Written by: Jeff Chambers
Release Date(s): May 16, 2017 (NA), May 17, 2017 (AU) & May 19 (UK)
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (Version Played)
Injustice 2 is a fighting game from NetherRealm Studios, the developers behind the Mortal Kombat series, using popular characters from the DC Universe. It is a direct sequel to 2013’s smash hit Injustice: God’s Among Us, with the story taking place five years after the original. Featuring solid writing and animation to go along with excellent voice acting, the story mode is extremely engaging and will keep you wanting to play through to the next chapter and beyond. The only issues I have with an otherwise outstanding story is that the game doesn’t really do a good job explaining exactly what happened in it’s predecessor. Some key details are laid out but quite a bit is glossed over. The game could benefit from a synopsis or a montage explaining the plot of the first game for those who never played the original. Also, a couple of characters feel completely shoehorned in. They show up for one scene that has absolutely no bearing on the main plot and disappear afterwards, never to be seen again. Those are fairly minor gripes though that you’ll quickly look past as you move forward to the next intriguing chapter. What I do love about story mode is that it forces you to play as different characters to complete the story. If I hadn’t played through the story, I probably never would’ve found out that I enjoy playing as Black Canary so much or that Blue Beetle was my favorite character to use. Also, the fact that there are separate endings is great and it’ll be interesting to see which one is later accepted as canon if there’s a third game.
A great story is awesome but this is a fighting game and above all else fighting games live and die on gameplay. On the gameplay front, Injustice 2 is a good, solid fighter. You can clearly see the influence from NetherRealms’ flagship franchise Mortal Kombat in the gameplay. Much like that series, the controls are precise and combos are easy to chain together but everything just feels a little bit stiff. It might be the character animations but the game just doesn’t flow as smoothly as other popular 2D fighters like Street Fighter or Blazblue. That doesn’t make the game any less fun, I just feel the actual gameplay in those games is better. But Injustice absolutely excels and surpasses those games in other areas.
The other main single player offering is known as the “Multiverse” mode. In this mode, the player is tasked with taking on alternate universe versions of the roster in a series of fights with escalating difficulty. These fights also tend to feature some odd and amusing variants such as bombs or healing items endlessly dropping and challenges to gain extra points such as tasking the player with landing ten sweeps throughout the match. These multiverse challenges are timed, some need to be completed in a day, others will give you a longer range of time. It’s a good incentive to keep the player coming back every day. Tucked away in the Multiverse is the “Battle Simulator” which acts as your standard arcade mode. This mode allows you to see endings for every character in the game as well as expand on the endings from the main story. There are also options to play through an endurance mode, where you only get one life bar that doesn’t reset between fights and an endless mode where you keep fighting opponent after opponent forever until you lose. Why this traditional arcade mode is hidden away like this and not presented as a main single player option, I don’t know.
The online offerings feature your standard fighting game fair with fights against local, random and ranked opponents. Another online feature is the guild mode. This mode allows you to take on daily and weekly challenges as part of a team with other players online. Guilds have their own co-operative version of the multiverse. It functions much in the same way as the single player multiverse, outside of the fact that you complete it along with others in your group.
However, there’s a few things that don’t sit right with me. There’s a level up system I don’t particularly care for. Every character can be levelled up to level 20. I honestly hate the idea of a levelling system in a fighting game, especially because it seems it’s mostly in place to arbitrarily lock away certain features and cosmetics. Speaking of cosmetics, this game contains RNG (Random Number Generation) loot boxes, or as they’re referred to in this title “Mother Boxes”. These boxes contain cosmetic items that you can use to customise the look of your character. These cosmetics also feature stat buffs such as giving your character better attack power, better defense, higher health, etc. My main issue with these boxes is the same as it is for every other game using the RNG loot system, everything you get in these boxes is random. The cosmetics are level capped as well, so you won’t be able to use certain items until you reach or grind to a certain level. While these cosmetics are optional, the fact that they feature stat buffs shows that you’ll be at a disadvantage if you just ignore them. It’s worth noting that the stat buffs are completely negated in ranked play. There, the cosmetic items are exactly that, cosmetic items with no effect on game play. However, they do work in regular online play. Lastly, in game currency is purchasable with actual money and the popular villain Darkseid was originally locked away as a pre-order bonus but is now only available through paid DLC, even if you buy the pricey Ultimate Edition. Micro transactions are flat out wrong in a full priced game and pre-order bonuses are something that need to go away. Unfortunately, it seems most gamers have just sort of accepted these practices and they’re here to stay.
Rant aside, this game is still a ton of fun to play. Beating up Superman and Batman with Black Canary is a blast. The cinematic super moves are so over the top and exaggerated, they’re almost worth the price of admission alone. I actually love the idea of character customisation through cosmetics, even if I’m not a huge fan of how its implemented here. The game is truly packed with content and NetherRealm has shown they are committed to supporting the game well past launch with 9 DLC fighters planned for release. Last but not least, the game is one of the best looking of this generation. An impressive feat given the developers used an older revision of the Unreal Engine.
Even taking into account my hatred for micro transactions and pre-order bonuses, this game is a must for any fighting game or DC Comics fan.