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Injustice: Gods Among Us

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad, PS Vita

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Injustice: Gods Among Us | Developer: NetherRealm Studios | Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Card battler, Fighting | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Injustice: Gods Among Us iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the link to jump straight to day three or day seven.

I've talked about my love of comic books before on these hallowed Pocket Gamer pages. And though I spoke at length about the Marvel universe on that occasion, I'm a big fan of DC's content, too.

If you aren't au fait with the type of content DC is putting out right now, let me get you up to speed. Generally speaking, DC's contemporary comic books contain darker and more emotional character studies, as opposed to the traditional 'leap tall buildings in a single bound' nonsense.

Who better to take the helm on a modern approach to the DC universe in video game format, then, than the folks behind Mortal Kombat?

Does NetherRealm Studios's typical brawling style translate well to iOS devices? Join me as I find out over the next seven days.

IAPs explained
Harley's Bag of Goodies is the cheapest Power Credits top-up you can get, priced £1.49 / $1.99. For your money, you get 12,000 of the blighters, enough for one and a half Bronze Booster Packs.

These card packs have random cards inside, but the higher tier pack you choose - from Bronze up to Gold - the better chance you have of getting very powerful cards.

You can also purchase cards individually. These can get pretty dear - the most expensive card is Superman, which will cost you a whopping 220,000 Power Credits.

Since there's only the one currency within the game, you also use this currency to buff the stats of character skills, making them stronger on the battlefield. Finding a good balance between buying new cards and bettering the ones you already have is essential to your chances of success.

To be fair to Injustice: Gods Among Us, you do earn Power Credits simply by playing the game. By putting in half an hour of play, you could easily afford a Bronze Booster Pack and a few upgrades.
First impressions

By the looks of things, Injustice: Gods Among Us is not only a fighting game featuring characters from DC; it's also a superhero-themed eyesight test. The text in some areas is so small that I have to literally squint at the screen and bring it closer to my face to read some of the passages.

Aside from that, though, the game is decently presented - as you might expect from a Warner Bros.-published game with a (no doubt) high budget, a big licence, and a tie-in with a big upcoming home console release.

It's not flawless, mind. Oh, no. The number of animations for your spandex scrappers is seemingly minimal. I mean, I've yet to see more than a few different sets of movements per character. Green Lantern and his mates look great when they're standing dominantly on the battlefield. Spend a few minutes in their company, though, and their limited move-sets soon mean the effect wears off.

The music is suitably orchestral, presumably because you officially can't make anything with Caped Crusaders in these days that doesn't feature a gigantic string section. That said, the "pows" and "thwacks" are meaty, so that's good.

My biggest concern at the moment is that the combat seems really simple... perhaps too simple. It's a two-button system, where you tap for a light attack; swipe left or right for a slower heavy attack; and place two fingers on the screen to block. Unfortunately, the number of combos at each combatant's disposal seems to be rather limited, plus your opponent's AI is lacking, resulting in some easy bouts.

But it's still early. The game can get better - I'm sure of it.

Day 3: Or maybe it doesn't

The 3v3 fighting hasn't evolved at all over the last few days. In fact, I've found that victories come rather too easily. Furthermore, the game has already become a slog, my progress halted only by the game's energy system and my general apathy towards what's on offer.

Fighting generates Power to unleash special abilities - much like the Alpha meter in Street Fighter Alpha. So, you build this Power up by punching the snot out of your opponent, then unleash the move by tapping the meter and rapidly hammering on an on-screen button prompt.

There's no technique to learn here, though. No subtlety to its implementation whatsoever. The move either makes contact and causes damage, or it doesn't.

The quickest way to beat up the opposition is to tap twice on the screen, swipe, wait for a prompt on-screen, and follow its instruction. You can attempt to change things up, but why bother. Especially when this technique gets the job done with minimal resistance.

There isn't even any positional 'game' to master, for you can't move your character manually. If you're knocked down, your hero will get back up, move towards the enemy, stop at a reasonable distance, then restart the scrap.

The option to block is also mishandled, as you'll only successfully defend an attack about a third of the time. Your block input doesn't seem to be recognised quickly enough for it to take effect before your opponent has taken his swing.

My characters - represented as cards - are also gaining experience and levelling-up at the moment. You can supposedly add these experience points to your character and change the way he plays a little. I haven't tinkered with this element yet, though, so I'm not entirely sure what effect this will have on the game.

What I am aware of, however, is the fiddly nature of swiping through the menus. Just selecting the mission you want to take on next takes longer than it needs to, for your flicks often don't register. Well, unless you're incredibly precise.

Day 7: Supermeh

I need to start this segment of the review with an apology.

The combo for easy victory is not 'tap, tap, swipe, wait, swipe'. It's 'tap, tap, tap, wait, swipe'. Not as many 'swipes', you see.

My apologies - I was giving the game's combo system too much credit with that additional flick of the touchscreen. I have only now forgiven myself.

The fighting is so straightforward, so easy that I don't feel like I'm a hero fighting a villain or vice versa. Instead, I'm thinking: 'why am I bothering to play this when a particularly fast-moving insatiable birdie could put up just as good a fight as I can?'

I still don't feel like I have much control over my characters. Well, aside from swapping them in and out when one is low on health; using a special move; or performing the aforementioned golden combo. There's no meta-game here, either, so there's nothing to do outside of the core fighting except spend Power Credits on card packs and upgrades.

The upgrades to your abilities appear minor, but when you're given a new super-move to pull out that can be extremely useful. The absence of any major tactical advantage you can gain by using the higher-power specials is offset by the incredible amount of damage they deal. During these wars of attrition, you see, the heavier the damage, the better.

In one of the early "Power Surge" matches, by the way, you can pull out specials more often (new rules, huh!). However, this still isn't enough to break up the monotonous grind of 'tap, tap, tap, wait, swipe'.

If you're really invested in the home console version of Injustice: Gods Among Us and want access to the unlockables on offer for ploughing through this companion app, then go ahead. Knock yourself out. You're gonna have to go through a thoroughly boring grind to gain access to them, though.

Oh, and that's exactly what the game is, incidentally: a 'companion app'. It just doesn't stand on its own two feet well enough to warrant being downloaded by anyone else.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 22 April 2013
Like the home console version of Injustice: Gods Among Us? Want to unlock some trinkets for it and don't mind trudging through a repetitive fighter with minimal skill requirements? Then, this is for you... weirdo
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