INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US Comes Early on iOS

Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile

Review By Seth Robison

Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

 

This year’s most anticipated superhero video game takes off early exclusively on iOS platforms (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) with the free-to-play Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile game app. Gamers engage in a hybrid card/three-on-three fighting experience that features almost all of the console version’s announced characters each with variant costumes, unique special attacks and stats that can be upgraded via combat or in-game currency. 

Taking place in a simplified version of the console version’s alternate reality storyline you are issued a small handful of DC characters in the form of cards that come to life as they are pitted against a series of AI teams in each of twenty-plus battles that steeply increase in difficulty as you progress to fight ‘boss’ level characters in challenging three-on-one fights. The game’s roster includes all the Justice League heavyweights like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Nightwing and Cyborg as well as villains like The Joker, Harley Quinn, Black Adam, Deathstroke, Doomsday, Lex Luthor and the enigmatic Catwoman.

 

Winning battles earns you experience points to level up the character cards you’ve used and some in-game currency with which you can purchase packs of random cards or specific ones individually at a markup to unlock particular special attacks, stat bonuses or high level characters. For the impatient, these coins can be purchased using real money.

The core of the game does what it can to ape the frantic three-on-three kinetic style seen in the  vs. Capcom series, but it is strictly limited by the capabilities, both in hardware and touch-screen controls, of the Apple platforms. The combat instead will feel very familiar to those who played the console version of the Injustice: Gods Among Us developer’s previous mobile game, Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, itself a game whose mechanics are in the Infinity Blade family. Basic attacks are limited to two types: taps that bring forth light strikes and swipes that deliver heavier blows. Completing a combo, really just a string of attacks, brings forth a split second chance to add another swipe to cause a knock down. Successful attacks build your super gauge, which you can tap to unleash, though the top two levels (of three) can only be unlocked by leveling up.  You can also block by pressing two fingers to the screen, though in practice this is tricky to use effectively. While the basic combat devolves into screen-mashing, the experience is buoyed by the detailed (for the platform) character look, voice work and animation.

 

The fast and furious gameplay facilitates the most addicting aspect of Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile, the plethora of unlockables. Not only can you get that rush from opening a pack of virtual cards, but the game cleverly links to the upcoming console version as well. Clearing mobile battles and/or unlocking characters will unlock icons, backgrounds and even character skins in the console game. This process even works both ways, as the unlock menu reveals that accomplishing tasks in the core game will unlock items in the mobile version. It should be noted that this option requires registration with WB Games’ social/marketing network. Another bothersome element is a meter that limits the number of times you can use a particular character in a fight before he/she has to ‘rest’ to recharge. While it’s obviously good strategy to cycle in new characters to level them up, this system feels completely artificial, since you can buy their way back into the fight if you are unwilling to wait.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile is not just a must-play for those who are locked in for the release of the core game, but the fact that it is free should work well as an advertisement for the retail experience. It’s a great example of the 24-hour gaming experience that technology can now deliver and gamers are lucky it exists around a world that’s starting to feel as deep as the comic book universe that spawned it.

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