Injustice: Gods Among Us
Warner Bros Interactive
The Joker detonates a nuclear device in the heart of Metropolis, leaving millions of people dead and the city in ruin. Two of the casualties are Superman's family: Lois Lane and the son they brought into the world. Superman's eyes ignite, turning a hellish red. He raises his hand and plunges it into The Joker's chest.
As the screen fades to black, The Joker laughs maniacally - but not loud enough to bury the sound of Superman ripping out his heart.
This is how Injustice: Gods Among Us (Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) begins. For NetherRealm Studios, the developer behind all of the gore in the Mortal Kombat series, Superman's heart-crushing descent into madness is a routine event. For DC Comics, this is a side of an iconic hero rarely seen. The event turns heroes against heroes and generates a universe-spanning war.
The Joker's final stand has NetherRealm's bloody fingerprint all over it, but it isn't indicative of Injustice's overall tone. Outside of this shocking incident, the game plays out like a DC comic book, with little blood and gore. The famed capes and cowls of the DC universe take centre stage, and NetherRealm pays homage to their legends both in the arena and through extensive comic book-related fan service.
Whether Doomsday is knocking Superman into the core of the planet or Bane is breaking Batman's back, a stratospheric level of violence accompanies almost every fight. The carnage towers greatly in scope over the combat seen in NetherRealm's previous venture in spandex, 2009's Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.
Injustice nails the spectacle of a superhero brawl. If Superman punches an opponent with all of his might, that character is rightfully launched into space. NetherRealm treats this gawk-worthy blow as an event, stopping the fight so the player can sit back and view a cinematic shot of Planet Earth jettisoning a small speck from its atmosphere.
Every match fought generates experience and the chance to rank up and unlock new hero images, icons, and banners for an online profile. Online multiplayer is handled exceptionally well. The daily challenges are fantastic, and the ability to create personal rooms can keep a group of friends together.
NetherRealm clearly had a blast creating Injustice. The team's appreciation of the DC universe blends nicely with their well-worn Mortal Kombat formula to create an experience that is a success on both fighting and comic book levels.
Andrew Reiner (McClatchy-Tribune)