Injustice: The Mighty Among Us
PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Finally, that age-old debate that has spilt from playgrounds to internet forums and - most probably - retirement homes, can finally be answered. Who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman? And, thanks to NetherRealm Studios, you can have a hand in the result.
Essentially Mortal Kombat meets DC Comics (NetherRealm was actually behind the excellent 2011 MK reboot), Injustice packs a beat-'em-up within a predictably farcical superhero storyline including 24 characters from the DC universe. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern - all the big ones are here, including many getting their video game debut, with the likes of Aquaman, Raven, Harley Quinn and Green Arrow having their turn in the limelight, too.
The plot sees the Joker trick Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child. Understandably annoyed, Superman establishes himself as the despotic ruler of a new world order. It's then up to Batman and a group of Lycra-clad heroes and foes to take on the Man of Steel's regime. Yes, it's very daft. But this cleverly allows superheroes usually on friendly terms to start punching each other's lights out, which is where the fun begins.
The fights start in the standard Mortal Kombat, toe-to-toe format, but the right tap of buttons can quickly detour into splendidly excessive Metropolis-worthy spectacles. Created in 3-D on a 2-D plane, the arenas - all taken from the DC world - are often interactive, with things to be picked up and used, against a background that looks increasingly battered as the action goes on. They're also multi-tiered: knock your opponent through the walls at each side and a whole new layer opens up.
As for the characters, on top of looking detailed enough to please most aficionados, they each come with a distinct arsenal of combos. Batman's attacks, as you might expect, are mostly based on his technical skills, with quick-shot grapple lines and chuckable Batarangs; for Green Lantern, it's all about conjuring stuff out of thin air.
Then come the special moves, which make all other beat-'em-up special moves seem like handbag scuffles in comparison. Build up enough power and you can send The Flash sprinting around the world for a single uppercut, or make Aquaman summon a giant wave and hold the opponent underwater for a Great White Shark to attack, or have Superman punch someone literally into space. Street Fighter's Hadouken never looked so pitiful.
Outside of the main story game, in which you move between characters as the plot unravels, there's also a Battle Mode, Versus Mode and STAR Labs, which has 240 character-specific challenges that grow steadily in difficulty. On the multiplayer side, King of the Hill allows up to eight players to watch a match while they await battle.
Perhaps the only disappointment is in the cut-scenes, which are often blocky and bland. But after you've used Green Lantern's special move to send a giant hammer, two buses and a swarm of missiles into your opponent, you'll probably let it go.
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