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Video Game Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us 

Unique game offers plenty of surprising superhero face-offs

"I can say without a doubt that there are an infinite number of universes. Some are just like our own ... but for one or two significant events, exactly the same." — Lex Luthor

What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat? Injustice: Gods Among Us is a new two-dimensional fighting game where heroes and villains engage in epic battles on a massive scale in a world where the line between good and evil has been blurred.

NETHERREALM STUDIOS
  • NetherRealm Studios

Developed by NetherRealm Studios, who created 2008's Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot, Injustice: Gods Among Us features DC Comics icons such as Batman, The Joker, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash.

Described by NetherRealm as "Story Mode 3.0," the single-player campaign is an interactive cinematic narrative instead of the traditional ladder-based experience associated with fighting games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.

The original storyline, created in collaboration between NetherRealm Studios, DC Entertainment and comic writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, allows players to control the most powerful beings in the universe as they brawl through destructible, interactive locales from the DC universe. The basic premise begins in an alternate reality, where The Joker has destroyed Metropolis and tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child. In retaliation, Superman murders The Joker in front of Batman in a fit of rage and establishes a new world order, ruling over the planet he used to protect.

A battle ensues between the forces of Superman's Regime and those allied with Batman's Insurgency. The Insurgency discovers an alternate universe, where The Joker's plan did not succeed, and transports several of its superheroes to theirs in order to help them defeat the Regime.

The plot is meant to rationalize the game's fighting mechanics between characters who would not normally battle one another — for example, in Superman's Regime universe, Lex Luthor is a good guy and Green Lantern has pledged allegiance to his arch-nemesis, Sinestro. There's also a plot device that explains how mortal heroes like Batman and Green Arrow can stand toe-to-toe with super-powered characters such as Superman, Doomsday and Shazam.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us is a better-than-average brawler that makes fantastic use of the DC Comics property. There's a deep roster of 24 characters, each with their own combination attacks and jaw-dropping special moves. For Batman's special move, the caped crusader throws a smoke bomb, stuns you with a taser, smacks you in the face with a batarang, and then calls in the Batmobile to run you over! And Superman uppercuts you into outer space, where he promptly pummels the living daylights out of you, sending you plummeting back down to earth like a meteorite.

Each locale is filled with interactive elements and transitions to different parts of the stage. For instance, in Arkham Asylum, you can roundhouse kick your opponent into Scarecrow's cell, where he sprays your adversary with Fear Gas — causing a hallucinatory experience where a now giant-sized Scarecrow slams your foe through the floor, into the basement of Arkham.

From there, toss your rival into another room where Batman villains like Two-Face, Killer Croc, The Riddler and The Penguin smack him or her around. It's chaotic and messy, but the ultimate kind of fan service for those who have always dreamed of controlling their favorite superheroes and villains.

The problems with Injustice: Gods Among Us are typical of most fighting games. The artificial intelligence of opponents can be cheap and infuriating when playing on higher difficulties, and button combinations for chain attacks and special moves often feel sluggish and unresponsive — you really have to master the speed and accuracy of your button presses to truly dominate.

While it isn't the definitive next-generation fighting game that Street Fighter IV or even NetherRealm's Mortal Kombat is, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a lot of fun, with plenty of various modes and unlockables to keep you playing. After completing the story mode and thrashing your friends, you can jump online and test your skills against other players.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is rated T (Teen) for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes and Violence. It is now available for Nintendo Wii U, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and iOS platforms.

(Console Me, Creative Loafing's electronic gaming column, consists of previews, reviews and commentary penned by Charlotte writer Adam Frazier, a regular contributor to CL and the websites Geeks of Doom and Hollywood News.)

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