REVIEW – NetherRealm Studios is back once more to show us that while Tekken and Street Fighter exists their fighters can go toe to toe and even overcome some of the most famous fighters. While Mortal Kombat is the bloodier of their two franchises, the Injustice series is also able to pack a punch with its over exaggerated super attacks, a story that rivals most of the new Warner Bros/DC efforts for the past ten years. Most importantly it provides the best brawls in a fighting game as of 2017 (At least until Tekken 7 comes out. Hah!).
While the first Injustice was great, it still had some hiccups along the way to be fantastic. Most notably it was still a previous generation fighting game. Some of its animations and character models were at time ugly in certain scenes (Wonder Woman says hi), plus the texture quality was also hit and miss. So after nearly four years of being in the backburner, the series is back. More modes, more characters, and … more loot?
The story of Injustice 2 takes place five years after the first game. Humanity is recovering from the defeat of The Regime, and Evil Superman is now locked up. Things are looking good, as both Metropolis and Gotham are being rebuilt. However, not everything is roses and sunshine, as there is a power gap left after The Regime, which Grodd (Gorilla who is super smart) is shaping a new criminal league called The Society.
We also have the impending threat of Brainiac who is heading towards Earth to complete its collection of Kryptonians. The production value of the story is simply gigantic, and I am impressed with both the length of the story and the fights that have been selected. The studio also added a few neat features that allow the campaign to be replayed more than once. Different choices can be made before a fight commences, which affect the banter, and events of the game.
New cast members are introduced, and it also shakes up the roster of playable heroes. It introduces such characters that are pretty low-key or do not have that wide of recognition outside of a hardcore fan base such as Dr. Fate, Blue Beetle, Firestorm, and even Swamp Thing. Ed Boon in interviews did promise that the cast would contain obscure characters, and it shows in both the story and on the roster.
While the story is great, and certainly can build upon the prequel comics, plus the ending of the first game, there are a few minor issues. The Regime part of the story is dropped after the first few fights, and quite frankly they made certain aspects of the overall story non-canon from the comic books. Superman might have formed The Regime, but they changed some of the background events of it to make Superman even eviler.
Still, while there are some minor problems with the story, its quality, and length is impressive.
Loot that fancy pants for The Joker
Injustice 2 features not only a robust campaign mode, but also a few other interesting modes, and gameplay mechanics that are pretty new for a fighting game. First off we have RPG mechanics for all of our characters. Our profile levels up, and so does our characters. Our characters when reaching a certain level will be able to learn new abilities and moves. Not only that but we can add gear to our characters that come from Lootboxes. Adding particular gear, and armor to the characters will also result in extra moves available to us, or more health, and faster movement. Ed Boon and his development team decided to mix and match different genres for Injustice 2, and with these two additional gameplay mechanics, it is clear that the team wants us to customize as much as we can. No two Batman are the same, and no two Superman will look the same.
The above concept is also reinforced by The Multiverse, where we have scenarios of different Earths presented to us. In one we may control Darkseid to take over the world, in another, we control The Flash stopping Zoom taking over the world. In order to complete these mini-stories, all we have to do is just fight through a set of fighters before going up against the main boss of the world. The Multiverse is basically Injustice’s Challenge Towers, but with an added extra lore for the fans.
We also have the usual online fighting modes, and it even has a Ranked and Unranked mode (for those that do not want to have their losses on record). Furthermore, in Ranked mode, your epic gears, and unlocked moves do not count since it would be pretty difficult for the team to balance it out for the tournaments. Some upgraded moves are also pretty overpowered so they are also missing from the Ranked matches. However, in unranked, you can go to town and beat someone to a pulp as a fully upgraded Superman or Batman. The development team is also adding new gear as downloadable content, and with the release of Wonder Woman, players will be able to use her items from the movie within the game.
Injustice 2 provides a lot of options for those who completed the campaign but crave for more over the top fights between their favorite superheroes. The Multiverse is fun, and the new loot/gear options provide depth of the gameplay.
HDR Batman, and 4K Superman
Injustice 2 is probably one of the best looking fighting games that I have seen. The animation is top-notch, and after finally years of criticism, NetherRealms Studios has finally animated the female characters superbly. While in the first Injustice they looked mediocre, here they look like goddesses, and even Wonder Woman now looks as if she stepped out from the recent movie. The effects are flashy, and with the HDR support they look better, and I can recommend playing this on a 4K TV with a PS4Pro.
The environments are just spectacular and are always constantly in motion. Lighting and background characters are dynamic, and it really adds depth to the fights. The stages are also varied, and ranges from Gotham City under attack, to a Memorial of Metropolis, and even Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. The loading times for the matches are also quick, so the player can just jump between matches relatively quickly. If you were looking to battle all over the world in Injustice 2 and 4K + HDR, then you are at the right place.
Motherboxes, and the end
While Injustice 2 is a great sequel, it does have its issues, however small those may be. For instance, you cannot open the loot boxes (dubbed Motherboxes) all at once with a touch of a button. So be prepared to see the same animation for the gazillionth time. Also while the RPG mechanics are nice, some of those moves that you would love to use are tied to gear, which can only be used when a character is almost at the maximum level. Another problem I had was that some of the characters in the storyline appeared in certain scenes in a very contrived manner (especially Swamp Thing near the end). Plus while the animation looks nice, some of those punches do not seem to have a weight to them. Mainly when playing Darkseid, it was interesting to see his punches have the animation of gently swatting away a fly.
Still even with the above issues, and weird animation quirks Injustice 2 is a superb fighting game that is a must-have for everyone. A great sequel, with a lot of effort from NetherRealms Studios, and hopefully they will provide us with such content for many more years to come.
+ Epic storyline
+ Lots of game modes
+ Customization with depth…
– …That is tied to loot boxes
– Parts of the story in campaign are dropped quickly
– Few minor bugs that hinder the overall experience
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Warner Bros., NetherRealm Studios
Genre: Beat’em up
Release date: May 9, 2017