Fresh off the release of the Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition and its attendant Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive is getting a jump on its E3 2012 competition by revealing new games ahead of the show. At the top of the list sits Injustice: Gods Among Us, a DC Universe fighter featuring Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and more, developed by NetherRealm Studios of Mortal Kombat fame.

Meanwhile, an entirely different set of iconic characters — the heroes and villains of Lord of the Rings — get a new lease on video game life in Guardians of Middle-earth, a multiplayer online battle arena game coming to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network from Monolith Productions.

It’s been just over thirteen months since NetherRealm Studios released Mortal Kombat, one of the best reviewed fighting games in recent years. A PlayStation Vita version of the game debuted at the beginning of May. But, as the saying goes, there is no rest for the wicked — or for successful fighting game developers — and NetherRealm is already back, talking up its new fighter, Injustice: Gods Among Us, due in 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U.

With a cast of playable characters that includes Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Harley Quinn and Solomon Grundy, the natural assumption is that Injustice is a spiritual successor to Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. However, the game’s current tag line, “What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat?” (in addition to the absence of any Mortal Kombat characters), suggests that there may be more to Injustice than that.

Warner Bros. Interactive Announces Injustice: Gods Among Us and Guardians of Middle-earth

In a video interview with GameSpot, Ed Boon, Creative Director of NetherRealm Studios, discusses what he thinks will set Injustice apart from the competition.

“Injustice is our twist on the blockbuster, over-the-top superhero game in a fighting game shell… trying to add some pretty major components to shake up the fighting game genre.”

“The environment’s role is the big feature that we’re really kind of pushing. If you think of your environment as like a pallet of where you can go… we really wanted to put objects scattered throughout the environment that players can use, either above their heads, on the edges of the arenas, inside the environment… On top of that, we have transitions to completely new arenas with a completely different set of tools and environments, so you’re really gonna want to care where you are in which background with which character…”

All that environmental carnage is on full display in the Injustice: Gods Among Us announcement trailer:

Boon goes on to reveal Injustice’s two character classes: Gadget Characters, including (obviously) Batman, and Power Characters, like Superman and Solomon Grundy. Unlike the Mortal Kombat games, which have along featured basic moves that vary little from character to character, Boon wants the fighters in Injustice to feel “completely different from one another.” Expect more news on the game during E3.

Guardians of Middle-earth

When word first began to make the rounds that Monolith Productions, famous for the horror-shooter F.E.A.R. (and more recently responsible for Gotham City Impostors) would be tapped to craft a tie-in game for Peter Jackson’s upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I doubt anyone was expecting a MOBA game — and especially not a MOBA game exclusively for consoles (that’s right, no PC version is currently in development). Yet that is exactly what the developer is delivering with Guardians of Middle-earth. From the press release:

“Guardians of Middle-earth brings up to 10 players together in five versus five competitive multiplayer battle arenas in the epic setting of Middle-earth. The game offers more than 20 iconic guardians, including Gandalf, Sauron, Gollum, Thráin and many more, for players to control in player versus player (PVP) matches. Gamers will have the ability to connect with other players via an in-game voice communication system, as well as access to a comprehensive online stat and leader board system where they can track friends’ victories and defeats, and more.”

Guardians of Middle-earth is hardly a “game of the movie” in the way that Electronic Arts’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or Return of the King were, but it does feature specific ties to The Hobbit — namely,  new playable guardians that will be made available both before and after Jackson’s film premiers this December. As with Injustice: Gods Among Us and Warner Bros. Interactive’s previously announced Harry Potter for Kinect, expect more news on Guardians of Middle-earth during E3 2012.

Ranters, what do you think of your first look at Injustice: Gods Among Us — is it a worthy followup to Mortal Kombat? And what about Guardians of Middle-earth — could MOBA games be the next big thing for consoles, or are they better off on PC? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is due in 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U.

Guardians of Middle-earth is due this Fall for Xbox 360 and PS3.

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Source: GameSpot (1,2), Injustice: Gods Among Us