Fighting games on the Vita have become pretty commonplace, which is why I wasn’t surprised when Warner Bros. announced that Injustice was coming to the handheld. This Ultimate Edition includes the original package, along with the six DLC characters, 60 new S.T.A.R. Labs missions and even all the skins released as DLC over the past few months. That is a lot of content packed into one tiny cartridge. The question is, how did it translate to the portable world?
First and foremost, everything I loved about Injustice is here. The robust story mode, the expanded roster of characters and the numerous S.T.A.R. Labs missions are all included; and of course, with the DLC characters and skins as well. This is one solid package.
The story mode is about two hours long, and feels like one of the animated DC movies the company has been releasing over the past few years. It is has quality writing, and is mixed together with battles and mini-games. NetherRealm has mastered the fighting game storytelling once again. Sadly the cut scenes look washed out in this version. The Vita’s slick OLED screen should be pushing out some impressive clarity, but instead this version looks compressed and just not visually appealing.
Sadly this trend spills over into the rest of the game. Injustice on Vita is not a pretty game. When I booted up my first match, I was convinced that the textures hadn’t finished loading. Maybe it is because NeterRealm really delivered an amazing looking title on consoles, but this version stands out as just being ugly. Character faces look muddy and effects simply lack polish. I am unsure if it was a programming issue, or the hardware, but this game is certainly not a looker.
Other big changes to the handheld version include some control updates. Seeing as the Vita lacks two of the shoulder buttons, developer Armature has made some adjustments. For starters the throw is now performed by tapping square and X at the same time. While it sounds familiar, it is actually cumbersome in practice. Especially for someone like me who invested so much time in the original game.
The touch screen also comes into play during some of the mini-games in the story mode, and of course the S.T.A.R. Labs missions. It is not used to perform super moves or anything like that, which I prefer because taking the time to move my hands off the buttons to touch the screen, means I could easily drop a combo, which is imperative in fighting games.
In addition to all of the single-player modes, there is also an online mode for those that want a real challenge. In our time with the game it was tough to find matches, and even when I did, issues were definitely there. Lag causing button presses not to register really make for some frustrating matches. The robust set of modes is nice, but I can’t see many playing this for very long considering the current experience.
It is hard to see a game I consider one of 2013’s best get such lousy port treatment. After the impressive MK on Vita, I was expecting Injustice to perform just as well on Sony’s handheld. Still for the price the amount of content is impressive, and the offline portion is still fun, which is all that matters at the end of the day. The lack of cross-play or anything really new are disappointing, but DC fans and fighting game fans will still likely find a good time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.