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Injustice Gods Among Us preview: Immortal combat looks good to us

We go hands-on with the single-player portion of NetherRealm's superpowered beat 'em up

This article originally appeared in GamesMaster magazine.

We have a comic book confession to make. We used to have difficulty telling Deathstroke (DC Comics's two tone outfit wearing, sword and gun wielding mercenary) apart from Deadpool (Marvel Comic's two tone outfit wearing, sword and gun wielding mercenary).

They have different personalities, sure, but when it comes to looks Marvel was blatantly [allegedly! - Ed] raiding DC's costume cupboard. Our shame at our inability to tell one anti-hero from another was as palpable as kryptonite's radioactive glow, and thus we walked the halls of Comic-Con in fear of being discovered and cast out. Thankfully, we now have an excellent way to remember who's who: Deathstroke's the one who beat us to a bloody pulp three times in a row.

This is our first hands-on with the Injustice: Gods Among Us campaign. An epic narrative will see the DC Universe reduced to near rubble, as all the heroes and villains from DC lore find excuses to punch one another. You, meanwhile, will hop between characters as the story unfolds, helping you learn the basics of each character before mastering them in multiplayer.

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We start with Batman - and it's the Caped Crusader who gallantly takes three beatings from Deathstroke on our behalf. The campaign starts in the middle, with pretty much every DC character we know (and a few we don't) slugging it out across Metropolis. Bats, however, is headed for Arkham Asylum to make sure The Joker's still under lock and key. Surprise! He's gone, but Deathstroke is lying in wait when Batman turns up.

And he's dangerous. NetherRealm has ensured that character's combat styles reflect their abilities, and as such Deathstroke blends blades and bullets when fighting. Our usual Batman tactic of keeping our distance and dashing in for the odd cheeky combo is rendered useless here - because Deathstroke's assault rifle is much more useful than a few piddling Batarangs at range.

Our only option is to close the gap with Batman's grappling hook, which attaches to your opponent and pulls The Dark Knight in for a flying kick. When close in, the best chance is stay in range make use of the Asylum's context-activated environmental features (Bats can grab Deathstroke and slam his face into cell walls).

But Deathstroke isn't the only new character we have the pleasure of being beaten up by. Bane and Lex Luthor join the fray too, and the latter has dressed for the occasion, clad in a hulking suit of power armour that makes his whole Evil Genius schtick a bit redundant, frankly. Bane works almost exactly as you'd expect - he's slow, hard hitting, and yes, his Signature Move involves slamming Batman back first onto his knee.

Luthor is a dash more interesting, we'd say. He looks like one of Injustice's so-called Power characters - heavy hitters such as Superman and Solomon Grundy - but he behaves at times like a gadget character. At one point he lays down proximity mines between himself and Batman, thus negating our cheap grapple kick manoeuvre.

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Thankfully, during our fight against Lex, the battle takes place his laboratory-cum-evil lair, which means there's plenty of ways to turn the fight back in our favour. Odd robotic contraptions sail on rails above the fighting: a tap of RB/R1 when mid-air means Batman can wrench them out and fling them at his foe. On the other side of the level is one of those giant globes of which supervillains seem so fond of. Press RB/R1 here and Batman can wrench it from its pedestal and bowl it at his opponent.

Such environmental commands are important to Injustice. You know that comic book moment where the hero is cornered but does something fiendish to escape at the last moment? Injustice tirelessly attempts to recapture that moment, and frequently succeeds.

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