Can we still use the #DarkSiders2 hashtag? I know we're all sad about THQ and what went down with Vigil, but it's still the best way to describe how I feel about Scorpion in Injustice. That mix of shameful embarrassment and stunted-adolescent excitement. Look at this ridiculous trailer and tell me the big dumb 13 year old wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle T-shirt in you isn't smiling.
He looks stupid. He looks great. In one of his moves he summons a skeleton from below to grab his opponents feet and then face-stomps the poor bastard into hell, and that's just his regular throw. It's the silliest/best thing I've seen all week. I think debuting him alongside the horrible zombiefied Black Lantern Superman (who despite a rotting decomposing face and blind white eyes, still quips off like your friendly neighbourhood spit curled hero) was pitch perfect. NetherRealm is perfectly aware how dumb all of this is, they're just hoping you're having too much fun to really care – and it looks like it paid off.
In the current doom and gloom milieu of studios closures, flopped console debuts, and the miasma of negativity from the gaming community, it's nice to hear a success story; and that's exactly what Injustice is shaping up to be. With the fighting game genre rapidly cannibalizing itself back into extinction with a tidal wave of new titles, updates, re-makes, and re-leases in the past few years, even the mighty marketing potential of the DC licence didn't necessarily guarantee huge sale numbers for Injustice. Mortal Kombat 9 did very well for itself, reviving the dormant franchise after so many years of irrelevancy with huge sales, but it didn't stick like a lot of fighting games. A year after its release and the MK9 hardcore community is a very niche thing compared to stalwarts like Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs Capcom. One could be forgiven for chalking up MK9's success as a one-off, a flurry of sales spurred by nostalgic casual fighters who quickly abandoned the game after playing through the story mode once and seeing how scary real live fighters online can be. There was some concern that the same audience wouldn't come out again for Injustice, that NetherRealm couldn't tap into the same goodwill from the casual audience while pro players would leave it to die in the crib.
So far, those predictions have been beautifully wrong.
Not only did Injustice sell surprisingly well (especially for a fighter pooped out in the middle of a dead season near the end of this console life cycle), but so has the DLC. People haven't ditched Injustice after two weeks like they dumped MK9. The response has been so great that NetherRealm has all but confirmed that they will be doing a second set of character releases. Maybe I'll get my mitts on Zatanna after all, she seems to be doing great in the "unofficial" poll Ed Boon put out there.
And perhaps it's anecdotal, but Injustice seems to be killing it with the community. I think it's a very telling thing that when I watch tournaments online, the most hyped game that has everyone in the audience on their feet doesn't seem to be good ol' Marvel anymore. The big excitement that gets everybody going is there for Injustice now.
I know some people might think it's a little grungy to get excited about a games sales figures or it's plans to release more DLC. But despite the knee-jerk hate we're all supposed to harbour for any kind of DLC, I can't help but be excited. Not only am I happy to see a well made game and a hard working team rewarded, I actually like what these new characters are doing for Injustice.
I think it's fair to say that since Injustice's release, zoners (characters heavily reliant on projectiles and controlling the screen space) have been fairly dominant. Characters like Deathstroke and Sinestro are reviled in the community for sticking themselves to the back of the screen and hurling non-stop crap at their opponent. Even characters with potentially great rush-down ability like Batman or Nightwing are frequently played from full-screen, throwing thousands of dollars of custom tooled batarangs into the wind each round. For some characters, this very simple strategy can be shockingly tough to beat. Poor old Bane, and yes, even my boy Lex Luthor among others can find themselves stuck blocking projectile after projectile waiting desperately for their opponent to make a mistake.
Scorpion seems custom engineered to to beat that tactic. His super fast teleport-punch moves him away from projectiles and fist-first into the enemy's nutsack. It can be turned into a solid combo punish if he burns a little meter, meaning anyone who relies on tossing out mindless projectiles will have to learn a new tune fast. His Hellfire pits will roast players who like to stay in one spot, forcing them to move or burn. It's the time of reckoning for all the frauds out there. I wouldn't be surprised if Deathstroke players started dropping him left and right after running afoul of a few Scorpion players.
- Scorpion dancin' all over your established meta-game
[img]http://2damnfunny.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Mortal-Kombats-Scorpion-Does-The-Underworld-Dance.gif[/im]<br /><em>- Scorpion dancin' all over your established meta-game.</em><br /><br />I'm not planning on abandoning Lex to play as an undead-skull-ninja anytime soon, but I like seeing the ripples in the meta-game. Releasing Scorpion into the <em>Injustice</em> ecosystem will may well help cull the number of projectile flinging Deathstrokes and Ravens around. The more people that drop those characters, the stronger Lex gets. Maybe he'll still be a bottom tier character, but he'll see fewer of his [/img]
This could just be the salt talking, but I like these little shake-ups. It keeps the community from becoming complacent, and releasing a character that jostles the meta-game a bit has a lot of potential as an elegant balancing alternative to patching in buffs and nerfs that never seem to please anyone.
It makes me wonder if fighting games even need full on sequels anymore. What if in the next generation a game like Injustice just had seasonal updates? A few new characters and stages for $15 instead of another essentially meaningless boxed copy? What if instead of waiting a year or two for the next big change, fighters had smaller but more frequent roster expansions and mild balancing patches every few months? Similar models work for games like Leauge of Legends, new champions keeping the gameplay fresh and the community engaged. Fighting games are very different things from MOBAs and I'm not saying the exact model could be applied, but I think there might be a few lessons that could be adapted to the fighting genre.
Unless they plan on releasing a character that counters out Lex. In that case the entire idea is garbage.
No matter what the experience was or which game or genre left that strong first impression, such experiences have the potential to open our eyes to the rich history of a series or genre. With any luck, we might find even more to love or something better. A great first experience with RPGs could lead to an undying love affair.
Sometimes a first kiss can be so impactful that the game gets placed on a pedestal and enshrined as a gold standard, which has its own pros and cons. I mean, it is nice to have a basis for comparison, but some folks take it too far. There are people who loved Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Final Fantasy VII so much that nothing after them really got a fair shake.
So first impressions matter -- they can shape and inform our gaming habits. I grew up on arcades, Nintendo, handhelds, and eventually into RPGs, so much of what I play will be influenced by how I acquired my tastes. I probably like Overwatch a ton because it has a passion for RPG roles, but contextualizes them closer to older shooters focused on objectives more than gear builds and grinding out perks for better killstreaks.
So for this month's Bloggers Wanted, we'd like you head over to the community blogs write about your first kiss, the games that positively influenced you or maybe biased you a little too much for a time. What turned you on to a series or genre? Was it love at first sight? Did it set any expectations in stone or possibly lead you to something better?
Whatever the case might be, remember to use the title "First kiss" and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!
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