Risky Business: The Injustice: Gods Among Us 'Clash' system

When I first watched the debut trailer for Injustice: Gods Among Us', my initial thoughts were something along the lines of "Okay, last year's Mortal Kombat with DC characters, I can get down with this." I've since discovered, however, that Injustice is not only unlike Mortal Kombat, but also unlike the majority of games in the fighting genre's illustrious and storied history.

There are many esoteric and subtle differences between the gameplay mechanics of Injustice and Mortal Kombat (such as the introduction of Street Fighter-style blocking, rather than NetherRealm's traditional block button system), but the main feature that sets the game apart is its fresh take on the combo breaker: The "Clash" system.%Gallery-156647% In a nutshell, Injustice's Clash system turns the meta-game of meter management into a lively, cinematic event, one that personifies the strategic mind games inherent to high-level competitive fighting. While being comboed upon, players can initiate a Clash by pressing forward and the X button, which sets into motion a series of events both cerebral and dramatic.

"Once you go into this Clash thing, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, the characters will interact with each other. Batman will say specific stuff to Superman and vice-versa, different things than he would say to one of the other characters," lead designer John Edwards told me during my play session at E3. In practice, the event ends the combo and the two characters exchange dialogue, after which they charge at each other in a manner reminiscent of Dragon Ball.

Injustice Gods Among Us' 'Clash' systems
During the exchange, both players "bet" portions of their super meters, and whoever bets the most wins the Clash. "So if the defender wins the Clash, then he gets back all the health from that combo that he would have lost," Edwards said. "If the attacker wins, [the defender] takes that damage plus a little bit more."

Bets are hidden, which prevents players from being able to easily top each other's wagers, Price Is Right style. A player could always bet the maximum every time, provided they had the available meter, but that may not always be the most strategically advantageous option. "It's multi-layered because depending on how much health you have, or how much super the other guy has, you might want to try to force them to burn meter, and he might want to try and save it."

Injustice's Clash system may be based on ideas cultivated by the meter-management mind game pervasive to Mortal Kombat's competitive scene, but its implementation and execution introduce the high-level idea to casual players in a dynamic, exciting way, perfectly suited to an over-the-top world where aliens and billionaires punch each other through buildings.

Injustice: Gods Among Us will launch on 360, PS3 and Wii U sometime in 2013.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.