I have been very impressed with Netherrealm’s track record. Their Mortal Kombat relaunch was excellent, allowing the studio to really craft a deep and fine-tuned game free from the shackles of ruched development that Midway often subjected their games to.

And now, Netherrealm has decided to try their hand with the DC Universe. This isn’t new, of course. They did this years earlier with Mortal Kombat Vs. DC, a game that I felt didn’t get enough credit considering it was the last game caught in Midway’s financial woes. And honestly, it’s hard merging a universe of characters known for explicit killing against heroes that simply never kill.

That doesn’t mean they can’t beat each other senseless, however.

Oh, and that happens here. Because the rules have changed, and when you’re dealing with characters that can level cities, it has to be intense.

*small spoiler, but you need to know the plot to understand why things are the way they are*

And the story itself is. After Joker tricks Superman into destroying Metropolis and his family, Superman no longer restrains himself, crushing anything he doesn’t like, and creating a new world order that establishes “peace” through control, fear, and subjugation. It’s an interesting morality tale (one that was explored in the animated Justice League episodes “A Better World”) that blurs the line between hero and villain, and world dictated as Superman shows an uncharacteristically dark and disturbing version of the character. Superman is not defined by his loss, but corrupted in an effort to ensure “Never again”.

Meanwhile, in another dimension, a parallel Justice League gets pulled into the fray, with a a more “normal” view of the characters (and makes for a very plausible explanation why Green Lantern can fight Green Lantern). And so begins a huge story with even bigger fights.

And the fights are huge. Characters feel as they should, complete with signature moves. The roster itself is huge, allowing mainstays like Batman and Wonder Woman, but also characters like Doomsday and Hawkgirl to get some exposure. The environments themselves are fully interactive, meaning that use can use the background to utterly beat the crap out of your opponent. What I find interesting is how these environments are handled. Lightweights like Harley Quinn and the Flash may use objects differently, or simply bounce off of them. Other characters, such as Bane or Aquaman (who is no longer treated as a joke in the DC Universe the last few years) may rip sections out of the scenery and beat fighters senseless. Again, it’s attention to detail that really keeps any fighter from being generic, or “wrong”.

These are also mixed with level transitions not too dissimilar to Mortal Kombat 3, but on a much more brutal scale. There are also super moves that, once enacted, are in some ways more cringe inducing than Netherrealm’s signature Outworld fighters. Again, no killing is involved, though it’s questionable how a player can survive after Superman knocks them into outer space. There are also “Wagers”. It’s a QTE battle event that can restore energy, but to be honest, it’s the only feature that just doesn’t feel intuitive to me.

Graphically and sound-wise, the game is excellent. The voice cast is stellar, with DC animated mainstays (Kevin Conroy as Batman) reprising a lot of roles. The backgrounds are varied, iconic, and beautiful, and even if you don’t like the revised looks of some characters, there are so many downloadable skins that you have a lot of customization to find “your” version of a character. There’s a good story with a LOT of things going on, and a few twists that I wasn’t expecting. The game is a bit Batman-centric, but not overly so, as it does allow other characters and locations a chance to shine in the spotlight.

And typical Netherrealm, the game is loaded with options. Costumes, backgrounds, hero cards, online multi-player tweaks, diverse S.T.A.R. Labs missions that go beyond just fighting…. You’ll be picking at new options for a while. And even moreso, if you download the free iOS version, the two versions link, adding even more costumes, features, and achievements to the other version. Sure you can “pay to play” for features on the iOS, but it’s not mandatory, and it’s a brilliant idea to expand the game and features even further.

After years of so many bad related games related to Superman and company, it’s so nice to see Warner Bros. consistently put out quality titles based off DC Comics lore. And Injustice only strengthens the idea that Mortal Kombat was not some “lucky fluke”. Given time and proper support, Netherrealm has released yet another quality fighter with a fun story, and a lot of care given to the source material.

If you like quality fighters, or want a game that treats the DC Universe with respect and some real diversity, this is a great title to pick up for a lot of competitive brawling.

Very recommended.

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