The first thing you need to know about Injustice: Gods Among Us for Android is that it is not the same game as Injustice: Gods Among Us on consoles and PC. The second thing you should know is that despite being billed as a collectible card game, it still features combat which hews towards its fighting game origins. And the overall result, quite frankly… well, it may be a bit lacking, but that also depends on what you’re looking for.
The game’s biggest draw, the reason it asks you go play this instead of any of the other such games out there, is the use of characters from DC Comics and the story of Superman conquering the world with a group of allies and Batman’s efforts to stop him. However, the folks at DC and Warner Bros. must have figured that between the comic book tie-in and the original game, none of that was necessary to include in this free-to-play game, not when you can pay to see it unfold elsewhere. Not that you are denied opportunities to spend money here, but we’ll get to that in a bit. So, barring a player doing as much research as necessary before diving in, what we have here is a story of evil Superman’s regime fighting Batman’s insurgence for… reasons.
Button Mashers Among Us
When it comes to fighting games, you generally have two extremes where the types of players are concerned. The first are the skilled experts, those who can count frames of animation and know just when and how to combat each move an opponent might throw at them (sort of like Batman, perhaps). Then there are the button mashers, those who basically just wring the joystick or Dpad every which way while pressing anything in front of them that makes a clicking sound in the hopes of achieving victory. Tempting as it is to liken that to Superman, that much is simply not true. We’d go with Hulk, but then he’s from Marvel, and that just opens up an entirely different can of worms.
But we digress; this version of Injustice feels like it’s geared more towards the latter of these two types. Not that there isn’t a call for a little skill, but the vast majority of the gameplay is tapping and swiping. There is no jumping, you can hold with two fingers to block, and when you’ve flailed at an opponent for long enough, you’ll start unlocking special moves. Tap the icon, and then… tap (or swipe) a whole lot more to power it up. The more you resist using them, ideally, the more you’ll open up, but with energy draining moves and such, it may be a while before you ever see anything past the first level. You can also perform combos by tapping and swiping repeatedly, with the option to perform a knockdown move at the end when prompted. The only problem here is they switch which gesture you need to make at the end each time, making a successful execution a little bit of a crapshoot.
Ironically, if this version featured more of the story, this might have been a good alternative for those who don’t care for Netherrealm’s sometimes-cheap Mortal Kombat-styled game mechanics.
It’s worth noting that for each fight, unlike the console game, you get to choose from three characters/cards in your pile, which can be leveled up and swapped out in a way reminiscent of Marvel vs. Capcom. Your fighters each have their own stamina, which recharges over time, but they can’t fight when they’re tapped out. Fortunately, the gauge is pretty generous, so you shouldn’t have to worry about running out too quickly. Even so, having more cards/fighters means you can swap a tired fighter out for a fresh one, meaning that the more cards you have, the longer you can fight. Or just purchase the in-game energy rechargers, if it should come to that.
In-App Purchases Among Us
So, here’s the rub: Injustice is free to play, and as far as we can tell, you aren’t specifically required to spend money on anything. However, not spending leaves a long road ahead for the player… especially if they favor certain DC heroes and villains above others. Want to play as Batman? Superman? Maybe even Wonder Woman, despite Warner Bros. apparently having no real idea how to utilize her? Well, they’re all here, but you’re not going to see them for a long, long time… not unless you pony up some cash first, anyway.
Instead, you’re starting out with the likes of Green Lantern, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy, and Catwoman. Not a bad crowd by any means (well, in terms of characters, at least– Sinestro and Grundy aren’t exactly “good guys”), but when you’re leading off with a guy whose last and only movie bombed, you’re kind of pulling your appeal further from a potential mainstream audience and more towards the diehard fans. Not that this makes things bad, but this is just to say that if you’re considering this game after coming off a rush from watching Man of Steel or The Dark Knight, the wind will probably be knocked out of your sails pretty quickly.
Incidentally, you can earn character cards before you even have the in-game funds to purchase them, so it might be possible to get Batman from a lucky draw. That said, it’s probably best not to hold your breath.
The main takeaway from Injustice: Gods Among Us for Android is that it tries to scratch several different itches, but never quite managed to reach any of them. It tries to appeal to the comic book crowd, but the lack of story or characterization makes much of that moot. It tries to appeal to fans of fighting games, and while the system works well for iPhone, it might be too simplistic for fans of the original game. And it tries to do the collectible card thing, but… well, we guess it does that part okay?
That said, it’s not bad, but it kind of feels like a jack of all trades, master of none. But as it’s free to play, we can only encourage you to check it out for yourself if you’re not sure. At the very least, it’s worth a look.