Just Us & Injustice

My darling husband decided he’d be nice to me and buy me a copy of Injustice 2 for no other reason than he thought I’d enjoy it (if only he’d stop playing Friday The 13th for long enough for me to get a go on it.)You see kids, part of the fun of Netherrealm games is going through every single character and checking out their stats and playability, their moves (and how devastating they are) and how impressive they look.

What, just me?

Oh.

It’s weird actually: whether it’s Injustice or the Mortal Kombat games, I’ve always found something relieving in the games, a way of beating the shit out of things and calming my hectic soul. Or something (I don’t have a soul, that’s the joke. Hah!) Ever since having Mortal Kombat Trilogy on the N64, the NetherRealm games were a form of bloody escapism with small challenges of motor-skills and silly design. Okay, maybe not silly design. AWESOME DESIGN.

I’d be lying if I pretended like the monsters, the blood and the heroes (and villains) didn’t inspire me slightly. Yep, loved the films too: as a side-note, Mortal Kombat Annihilation came out when I was in hospital having back surgery and it took so fucking long before I could actually see it. It was 1997, the internet wasn’t really a thing in Ireland (or globally, for that matter.)

It’s also possible, dear reader,that you weren’t really a thing then either…god, I feel old.

It’s no wonder that a slightly ultra-violent version of meaningless escapism would appeal to me; let’s get all those teenage (and pre-teenage. Okay, adult) anger issues out of your system. And if you can rip someone’s head off and expose their spine in the process, even better.

On a side-note, I feel like acknowledging that Jonny Cage may have turned me gay with that bodyoddyoddy.

I’m going to hell.

Now give those anger-issues super-powers, and you have a winner. Personal favourites were (obviously) Sub-Zero and Scorpion with occasionally switching to Sindel. Or Rain. Or Ermac. But for some reason never Smoke or Mileena.

We’re talking about a time when online play wasn’t a thing, nor was story mode and when you’re an only child, you’re basically playing one-off matches and ladders all the time. Yep, that was me. Mean sneaky skills though, yo.

When story mode dropped for the Mortal Kombat games, I was on-board (less so with the online play. Who the fuck wants to play with other people?) So a few years ago, when the NetherRealm team released Injustice, it seemed like a natural fit.

Curiously, I have no memories whatsoever of playing the first game: I assume it got sucked out of my brain during surgery. The muscle-memory is still there though: random moves and button-combos. In fact, playing Injustice 2 over the last few days, I’ve noticed the callous on my thumb recurring after insisting on playing the game with the D-pad. Because that’s how I remember doing it best, and I AM NOT CHANGING MY HABITS, DAMMIT.

Speaking of habits, all those years of playing as Chun-Li in Street Fighter 2? Yeah, decided to do much the same and play as Black Canary most of the time. Totally feminist, yeah? I can’t even tell if I like her or not: she just has cool moves and a one-button-screaming attack that…oh god, I’ve just twigged the Sindel connection and I guess I’m either a dumb loser, or still the same old me?

Unfortunately, I don’t get to play Black Canary for the entirety of this game’s story mode. Instead you’re a specific character (befitting the narrative) for four bouts before moving onto another. Repeat for a number of chapters, and you get yourself to the end-game. Some of the chapters give  a choice: Black Canary and Green Arrow are working together (obviously) so before each fight, you get to choose which fighter to play for the next fight. Enemies consist of the game’s range of villains, with heroes either mind-controlled or with significant ideological differences.

It doesn’t make that much sense. Just go with it.

The first game set Superman and Batman against each other, with Batman going hard on his “no killing” rules; that story continues here, with the pair having to work together when Brainiac comes to town (voiced by Jeffrey Combs, Brunt/Weyoun from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Re-Animator.) Story mode weaves its way along up to two fights against Brainiac and then a choice between Batman and Superman to play the final four bouts.

(I chose Batman, just so you know. Don’t judge me. But I will go back to play as other characters so I can catch the rewards that I missed out on.)

Following from that, there’s the usual AI and online options, and the rather interesting Multiverse mode: playing against the AI, you get to choose your hero and venture through a portal to fight against different versions of the game’s characters. So far I’ve encountered a slicked-hair gum-shoe-styled version of the Joker (he’s tattooed and oozes punk in the game) and a heavily armoured Darkseid. This customisation extends to the characters of the main game: picking up loot throughout the game, you can change the look of all the characters, effectively increasing their attack and defence abilities. Sometimes, it’s as simple as changing the colour or texture; others, the look is a significant difference.

To say the game’s got me hooked is an understatement: I’d rather be playing the game now than writing this. But I can’t, because I’m not at home and the mobile version of the game isn’t doing it for me.

Fight me, ladies and gents. Fight me and tell me how shit I am because I don’t like/never learned how to play against real people.


Also published on Medium.