Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: 'Injustice: Gods Among Us'

This is going to go into some comic book jargon, but I'll use that as a point of critique, as well, at the end. 

I probably should have done this a long time ago, but I never got around to it. So here we go. 

The "story" behind this game pushes on the eye-rolling mythology the DC universe often incorporates to the  max by a kind of ridiculous premise that on one of the bajillion Earths apart from our own, Joker tricked Supes into thinking he was fighting Doomsday  when it was actually Lois Lane. He  kills  her and their  baby, which drives over the edge- first by snapping Joker's neck, then by becoming  supreme dictator of his Earth. The Batman and Lex Luthor of that world were in cahoots in maintaining an underground resistance against him, while any living members of the Justice League are Supes's lapdogs. So Batman and  Lex summon a handful of OUR Justice League members to their own Earth (there's an  awful throwaway line by  Luthor when this is being  explained about how he "had been monitoring [their] Earth for quite some time,"). Eventuallly, you use a Kryptonite laser to incapacitate Alternate Supes and yay, the day is saved.

I won't go into too much more grousome  detail about that  story, but I will reiterate that  there were a lot of moments where I found  myself thinking (or even saying  aloud), "Really?" And  this  is as someone that understands  and  accepts that there is a lot of suspension of disbelief in order to go with everything. The nifty thing about that, though, is there are thus a few times where you're forced to fight yourself- the game makes you play as specific  characters for a few fights as the "plot" progresses. 
However, given the entire range of heroes from which they could have chosen as opponents and that are available to play as in other modes, I found it kind of stupid that there were a few repeat opponents- they could have  at least made the  "story" go in a way that made  every fight against a new person.

So another thing about the way it progresses is every so often, you have a sort of mini-challenge where you have to press buttons in the order shown on the screen to hold off an approaching opponent. I may be old fashioned, but I saw no point in these- it's a tournament style gaame, get to the rounds. 

But there are a lot of options in how to play. Apart from Story Mode, there are various ways you can fight in a pseudo-tournament way that is exactly like when playing Mortal Kombat- which makes sense, given the same people made this game. Like with  Mortal Kombat,  there's an afterword every time you win, and some of them are kind of disturbing: For example, when you beat it as Aquaman, it's revealed that he basically pulls the same shit as Alternate Supes and turns Earth into a unified government under his reign (the shot of him on his throne in Atlantis reminded me of Game of Thrones, in that there was a dude glaring and grinning menacingly into the camera). You can also choose to play against either all rogues or all heroes.

As a fighting game, it really lacks the standard  distribution of button/action applications. By this I mean there isn't a generic "kick" button you can press with any character and know it's going to make the person you're playing as kick. And yeah, that applies to everything. The Triangle, Square, and X buttons all are the buttons for regular/non-fancy attacks, but they vary in what they do depending on the character you're playing as. I find this highly problematic, since that makes figuring out a character without training mode all that more difficult. Sure, training  modes are cool and great for practice, but one  of my favorite ways to learn  characters before was make up combinations of buttons to see if they did anything fancy while playing  for real- I always  found training modes kind of silly in the first place. Which leads  me to... 

Training  mode. Injustice's training mode sucks balls. It only lets you play as Batman (and Supes briefly), and it's really easy to get stuck in one thing for far too long to retain interest (like the part where you're supposed to block another throw- holy poop, it was ridiculous how long I was stuck in that one). And it's supposed to help you figure out how to use the environment to your advantage, but you're only in the Batcave during this mode, so while sure, I can menorize the way to use that Bat computer to do something, it doesn't help me  figure out how to use any other  environments. 

I tried doing their side mission things that work as training, too, but the same thing happened with those as the more official training mode, as in once I got to a certain command I needed to do, I was stuck because the game didn't think I did it right or something... I dunno. I guess my point is the training modes are terrible, regardless of whether you're in the "TRAINING" mode, or the one that's set up like little side missions  with various characters. The best training mode I've ever seen was in Tekken 3, where you pick who you play  as, who you play against, and how high of a skill level at which they'd fight back (and you could even set them to just block and not fight back at all). Of course environment in that game  didn't matter, but if it did, I imagine you could also pick the place you were fighting at, as well.  

