In just a matter of days, you'll be able to get your hands on Injustice: Gods Among Us, the DC Comics' licensed fighting game produced by WB Games and made by Mortal Kombat developers Netherrealm Studios. This developer has gone to great lengths to make this game feel like it has its own identity between the fresh fighting action and the ability to use items from the environment, whether it's Solomon Grundy throwing around a vehicle or a combatant hitting a button to fire missiles from the parked Batmobile in the distance.
But there's more to the game than general fighting. Netherrealm has also managed to add content for single players to enjoy as well like a deeply layered story mode where you take control of various characters throughout the campaign or the Challenge Ladder-esque S.T.A.R. Labs, where you can take on hundreds of different tasks and unlock goods for your fighters when they go back in action. Furthermore, linking the console version to the recently released mobile edition of Injustice can net you even more rewards.
Let's start off with the single player campaign, which features the Joker pulling off his most vile stunt to date. We don't want to go too heavily into spoiler mode here so let's just say that when Superman gets him in his grasp, it's a whole different ball game than when Batman is interrogating him.
From there, the opening of the story mode puts you in the boots of the Dark Knight as he heads to Arkham Asylum to locate the Joker. It isn't long before he runs into Deathstroke, who's been called upon by a rich Lex Luthor to eliminate him. They brawl for a while before Batman continues his investigation only to run into Lex a bit later on, who reveals just what he's up to.
Netherrealm has incorporated a neat mini-game here, one that can help turn the tide of the fight in your favor if you're quick enough with your buttons. Luthor begins stomping towards Batman and button prompts begin appearing on the screen. If you successfully hit them, he throws Batarangs that do damage to Luthor. Throw enough and he'll have a smaller amount of energy going into the fight
Netherrealm has already confirmed that these are sprinkled throughout the campaign mode to keep things interesting. The story gets much deeper, explaining the Joker's motives and how each member of the Justice League – and their adversaries – are involved. We're avoiding spoilers…at least until our Spoiler Alert publishes in a few weeks.
S.T.A.R. Labs is a mode that's literally sprinkled with hundreds of challenge stages for you to move through. Some are deceptively simple, requiring you to do things like hit block a certain number of times in a match. Others call for a much taller order, such as fighting against Black Adam and asking you to throw him a certain number of times in a match (in this case, 10) while also performing eight special moves and two of the super moves. Depending what difficulty level you have the game set to, this can either be a cakewalk or a genuine pain in the butt. If you're up for it, beating these challenges comes with a reward.
This leads to earning XP and powering up your character for later challenges in the game while unlocking more rewards in the single player campaign including skins, badges, icons, and those all-important Achievements/Trophies for your respective version. (Sorry, Wii U owners.) Not every mission is the same - there are some missions where you're required to do certain actions in unique ways. One stage in particular worth talking about involves Superman flying from Krypton to Earth as a child and in order to avoid hitting meteors along the way, you have to hit specific button prompts as they appear next to the debris. So let's say that you see a floating rock that says "Y button and up" or something along those lines. You have to quickly input this command, or suffer taking damage - too many hits and you fail the challenge.
Another stage involves Superman flying through a side-scrolling stage and destroying asteroids that get in his way, all within an allotted time limit. It's a bit different from the prior stage, more hands-on in terms of action, but very cool regardless. One other stage featured a fight between Catwoman and Harley Quinn with Two-Face in the distance, flipping a coin and firing out bullets at whoever came up on the coin – requiring you to stay on your toes anytime you end up in the sights of his pistol. The way these challenges change up is quite refreshing and you'll want to spend a little more time in S.T.A.R. labs on your own, rather than always jumping online for competition.
Finally, the ability to connect with the mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us is a huge plus. Though we weren't able to see just what kind of features came with connectivity during our demo time, we were told that intertwining the two keeps track of your progress in each game and lets you build XP a bit quicker and unlock additional characters. The fact that the mobile/iOS version is free-to-play is a nice touch, especially after you spend $60 on the console one.
Injustice: Gods Among Us has a lot to offer, along with online match-ups through your respective online network. You'll be spending a great deal of time with this one when it arrives next week for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U. The question is…which character will become your favorite? Hmmmm…