NetherRealm Studios returns with its second Injustice game following on from the rather cool Injustice Gods Among Us which released in April 2013. Injustice 2 offers more of the same pitting DC characters against each other which seems fitting given the number DC movies we’re seeing recently and are planned for release this year. So that means a return of form for characters such as Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Flash and many more. There are 30 characters on the roster with more planned as DLC providing enough variety to choose from and if you’re up to speed on your comics then you’ll appreciate some of the lesser known entries.
Injustice 2 is a fighting game, something NetherRealm has honed from their previous games and it seems this one is a culmination of ideas fused into a veritable pot of goodness. There’s easy pick up and button mash play for casual players who just want to have a slice of the fun cake, but then there’s inner depth for those who wish to hone their skills and show off combos and evasive techniques. There enough content for everyone here and because it’s so accessible and less gory than the last Mortal Kombat game it’s suitable for most age groups although some of the imagery might be a little too much for very young players. Looking at what’s on offer when you boot up the game and you’re presented with a wealth of options including many standard features such as single fights against the AI, local or online versus and practice training modes. However, as a new addition to the game and one that pushes it ahead of its previous offering is the inclusion of some new modes for on and offline play.
The Story Mode offers some interesting scenes which provides a bit of personality to the characters. It’s a fight against the Earth destroying Brainiac (maybe he and Galactus should join forces) with Superman and his allies teaming up with Batman and his Justice League circle of trust, or not as the case may be. It’s a long haul lasting around 4 hours spanning some 76 fights and is exceptionally well produced making for fine viewing as a CGI movie in itself. However, it’s essentially a one time deal only and not something you’ll replay over and over even though there are rewards for each fight which adds to your pool of resources.
Once you’re done with the Story which lets you play as a number of fighters (but not all) you can then confidently dive into the other modes. On the multiplayer side of things there’s the option to play local battles but also set up offline tournaments with customizable sets of rules for all those in-house arguments being settled. Online is another kettle of fish and offers typical ranked, unranked matches and lobbies to hang out and search for suitable opponents to challenge.
The biggest addition over the previous game is the option to customize the characters, level them up and play a meta game of acquiring new gear to fight tougher opposition in the Metaverse. Players can snag gear by completing various challenges where each item boosts health, defense, ability and attack stats. You’re able to save several custom load-outs which allow for specific gear to be used against targeted opponents in the Metaverse. This new area of play is basically a series of fights much like the MK towers however there are numerous modifiers and level requirements which drastically change how fights play out. There’s also a random element of metaverse locations appearing at different intervals offering the chance to partake in some interesting bouts. It’s the reward aspect though that keeps you hooked here and because you have to level up each character individually before you can use any new pieces of gear makes an abundance of incentive to play with everyone and keep fighting to get them up to the level 20 cap. You can pretty much spend countless numbers of hours in this mode which aside from the very well made story mode is essentially the meat of the experience. For those who want to dive deeper into the mechanics there’s options to regenerate gear to suit your character level in case you prefer the looks of a certain piece or transform items without changing the stats in case you want to look different at lower levels and you’ve been awarded a higher rated item that you can’t wear. There’s an entire currency system here which means earning credits is a must for participating in the marketplace – including mother boxes (these offer new gear) which can be purchased as well as earned.
In terms of visuals the game presents the characters perfectly with numerous pre-fight animations and banter which sets the tone nicely for each fight. Facial animations are great with excellent expressions and mocapped body movement to the point at times look like they could almost be real actors (with lots of makeup and costumes that is). The gameplay runs smoothly at 60 frames per second and manages to maintain this throughout as you would expect. Fights can be very cinematic affairs (sometimes too much on occasion) which on the negative side might annoy some purists especially when special moves are performed or stage interactions which send your opponent into new areas of the stage. Some of these seemingly take forever and really break up the flow of the fights. Whilst initially they are visually impressive, after you’ve seen them plenty of times they begin to lose their appeal. There are also clash moments which allow players the chance to gamble their special bar in favour of an attack or defence boost. Again, this action slows down the flow of the combat with some character close ups a bit of dialogue and then action. At least in this instance it has both players participating. Injustice 2 features some fine audio to match the excellent visuals with great performances from all concerned and strong rousing soundtrack to compliment each scene. Sound effects are as you would expect but when you ramp up the volume you really do feel the power of each punch and kick.
Fighting fans should be pleased at NetherRealm’s latest offering because it simply does everything right and provides exactly what you want from a fighting game and more. That includes all the standard modes you expect but also some extras such as being able to tailor AI fighters to combat other online AI teams or join guilds for more bonuses and gameplay options. It’s a complete game that works and stands tall as a testament to western developed fighting games going head-to-head with the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken franchises. If you’re a fan of DC characters then this is a must buy game simply because. If you’re a Marvel head then this is an excellent showcase of transitioning comic book characters into video games with a more realistic artistic direction. Anyone else who wants to play characters they might have seen in recent movies such as Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice will do well to dive in here and learn a little more about the DC universe in such a splendid and finely honed piece of software.
Score – 9.5/10