NetherRealm’s DC Comics fighting game “Injustice: Gods Among Us” recently announced the inclusion of “Mortal Kombat” character Scorpion as its third Downloadable Content character, and while there’s certainly precedent for Mortal Kombat and the DCU colliding (see “Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe”), “Injustice” is the wrong place for it.
Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong with including Scorpion in “Injustice” strictly from a gameplay standpoint — he’s a character with a long history in fighting games, he sports a redesign by DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee and he’s got some cool and unique abilities. But when DC has a library of over 2000 unique characters for NetherRealm to pull from, with a myriad of designs and personalities, why would any developer draw from another source?
Even considering NetherRealm’s association with “Mortal Kombat,” bringing in Scorpion doesn’t make much sense — after all, the studio’s head (and “Mortal Kombat” co-creator) Ed Boon spoke with Game Informer last August, making a point to be clear one of the studio’s key goals with “Injustice” was to establish an identity beyond “Mortal Kombat.”
“Understandably, a lot of people ask, ‘Are you going to have fatalities? Are you going to do this?’ That’s specifically because we are NetherRealm Studios, we did ‘Mortal Kombat,’ we have done a bunch of ‘Mortal Kombats’ and I think there is an assumption that this is part of every game we do,” Boon told Game Informer. “But the real message is this is brand new — this game has its own identity and we don’t feel like we have to follow any kind of previous template of ‘Mortal Kombat.’ While we are very proud of the ‘Mortal Kombat’ legacy we have, it’s certainly not part of this game. This game has its own identity.”
Granted, Boon was speaking about the format of the game and the lack of fatalities, but it’s difficult to establish an identity for “Injustice” beyond “Mortal Kombat” if a character from “Mortal Kombat” is included in the game.
When looked at from a story perspective, Scorpion makes even less sense. One of the major draws for “Injustice” is its dystopian future storym helmed by consultants Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and expanded on by Tom Taylor in the “Injustice” digital comic. The story is loaded with DC mythology, featuring characters both iconic (Superman) and obscure (Killer Frost). Including Scorpion doesn’t expand that mythology — it actively impedes it. NetherRealm selected the roster internally, with input from DC, and NetherRealm senior producer Adam Urbano admitted in an interview with Canada.com that the choices they had for character inclusion were incredibly vast.
“When you get down to it, there are so many DC characters,” Urbano said in March. “Not all of them are necessarily popular or well known, but when you get to know them and get a chance to make them unique, the roster is near limitless and very hard to deal with.”
Granted, most players can simply choose to not purchase Scorpion, who comes with a $4.99 price tag, but for the DC “Injustice” super fans that purchased the season pass ($14.99 for all four DLC characters), Scorpion is likely a disappointment. For those that don’t want him, he essentially takes away from the value of the discounted Season Pass, diluting an otherwise impressive DC roster instead of offering another new and interesting DC character to the line-up.
“Injustice” felt like NetherRealm’s celebration of the unique characters of the DC Universe, and it’s not as though the studio has unlimited slots for DLC. “Mortal Kombat” only ever offered 4 DLC characters with no announced plans for more, meaning the possibility exists that the currently announced “Injustice” DLC characters (plus the final unannounced character) are the only 4 players will ever have a chance to get. With a bench as deep as the DC Universe, it’s disappointing that NetherRealm, WB Games and DC Entertainment decided to include a character from another franchise instead of exploring the nigh-unlimited potential of the DCU.