- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2013

DC Comics’ iconic stable of superheroes and villains find themselves in the throes of Mortal Kombat in the third-person fighter Injustice: Gods Among Us (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios, Rated Teen, reviewed for Xbox 360, $59.99).

This comic-book lover’s dream allows the control of two-dozen superpowered legends, compiling many members of the Justice League of America, Teen Titans, Injustice League and Legion of Doom, as they duke it out in one-versus-one matches.

That translates into side-scrolling, jaw-dropping fights rendered in destructible, three-dimensional locations including Wayne Manor, Ferris Aircraft (a Green Lantern hangout) and the Fortress of Solitude between stalwarts such as Superman, Batman, Joker, Green Arrow, Catwoman, Killer Frost and Sinestro.

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Besides the awesome confrontations, the game’s other treat is an incredibly dark story tied to a tragic mistake made by Superman, set in motion by the chemical expertise of the Joker and Scarecrow.

Played out in an “alternate universe” our more evil Man of Steel acts a global dictator on his Earth One and it will take heroes from a parallel universe to contain him.

Black Adam blasts Bane in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Black Adam blasts Bane in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us. more >

Thus begins a rousing solo campaign taking warriors through the tale, one fight at a time, often slugging it out with alternate version of the same character or pairing some rather unlikely combatants.

Before you blather on about how can Superman fairly fight the Joker or Cyborg challenge Catwoman or Green Arrow crush Black Adam, let’s just chalk that up to the finessed plotlines that keep the powers more balanced with use of Kryptonian technology.

Unfortunately, my problem with fighting games persists and to paraphrase Moe Howard “my nerves,” and I’ll add “my poor, blistered thumbs.”

NetherRealm Studios mimics its complex reboot of Mortal Kombat’s finger-twisting attack conundrums to a point that only Mister Mxyzptlk could consistently duplicate.

Pulling off a generous number of incredible moves (from using Superman’s heat vision to Deathstroke firing a rifle to Joker tossing exploding laughing gas canisters) is infrequent at best for me and often accomplished through panicked button-mashing.

A huge saving grace is some of the cooler attacks are easily accomplished by tapping only a few buttons.

Some hits interact with the environment allowing a character to grab a car and crush an enemy, fire a weapon (like missiles form the Batmobile) sitting in the location or break off a pipe full of liquid nitrogen to shoot at and temporarily freeze an opponent.

Also, the right combo attack will bust a battle through the current arena and take it to a new location with some incredible animation along the way.

For example, a correct kick on a character near the edge of the screen in Joker’s Asylum blasts him through the wall of a main hall into another room where he gets pummeled by Killer Croc, Penguin, Two-Face and Riddler before being knocked into another room where the fight continues.

For a treat, a player can finesse his assaults to fill up a meter and perform a Super Move, a true highlight of the action.

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