Imagine an interactive Justice League movie with beautiful aesthetics, clever dialogue, a cohesive story and plenty of action. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a worthy addition to the fighter genre and does DC Comics proud.
A story this epic must have been daunting for the writers. We have lots of important heroes and villains (a roster of 24 characters) to play with and in terms of continuity there is much to consider when you tread the line between what is plausible and what is ridiculous.
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe certainly falls in the ridiculous category whereas Injustice is so superb by comparison I never really questioned character motivation or what was happening because there is careful attention to detail.
Who's good and who's evil?
For those who have not read the Injustice comics (promotional material) here is a taste of the opening story (spoiler alert). Superman is deceived by the Joker and inadvertently murders the love of his life, Lois Lane. Meanwhile Metropolis is nuked. Seething with rage, Supes kills Joker. To end all conflict worldwide our Man of Steel founds 'One Earth' and takes his place at the peak of the hierarchy.
A team of insurgents led by Batman undermine the totalitarian regime and work towards restoring power to the people. To make things interesting there is temporal-dimensional displacement to explain 'duplicates' exchanging blows in a parallel world.
This fascinating story unfolds over the course of a few intense hours. Throughout the campaign you play as a dozen different characters from Green Lantern to Wonder Woman among many others. Different perspectives and the opportunity to sample different moves keeps the game fresh.
The banter between characters is consistently amusing too. Green Arrow/Oliver Queen is bang on target with his one-liners. Joker has his quips and a hauntingly abusive relationship with Harley Quinn, which is more prevalent in the comics so it is brilliant to see that dynamic play into the story.
Are they really Gods?
By now you're probably wondering: but if Deathstroke shoots people in the face why aren't they dead? Early on we learn of a Kryptonite pill thingy that enhances your physical durability. The techno babble throughout is kept to a minimum.
Overall the singleplayer story is a lot of fun. One major criticism though: when you bash a doppelganger, or an opponent that is the same as you, it can get very confusing because the skins are too alike. Jumping back and forth you can sometimes think you're the other player on the screen and before you realise it's too late.
S.T.A.R. Labs and Training
Finish the storyline and hungry for more? Have a crack at over 300 mini challenges that will test every trick Injustice has up its long sleeve. Unlock new skins and bonus content.
Stuck in the campaign or need to learn how to play? Training settings can be optimised for treating the AI opponent as either an idle punching bag or a worthy sparring partner. Get the drop on your foes by learning special moves and combos.
Versus Mode and Xbox Live
Connect a second controller and take on a friend in Versus Mode. Aside from the range of awesome characters to choose from you can also pick the perfect destination for your violent retreat. Use the environment to your advantage and throw dumpsters and barrels at the other player.
Need to deal more damage? Send your opponent reeling through the air and slam them through walls. These transitions, when executed correctly, are spectacular. One of the more memorable transitions is that Arkham Asylum room where several famous inmates take turns beating the unlucky player who stumbles inside.
Other choice locations to visit include the Amazonian island Themyscira, the space station known as Watchtower and that famous city Metropolis.
Do you find fighting your friends too easy? Test your skills online and try not to rage quit. Only those with lightning reflexes and excellent recall will reign supreme on Xbox Live. Show off unlocked portraits, icons and backgrounds via your hero card.
Everyone is special
All fighters have a power bar that fills as you land successful hits. Save it all up for special 'wagers' where you bet your stored energy for a chance to cripple the enemy or regain lost health.
Most people tend to use their power reserves to unleash their
unique special move. Batman goes all out with tasers to the neck, knee to the jaw, batarang to the face followed by a surprise head-on collision courtesy of his batmobile. Aquaman's finisher is equally impressive as he floods the arena by calling the sea, skewers his rival on a trident and offers the helpless victim to a shark.
Injustice is worth your time and money. There are minor flaws in this polished gem but it will shine among your collection of Xbox 360 games. Play it today.