Hands on “Injustice: Gods Among Us”

Soloman Grundy was born on a Monday, smashed Flash on a Tuesday…

After playing more than seven rounds of “Injustice: Gods Among Us” at this year’s Penny Arcade Expo, and sneaking in a few more after that (much to the booth staff’s displeasure), I am actually impressed and excited for this game.

I was skeptical at first when seeing “Injustice: Gods Among Us” at E3 this year. There wasn’t enough information present there for me, and I might have missed the hands-on demo on the E3 show floor, so there’s also that.

For those of you who are fans of  “Dead or Alive,” you’re going to love the environmental attacks and stage shifts that are at your disposal in “Injustice.” We watched as Flash and Cyborg, recently announced as a playable character by the way, battled it out in the Batcave

Now, Bruce Wayne has a lot of toys, one of them being the Batmobile. Thank goodness he puts a giant red button on one of his computers that fires missiles out of it, which really helped Flash get out of the stage’s corner after Cyborg boxed him in.

That’s right, you can use the Batmobile in your fights.

Cyborg wasn’t having any of that, though, and punched the Flash so hard he fell all the way down to where the Batboat docks in the underwater portion of the cave. On his way down he hit pipes, rocks and all manner of obstacles that really took a chunk away from his health. The fight raged on and hanging electrical wires proved fatal for Flash as he was knocked into them frequently by Cyborg’s uppercuts.

We were shown demos like this at least every hour, and I personally liked the one they did with Superman and Nightwing, who also a newly-announced character. Catwoman has also joined the roster recently, so there’s at least three girls for you to kick  superbutt with.

When I actually got to play the game though, I had to try out Superman and just see how powerful he was.

Now, the controls are extremely similar to that of “Mortal Kombat,” so if you’re a fan of that franchise or familiar at all with their combos, then you’re in like Flynn with this game.

I got to fight a few battles against Wonder Woman, and it was pretty intense to say the least. My opponent and I duked it out in the Fortress of Solitude and I got beat pretty soundly in the first round by Wonder Woman’s lasso and sword. Once I figured out how to use Superman’s heat vision, I kept the other player at a distance, then rushed them.

Gut shot!

The Fortress has its own quirks and interactive items to fight with, like Superman’s Kryptonian spaceship. And when I say interact with, I mean that Superman picked it up and smacked Wonder Woman across the face with it. It was kind of brutal.

Combat is different for each character.

Superman and Wonder Woman are slow and plodding tanks, but they’re able to rush effectively since both of them are actually floating above the ground rather than running.

Batman and Nightwing are ranged attackers that can mix it up at close range.

Flash can actually speed up and slow down the entire game so that he can work in some fast combo attacks.

People seemed to be having trouble playing with Harley Quinn as she was slow but powerful. Solomon Grundy was also kind of the same and people tended to stick with the powered folks more.

Cyborg was the one that I really didn’t see people play with all that much.

Of course, there has to be finishing movies right? No killing moves, but damn there are some painful looking things there. Each character has a small meter at their side of the screen, like in the newest “Mortal Kombat” where you power up their common attacks, or charge it to do a super attack.

Flash’s finishing move involves him runnning around the world to charge up a punch that knocks his opponent into the air. He then speeds behind them and promptly knocks them back to Earth hard.

Superman knocks his foe into space, then smacks them back to the ground like a meteor.

Wonder Woman calls in some Amazons that trap the enemy so she can wail on him mercilessly. So on and so forth.

Something I found rather cool (a stylistic and mechanical choice on the part of the developers) was that there is no round announcer and no stoppage in the fight. Each fighter has two health bars, and when one is reduced to their last health bar, there is a sound or a hit that signifies that the fight has moved to the second half.

Now, the other fighter could still have both of their health bars, but it just shows that the wounded one is on their last legs. Also, there’s custom dialogue for each combatant and their specific opponent.

The representatives from Warner Bros. said they wanted the fights to feel like blockbuster movie battles, without the feel of a fighting game. I think they did a pretty good job, actually.

The game is fun. Real fun. Will it capture your attention for hours at a time? Maybe. There’s apparently a story to the game, too, so we’ll see what that’s all about when more details come out.

As for more characters, there were a lot of empty spots left in the character selection screen when we played. Someone in the crowd asked about Aquaman, and the company rep said, “We cannot comment on whether or not Aquaman will be in the game.”

That means yes, in my opinion. I just want to stab someone with his trident.

The closest thing to a trident so far is Nightwing’s electric staff.