Also, the "wager" thing is fucking pointless. You press a button in the middle of a cutscene in combat and just have to wait and hope the NPC pressed a different one? Waste of time, and can throw a round in the wrong direction, too. 

I could spend a LOT of time on all of the female characters, but I'll spare you. Just look at the way Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman stand/walk IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING COMBAT and you'll see why I'd be frustrated- every woman  does this shit, projects her hips and boobs  and ass in ways that look flat-out painful (also, where the fuck does Harly pull all those gadgets out of...?).

So the last negative I'm going to give is the cut scenes. I know they're supposed to blend straight into gameplay, but that decision made the animation in any prerecorded story scenes look terrible. Their faces and mouths moved all wrong when they talked or were supposed to be reacting to something, any hair and cloth movement was far too uniform, the  shine on the skin, clothing, and hair of the characters made them all look too much  like plastic because of how white it was, and their hands would sometimes take on those weird, unrealistic shapes whenever they were using them and especially  when shown grabbing something (but they looked a lot better if the item was in their hand before the shot). If you've ever seen Reboot, the way  they  held stuff in this reminds me of that. 

I'll embed a video below for you now- a lot  of people took the time to edit together all of the cutscenes into, essentially, a nearly two-hour movie. You'll see what I mean  here about the graphics, rrand also get to see some of those silly side-mission things that happen during story mode (not every edited version has  them, though). But I mean c'mon, look at Wonder Woman's hair!

Now, I've mostly been bashing the game, so now let me give you some pros.

The voice acting is all superb. While they did get back some of the greats, namely Sir Kevin Conroy (note: he isn't actually knighted, but he's been the animated voice for the Dark Knight for twenty years now, so that's good enough for me), anyone  new is pretty fucking awesome- Troy Baker, for example, sounds almost exactly like Mark Hamill, the original voice of the Joker- and he's so good that he'll be doing Joker in Arkham Origins (which you'll end up seeing a review for eventually, no doubt). While sometimes horrible dialogue and AAAAACTING can be adorable in games, it usually just makes them painful to play. This one doesn't do that. While sure, there are a lot of cheesy one-liners to get fights going (and end them), that works for this sort of game- not only because it's a fighting game, but it's a fighting game set in a comic universe. 

And okay, so I bashed the cut scenes for their graphics, but the reason for the crappy cut scenes led to some pretty sweet/sleek in-game graphics. I mean, my God, look at this stuff (this video is of Aquaman, my favorite to play as):

And on a related note, I hope you watched that vid of Aquaman- that super-move of his is pretty fucking wicked, and I think more of them are equally as badass than aren't. Batman summons the Bat Mobile and runs  you over; Green Lantern makes a bunch of crazy-awesome stuff with his ring , Raven summons her dad (meaning, you know, Satan), Ares grows a bajillion times larger and stomps on you... A few could have been better, but I like most of them. 

Despite the lack of uniformity to what buttons do, as long as you're with other people at the same (minimal) level of skill, you'll have a fun enough time just button-mashing, too. Most of the characters move quickly enough to avoid each other (and the  ones that don't are easily spotted just by looking at what appears if you hover on them during character selection). I've had a lot of people that have never played try it in my living room,  and  I think every one of them was able to figure out a few moves on their own, so it's possible.

Even though the story mode relies on some pretty awful plot points, I do think it's just insanely fun to play as some of the coolest DC characters out there- hero and rogue alike. I guess that  while it may suffer from trying to do too much at once, it's still pretty enjoyable and not so difficult I'd want to quite, but not so easy I find it pointless, either. I suppose I'd give it a 7.5/10.

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