DC Comics is making quite the push for supremacy in the multimedia superhero entertainment realm. Sure Marvel had The Avengers, but DC Comics successfully launched the New 52, they’re in the sweet spot between one of the most epic trilogies ever made and one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer and now they have a fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, that isn’t a crossover with a bunch of obscure Japanese video game characters I don’t give a shit about.
Injustice had a pretty impressive pedigree. That’s a word about dogs and how fancy they are, but I’m applying it to this game that I’m talking about for cleverness. It’s already set in the popular DC Universe and boasts most of its heavy hitters, minus Superboy Prime, but on the other side of the coin Injustice is also a product of NetherRealm Studios, the game developer behind 2011’s brawler Mortal Kombat 9. Unfortunately Injustice doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts.
The mechanics of Injustice are pretty standard fare for anyone who has ever played a fighting game ever in their entire life from the aforementioned 2011 Mortal Kombat to the just about to be mentioned 1992 Mortal Kombat. You mash up and down and left and right and B and circle and X and square and flail your character around on the screen like the living personification of a combatant broken record while all of your dumb friends juggle you around the screen like the Bobby Fischer of virtual fisticuffs. If you don’t think that’s bullshit then Injustice, and my spite, may just be for you.
Of course, even if you do relish in unlocking your inner Fischer, you may want to think twice was you find out that Injustice doesn’t have any fatalities, or even their pussyfooting shithead little brothers brutalities. Back in my day after I spent five solid minutes spamming my opponent with the one ranged attack I could execute and fluking my way into victory, I was rewarded handsomely. A scary guy, who I call “video game dad” would say “FINISH HIM” and then I would rip out my embarrassed opponent’ s butt through his own butt and there would be butt blood everywhere. It was great. And murder. And if a fighting game doesn’t have murder than what’s the point? Sure each character has a super move, but let me ask you this – do your opponents still draw breath after being hit with a super move? Yes. Which is the wrong answer.
Those gripes aside, Injustice should appeal to any DC fans out there if only for the prospect of pitting a solid roster of characters against each other. It’s pretty fun to wage grudge matches against your least favorite characters with your most favorite characters, or to turn an AI Bane’s difficulty up to 11 and watch it beat the living day lights out of an unsuspecting buddy. Unfortunately that novelty tends to fade quickly and the single player campaign does little to help. Because it’s not very good. Because it’s bad.
Essentially the story of Injustice boils down to an alternate universe (this is where you take a break from reading to groan, roll your eyes, slap your forehead and lazily pantomime jerking it) where the Joker tricks Superman into being a dick and then Superman decides that since he was already a dick he may as well be a mega dick and then somehow regular Superman and all his buddies from the regular dimension [mime jerk here] get sucked into the mega dick Superman universe [and here] and then you fight people and Superboy Prime never shows up. Spoilers.
The story is only about five hours long, but it gets old about an hour in because it never fully engages you. Somehow even the all mighty Kevin Conroy seems flat amongst the deflated narrative. Of course this is where you tell me “hey butt guy, fighting games aren’t about story, they’re about fighting, which is why they are called fighting games and not story games, butt guy.” You would be correct. Which leads me to what I have discovered to be my second biggest problem with Injustice: I really hate fighting games.
[In this paragraph I go into the constraints of fighting games and how, in my opinion, they’re a little too heavy on the “game” side of things whereas titles like Bioshock or Mass Effect or Fallout have really pushed video games beyond being a plaything. Then I talk about how, as a gamer that came up in the most recent generation of gaming, I’m not even sure if what I like is actually video games, so much as the heightened narrative simulations they’ve become. Sure the basic vocabulary for Mario and Skyrim fundamentally the same, but on another hand one is a photograph and the other is a three hour movie in IMAX 3D High Frame Rate. And then I blabber on with more pretentious stuff within the already pretentious mechanism of these weird pretentious parentheses all the while being pretentiously self-referential.]
But enough fluff. I’m done pulling my punches and I’m ready to get real.
On to my biggest problem with Injustice: Gods Among Us.
I have written not one, not one and a half, but two full blog posts on why I should be Aquaman.
Aquaman is in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
I do not portray Aquaman in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
When I saw Aquaman on the back cover of Injustice, I thought to myself “that’s funny, I don’t remember being contacted to portray Aquaman in a fighting game.” And I wasn’t. And it wasn’t funny.
The Injustice Aquaman is a chump. He looks like a chump. He dresses like a chump. He sounds like a chump. He fights like a chump.
He has one move where he bloodlessly stabs his opponent in the belly with a trident and another move where he does some water blast or something and then some other move where he gets a shark to bite you, which is pretty cool because it’s a shark and all but not as cool as it could be. He also has a bunch of moves I can’t figure out because the buttons on my controller are stupid or whatever. Whatever.
The point is Aquaman’s roster is all the evidence you need to see that NetherRealm Studios and possibly even DC Comics themselves haven’t even the faintest inkling of Aquaman’s inner workings. Which is where I come in.
The real Aquaman would have a move where he stabs his opponent with a trident in the butt and then there is a bunch of butt blood all over the place and then he would have another move where he gets a mackerel and hits his opponent with it on the butt and the mackerel gets a bunch of butt blood all over it and then he does his super move where all of the butt blood attracts a shark and the shark comes up and Aquaman’s opponent is all like “oh man this thing is going to bite me on the butt” and then the shark is just about to bite the guy’s butt and is like “psych” and bites him on the dong instead and then Aquaman would be like “mind if I butt in” and then he and the shark would nudge elbows and then Aquaman would kick the other guy in the butt and he would fly through two saloon doors. Then Aquaman turns to the shark and is all like “there is so much butt blood on my boots,” to which the shark replies “I just bit off a penis.” Then there’s a solemn silence like “brothers to the end” or whatever, and then they laugh and laugh.
You’re welcome DC. That one was for free. And that was just off the top of the head. So yeah. I rest my case. I should be Aquaman. Still.
Also Injustice was “okay” on a scale of unjust to just and a zero on a scale of zero to one Superboy Primes.
Also I suck at fighting games.