Thursday, August 4, 2016

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition: Not Enough To Sway Non-Gamers!

The Good: Awesome graphics, Engaging storyline
The Bad: Requires a genuine gamer to get the most out of most of the game play options
The Basics: Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition was enough to convince me I will never truly be a "gamer."

During the brief time earlier this year between my fully defeating Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (reviewed here!) and my beginning a months long gameplay that borders on the obsessive with Star Wars Battlefront, I spent a couple of weeks absolutely enchanted with playing Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition. When I told my brother-in-law that I was getting a Playstation 4 (reviewed here!) for the family for the holidays, he picked me up Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition because he knew of my love of the DC Comics universe. After months of not playing it - Star Wars Battlefront truly is addictive for me! - I went back to the game today so I could review it as part of my DC-themed week in the lead up to the cinematic release of Suicide Squad (reviewed here!).

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition is, at its core, a fighting game, which is not something I am generally a fan of. My brother-in-law was right in his thought that I might enjoy the game because of its setting - I did. However, Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition was the definitive video game for me that caused me to recognize that I will never be a true gamer. The reason for that is simple (and I learned it from playing Injustice: Gods Among Us); people who are raised on gaming seem to develop the ability, like musicians, to see something on the screen and translate that to their fingers. As someone who was a pretty terrible clarinet player more than twenty years ago and who never was much into gaming, that type of mental/physical acrobatic is not part of my skill set. Even more importantly, remembering complex controller button and joystick movements and applying them is not something I have the ability to do well. As a result, I discovered by playing Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition that for me, more complex gameplay is essentially just pretty lousy button mashing to try to get through surviving rounds.


Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition is a video game that encompasses multiple universes in the essential DC Comics multiverse. As a sweeping DC Universe game, the players are able to play mainstream characters like Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern and second-string heroes and villains like Solomon Grundy, Zatanna, Deathstroke, and Lobo. Fans of DC Comics properties might also be psyched about how villains like Killer Frost, Black Adam, and Aquaman are playable in multiple skins and personas. Major locations in the DC Universe are presented and players can play through the main movie story - where the story progresses until each battle point and then players play through the battle that the story has led to - or they can choose combat between two characters and do one-on-one battles, much like Street Fighter.

The main story game is fun and provides players with something intriguing to watch between simple button-mashing battles. The story-based battles do not allow players to choose the characters they play, nor the adversaries they face. As a result, players get the chance to play the full pantheon of heroes and villains and try all the many attacks offered by them.

In the simple fighting game, players can choose which character they want to fight with - including various skins (appearances, for non-gamers) - against any one else. This is the opportunity to see how a fight might turn out between Green Arrow and Cyborg or Wonder Woman and Solomon Grundy. Sadly, however, fans of the DC Universe will quickly discover that player proficiency outweighs any sense of fidelity to the powers and abilities of the characters represented in the game. The idea that Green Arrow would last more than two seconds in a fight against a psychotic Wonder Woman, for example, is utterly ridiculous to fans of the DC Comics source material.


Opening on Earth where Metropolis has been destroyed and millions of people killed, Batman interrogates The Joker about where he obtained the nuclear bomb which destroyed the city. Superman, overcome with fury, breaks into the interrogation and accuses The Joker of drugging him and causing the destruction which led to Lois Lane's death. Superman, in his grief, kills The Joker while Batman is powerless to stop him. Elsewhere in the multiverse, the villains create a coordinated attack, organized by Lex Luthor. While Batman is incapacitated by Deathstroke, on Earth most of the primary heroes are forced to deal with the threat of Doomsday, while the Justice League Watchtower is attacked by Luthor himself and defended (poorly) by many of the sidekicks of the a-list heroes. When Batman learns that Luthor has given The Joker a nuclear weapon, he rushes to stop him. In the ensuing fight, Batman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and The Flash are teleported to the universe where Superman killed The Joker and has now taken over.

