Injustice: Gods Among Us (iOS) review

Injustice: Gods Among Us is a new iOS game from Warner Bros. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries a variety of in-app purchases. The game is rather demanding due to its high quality graphics, requiring an iPhone 4 at the bare minimum and regularly complaining of a lack of memory if anything else is running in the background.

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The mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us is an adaptation of an upcoming console-based fighting game of the same name, set to launch this month. The game — in both its mobile and console incarnations — pits various DC Comics heroes and villains against each other in fighting game-style battles, though the exact execution varies between the two versions. On the console versions, fights unfold over a single round, though characters have two health bars, while on the mobile version, the game unfolds in a “tag team” format, with three characters per side, all of which must be defeated for victory in a match.

Injustice: Gods Among Us on mobile makes use of a simple touch-based control scheme that eschews the clumsy virtual stick-and-buttons configuration used by many other iOS fighting games. Instead, the game removes all responsibility for movement from the player and instead simply requires them to focus on attacking and defending. Tapping the screen performs a quick attack, while swiping left or right performs a more powerful attack. Landing a combo of several attacks in quick succession causes an arrow to appear on the screen, and swiping in the direction of that arrow before it disappears allows the character to perform a more complex move that typically does more damage. Tapping with two fingers, meanwhile, causes the character to block, while tapping one of the character icons in the corner of the screen “tags” them in and replaces the current character with the new one.

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Successfully landing attacks builds up a power bar at the bottom of the screen, and when one of the segments of this bar is filled, a special move may be unleashed. The exact details vary according to the specific character being controlled, but these moves generally require either rapid tapping or swiping on the screen to build up their power — the more power that is built up before the move is unleashed, the more damage that is inflicted on the opponent, assuming the attack lands. If a special move knocks out a character early enough in its animation, it can sometimes inflict damage on the next character to “tag in” automatically.

Outside of the battles, Injustice: Gods Among Us features a card-collecting metagame. Cards either take the form of character cards, which can be added to the player’s team, or support cards, which can be used to power up specific characters or groups of characters. Cards may either be purchased individually or in “booster packs” — most may be purchased using in-game currency (which can be acquired either through playing battles or in-app purchase) but a special “starter pack” is only available via in-app purchase. The mobile game may also be used to earn rewards for the console version by linking to a Warner Bros. online account.

Playing battles with the same cards gradually depletes their energy bars and causes them to increase in experience. As cards gain in experience, they learn new abilities and improve their basic statistics, but when they run out of energy they may not be used again until they have either recharged over time or had energy restoration items — available via in-app purchase, naturally — applied to them. As such, the more character cards the player has, the more they will be able to play in a single session. Two identical character cards may also be fused together to make a more powerful version.

Injustice: Gods Among Us certainly looks and sounds fantastic, and it plays quite well, too — the touch-based fighting interface is a good solution to the often-clumsy controls used in many other iOS fighters — but it’s a tad repetitive over time, and the card-collecting metagame is underdeveloped and arguably completely unnecessary as anything other than a rather obvious vehicle for monetization. The console version of Injustice: Gods Among Us promises a deep storyline involving the DC characters and why they are battling each other, but there is no sign of this in the mobile game — it’s simply fight after fight after fight, and no ability to compete against other players either. In fact, the only social feature the game has is support of Apple’s Game Center for achievements (and challenges based on these achievements for those running iOS 6 or greater) — the lack of an online multiplayer mode in particular seems like something of a missed opportunity.

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On the whole, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a solid mobile game with excellent production values, but it could have been considerably more than it is. The gameplay is a bit shallow and repetitive and the inability to compete against friends will probably mean players will tire of it relatively quickly. As a promotional tool for the upcoming console game, it’s great; as a standalone title, however, it’s left a little wanting.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is currently ranked at No. 2 in Top Free Apps, No. 9 in Top Grossing Apps, No. 1 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 6 in Top Grossing iPad Apps, No. 1 in Top Free Games, No. 7 in Top Grossing Games, No. 1 in Top Free iPad Games and No. 5 in Top Grossing iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Play

A good implementation of fighting game mechanics on touchscreens, but the overall game experience feels a bit hollow.

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