Fighting games as a genre aren’t the most welcoming. There is a steep learning curve to many, and the the barrier to entry is directly tied to one’s coordination. Certain series, like Street FIghter and Mortal Kombat are still able to bring in new players due to pedigree, yet others like BlazBlue or Virtua FIghter are niche games with intensely loyal player bases that have dedicated hours to their mastery. Though fighting games used to rule the age of the arcades and dwell in a special part of our memories for those of us who took part in that glorious age; they have been on the decline in recent years.
There was a ressurgence with the launch of Street Fighter 4 and its varients that followed, and Mortal Kombat (or MK9) brought that series back from the grave that it had dug itself. Even second tier fighters like Tekken, Soul Calibur, and Marvel vs. Capcom all had iterations in recent years that each saw moderate success. Yet, even despite all this, fighters have not increased in popularity. Each new entry hits about the same mark as the previous, and sadly in some cases sees some sort of decline. That’s not to say that each of the games do not try to gain a greater player base, but for whatever reason, there never seems to be that great of a response.
It seems that Netherrealm Studios wants to change that with their new fighter, Injustice: Gods Among Us. Netherrealm, known for making Mortal Kombat, has taken a shot at creating a fighter based upon the DC universe, giving us the likes of Superman, Batman, Flash, and others. The hope is that the hardcore fighting community will embrace the game, based on pedigree, and that other gamers will check it out, based on the license. So far, we can see that it is succeeding on at least one of those fronts. The reviews have come in and the game is a critical success. Mechanically the game is incredibly sound, and has one of the most indepth and newbie friendly training modes in any fighter. The story mode is also tons of fun; especially if you have any connection to the characters of the DC universe. The question now is; will it be accepted by the hardcore and mainstream?
Of all the fighters that are currently on the scene, I think Injustice poses the greatest chance of actually breaking that barrier. It’s combination of familar fighting controls and familiar characters has a chance to reach out beyond the usual crowd. You can tell that Netherrealm wants to get as many players as they can to play this game; to the point that they have placed an option to change the MK directional based specials to more of a SF style roll inputs. This is on top of their very solid training mode that caters to both the core (frame counts) and the casual (marking your favorite combos to be placed on the pause menu.) Superheroes are in the public eye all over again with Iron Man 3, Thor: Dark World, and DC’s Man of Steel all hitting the cinema this summer, and Injustice is set to capitalize on that excitement; but as with all things, it’s a matter of reception.
Unless your name is Bioshock: Infinite, video games’ sales have been down as of late. Injustice is a fantastic game that hopefully finds its place in this early summer slot; but it definitly deserves the sequel that it sets up. It is a wonderfully fun fighter with a story mode that you actually care about. It throws so many things to do at the player that it has the staying power that a fighter needs to stay around long term. Hopefully the rest of the world will see that, and give this fighter the fighting chance it most assuradly deserves.