With Injustice 2, developer NetherRealm Studios returns with the second installment of its exhilarating fighting game series which pits some of the most iconic heroes and villains in the DC universe against each other.
The original Injustice: Gods Among Us in 2013 brought us a fighting game from the studio behind Mortal Kombat that shared similar mechanics with that game while introducing an assortment of new systems that set itself apart from the mature rated Mortal Kombat series. The epic story was another big selling point of Gods Among Us; introducing us to a Superman who is pushed off of the deep end due to the ploys of the Joker, essentially changing the way we look at these established characters. Injustice 2 continues the story by detailing the aftermath of the first Injustice while introducing a new enemy that threatens to conquer the entire earth.
Injustice 2: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 16 May 2017
Price: £54.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Taking place shortly after the events of Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice 2 follows the aftermath of the fall of Superman’s regime, while also providing a few flashbacks to flesh out the backgrounds of certain characters. With the bad Superman in prison and the rest of the regime members either in hiding or joining him in prison, the heroes from the main universe have returned home. Tasked with helping to rebuild the world now that Superman is no longer in power, Batman is left with handling the reconstruction of Gotham and Metropolis while also dealing with new threats. The first of which is a secret group called “The Society”.
Led by Gorilla Grodd, this faction is composed of a group of villains with the same goal in mind, which is to fill the void left by the regime’s absence as the new rulers of Earth. Meanwhile, there is an even bigger threat looming from the stars in the form the classic Superman villain Brainiac, who has come to earth after finding out that there are still two remaining Kryptonians alive. Much like their other games, NetherRealm Studios break the campaign up into several chapters, each placing the player in control of a specific character, although there are moments where you can choose to play as on hero or another.
There are also multiple endings too depending on a choice you are forced to make at the climax of the story, although one feels more like the canonical ending and the other more of a “what-if” scenario. The campaign does fall a bit on the shorter side, and going back to replay certain chapters as the other character doesn’t add much besides playing as someone else during that fight, minus the ending.
If there is one major issue with the story it’s that Injustice 2 does very little to explain the events of the previous game or tie-in comics, which might leave newcomers to the series confused as to what exactly is happening, or why certain characters are behaving the way they are. A brief recap of the events of the first story would have been helpful to set up the stage for the first one for those who did not play through Injustice: Gods Among Us. Still, the story in Injustice 2 feels more like a logical continuation of the story, even if certain character arcs leave a lot to be desired.
The first thing most people will take notice of when they see the game is how incredibly detailed the character models are during the cutscenes, as well as during the gameplay. The facial animations are extremely well developed, and equally impressive are the details in the backdrops of every level. Before a match begins and after the characters are selected, Injustice 2 shows a brief cinematic that features the two fighters punching each other in slo-mo, showcasing the level of detail in the facial animation of each fighter.
At the beginning of every fight, the two combatants will also make a quip to each other, usually referencing their relationship or something that relates to the story in both games. It’s a nice bit of fan service that adds to the immersion during the battle. All of this coupled with the great score and sound design in the game leaves Injustice 2 with one of the best presentations of any fighting game.
Of course, none of that matters if the mechanics in the fighting game are not solid or fun to play. Fortunately, Injustice 2 already had a solid foundation to build on thanks to Injustice: Gods Among Us. The original Injustice introduced plenty of unique systems to a fighting game, including character abilities that were different for every playable character, objects in the stage that can be interacted with, interaction varies between different characters, stage transitions allow characters to be knocked from one stage to another, and a clash system that acts as a risk/reward system based on how much meter you had.
All of that remains the same in Injustice 2, which is impressive given the respectable cast size of thirty-two characters. The roster list brings back returning favourites such as Superman and Batman while introducing several new characters such as Atrocitus, Black Canary, Blue Beetle and Scarecrow. While not every new character fits well with the story (as a few felt a bit shoehorned just to have an excuse to debut in the campaign) they all play differently from each other and contribute to the Injustice roster thanks to their unique playstyles.
Additionally, Injustice 2 feels a bit faster thanks in part to the quicker speed of the overall gameplay and introduces a few new mechanics such as the ability to spend meter to gain an invulnerable dash, or the ability to dodge mid-air during a combo. If you enjoyed the juggle combo system of Injustice: Gods Among Us, you’ll be very satisfied with Injustice 2.
The biggest gameplay addition to Injustice 2 however, is the gear system. Much like an action RPG where you level up a character and gain gear that you can equip to specific body parts, Injustice 2 lets you level up each fighter you play as, while also being able to obtain gear for your character in any of the game modes. These pieces of gear not only add new cosmetic effects to the slotted area but also changes different stats such as health, strength, defense or ability.
Occasionally players may also be rewarded with new special moves for a character, which will open up new gameplay options for that character. While the RPG element can cause a balance issue when playing against other people online, it doesn’t affect ranked matches, and the bonuses can be turned off in player matches if both sides agree to turn them off before the match starts. However, that doesn’t happen often so players are best left to stick to ranked games if they want a balanced experience.
The other significant addition to the game is the Multiverse mode, which is essentially like the towers mode in Mortal Kombat X. This mode offers time-based events in different planets which offer unique challenges against the AI, oftentimes with a special modifier during fights. Defeating all the AI opponents during that event rewards you with currency, items, and oftentimes Motherboxes which contain gear, shaders, or new abilities. The planets are constantly cycling, and you can see which new ones pop up once an old event has ended.
Multiverse mode offers endless hours of entertainment, while the reward system offers the incentive to check out which new planet has popped up on a regular basis.
For DC comic and fighting game fans alike, Injustice 2 is the ultimate package. It continues the unique story set by the first Injustice and as a fighting game adds new characters and mechanics that improve upon the first game. The animations in the story mode are stunning, and that extends to the character models during gameplay. Each character is unique, and each plays quite differently from each other, thanks in part by the character power which gives them new abilities, special moves, or other perks. Furthermore, the levelling up mechanic and gear system add an RPG-lite element to the gameplay where you can earn and equip stat-boosting gear for your favourite fighter, and use them in either the multiverse mode or against people online. The desire to earn new pieces of gear through unlocks or Motherboxes, as well as the multiverse mode’s additions on a constant basis, gives players a reason to log on regularly.
Injustice 2 contains all the key components needed in a fighting game, and each area is executed exceptionally well making it yet another impressive addition to the fighting game catalogue by NetherRealm Studios.
- Stunning visuals in both the story mode and overall character design
- Roster full of a diverse cast rich in DC lore
- Lots of content in offline and online modes
- Faster movement speed
- Online works very well with little to no lag
- Story may be confusing for those who never played the first Injustice
- Only does the bare minimum of teaching players about each character
- Gear system and character levels creates an imbalance in online play