Taking their extensive experience with the Mortal Kombat series, developer Netherrealm Studios has plenty of fighting pedigree. So fans of superheroes have been excited to get their hands on the dark DC comics-based Injustice: Gods Among Us. While the console version is substantially different overall, the iOS version is still a team-based fighter with tons of content and super-powered brawling.
The game is also, rather oddly, a freemium release. So, it’s free to download and play, but there is an endless pit just waiting to take your money. Injustice starts off by giving players three random characters (we had Deathstroke, Cyborg, and Harley Quinn), and almost immediately adds new ones to the line-up. More will have to be hard-earned through hours of fighting and earning in-game cash, or not so-hard-earned by buying them outright with real cash.
There are also support character cards to earn or buy that either aid specific characters or the whole group by providing boosts like extra health and damage percentages. Each level consists of at least five 3-on-3 matches. Since the story is all about characters fighting across dimensions, there are multiple versions of each character as well. Essentially, this means a lot of the matches are spent fighting the same characters over and over. As the game progresses, new characters are added to the opponent mix, but unlocking them is a constant, slow struggle.
Another method the game uses to entice players into microtransactions is the way each match costs a certain amount of a character’s energy. When a character’s pre-game energy bar is depleted, you’ll either have to switch them out or use your precious energy reserves to recharge them. Obviously, getting more energy reserves quickly can easily cost money. Like many freemium games, Injustice is banking on a player’s impatience, but in some cases the cost of your favorite characters is simply too much.
Batman, for instance, costs 182,000 credits, while Superman is a whopping 220,000. Since most rounds earn around 600-800 credits, it would take countless hours of fighting repetitious matches to earn anywhere near enough for them in the game. Spend $100, though, and you can instantly have 1,500,000 credits!
As for the gameplay itself, Injustice is mostly successful as a mobile fighter. The controls are entirely tap- and swipe-based. All players do is attack essentially. Rapidly tapping on an opponent will do regular punches and kicks, sometimes leading to a combo finisher performed by a swipe in a randomly prompted direction. Swiping in any direction will also attack and allows for some smooth ways to perform combos, but you’ll hardly have to deviate from the standard tapping to get by.
Each character’s super move power bar increases as they fight, leading to powerful finishing blows, and these are great fun to use. The main problem with the combat system is that there are no counters, blocking during a combo is nearly impossible, and there’s no way to dodge or avoid damage. This can lead to some incredibly cheap and sudden losses.
Injustice looks excellent, if certainly not as good as its console counterpart. The Unreal engine lends itself to detailed, sharp characters and backgrounds. The music is dramatic and the voice work and sound effects are all big budget here.
While the freemium nature of Injustice does take away from the overall quality and design, it’s hard to not recommend the game to fighting fans. There are hours of playtime here even if you never spend a dime on the game. It looks and sounds great, and while the fighting system isn’t terrific, the combat is entertaining enough to hold your attention. Just don’t count on playing as the heavy hitters without spending either lots of money or lots of time first.