written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It's about a week away before the game comes out, to keep me a bit busy and whet my appetite a bit before launch, I have been playing the iOS version of Injustice: Gods Among Us. Now I know what you're saying, true the idea of a full console gaming experience isn't quite what the iDevice family of hardware is caoable of doing, but what it does do very well are Freemium format games. For those that don't know the term, the idea behind Freemium is to drive revenue to the publishers/developers buy releasing the game free of charge and encouraging the purchase of ingame currency or certain unlockables to build on that gaming experience. Granted there are examples of the Freemium model being much like extortion, but with this release, it really wasn't an issue. Personally I didn't drop a dime into it, while I did enjoy playing it, my main focus was to unlock things for the console version.
If you've been following the Injustice: Gods Among Us digital comic releases then you'd know what has led to the events of this game. In short, Superman is pushed over the edge by the maniacal Joker, this sends the Man of Steel into a downward spiral, forcing the world to be at "peace" under his tyrannical regime. That is essentially the story, as far as this iOS game goes, there is no story... just the fights! It would have been nice to have some semblance of a story mode. You go into battle after battle fighting the same variations of heroes and villains from the DCU... overall, there is no story... or at least any story to really be had, but to be honest this wasn't too much of an issue.
I've been amazed with what developers have been able to do with the iOS platform. Games look silky smooth and ever since games like Infinity Blade or Horn have set such high benchmarks for what a game can really look like on this device, it has only gotten better. At best I would compare the graphics to PS2/PSP era graphics. The character models look very detailed and in the midst of battle I never noticed some of the graphical jaggies.
Level design is fairly bland, in the midst of a battle, most of the action is zoomed in fairly tight aside from brief moments of having your opponent knocked back. At best it was barely recognizable where I was, at worst I wondered if that was a Batmobile or a tree. Character models are animated pretty fluidly, the fight were fast and fierce and little touches like Harley Quinn flipping her legs back and forth while laying on her stomach or the way Nightwing wields his kali sticks screams attention to detail. From the footage I've seen of the console version, plus playing the demo a bit, the game looks to be well taken care of by the folks at Netherrealms. On that note! I'm glad that Netherrealms chose to develop this rather than just source it out to a third party.
The fighting system is fairly simple. You don't have to move your character at all, they just move on their own. As far as striking, you tap the screen for a light attack or swipe for a heavy attack. Surviving in battles is knowing when to go from light to heavy and vice versa. At times when you land a successful combo with light strikes, a screen prompt with an arrow going up/down/left/right will indicate whether you can land a knockdown blow. To block attacks you hold two fingers down on the screen. Timing is everything when it comes to battles, as you beat (and get beaten) your special gauge increases. All you have to do is tap it to initiate it, then follow the prompts on the screen and hope your opponent doesn't block.
As far as blocking goes, I wish the developers would have given us the option to add a dedicated block button "somewhere" on screen, I feel that having to hold both fingers down is not as intuitive as taping/holding a spot on the screen. As far as battles go, it's simple and easy to jump in, after a short tutorial period the the start, you really don't have to learn much to play the game.
Characters and special moves are unlocked by spending in game currency (Power Credits) and here is where the Freemium model goes into effect. You don't "have" to buy credits, but if you'd like the game to be a bit easier or be able to unlock some of the more popular/stronger characters like Batman and Superman, you either have to earn the credits (which can be a daunting task) or just buy the credits. Each battle spends energy, when a character run out of energy, you have to either use an energy card to recharge them, wait for more energy to be accumulated, or swap them out with a character with the sufficient energy. This sort of format makes the game fairly ideal for grab-n-go playing.
It's a fun distraction but one I don't feel I will likely continue after its big brother comes in the mail next week. Who knows, I may continue playing it... but honestly I don't really see that as a possibility. It's fun but the lack of any real story and the high cost/time needed to ear enough power credits to afford some of the heavy hitters like Supes or Bats... really doesn't feel worth it...