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Looking for the next great iOS brawler? You won’t find it here, but the free Injustice: Gods Among Us is still well worth downloading, especially for comic book fans. Playing as 18 of the DC Universe’s most popular heroes and villains, you’ll battle Flash, The Joker, and company in frantic, surprisingly addictive 2D-style bouts.
Though the App Store description calls Injustice a “collectible card game,” that’s a bit misleading. It’s essentially a tag-team fighter in which your three-character squad slugs it out against one controlled by the game’s A.I. (Injustice offers no multiplayer modes). Where cards come into play is in how fighters are represented – each by a card indicating their steadily rising level, health, damage, and so on. You’re given three cards (i.e. fighters) at the start of the game and gain more for winning certain milestone bouts; you can also purchase new fighters using in-game currency slowly accrued from your brawls.
Combat’s about as basic as Doomsday’s vocabulary: Tap for a light attack, swipe for a heavy attack, and touch the screen with two fingers to block. Without the dodges and parries used in more sophisticated iOS fighting games like Infinity Blade and Avengers Initiative, Injustice’s brawls are considerably more repetitive – though they still require some careful tactics. In harder fights, timing blocks and tag-outs just right is vital; at the same time, you’ll need to quickly land enough light and heavy attacks to build up your fighter’s special move meter. The mechanics may be simple, but the combat is consistently fast-paced and intense.
On the downside, given that special moves are one of the main differences between characters, and that some of them – like Sinestro dropping an asteroid on his opponent’s head – look pretty cool, it’s a shame that new characters unlock so slowly. After a few hours of play, we had only unlocked a couple more fighters earned by winning key battles. Though you can grind your way through hundreds of fights to get enough in-game currency to purchase new, better characters (or to massively upgrade your current ones), we suggest paying $4.99 within for Injustice’s Starter Pack, which contains Harley Quinn and two other fighters. Our Starter Pack included Bane, a powerhouse who proved invaluable by the time we’d gotten several dozen fights in, where Injustice’s overall difficulty ramps up enormously and some end-battle bosses become incredibly, annoyingly hard to beat – to the extent that more casual players will probably grow aggravated and move on.
As a nifty bonus, playing this iOS version does unlock skins and other assets in Injustice’s home console releases (out April 16). Better yet, playing any console version unlocks skins, currency, and other content in this iOS game. It’s a crossover in the truest comic book sense, and another reason to download this fun – if never truly super – fighting game.
The bottom line. Even with its odd mix of casual fighting and (eventual) hardcore-only challenge, Injustice’s solid action will please the crime-fighting crowd.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 5.0 or later
Fun, heated brawler with 18 DC Universe characters. Free to play. Hundreds of matches to fight. Attractive characters and environments. Unlocks features in console version (and vice versa).
Simplistic fighting mechanics. Difficulty rises tremendously midway through the game. Unlocking most of the roster takes many hours (or lots of real-world cash).