SDCC 2012: Watching Superman Commit an ‘Injustice’ To Nightwing’s Noggin

In broadest terms, Injustice, much like Mortal Kombat vs. DC simply drops the venerable comics line into the classic bone-breaking Mortal Kombat formula. That in and of itself would make the game a curiosity, something for the DC faithful during the gap period between major fighting game releases. But thanks to a wildly diverse move set (at least among the eight fighters available in the SDCC preview), developer Neatherrealm has spun the concept a bit by introducing numerous interactive elements to the environment that add Injustice strategic rather than simply cosmetic effects to this fighter.

Find out why I can’t want to get back into the Batcave after the jump.

I had the opportunity to check out the game at the DC Entertainment booth during the show, right around the time that WB Interactive and Netherrealm announced the inclusion of heroes Cyborg and Nightwing to the Injustice lineup. Accordingly, during the two matches I had to play with a Netherrealm rep, I decided to give both characters a spin.

Nightwing is a multi-stance fighter like Mortal Kombat’s blind fighter Kenshi: his two stances swap out from a twin baton attack to using his compound staff to tussle with his opponents. He had a healthy amount of speed to him, although like most characters with multiple stances, I imagine he’ll have a little bit of a learning curve to truly master smooth combos.

Cyborg, meanwhile has the feel of the other part-robot fighter Jax. He’s one of Injustice’s “power” fighters like Superman or Wonder Woman, able to fling heavy environmental objects at more gadget-focused foes like Nightwing. While Cyborg has a satisfying heft to his movement, he’s not at all lumbering or slow. I never felt particularly punished for pulling off one of his crushing attacks but at the same time, it never felt like I was able to exploit this Justice Leaguer’s moves. Cyborg, like several characters in the game, has a special defensive move: by holding down B (I played the 360 version of the game), I was able to recharge Cyborg’s health meter, although he was left open for attack.

But the reason I really wanted to get some time with Injustice: Gods Among Us was to find out what kind of impact the environments would have on the fights. Would they simply be a series of triggered effects a la DOA’s tiered levels? Or simply provide some visual to paper over slim gameplay? Or maybe, like Mortal Kombat, they were a nice way to cap a match like those iconic spiked pits or vats of acid.

Not so much on any of those approaches. Elements like a car that can be thrown at your opponent by a heavy character, or a potentially explosive piece of equipment dangling from the roof of the Batcave can chip away a nice amount of your opponent’s health or provide some interesting juggle opportunities. While I absolutely loved the little background details like Superman’s menagerie of animals in their crystal enclosures Fortress of Solitude, but if you pay too much attention to flourishes like those, you’ll miss foreground elements that could potentially help you turn the tide of battle.

I didn’t get nearly enough time with the demo as I would have liked (plus, a busy Comic-Con show floor is a suboptimal place to really dig into a new fighting game). Still, I’m impressed with what’s on display in Injustice and its focus on layering extra strategic elements into what could have simply been a reskinned Mortal Kombat.

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