Thanks to the efforts of my wife I received a healthy amount of cash for Christmas 2013 that was earmarked towards the purchase of a new PS4. My level of excitement for the PS4 wasn’t as high as it has been for past consoles. The launch titles really didn’t appeal to me, and having suffered through the PS3’s length launch drought I didn’t have high hopes for seeing any compelling games for at least a year or two. Still, I knew that I needed to get one before our third child arrived and we completed the purchase of a bigger home to fit our expanding family. If I didn’t get the PS4 quickly, it wasn’t likely that I would see that much money together in one spot again for a good long while.
The PS4 has served as an exemplary Netflix box for when I’m up with the baby in the middle of the night but until recently it hadn’t been used as a gaming machine. That finally changed when INJUSTICE : GODS AMONG US ULTIMATE EDITION was added as a free title for Playstation Plus subscribers. The game had been on my ‘I might try that if I can find it really, really, really, really cheap’ list and getting it for free for my least used console pretty much fulfilled all of my requirements. I downloaded it at once and since my boys had been watching a lot of Justice League cartoons lately I called them in to check it out.
A few moments later I kicked the kids out of the room.
The game is violent. Horribly violent. Spurting blood effects are prevalent through the game and more than a few characters are outright murdered during the story. It’s hard to find games I can play around the kids that don’t include some level of violence but this was too dark and realistic. Cartoon characters that smile happily as they light-heartedly bludgeon each other into puffs of smoke is OK, but Injustice is not.
After getting into the game a little bit I found myself uncomfortable with how the characters looked. I recognize that Superhero physiques are generally exaggerated but everything seemed a little too off to me. For example, Superman’s jaw seemed too pointy, Wonder Woman’s upper chest seemed too elongated and Shazam’s forehead seemed to short. I couldn’t tell if the graphics were a result of poor character modeling or the uncanny valley. The graphic quality of the game itself is actually quite good good, but the character models and a choppy frame-rate frustrated my experience. I expected more from my first PS4 game.
INJUSTICE is a quick paced fighting game. The controls for playing the game and executing special reminded me of the Mortal Kombat games, which have always been low on my list of favorite fighting games. I found the INJUSTICE move set to be too complicated. The game started with a tutorial for playing as Batman but after the first few moves I was lost. Some of the combination attacks or throw reversals required very specific timing, and I found them to be difficult to execute, even in the controlled environment of the tutorial. Eventually I found that button mashing worked much better than trying to be intentional with my moves, and it negated the need to learn how to play the game.
Story mode was by far my favorite part of this game. It throws you through a series of about 50 battles that are strung together by a series of cut-scenes. The story may not make a whole lot of sense (alternate universe with an evil Superman) but it does answer the question I first asked myself when I heard about this game – “How can Batman hold his own in a fight against Superman?”. (Spoiler : There’s a pill for that). Your fighter swaps out every four battles so you are constantly learning how to use a new fighter. While the story wasn’t fantastic it was a good way to make a single player experience out of a multiplayer game.
After finishing story mode I checked the available trophies for the game to see if there was any low-hanging fruit there. There were some trophies for trying out practice mode and classic modes. There is also a challenge mode that I didn’t try that looked like a lot of work, and knowing my competitive nature I steered clear of the online modes. I picked up a few trophies by playing through the classic mode on very easy with remote play on my PS Vita. The remote play feature worked very well and it even seemed to help with some of the jittery frame-rate issues I’d been seeing. I think I’ve picked up most of the trophies that can be achieved without a significant time investment so I’m now done with the game.
I think the biggest problem with this game for me is that fighting games were meant to be competitive. Without some cocky neighbor kid bragging about a (probably fictional) 200 hit combo in Killer Instinct I may have never played the game. I don’t have a cocky neighbor kid of Injustice, so I have no reason to get good enough to wipe the grin off his stupid, cocky face. The single player story mode made it fun for a few hours, and it gave my PS4 a purpose for a time, but I won’t be revisiting this one.
- Lots of playable characters.
- Single player story mode was enjoyable.
- Frame-rate issues.
- Unusual proportions to the characters.
- I wasn’t happy with the controls.