…And Injustice For All (But Mostly Ray)
Looking to build off the success of last year’s Mortal Kombat, the folks at Netherrealm Studios are taking a crack at bringing some of DC’s favorite superheroes to life in gruesome with Injustice: Gods Among Us. With a roster of nearly 30 characters to ship with the game, comic fans everywhere wonder which of their favorite heroes and villains will make the cut. At Gamescom in Germany it was announced that long-time Batman love-interest Catwoman would join the fold, and here at NYCC the strong push for Green Arrow’s resurgence continued with his announcement. And EGM’s resident comics expert and reviews editor Ray Carsillo and associate editor Josh Harmon finally got their first hands-on with these latest additions.
Ray Carsillo, Reviews Editor: Obviously, Josh, I am supremely amped up for this game and the anticipation that builds with these one at a time roster reveals is killing me! But being able to go hands-on with new characters each time makes me even more positive about this game’s April release next year for a few reasons. First, the game looks like all it needs at this point is some more balancing as everything else looks to be extremely polished. Second, I love the fact that each character feels completely different from one another and Green Arrow and Catwoman accentuated this even more. Third, comic books are awesome.
Josh Harmon, Associate Editor: I’d say I agree on all three points. Unlike you, I hadn’t had a chance to go hands on with the game yet, so this was more a first impression for me more than anything else. One of the most striking things was just how familiar the game felt to me after playing a fair bit of Mortal Kombat. I knew it was going to be the same engine, but movement was practically identical. That’s not a slam either. The way I see it, it just means that Netherrealm was able to take all the great things from MK and build outward from there. I think that’s probably a major reason why the game already feels so polished—with possible exception of the balance, which you noted earlier. I think Green Arrow in particular needs a bit of toning down, given how summarily I managed to whoop you. What’d you think of your time with Ollie?
Ray: First off, you didn’t “whoop” me. You spammed his basic arrow attack since it’s mapped to the B button and it was while I was playing with Catwoman for the first time. When I used Nightwing the next round, it was I who summarily whooped you with some eight-hit escrima stick combos. But I digress. Aside from the arrow attack that again screams of needing balance, I thought Ollie handled well enough. He had some nice combos that resulted from him using his bow as a weapon, including pulling it apart mid-combo to reveal a short dagger, and I loved his character design with the hood. His ultimate move was also one of the most impressive I’ve seen so far as he uses a shockwave arrow to launch his opponents, tie them up with another arrow, and then rain exploding arrows on them from above. I think Flash running around the world is still my favorite in terms of their ultimate moves, but Green Arrow definitely cemented himself pretty high up there so far as well.
Josh: For sure. His emphasis on ranged (or, as some sore losers might say, spammy) attacks was definitely more my speed than Catwoman. I think she captures the spirit of the character pretty well, but she just seemed a little mundane compared to everyone else that was on display. Solomon Grundy pulls his tombstone out of his chest and beats you with it. Batman turns you into roadkill with the Batmobile. And Catwoman…politely claws your face off a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s an essential addition to the roster, but I just can’t help but feel she pales in comparison to a lot of the other characters that have already been announced. There’s no shock and awe from her, and I think that makes her pretty forgettable for me at this point. Am I wrong there?
Ray: No, I was definitely underwhelmed by Catwoman. I love her character design, but aside from this she felt a little clunky. Her combos didn’t flow nearly as effortlessly as I felt they should, and they weren’t anything particular special, as you mentioned, compared to what a lot of the other characters can pull off. She worked in her whip a little, but there was no flash to her moves and when you look at how over-the-top a lot of the other characters are, she doesn’t stack up.
Josh: Speaking of flash, I’m pretty impressed with how much is going on in the stages. I know you’re already intimately familiar with everything but the new stage, Insurgency, so you’re probably a bit better equipped to explain the nuances of what sets them apart from each other. I, on the other hand, am just going to sit here and gush about all the awesome stuff that’s happening. The backgrounds are pretty impressive in taking on familiar settings from the comics—the Batcave, the Fortress of Solitude, and now LexCorp—and there’s a ton of interactivity. Hard to top punching someone through a wall, sending them bouncing through the LexCorp assembly line to get whacked on by the robot arms, and then finishing the fight in the secondary arena.
Ray: Each arena’s attention to detail has blown me away so far, and Insurgency is no different. Insurgency ‘s major difference compared to the other arenas though is that it actually seems to have less interactive objects than the Batcave or Fortress of Solitude, but makes up for it by giving you the most intricate cut scenes yet after you uppercut your opponent into a new section of the factory. The one interactive object in the environment that changed the tide of a couple of our battles together, however, is a massive steam pipe on the left side of the first stage that any of the heroes can jump up and break, blasting their opponents with a staggeringly hot steam stream that then allows you to move in for a devastating combo. When you consider then that even the arenas take on a personality all their own, Injustice: Gods Among Us looks to be one of the deepest and most character driven fighting games we’ve possibly ever seen, and I can’t wait for it.