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Injustice: Gods Among Us review: Crackingly overblown entertainment - while it lasts

Inventive theatrics mask loose mechanics in NetherRealm's fighter

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Success in these modes earns credits which can be frittered away in the Archives, where alternative costumes and - yes! - concept art can be purchased. With the entire cast already unlocked from the very beginning, however, it's entirely possible you'll lose interest in collecting incidental trinklets long before you've emptied the store shelves.

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In a sense, the DC Universe is a perfect fit for the developers, because like the gore-drenched violence of Mortal Kombat before it, the spectacle of the superhero drowns out the relative shallowness of the fighting mechanics that power them. That's not to say we don't enjoy NetherRealm's work. Their beat-'em-ups might lack the tactical depth and meticulous balancing of a Street Fighter IV or BlazBlue, but theirs is a cruder, more accessible kind of fun. What Injustice lacks in nuance, it more than compensates with boastful theatrics and OTT slapstick.

Injustice makes you feel superpowered in a way other beat-'em-up's haven't

What's not to like, for example, about a fighting game where the special moves allow you punch a man into orbit (Superman), plough into them with the Batmobile (guess who) or do a complete lap of the world before you knock their block off (The Flash)? Or where level transitions let you hurl villains off skyscrapers, and interactive backgrounds provide automobiles, cylindrical gas canisters, and Doomsday-sized glaciers for you to crown your opponent with?

If there's one thing we love about Injustice, it's that it makes you feel superpowered in a way that other superhero-themed beat-'em-ups have failed to pin down, and each cast member has an imaginative arsenal of attacks that make good use of their character's foibles and helps differentiate them from the pack. You won't find ninety-seven variations on Sub-Zero here.

GODS OF WAR

Comic book fans will love NetherRealm's upside-down and inside-out take on the DC Universe, but you don't need x-ray vision to see the holes that make Injustice a short-term pleasure only. Our major beef is that the game covers for its limited scope by laying it on a little too thick with the gimmick rollers; while entertaining, special moves are over-powered and unintuitive to counter. Similarly, level transitions are devastating - even if we love how interactive the stages are. The over-abundance of props mean it's vital to be aware of your surroundings at all time.

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Other ideas would have been best left in the Batcave. For instance there's an awful 'wager' mechanic, which can be activated at the expense of your Special Move Meter, where both participants pick a button and the game chooses a winner, with the reward being either damage dealt or health restored. Effectively, then, you have a mechanic that changes the dynamic of a match on the roll of a dice. Rrrrrubbish! Oh, and the story mode is peppered with some truly awful QTEs which are about as much fun as sitting on an economy flight next to Solomon Grundy.

Injustice: Gods Among Us isn't a game that's built to last. Short-term exhilaration turns to long-term ennui once the giddiness of its morality-bending world wears off, and for us that make the experience one to pick up in the sales - unless you're utterly Bat-mad. All the same, while it lasts, this is crackingly overblown entertainment.

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The verdict

Fittingly, it's difficult to tell if Injustice: Gods Among Us is a hero or villain. Loose mechanics mean its long-term appeal is limited, but fans of the source material with love the playful way it toys with the DC Universe.

7.8
Format
Xbox 360
Developer
Unknown
Publisher
Warner Interactive
Genre
Beat 'em Up

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