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Review – Injustice 2

Review – Injustice 2

I can clearly remember the first time I played through the story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us and I was blown away. When it was revealed that in the alternate universe, Damian Wayne, not Dick Grayson was Nightwing, it was huge.

That was a really big deal. Obviously, casting Superman as the villain was a pretty big deal. For me though, Damian as Nightwing was the bigger, bolder move. The connotations of that were enormous. It really drove home the fact that this wasn’t our DC Universe. This was somewhere else entirely.

Injustice: Gods Among Us was great for all the right reasons. The story was pitch perfect. The cast of characters were DC’s A-List and it just felt good to see them all squaring off.

Jump to 2017. NetherRealm has released what is probably the greatest Mortal Kombat title ever. Sadly, DC opinion is at somewhat of a lull. Thanks, in-part, to the lacklustre BvS: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad cinematic outings. I myself was disappointed in both and DC’s decision to push ahead with Rebirth so soon after The New 52.

Thankfully, Injustice 2 is a great fighting game, packed to the eyeballs with content and features. Unfortunately, the story falls flat and the roster is weaker than that which came before. Before I’m crucified, hear me out.

The Game We Deserve

Injustice 2 picks up a few years after the original. Superman is in prison and Batman/Bruce Wayne is busy trying to put society back together. The entirety of Injustice 2 takes place within the alternate, B-universe, so there’s no doubles anymore and no subtle differences to riff on or alternate takes on characters.

The opening shows Krypton in crisis (or is that Krisis?) and follows Kara Zor-El as she tried to escape Brainiac’s attack. She manages to escape and sets out to travel alongside the infant Kal-El to earth. In a cruel twist of fate, Kara’s ship is thrown off course, leaving her stranded for many years in hypersleep.

We’re treated to brief scenes set before the events of the first title, but most of the plot unfolds in Injustice 2’s present. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the opening chapter feels a bit cheap and doesn’t really have the impact I think NetherRealm was hoping for.

The same could be said of most of the plotting and character interactions. This is a fighting game, so the fights are the main draw, but after the fourth of fifth time the characters found a flimsy excuse to fight, I was beginning to tune out. The absolute worst offender for this is Dr. Fate. His only purpose seems to be to rock up, out of the blue, start a fight, then take off his helmet and apologise.

Dr. Fate-ality

Speaking of Dr. Fate, his inclusion may be a hit with die-hard fans, but he’s a bit of an oddity. As is Gorilla Grodd. I get it, he’s a telepathic gorilla and he’s part of DC’s pantheon, but he is utterly ridiculous. Especially in Injustice 2. Everyone is so po-faced and serious most of the time, meanwhile there’s a giant, talking gorilla and it is the silliest thing ever. There’s a few too many of the DC B-Team in play.

Instead of pitting Batman against Superman again, Injustice 2 makes use of Brainiac as a supplementary antagonist. He’s a real threat, but he never really feels like one when everyone is too busy deciding if they’re on Team Bats or Team Supes.

The story mode is a fanboy’s delight, but it’s utterly silly and much less impactful than what we saw in Injustice: Gods Among Us. It’s still worth playing though as it’ll unlock Brainiac for use and help you level up some of your characters.

The Game We Need

The real meat of Injustice 2 comes in the gameplay and additional content. For one thing, it’s a much better fighting game than the first. No longer do you need to hold down L2/LT to block. Now, like Street Fighter, you simply hold back to block high and medium attacks, and duck to block low attacks. It’s such a simply change, but it makes a hell of a lot of difference.

NetherRealm has wisely chosen to focus on what made the first Injustice so great; juggling. Juggling is a such a massive part of Injustice 2 that I can imagine high-level play will be one long continuous combo. I can’t wait to see how good people get.

I’m mediocre, but I still manage to hold my own, thanks to the minor tweaks made by NetherRealm. Injustice 2 is easier to pick up and play than it’s older sibling, but is much deeper, contains more combos and features a lot more technicality.

