Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 11:20
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software
Injustice: Gods Among Us iOS Review
By Mr. S
Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation famously asked his viewers to name one game that has had a fun amor/item/weapon degradation mechanic. He only gives us a millisecond to think about it, but I still can’t think of one. Of course, these mechanics are essential to certain kinds of gameplay scenarios. They make simulation games like Arma feel alive, and games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R feel incredibly dangerous. My point is they have their place, and have proven to be an essential part in bringing out a certain types of emotions from players.
You know what doesn’t have its place in fun video games? Ridiculous fake currencies and obvious ploys to milk the customer for every dime they have. And for what? So I can use Batman in your second rate, slapped-together clone of about three other games on iOS?
Maybe I should back it up a little.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a iOS tie in to a very good game for Xbox 360, PS3, and WiiU console created by NetherRealm Studios. You remember those guys, right? Ed Boon took a bunch of Mortal Kombat veterans from the collapse of Midway and bought the rights to Mortal Kombat and created a very deep and brutal game with a very original title called “Mortal Kombat” back in 2011 which actually became a fighting game on par with Street Fighter 4 as one of the finest of this generation. NetherRealm also made the iOS game Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, and it’s clear that the modified Unreal engine they created for that game was repurposed for Injustice.
Normally, that’s a great time to build on what worked and fix what didn’t. Refine the already solid touch screen fighting mechanics so they are perfect, and innovate on new ways to add variety to the formula. That was not the focus for Injustice. The focus was building a compulsion loop that ultimately drives you to purchase the ridiculous currency so you get to play with the characters they showcase in the game’s intro video.
As an experiment, I attempted to play the game without purchasing any currency. I wanted to see if Injustice: Gods Among Us was really “free to play”. By that I mean, can I enjoy this game just as much as any other game without spending money? Will the refusal to give this game money make my experience suck? In a word: absolutely, but to elaborate, it was evident after the first hour that I was not going to get anywhere without a substantial amount of ludicrous “coins”. I ran into a situation where the only way I could proceed is to use all the coins I had earned on the three characters that I started off with and had leveled up, but the only way to get the cool characters with incredible powers is to save up enough coins to buy the equally ludicrous “booster packs” (and by enough coin I mean 100,000+…) To give you an idea of how hard that is to attain I was able to amass over 50,000 after eight hours of play. That number hovered at 50,000 for a very long time because you get only a fraction of the experience points and no coins for replaying past stages.
Let me put all of this in perspective. Imagine Tekken 3 with most of its characters behind paywalls? Imagine how crappy Gran Turismo would be if you couldn’t re-race championships for cash to buy new and better cars? It is true that GT does not give you the same huge payout each time, but you do make progress in a matter of minutes, whereas Injustice tasks the free player to endure hours of monotony. Imagine GT sticking you with a Ford Probe until you fork out some cash? Unthinkable! And yet, in the mobile realm, this is common practice. For those asking why, the answer is simple. “Gamers” as we know them are not the target market for this kind of game. It’s the casual players that are in the crosshairs.
It just happens that Injustice also forgets them in its rush to iOS gold. Had you not read the comics or played the console game you would have no clue why there are “Insurgent” or “Regime” versions of Solomon Grundy. “Who the hell is Solomon Grundy?”, you ask. Don’t bother trying to find out on your so-called “card” because you get jack-diddly for context. No bios, no explanations for the setting, no information about their comic origin? Zip. Just a number for damage and a price tag. Fun card!
The real crime of it all is that underneath all this bull, this blatant and game-breaking monetization, there’s a good game. A game that, with a bit more polish, some multiplayer, and the complete removal of all this microtransaction mess for a clean US$5.99 price tag, could be one of the best best 3D touch based fighting games on iOS.
Back in my home state we had a little thing called the Iona Free Fair. It didn’t cost you anything to get in the door, but if you wanted to park, go on any rides, or, dare I say, eat food, it was insanely expensive. I don’t think I need to tell you what word often replaced “free” when the fair came up in conversation.
Injustice is the Iona Free Fair of mobile titles. Make sure to get a tape recorder close to Ed Boon on his deathbed, because I’m almost certain the man who has created some of the best fighting games in history would agree: It’s not up to NetherRealm’s sparkling standards.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is available for free and requires iOS and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.