The superhero-powered fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, has finally made it onto the PlayStation Vita as the content-rich Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition. There are new fighters, new costumes and new challenges to be found within, making for one action-packed portable fighting experience.
While NetherRealm Studios brought us the console version of Injustice: Gods Among Us a few months ago, Armature Studios worked on shrinking the epic brawler to the PlayStation Vita without making any compromises on gameplay while adding in all of the content that makes the Ultimate Edition the definitive version. No concessions were made and the console and handheld versions of Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition are nearly identical, which is good news for fighting game purists.
If you haven't been exposed to Injustice: Gods Among Us, then know that it's a fighting game starring some of DC's most famous heroes and villains from the studio that brought us the Mortal Kombat series. Its story is centered on a topsy-turvy alternate Earth in which Superman goes crazy after the death of Lois Lane and institutes a totalitarian rule over the planet, supported by some old friends and enemies alike. A resistance made up of former allies and foes, led by Batman, fights the new Regime tirelessly, tired of Superman's harsh rule.
The Story Mode has you follow the entire narrative, taking control of different characters as the story advances. You'll start in Metropolis, where the Joker's newest doomsday machine ends up transporting the characters to this alternate Earth. As you fight through the roster of characters, you'll find that you're pretty much witnessing the Justice League movie we've always wanted but never got. It's not a terribly deep experience, but the story's interesting enough for anyone even loosely invested in the DC universe to get caught up in the narrative. Besides, it's cool to see quasi-evil versions of your favorite heroes and nearly-good counterparts of some of DC's best villains.
Now, the Vita is no stranger to console-sized fighting games, but how does the Injustice experience feel on the portable game system? The controls are all nearly the same, save for the two missing shoulder buttons. You'll use the Square button for light attacks, Triangle for medium attacks, X for hard attacks, Circle for character-specific power abilities, R to interact with the environment and L to burn your meter.
The meter builds up in small increments as you perform actions in a fight. You can either burn up your meter when it's full to perform your character's devastating Super Move or use up small sections of the meter to execute charged up versions of your fighter's special moves. One example is Green Lantern's slam attack, Lantern's Might. If you use it normally, he'll use his ring to slam you over to the other side of the screen. If you use the meter burn version of Lantern's Might, he slams you twice and you end up on your original side of the screen.
There don't seem to be many uses for the Vita's touchscreen(s) and none for its gyroscopic features. This is fine, since too many motion gimmicks can ruin a port. All uses of the touchscreen make sense are usually within the context of a mini-game, like tapping on the screen to have Superman use his laser vision to blast cars that are being thrown at him by Black Adam. In these instances, the touchscreen makes sense.
But perhaps the biggest difference in the Ultimate Edition for the Vita is the inclusion of the six DLC characters (Batgirl, General Zod, Scorpion, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna and Lobo), and extra S.T.A.R. Labs missions that make it worthy of a purchase. Not only are these new characters a welcome addition to the game (especially the combo-friendly Batgirl), but the extra missions help flesh out the experience and really challenge the skills of noobs and veteran players alike.
And now for the downsides, because every game has to have them. The most gripeworthy problem that Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition has is its multiplayer. No matter how good a connection you have, battling online will always have that slight lag that makes or breaks a fight. And of course, there are a number of players who insist on choosing zoning characters like Deathstroke who like to play keepaway with effective projectile attacks. This, when mixed with input lag, makes for a very bad time indeed.
When it comes to other technical issues, there's a bit of framerate slowing every now and then even in the single-player portions, usually when too much stuff is happening in the background and when characters' moves bring up too many particle effects. And while Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition on the Vita looks very close to its console counterparts, close-ups on characters reveal muddy-looking faces and sometimes, in the case of Batman, very flat features that kind of break the illusion that this is a graphically gorgeous game. With that said, the Ultimate Edition still looks amazing about 85% of the time.
Without a doubt, Injustice: Gods Among Us is one of the best console fighting games to hit the Vita, if not the best (sorry, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3). The extra DLC characters and the new challenges for the S.T.A.R. Labs missions make it a worthy purchase, even for fans who have already played the original game. Make the heroic effort to run out and grab it while it's hot!
This review is based on a digital copy of Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation Vita that was provided by the publisher for review.