What Makes You So Special?

Nearly all characters have special moves that use the same few combinations of buttons; down+forward and punch, or back, forward kick and down, back punch. And so on. Having most of these use the same inputs makes all characters theoretically open to all players.

Where it changes, is in the speed of those characters and the player’s ability to discover combos and link them together.

Super moves and level transitions return, as does meter burn and Clashes. Super moves are hit and miss, with the more popular characters moves seeming to have been more loving crafted. Clashes are supposed to be able to change the tide of a battle, but I think that will really only come into its own at high level play. When two medium-skilled players use Clash, it really only delays the inevitable. They’re still very cool to watch and it’s fun to see the characters mouth off to each other.

The Deadliest Animal of all…is the Zookeeper

There is so much to do in Injustice 2 that if you’re a fighting game fan, you’ll like be playing it solidly for the next few months. Outside of the story and usual versus and online modes there’s the Multiverse and Guilds. The Multiverse is the DC version of Mortal Kombat’s Living Towers. The Multiverse features several alternate Earths and each comes with a range of missions, special conditions and prizes.

For example, one of the current Multiverse challenges, puts you in the shoes of Darkseid as he fights to destroy Superman. This is obviously a way for NetherRealm to tempt players into purchasing Darkseid and I can imagine it will be used in future when other DLC characters are released.

Other Multiverse challenges allow you to select whichever character you like, but have wide ranging match conditions. In some, health will randomly appear, others will have bombs strewn all over the ground while others still will have randomly spawning Black Lantern auras which drain your health.

These Multiverse events are all timed. Some last for days or weeks and others are only available for minutes before they’re gone forever. Each event also has a set difficulty and so you’ll need to have a character of high enough level and with high enough gear to be successful.

Revolio Clockberg Jr.

Yes that’s right, Injustice 2 will turn you into a bonafide gear head. Each character has a load-out in Injustice 2 and as you play you’ll earn Mother Boxes of varying degrees of quality. Inside each Mother Box is random gear which can be applied to your characters.

This gear will change the stats for Strength, Health, Ability and Defense. These don’t matter in Ranked Matched or the Story Mode, but in Multiverse they matter a lot. Considering that that’s where you’re going to spend a large portion of your time, gear is pretty important.

While it improves your stats and helps you clinch victory, gear also changes how your heroes look. Instead of skins, every character is now fully customisable. For example, you can select Batman’s cowl, greaves, torso, utility belt and gauntlets. You can mix and match to your heart’s content, but only as long as you’ve reached the required level.

It’s a bit of an odd gating, but with the way NetherRealm has built the gear system and the in-game currencies, it’s the only way it would work. A note on the in-game currencies; there’s too many and they’re too confusing. My best advice is to mess around with all the options until you figure it out. Or, just find a look/loadout you like and stick with  it until something better comes along.

Injustice We Trust

In a nutshell, Injustice 2 is a better, more complete game than the original, but the roster is weaker and the story is far less compelling. For DC fans, it’s still a wet dream. It’s always great to see Superman being a huge douche and Batman punching the shit out of him.

I also think that someone at NetherRealm really hates Damian Wayne, because boy do they make that guy unlikable.

Kevin Conroy voicing Bats is always a bonus, but I’m a little torn when it comes to Injustice 2’s Joker. The voice is trying to mimic Mark Hamill’s iconic sound, but comes off as a knock-off. That’s the lesser crime though as, for some reason, Injustice 2’s Joker is an emo-poser with a floppy fringe. I thought Leto’s Hot Topic nightmare was a disaster…

Injustice 2, for its few faults, is still incredible and brilliantly put together. Hurry up with Red Hood already.

Injustice 2 was reviewed on PS4 and PS4 Pro using a promotional disc provided to PowerUp! by Warner Bros.

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Game Title: Injustice 2

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