There have been multiple fighting games on iOS, but Injustice is the first one to actually stand out to me. Games on iOS are hampered by not having a lot of control options, but Injustice does something that I never thought would happen and makes a fighting game work on a phone. Naturally, the iOS version of Injustice is quite different from the console version. There is no story mode or anything like that, just a series of battles that all consist of three-on-three fights. You start with three characters and, as you progress through the game, you will unlock others that you can swap into your party. The structure of the game is set up with multiple battles that each contain seven different scenarios, so you could say there is a lot of fighting to be done. Each battle ends with a boss bracket that pits you against a few teams of fighters and then the boss character. The boss fights are a three-on-one fight, with your team having three, but the boss is much harder than the regular fights.
The controls are really what make Injustice work so well. The game is actually very simple. You square off against your opponent and you have a limited amount of moves. Everyone has a simple three-hit combo that you perform by just tapping the screen. You can also perform a swipe combo by swiping three times to the right-a more staggering combo, but it takes more time, and as you progress, you'll realize how important timing is in this game. If you want to block, all you have to do is hold both sides of the screen, so everything is pretty much tapping, holding, or swiping. It’s a very simple control scheme and only allows for a few different moves, but it really helps Injustice succeed at what it needs to do, which is be a fun fighting game on iOS which hasn’t really been done well before. Every character also has special moves that require energy. At the bottom of the screen are three energy bars that fill up as you deal damage to your enemies and when each one is filled, you can press it to unleash some kind of special move. Filling all three will unlock the devastating ultimate moves which are pretty awesome, but take a long time to unlock. When you tap your energy bar you are usually treated to some kind of special command you have to do to pull of the move such as swiping as many times as you can in a direction or tapping the screen as fast as you can to give the attacks more devastating power.
What would an iOS game be without microtransactions? There are plenty of them present in Injustice, just as you might expect, but luckily they are kept pretty low-key and aren't thrown in your face left and right. All of your characters have energy that you lose when you enter into any fight, and if you drain all of your energy then you can’t play with those characters until it recharges, which you can do by just putting the game down and waiting, but the game has your back! If you don’t feel like waiting you can just fork over some cash and have your energy refilled no problem. There are also boosters and upgrades to your characters for things like extra health or damage and faster charging energy. You can unlock these as you play or just pay for them anytime you want for a little extra boost to your game. Nothing too disgusting but it’s there if you want it.
Having superheroes beat the crap out of other superheroes has never looked so good on a handheld device! Injustice is actually a pretty flashy game and looks really good while holding a steady frame rate. There are special effects that flair out when you do your moves and the game has some great loading screens that all look fantastic. The music is pretty limited but what you do get to hear is pretty great and fits with the superhero fighting motif pretty well. Even the menus in Injustice are just beautiful and it's easy to spend time just sitting there watching the images cycle.
Injustice is the most successful attempt at a fighting game on a cellular device that I have seen, but it certainly has its downsides. Simply, the game can get boring very quickly because of the simplicity of the controls and just the sheer volume of fights that are available to you. There are just too many battles in the game and if you tried to marathon the content you will get burned out very quickly, and because the fights are all three-on-three they can go fairly long. This is a game that you really want to just pull out of your pocket and play through a fight here or there and not linger too long. Another downside is no competitive multiplayer of any kind which is kind of a bummer for a fighting game but I couldn’t imagine it really working that well on a mobile game like this anyway. Overall, Injustice is a great step forward in making great fighting games on iOS and I hope to see more games use this as a template in the future. Whenever I look for innovation in the fighting game industry I always know that NetherRealm has my back.