This is one I was looking forward to: a demo for NetherRealms’ upcoming DC Comics-based 2-D tournament fighter “Injustice” hit PSN recently. Having pre-ordered the game and been keeping up with the “Battle Arena” series of videos I was eager to try the game out for myself.
The demo features three playable characters (Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor) in one arena split into two areas: a rooftop and a street in Gotham City. The only mode available is an arcade-ladder style mode, and the player fights the other three characters before facing Doomsday. Starting with the positives, the interactive environments are well implemented; various items such as a dumpster, a large neon sign and even a helicopter hovering near the arena can be used offensively in different ways- Batman will spin the dumpster round on its wheels and slam it into opponents, or grab the smaller, arrow-shaped part of the sign to hit enemies with whereas Wonder Woman and Luthor (in a huge mech suit, power-armor type thing) will pick the dumpster up and smash it into their foe, or pick up the whole sign. There are a few items in each arena and they add a nice extra layer to proceedings. The fighting is also solid- each character has a unique power move accessed by pressing circle; Batman has various attacks involving a swarm of bats, Luthor has a force field and Wonder Woman switches from her fists and lasso of truth to a sword and shield. Rather than a dedicated block button or say, pulling back on the left analogue stick the main defensive function (after just avoiding attacks) is a short button sequence that results in a parry. Given the timing it’s easier to just alternate between wailing on your opponent and jumping away. Oh, and as seen in the various trailers and gameplay videos for this, each character has a “Super move” accessed by pressing L2 and R2 simultaneously, much like “Mortal Kombat 9″‘s X-Ray moves. They suffer from the same problem here- most of the moves shown off so far clearly aren’t survivable by all but the most powerful of characters. Batman runs over his opponent with the Batmobile for Christ’s sake (which leads to two important questions: where did it come from? Where does it go?). Overall, the fighting is fun enough, but as I’ll elaborate on shortly, the game has one major problem, at least what I’ve played in the demo does.
That major problem is that it just feels too similar to “Mortal Kombat 9”. Now, don’t get me wrong- I understand that being developed by NetherRealm, there are bound to be similarities between the two titles. My issue is that in terms of gameplay, the fact that the roster is made up of DC characters seems to make no real difference (certainly not a practical one), other than the lack of gore. The decision to make flying characters hover above the ground and glide rather than walk does lead to some unique animations, but I can’t shake the feeling that it feels too similar. There are re-used sound affects, animations and hell, they even kept the X-Ray idea, at least in spirit. This isn’t too much of a problem- the game is still fun, if a little underwhelming (I myself am looking forward to some more entertaining match-ups) and I’m still looking forward to digging into the full game on April 19th. Besides, as evidenced on this very blog, I’ve gone on to really like games even after the demos had a negative impact.
By James Lambert