There, the heroes from "our" universe fight the heroes who have allied with the tyrannical Superman. The alternate universe Superman has taken up with Diana and has control over most of the people still standing. The heroes from "our" universe struggle to aid the alternate universe's Batman in getting into the Batcave to get a weapon that can stop the tyrant Kal-El. In fighting the alternate universe heroes and villains, the heroes from "our" universe gain compassion for the victims of the citizens of the alternate universe and they strive to break up Superman's powerbase and save that universe . . . before they are trapped there forever.

Game Progression

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition is a pretty straightforward video game that features a side-on view for the battles, set in key environments with pretty active backgrounds. The battles are very straightforward and while the story progresses and there are different styles of one-on-one battles - from simple conflicts to tournament-style battles that feature consequences from one battle that carry over into the next conflict - the gameplay is essentially the same from the first battle to the last. Defeating an adversary is entirely based upon one's ability to hit the right buttons in the right order faster than one's adversary.

The exception to this are the major attacks. There are meters in the lower left and right corners of the screen that show players how their power is building to a major super-powered attack. Each character features an attack that, when activated, deals extreme amounts of damage to an opponent's life-meter and plays a little movie with exceptional graphics to illustrate the extreme nature of the fight - like Doomsday pounding his opponent through the entire core of the Earth and then beating them back into the main battlefield. Those unblockable attacks are very cool and players have to figure out when best to play the attack to get the most out of it.

Players can also learn to use the environment of the battlefield itself to do damage to their enemies. Players can throw their enemies into the background and throw statues at their enemies. They can also break walls to send tidal waves against their enemies and throw enemies through walls to access alternate battlefields!


The Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition game was designed for high definition systems, like the Playstation 4, Wii, and similar systems. We played it on the Playstation 4 connected to our Sony Bravia HD TV (reviewed here!) and it looked and sounded great. This might well be the first video game I have played since getting into gaming (at all) with which there were no perspective issues, which was incredibly nice. Other than Wonder Woman being rendered so incredibly topheavy from cleavage as to be occasionally disturbing to watch, the characters are pretty impressively rendered. The other interesting aspect of the game's look (for me) was that changing a character's skin (outward costume) did not change their ability. So, for example, playing Doomsday as a Black Lantern did not suddenly give the player the ability to either raise the dead or transform the enemy into a Black Lantern as well.

The sound effects are accurate to the sound effects from the DC Television Universe's, including using Stephen Amell for voice of Green Arrow in at least one of the skins. When things are destroyed, though they sound like real damage is being done. The characters sound good and the inclusion of actors like J.G. Hertzler for characters like Deathstroke is pure geek genius casting!


Because Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition has the linear narrative and the freeplay combat option, there is high replayability to the game, though once one has not played it for a few weeks, going back through the tutorial to recall all of the sophisticated moves becomes pretty much essential. I was surprised by how quickly the moves came back to me after not playing for six months. That said, I discovered that more sophisticated moves - like punching someone through a wall and moving them to a secondary battlefield - was not part of the simple instructions available at the beginning of any battle.

As well, the online component to Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition was more frustrating than it was at all enjoyable. While professional gamers probably see things like server lag and such as cheap excuses, even when I was at my best - winning consistently against the AI on Very Hard settings - getting my ass kicked repeatedly online by players around the world was absolutely no fun.


The Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition is a great environment for a fighting game and the movie/play content makes it well worth trying for DC Comics enthusiasts. However, it is - at its core - a simplistic fighting game with incredibly complicated move controls that make it a tough sell for more casual gamers or those who just love the DC Comics Universe.

The various skins for this game include content from:
The Killing Joke
Blackest Night
The New 52, as well as Red Son, Arrow, the Arkham City video game franchies and the alternate universe from the game itself.

For other video games, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Season Pass
Angry Birds Star Wars
Star Trek 25th Anniversary for Gameboy


For other video game reviews, please check out my Software Review Index Page!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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