Superheroes are awesome. What could be more awesome I hear you ask from behind a pile of comics (on not… not everyone’s a classic geek like myself). How about superheroes beating each other every which way while coming out with pithy one-liners? Well assorted nerds of the Internet since 2013 gave us Injustice you’ve already had what you want to stop complaining. However its now 2017 and its time for Injustice 2! I’ve been excited for so long to get my hands on this hero bashing fighting game and I have not been disappointed!
Picking up where the last game left off, Injustice 2 depicts and alternate universe where, after being pushed to the edge, Superman snaps and decides killing all the baddies he can find is the best and quickest solution. Of course Batman has taken exception to this and since Injustice 1 he’s kept Supes locked up in a red solar cell to leave him as weak as a pile of breadsticks. Now while this seems like a pretty clear ending for the story already its barely even scratched the surface of what’s going on. Early in the story a new player appears on the scene in the form of everyone’s favorite super nerd, Brainiac. Using his creepy metal tentacles and even creepier army of murderbots, Brainiac leads an assault on Earth in an attempt to gain more knowledge. Early on Bats figures out that even with Green Lantern and Flash on his side he needs someone with a little more power and hires his old/new nemesis Superman and together they go on a globe trotting adventure to save the world and definitely NOT fight over their clearly different outlooks on life. Following the same system as the last few Netherealm games the story is played out in chapters with each hero taking the limelight for around 4 battles. While it’s an interesting story and kept me playing for several hours I can’t help but be put off on fighting game story modes. It’s a difficult genre to give a good story since there is only one style of gameplay and the constant fighting soon becomes an interruption from what is as I said before a really interesting story with plenty of twists and turns to keep in the harshest DC critic happy (and yes I know we’re all remembering Batman v Superman now. It happened get over it!)
The roster has grown since the last time we hopped around is this universe with the classics like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman being joined by new bloods Blue Beetle, Black Canary and Swamp Thing. I loved the characters and the designs though I felt a few were definitely under used in the actual story mode. Best example being Red Lantern Atrocitus. During Green Lantern’s chapter early in the game Hal keeps having strange moments of creepy red eyes and head aches which are finally explained when out of nowhere Atrocitus steps out of a portal and reveals himself as the puppet master so of course you fight him and THEN!!!!! He leaves… that’s it… you NEVER see him again and he’s never mentioned either. So it makes me wonder why even bother in the first place? I get the feeling that a few of the characters were picked just because the developers thought they would look cool and then desperately woven into the storyline afterwards. Character design is many times greater than it was 4 years ago with each fighter looking incredibly cool with forms unique to the game distinguishing them from the classic DC comics designs. That leads me nicely to the facial animation. Its been a while since I’ve seen a game with facial animation this good that didn’t go out of its way to advertise it. Watching cutscenes and even in game character introductions you could be forgiven for mistaking them for a fully budgeted CGI movie!
Pretty much everything you will have loved about how the first game handled has been taken and touched up like a chef adding a fancy herb to the top of an already perfectly prepared steak. As with most recent Netherealm developed games Injustice 2 handles like classic Mortal Kombat with a side on perspective keeping the fighting tight and centered. Each character brings a very different style to the table with certain heroes using massive strength to control the fight and others nimbly gambling about with reckless abandon. Picking who you want come down to more than just who’s spandex outfit you like more It’s more about what kind of fighter you want to be. The interesting mechanics of the previous game also make a comeback like the clashes. During the fight you and your enemy can stop for a second to exchange banter and indulge in a small gambling mini game. Betting a certain amount of your super meter whoever gives more gets a bonus either dealing heavy damage to the enemy or healing you. Not only does it look cool but it’s a clever trick to make the fights a little more interesting AND dangerous. I was glad to see the series staple stage transitions return. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as smashing your opponent through 15 brick walls then into a fuel tanker, and lets not wonder about how a normal human like Green Arrow can survive something like that. A few snags definitely reared their heads as I went on though. Occasionally the AI enemies seem to be able to break out of combos for no reason and dodge attacks just by glitching though them. Also, the difficulty of the AI seems to jump all over the place as some fights would leave me retying 8 or 9 times while others I walked though like it was nothing and then there’s Braniac… in standard single fighting he’s as fairly balanced as you could hope for the main villain. However, when it comes time for his moment in the story line he has access to some attacks that are genuinely impossible to dodge or block and will cleave your health bar in half before you’ve even realized you’re being killed by a giant metal space tentacle.
A brand new feature is the Multiverse. Acting as a replacement for the standard fighting game arcade ladder, Multiverse allows you to battle against enemies with improved stats and equipment to give yourself a challenge and to practice some sweet new moves with your favorite heroes. Each victory unlocks new items that introduce you to the incredible new gear system. As you fight and master each character they will level up from experience and with victory comes Mother Boxes (an in universe loot box) and each box contains an assortment of gear items for various characters. New gear will empower you favorite heroes with improved attack and defense stats and some will even give you bonuses like kryptonite gauntlets for Batman that will make him a more even match for Superman or girl. The gear has the added bonus of making the characters look awesome and giving you that extra level of personalization that’s hard to find in most fighting games. I grinded for hours on Green Lantern in a desperate attempt to level up and get some fancy new threads to take online and show off to the world that I was a master of the lime spandex’d hero…and boy was I wrong…
Multiplayer handles in exactly the same way as story and multiverse modes with the only change being in level of challenge. Like every experience I’ve had with a fighting game online you enjoy yourself playing alone get a feel for it and think you’re really something special and decide to test yourself against real people and then boom… you come crashing back to earth as you realise that you’re nothing special… you’re just another gamer with an ego and you need to be aggressively button mashed and beaten back to your measly offline gameplay and that’s where you’ll stay because it’s really not so bad to be pathetic…at least you can unlock gear on your own anyway…
So overall! Injustice 2 is more than just a worthy successor to a great game. It’s a fantastic entry in what could be a very long running franchise if they can keep this kind of momentum. With an incredible cast of characters and a strong sense of replay-ability Injustice 2 is a game that will keep you battling for many violent laser eye filled hours. Just remember when it comes to Brainiac your controller has done NOTHING wrong so be gentle… at least more gentle than he is with you.
Injustice 2 gets a very solid 8/10 from me.