The Wii U version of Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ new DC Comics 2D fighter in the vein of their 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, has taken a beating from critics, who decry the lack of a few specific features that are present for players of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. Rarely will you see a reviewer give equal time to what makes the Wii U version a great fit for a more casual segment of the fighting game fanbase, but that kind of missing voice is precisely the perspective that we at Invisible Gamer strive to provide.
So, hang onto your Batarangs and ready your capes, as we take a look at how a Wii U player’s Injustice experience stands up against its older console brethren.
Features Missing from the Wii U Version
Let’s hit the negatives that are so often criticized first.
We were told before launch that the Wii U version would not be getting downloadable content (DLC), despite the fact that the game’s own case says that it does. So, which claim was true? Well, both, sort of. The Wii U has not gotten DLC (such as the Lobo add-on character) as early as the PS3 or Xbox 360. However, it will be getting DLC sometime this summer. Thus, the criticism that the game lacks DLC (which some actually took as a plus, as it would eliminate the temptation to spend more on the game after the initial purchase) will only remain valid for a short time.
Perhaps the most important missing features are in the game’s online multiplayer modes. On the other two consoles, Injustice’s multiplayer options include the ability to set up a ranked match, player match, or private match, along with the ability to join or create rooms. Three forms of player matches are available: 1V1 (a standard one-on-one fight, similar to the offline versus mode that all versions include), KOTH (King of the Hill, wherein players line up to compete in a room where others can watch the current match, and whoever wins a fight remains in play for the next fight), and Survivor (similar to KOTH, though your health is not refilled between matches if you win). Within public and private rooms, players can watch other players compete when not actively fighting. The Wii U retains the offline versus mode, all three player matches, and ranked matches, but it has no room mechanic whatsoever. Moreover, when a battle against an online opponent ends on the other consoles, a rematch option will appear, but the Wii U version simply kicks the player back to the menu to choose an online match type again.
Also among the multiplayer perks of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions is a series of daily challenges that can be completed for XP during online multiplayer matches. These challenges are entirely absent from the Wii U version.
For fighting game enthusiasts who play for the thrill of kicking the butts of fellow human players and watching others do so in an online group setting, or those who enjoy showing off their accomplishments through Trophies or Achievements, these omissions could be deal-breakers; they have certainly been harped upon by many gaming websites.
The Wii U edition also lacks any connectivity with the Injustice iOS game, which can be used to unlock extra costumes for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions.
Features Unique to the Wii U Version
The Wii U edition of Injustice utilizes the system’s Gamepad in two ways that make it particularly appealing to casual gamer or a fighting game fan who isn’t into the hardcore, anonymous human vs. human battles of online multiplayer, but is instead more interested in a single player experience than anything on the multiplayer side.
First, when playing with the Gamepad (which is not a necessity, as you can play with the Wii U Pro Controller as well), you have the option to view gameplay on your television screen, while the Gamepad screen displays your character’s move list (or an abbreviated version thereof, depending on the number of special moves your character can employ). For casual players who find themselves frequently having to pause and work their way through move lists, which interrupts the action of the game, this is a rather nice, helpful (albeit obvious) addition to the Wii U version.
Second, as in the case of quite a few multiplatform games that have arrived on the Wii U, the Gamepad screen can also be used to duplicate the television screen, allowing players to play directly on the Gamepad, even when the television is off. The result is the feeling of having an HD console experience in your hands with greater mobility within range of the Wii U (The closest similar experience I could suggest would be playing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 on the Playstation Vita). Again, for a casual player, this is a helpful and welcome feature.
It should also be noted that while the Wii U version lacks Trophies or Achievements, it does have a Miiverse community, which, if a player wants to reach out and communicate successes with others, is a much more personal and interactive way to do so than a simple checklist of actions taken.
Same at the Core
The single player experience is identical between consoles, including the Wii U. The game’s story mode is perhaps the best that fighting games have ever seen, and there are plenty of Battle Modes (similar to Mortal Kombat ladders, with varied conditions to choose from) and S.T.A.R. Labs challenges (240 in all) that will test your wits, skills, and – often above all – patience.
Aside from the five costumes currently tied into the iOS game or DLC that is still forthcoming for the Wii U, Injustice includes all of the regular unlockable costumes as the core game for the other two platforms.
Gameplay is unchanged between editions, without any “cheats” available via the Gamepad touchscreen to dumb down the game (e.g. the 3DS edition of Super Street Fighter IV).
(Speaking of gameplay, for those turned off by NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat control scheme, we should mention that the controls for Injustice dump the block button for the “press away or down” mechanic of most fighting games, and the face buttons have changed to general low, medium, and high attacks, along with a special power button, similar to the control scheme of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I personally have found both of these to be positive changes.)
If you are a hardcore fighting game fan, and your only option to play Injustice: Gods Among Us is the Wii U, then the purchase is a no-brainer. If you are a hardcore fighting game fan with either of the other consoles, and your focus is almost entirely on expansive online multiplayer modes (especially using rooms and spectating), then the Wii U version is not for you. On the other hand, if you love fighting games but prefer an outstanding single player experience, like the idea of playing without being attached to the television, tend to check move lists frequently, and can make do with a solid (but slightly less than fully-featured) multiplayer suite, then the Wii U should be your preferred console for Injustice.
For players like me, the more solitary breed of gamer, the Wii U simply does this one better.