Injustice 2 has a lot to bear on its broad shoulders in this sequel from NetherRealm Studios. However, with “NetherRealm’s” strong track record with Injustice: Gods Among Us, and their Mortal Kombat games, it’s no surprise that Injustice 2 is set to impress along with its robust cast of characters from the DC Comics pantheon.
Injustice 2 is packed to the brim with content, its characters not withstanding. Many familiar features return from Gods Among Us. It’s still so exhilarating to use environmental attacks on your opponent, such as pummeling them with cars and decorative statues. Stage transitions look painfully entertaining as you crash through walls and ceilings of one part of an arena to another. Plus, each character’s Super Move has been reimagined for Injustice 2 and continues to be as over-the-top as you’d imagine. One of my favorites is Flash dragging his opponent so fast that they wind up in the Cretaceous period as Flash slams said opponent into the side of a Tyrannosaurus Rex only to return to the present to finish them off.
Injustice 2 sees over a dozen new characters join the fray for the sequel. Among them are Supergirl, Black Canary, Gorilla Grodd, Doctor Fate, Deadshot, and Atrocitus with his otherworldly cat, Dex-Starr, who literally spews liquid rage. These characters are a testament to the care and detail that NetherRealm has invested in Injustice 2. There’s a variety of ways to play. Offensive, defensive; with power houses like Grodd and Bane to characters that are all about controlling the arena such as Green Arrow or Deadshot. Black Canary’s counter mechanic is high risk but, with practice and patience, learning such a moveset is a reward in itself.
The story of Injustice 2 picks up after the events of Gods Among Us. In the first game, Superman essentially turned his back on the way of justice after a tragic personal loss. The Man of Steel had since adopted a “by any means necessary” approach to crime fighting, often with lethal results. The Justice League was not even invulnerable to this dark and tortured Superman. Leave it to Batman to create a splinter group that ultimately took Superman down. Superman now bides his time behind the walls of a high security prison. The sequel sees the invasion of Earth by Brainiac, whose intent is to gain all the knowledge it can from the planet and then see to its destruction after he’s gleaned everything from it. Will The Dark Knight have to rekindle a fragile trust in his once friends turned foes?
Injustice 2 has to be the best DC Comics movie I have ever played. I’m referencing the game’s amazing presentation value. The facial animations alone put other recently released software to shame. The facial ticks, eye rolling, and how cheeks rise and fall when a character smiles borders on photorealism. How I wished this could be a movie, but then I remembered how thankful I was that Injustice 2 is not part of Zack Snyder’s DC Universe. That’s because Injustice 2 is also smartly written. Batman is dark and foreboding as he should be. Damian Wayne sounds like he’s in need of a spanking. Green Arrow’s banter is as sharp as the arrows he lets loose. Every character has their time in the spotlight and the stellar voice cast keeps the narrative entertaining and moving.
The real meat of Injustice 2’s story lies with all the characters you can play, and that’s nearly all of them. In a way, story mode is a great training tool for newcomers and fighter enthusiasts alike. As the chapters progress you’ll alternate between the game’s many characters. On some occasions you’ll be given the opportunity to choose a character if two happen to team up for that part of the story.
The downside to playing as different characters on-the-fly is that the combos and button input of one character isn’t necessarily going to transfer to the next. Often I’d have to pause the game to take a look at the control scheme for a character and then jump back in. It doesn’t allow for a truly immersive nor seamless single player experience. But, then again, do you really want to spend countless hours in training with each character just to have a shot in the story?
Even at its default Medium difficulty setting, Injustice 2 is not going to pull its punches. I was defeated several times with several characters. Maybe it’s just me, but I could swear that for round two, Injustice 2’s CPU wasn’t as harsh the first time, or perhaps it’s that I learned a fair bit from my opponent even in defeat to better strategize my next approach. Whatever the pseudo-mechanism is, I’ve found that if I got knocked out once, my next turn is where I usually claimed victory. I tend not to lower the difficulty. If it’s a walk in the park all the time, then I’m not being challenged or engaged. Through trial and error I find I’m chaining together an impressive flurry of punches and kicks, and juggling my opponent in midair. Even movement speed seems to have gotten a slight increase from Gods Among Us. It feels quite rewarding when you invest even a little time to play Injustice 2 properly rather than button mash.
Training mode brings you up to speed on the essentials for each character. However, if you’re looking for tutorials to master the impressive 15+ hit combos, you would be hard pressed to find that nugget of information in the game. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom show you how to pull off combos, with upwards of 20 hits, step-by-step. This is a feature missing from Injustice 2. You’re given the bare minimum in combo chaining. For gamers who call fighting games their home, they’ll no doubt learn by continued practice. For casuals, however, the learning curve here could steepen to that of a mountain.
A significant draw to Injustice 2 is in the Multiverse. The Multiverse is a series of daily challenges that gives you the opportunity to level up your character and collect new gear and accessories for them. Accessories can be common or rare and often augment several attributes of a character such as strength, abilities, defense, and health. Alternate skins have been a feature of the series but Injustice 2 takes this several steps further. Practically all cosmetic aspects of a character can be modified. Capes, cowls, helmets, breast plates, and leggings come in several designs and patterns. Pair this with dozens of costume shaders and that makes for thousands of possible combinations. There’s an incredible amount of replay value in Injustice 2; reason enough to keep coming back for the daily Multiverse challenges.
While accessories can provide buffs to your characters, competitive players don’t have to worry about being at a disadvantage in ranked multiplayer. Augmentations are disabled for online play, but the cosmetic features of new gear will still remain. In contrast, local multiplayer can allow for both a level and augmented playing field. So if you have a friend you want to beat down with your maxed-out hero just for bragging rights, you may do so.
At launch, Injustice 2’s servers showed no observable lag. Playing online will still show a slight delay in input, something obviously not present in a local offline match, but Injustice 2’s training mode includes a helpful delay simulation feature. The feature exists essentially to help competitive players compensate for the slight input delay in online play and search for that sweet spot in combo execution.
The only reservations I have with Injustice 2 is that moving from one character to the next in the game’s story doesn’t facilitate a true sense of growth. More often you’ll have to pause the game to look up that character’s moveset or resort to button mashing to win. The time you do spend in training mode to wisen up is not as fleshed out as you’d want it to be. If you truly want to learn how to pull off elite combo chains by way of direct tutorial, you’re sadly out of luck. Yet there’s no denying that Injustice 2 is an amazing experience despite these limitations. Truly, you’re bound to spend hours upon hours in search of every trinket to not only make your character look more super, but also fight more super. There’s more than enough content to keep you busy that you’d never have to jump in an online match. That’s how grounded the single player modes truly are.
Contrary to the game’s title, Injustice 2 certainly does the heroes and villains of the DC Universe justice in this sequel.
+ Over a dozen new characters
+ Gorgeous graphics and facial animations
+ Multiverse mode offers daily challenges for great rewards
+ Numerous accessories to change the look of your characters
– Training mode doesn’t teach you a character’s full potential
– Story mode forces you to adapt to unfamiliar controls