Injustice: Gods Among Us – Throwback 10

There have been a lot of DC Comics inspired video games over the years, from Superman on the Atari way back in 1979, to the various versions of the 89 Batman, to obscure characters like a Swamp Thing game on the original Nintendo, and Sgt. Rock On The Frontline.

Despite this large catalogue, there have been relatively few games that get held up as being really good. The Arkham games have been beloved, and the various Lego DC titles are popular, but the hits seem few and far between. In 2008 an unusual experiment came out, Mortal Kombat vs DC, which saw the two franchises meet. The results were mixed, but it did plant the seed for an idea.

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Created by NetherRealm Studios, responsible for the popular Mortal Kombat series, Injustice: Gods Among Us would ditch the other franchise completely, and be a pure DC game. Set on a different world somewhere within the DC multiverse, the story begins in the past, where the Joker has caused Superman to inhale a gas that makes him think that Lois is his deadly enemy Doomsday, resulting in him accidentally killing his wife and unborn child. Unfortunately, the Joker had connected a nuclear bomb to Lois’ heartbeat, and upon killing her it detonates in the heart of Metropolis, destroying the city. The angry Superman kills the Joker, and begins a campaign to bring real justice to the world.

Five years later, that world is ruled by Superman under his One Earth Regime, with the former hero little more than a fascist dictator. A small resistance of heroes, and a few villains, fight back against his regime, but are struggling to make much of a difference. The insurgency thinks that it might be able to a access a kryptonite weapon that can take Superman down once and for all, but needs the DNA of all the core Justice League members to do so – and several on on his side. So, the insurgency leader, Batman, pulls the needed heroes in from another universe to help them.

© 2013 Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Injustice: Gods Among Us plays very similarly to most fighting games: you have your characters on one side of the screen, your opponent is on the other, you fight to the best of three rounds by depleting the others health (though the game does things a bit differently by giving each character two health bars that you need to deplete, but it’s essentially the same). You have basic attacks, combo moves that you can unleash, and even special attacks that are unique to each character. Unlike most fighting games, however, you don’t pick just the one character and play through the story.

Much like NetherRealm’s previous game, 2011’s Mortal Kombat, the story mode puts you in control of multiple characters at different points of the story, jumping from character to character as the story progresses. This change to the formula gives the player the chance to try a bit of each character during the campaign, allowing you to see which of the roster you prefer for different modes. However, it did add the wrinkle that each time you felt like you’d begin to get the hang of a new character the game would switch them out for another, causing dips and spikes in difficulty at times. Outside of the story mode, the game featured the expected versus mode, as well as a challenge mode, which consisted of 240 character specific challenges that almost act as a training mode, often requiring the player to master a specific skill or move; as well as some more unusual challenges.

© 2013 Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The game managed to pack in a decent roster of characters to play with, including Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Aquaman, Black Adam, Lex Luthor, Green Arrow, Barry Allen Flash, Deathstroke, Bane and others, including alternate skins that turn existing characters into other versions, such as a Jack Garrick Flash, and John Stewart Green Lantern. The game does play it a bit safe with some of the character choices, however, and the majority of the characters on offer are ones that the general public will have a passing familiarity with for the most part. It definitely seems designed for casual fans who may never have picked up a comic; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us received mostly positive reviews upon release, and was the highest selling game in the US for the month of its release. The popularity of the game not only resulted in a sequel game coming out in 2017, but a comic series being produced by DC to cover the five years between the death of Lois Lane, and events of the game. The series, written by Tom Taylor, would bring in characters that weren’t featured in the game, and expand out to encompass the entirely of that world’s DC universe in more than 100 issues. An animated feature film adapting the game was also released in 2021, though it does deviate from the original story.

Injustice: Gods Among Us wasn’t the first time that DC Comics played in the waters of fighting games, but it was the first really good one.

Injustice: Gods Among Us was released in the UK on 16th April 2013.

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