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Injustice: Gods Among Us

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Injustice: Gods Among Us.

TranscriptEdit

Have you ever realized five minutes into a twenty minute presentation that your idea isn't going to fill the whole time slot, ended up rambling disconnectedly on and around the subject for a bit too long until everyone realizes that you're just stalling for time until you can think about something else? That's what I'm reminded of by the people who make Mortal Kombat who are currently called NetherRealm Studios but these things can be a bit liquid.

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe seemed to fill NetherRealm's entire road map. "Hey, for our next project, let's make a new Mortal Kombat! Um, duh, now let's make DC Universe Kombat!" Written yourselves into a corner now though, haven't you, lads? Unless your next game is Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe vs Mr Men.

Still, with Injustice, I really think that NetherRealms have found their calling. I remember complaining that every single character in MK9 had exactly the same body type and all the women's outfits were designed by hormonal teenage boys with scissors for hands, and while most forms of media were considering these to be negative qualities, in superhero comics, they're the fucking bread and butter! And that's not even mentioning the writing in MK9, and I know that some superhero comics are really well written, so let's not generalize and say that MK9 was written about as well as a superhero comic that was written about as well as the plot in Injustice: Gods Among Us, if you're still with me.

Basically, Injustice is about Superman being evil, again. It takes me back to those terrible silver age comics that always try to come up with some shocking twist to put on the front cover, and all they could ever come up with was "Superman is now evil," or "Superman is now fat," because Superman is an utterly bland character with only two qualities: A) good and righteous and just, etc.; and B) built like the after picture on a Charles Atlas advert.

Lois Lane, Superman's pet woman with no life or ambition of her own or even physical presence in this game, died. So Superman got really cross and became Space Hitler. Also Lex Luthor becomes good, and looks exactly like Bruce Willis for some reason. The rest of the Justice League find all this out after being transported to the parallel universe where that is the case. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it's a parallel universe because of course it is! Who wants to be Arkham City and have characters undergoing significant growth that carries actual weight and interest because it can't immediately inconveniently be reversed at a moment's notice? No, nice comfortable boring status quo, please! The Justice League we're familiar with show up and go, "Everything is different here and therefore wrong, commence beatings!" You can't extend your jurisdiction to all the infinite universes, you dozy twats; there aren't enough hours in the day!

Anyway, this is the story mode which is very similar to MK9's story mode in that you go from character to character and spend the first round of each chapter getting worked over like the squeezy lemon on Pancake Day because all your special moves have changed. Your character runs into a place where two enemy characters are standing around, yells "Stop being such dicks," they say "Shan't", you beat one up then the other. This applies to every chapter. Well, I know the one-on-one fighter doesn't have much to work with and has to use a lot of talky cutscenes to tell a story but where's the sense in having characters fight in cutscenes? The one thing your gameplay does and you take it away! It's like casting James Earl Jones as someone who can't speak!

Mind you, what makes even less sense is a cutscene with characters fighting in the middle of a fight which is what the super moves are. I'm not saying it wasn't impressive the first time Superman punched Batman into orbit then smashed him back down again with the MIR Space Station(in that it was impressive that he wasn't reduced to precipitation by the time he hit the ground), but when these lengthy and overblown things are happening at least once a fight, then after a while you might as well call them the "super cigarette breaks".

It's worth remembering that in Mortal Kombat 1all Sub-Zero did was pull a guy's head off so the spine dangled forlornly from it like the last string of sausages that nobody wanted, but because it was really hard to do, it was basically my generation's moon landing. Injustice also has needlessly long pain sequences when you kick someone off the stage, but those actually take a bit of work to pull off. You've got to lure them over the wall with promises of cakes and fizzy drinks and then do the big wind-up punch that could be interrupted by a nearby sneezing microbe, so they're actually kind of satisifying. It's not just mashing the trigger buttons and then breaking for lunch.

The actual fighting (and this being a fighting game, that means pretty much everything) kind of has too much going on, like a madman with a welding torch broke into the bell and whistle factory. There's your three standard attacks, your special attacks, your super move in case you need to pop into the kitchen and check on the roast in the oven, and the Circle button is a unique superpower thing which for some characters is obvious - it makes Green Arrow fire a green arrow, for example - but in other cases, I don't have a clue what it does. Some characters just make a kind of grunty noise and then continue with a coloured haze around them like just farted powder paints.

The tutorial wouldn't let me leave 'til I demonstrated I could do something it called a "bounce cancel" which was like pulling a three point turn in the Death Star trench and never came up again. Also there's clashing. And let's give NetherRealm a round of applause for figuring out how to work quick-time events into one-on-one gameplay. You press a button, your opponent presses a button, the one who pressed the best button wins. The gameplay boiled down to its simplest possible form perhaps, but I can't help but feel like we're losing a sense of agency.

I still think one-on-one fighters are a bit out of place in AAA, probably because it's a very arcade-y genre in a market geared more these days for online play and pissing on its own shoes. The usual splatter of disconnected gameplay modes always feels a bit scrappy, but Injustice is so desperately trying to fit in to bombastic AAA style over substance with its super moves and quick-time events, it's like James Earl Jones punching himself in the balls to fulfill his dream of singing soprano.

So people who like fighting games might be turned off by all the faffing about and the too many characters who might as well be all the same dude wearing different pajamas, and people who like superhero comics may find the depictions of their beloved characters stayed at best. Compare the Catwoman in Arkham City to the Catwoman briefly depicted in this game's story campaign as Batman's lovesick stalker who's only there so he can push her away and show how drearily fucking above it all he is.

Personally, I don't like fighting games or superhero comics so I'm not even sure why I'm talking. Might as well clap like a circus seal. (weakly claps hands seven times) Wonk!

AddendaEdit

Built like a shit brickhouse: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

I'd ask who the fuck Killer Frost is but it'd only make people want to send me emails

But who would win in a fight between Doomsday and Howard the Duck

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey

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