Superman starts the battle as Clark Kent, then immediately rips away the business shirt to reveal that legendary "S." It may have been my excitement over the game, but I swear the music got a touch bit more epic when the buttons were ripped from his shirt. Just like the character entrance, their exit is just as fitting -- Superman rushes off to answer a call for help, leaving his adversary defeated and embarrassed from the ass kicking he (or she) received. I didn't get to see the Flash's exit since Superman had been the victor in the match.
The stage for the first battle was none other than the Bat Cave, and if you saw the trailer with the vast amount of violence via knocking your opponents through the stages then you know what's coming. This technique has been done before -- Dead or Alive comes to mind -- but Injustice seems to be set on perfecting it. Before getting into the environment destruction I want to talk about the combat first. Each character's move set fits them. The Flash's combos are quick and deadly while Superman is a powerhouse, complete with laser eyes and other super powers. After a couple of punches and kicks it was time to see just how interactive the stage was. We were told that each stage would have at least two areas, and each area has a way to use the stage against your opponent. Even the methods used to take advantage of the stages fit the characters -- there are barrels you can toss at your opponents in the Bat Cave and Flash will roll underhand while Superman can lunge them over his head because of his super strength. Also, in the Bat Cave, you can actually use the bat computer. There's a big red button you can hit that will make the Batmobile fire missiles at your opponent. This creates a different kind of match, one where you will try to keep your opponent away from certain areas so they can't attack you.
As far as knocking your opponents into new areas, Injustice is one of the most brutal games to pull this trick. Because these are superheroes and villains, they can take bigger hits, so be prepared to see bodies flying through steel structures, brick walls, lead pipes, glass windows, even a ride through an elevator left the poor thing dented and busted up like it had gone through a riot. Each new area is completely different than the previous one with new ways to use the environment against your enemy and gorgeous backgrounds to battle through.
After that match up came Batman and Solomon Grundy. This match was a great way to show how different each character really is. Since Batman isn't gifted with super powers, he relies on his fighting skills and bat gadgets. This may seem like an impossible task against someone like Solomon Grundy, but with the right skills and techniques Batman was just as ferocious as "Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday..." With games like this there's always the question of, "How do you beat someone like Superman?" Well, watching the Batman match showed me that it's definitely possible to take down the Man of Steel or other overpowered opponents. Everyone is actually on an equal playing field, no matter how powerful they may be. In fact, everyone seems to be equal in abilities and power; it's just that everyone is strong in different ways. What makes Batman so awesome, for example, is that he's able to handle himself against opponents who are much stronger than him, and the game keeps that in mind. Solomon Grundy may be a large, intimidating giant, but Batman doesn't even break a sweat.
The demonstration took place in a new location that was being called "Future City," the area doesn't have an actual name... yet. We got the same demonstration that we did with Superman vs. The Flash -- the close up on character details, the character entrances and exits, combat, interactive stages, and knocking your opponents into city buildings. It's the small details that really impressed me. When Batman was knocked through a building, there were people running around, staring at the carnage around them, and you could actually hear them gasping and panicking as the Caped Crusader went sailing through the window. Also, just like the Flash, Batman wasn't strong enough to throw certain items at his opponent -- the item in question was a car -- so, instead, he used his bat tools to knock it into Solomon Grundy. And, like Superman, Solomon Grundy was able to pick the car up and toss it across the stage like a toothpick.
The last things I want to address are super moves. If you remember those X-Ray moves in the latest Mortal Kombat, these moves were pretty similar. There was no X-Ray close up, but there was a super meter that needed to be built up before executing this devastating attack. Each character that pulls it off correctly gets their own cinematic before -- for lack of better words -- beating the crap out of their opponent. Just like the move sets, these moves fit each character too. The Flash literally did a lap around the world before delivering the final punch. Superman, meanwhile, decided to knock his enemy into outer space. Batman's super move was full of flashy martial arts and the use of his gadgets while Solomon Grundy... pulled his own tombstone from his stomach. The best part about these harsh techniques -- and about Injustice in general -- is that I never once wondered about fatalities. I actually didn't care. When MK vs. DC was coming out a huge complaint was with the lack of actual fatalities. The combat is so devastating in Injustice that you don't even think about ripping off someone's head. You don't need it; you're fine with throwing cars, breaking windows, and bashing your opponent's face in.
Unfortunately we only got to see those two matches so I didn't get to see what Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn could do. There were a lot of empty question blocks that littered the character select screen which makes me wonder who else is going to make an appearance. The Joker? Nightwing? Catwoman? Green Lantern? Martian Manhunter? Hawkgirl?
Gasp, Aquaman?! The Wonder Twins?!
Whoever enters the world of Injustice will certainly be lucky, because NetherRealm Studios is definitely treating these DC icons with the utmost respect. They look amazing and don't hold back, knocking each other senseless until they're the last woman -- or man -- standing. I can't wait to see more from this game and will be anxiously waiting for a release date, ready to throw my money at it and play for hours and hours on end. What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat? What is the source of all of this fighting? Especially since the heroes seem to be fighting each other. The demonstration didn't answer any of these questions but I was told this: if you liked the story mode in Mortal Kombat you will love the story mode in Injustice. Mortal Kombat's story mode, according to the men giving the demonstration, was Story Mode 2.0. The story mode in Injustice will be Story Mode. 3.0. Knowing this, on top of everything I saw at the demonstration, this game is something that any fighting game fan, comic book fan, DC fan, NetherRealm Studios fan, building smashing fan, fans of the color blue, fans who like cheeseburgers... no matter what you're into, Injustice is something you need to be excited for.