With Injustice 2, NetherRealm Studios has crafted a wealth of outstanding content, and one of the richest fighting game experiences in recent years. This isn’t a huge surprise considering the success they found with MKX and the first Injustice, but every idea has been expanded upon to be immensely satisfying and fun. The story is engaging and full of great moments that fans and casual players alike can appreciate. The new gear system creates the best kind of game play loop, allowing players to customize their character, adding new armor choices, color options, and the ability to change specific character abilities as well. The extra content available is practically endless with tons of single player content available besides the main story modes. Injustice 2 has certainly set a high bar that other fighting games should seek to emulate.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for the story of Injustice 2.
It is not necessary to have played the first Injustice to follow the plot of Injustice 2, but if you would like a lore refresher try here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm96fT1vtI4
Injustice 2 picks up a couple of years after the events of the first Injustice, with Superman still in a red sun prison created for his confinement, while other members of his regime are scattered around the globe. The opening moments set an impressive tone for the rest of the game. This is due in large part to the extremely well acted cinematic sections with very impressive facial models and voice acting. Seriously look at this scene from chapter 1 of the story.
This time around the main villain is Brainiac, an alien/robot hybrid who catalogues a world’s data, gaining their knowledge than eradicating the species. He seeks to eliminate the last two remaining Kryptonians, Superman and Supergirl, and destroy Earth in the process. The story is fairly straightforward and moves along at an even pace, transitioning from engaging cut scenes to player battles against AI. There are plenty of story bits players will appreciate, but there a few stand out scenes that are great comic fan moments. Flash having a tense chase scene fight with Reverse Flash, Green Lantern almost succumbing to the rage of the Red Lantern, and several characters having great freak out moments from Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
Overall the story is memorable and well done. A shining testament to the possibility of what can be done with a fighting game’s story. Is it The Last of Us? No, but it is a great achievement for the genre, and definitely a high point other fighting games should aim for.
Injustice 2 is a very pretty game. The lighting especially creates a lot of depth in the environments as well as nice contrast for all of the bright colors present in a lot of the characters. Playing this game with HDR (High Dynamic Range) enabled on the PS4 Pro also enhances the experience further, showcasing how great some of the character models are. NetherRealm has also made huge improvements to the facial models which add great little touches to transitions between matches and the banter characters exchange before they begin. Also worth mentioning is the art design and general shine to almost everything in the game. This in other games might be off-putting, but here it exemplifies a very superhero feel that works very well with the bright colors and armor styles of the game.
What was good before with the first Injustice has been all but perfected with Injustice 2. From a pure fighting standpoint not a whole lot has changed. The same beats still work, previous characters who make a return have combo strings that still confirm and buttons that are mostly unchanged. What has been enriched are the overall movement and flow of every character and the game engine itself. Injustice 2 is just a ton of fun to play.
The interactions between characters before matches are especially great. Atrocitus telling Batman his rage is the Joker’s legacy. Reverse Flash asking Barry Allen how his mom is. Damien Wayne asking Green Arrow if he’s cosplaying. The list goes on and on the game is absolutely stuffed with these interactions and they really serve to make the gaming experience feel more organic and part of a universe.
Every character has something to love and every character would be worth investing time in to learn. This is a large character roster with 9 planned DLC fighters upcoming. The first three have been announced as Starfire, Red Hood and Sub Zero. Darkseid was also included as a pre-order bonus but is currently purchasable for those who did not.
So far the balance of the roster seems mostly great, although zoning characters, or characters with a lot of projectiles, seem to have a bit of an edge over most of the other characters being that the projectiles are fast and powerful as well as doing a lot of damage while blocking. The first Injustice notoriously had the same issue at launch and patched the game several times to achieve a more favorable balance.
Extra Content: 9
Fighting games in general aren’t usually packed with many things to do outside of some arcade modes, versus and maybe some time attack or endless battle. Injustice 2 not only includes modes similar to these but so much more. In addition to the grand story mode and standard arcade modes, Injustice 2 also includes what’s called the Multiverse. The Multiverse is an endless expanse of alternate Earths offering multitudes of challenges and rewards for solo players and those who partake in special guild Multiverses. These events are timed and can only be completed a certain number of times while available.
The main draw to completing these are the gear rewards and mother boxes which you open for a chance at rare gear. These are used to customize your character as you level them and your account up. This system overall is fantastic, pushing you to grind for your epic Animated Series Batman cowl, or a new shader to change your Green Lantern color. The options are practically endless and add a tremendous amount of replay value as you continue to master your characters and make them uniquely your own. On top of that, you also unlock variant moves for characters that break up your matches. You might run into a Batman with batarangs that shock you on impact, or a Scarecrow that has a projectile when he normally would not. These make for a lot of fun matches online as you’re not always certain what is going to come charging at you.
Unfortunately with all of this comes a few things that are less than awesome. There are four different currencies in this game, FOUR. One is your main gold that is used for buying mother boxes and unlocking certain events and the second is guild specific to also obtain mother boxes. The third type are called regen tokens, which are used to regenerate new stats on any piece of gear you have to obtain something better. The fourth type are called source crystals and are essentially the micro-transaction currency of the game. This is the only type you can purchase outright with real money and are solely used to upgrade your character straight to level 20 once you have done it the slow way with another, change the look of any piece of gear to look like another, or purchase character colors and premier skins. Earning these in-game is painfully slow, and everything you use them for costs a ton of course. It is a little bothersome that if you have gear you would like to match for the look you desire, you are stuck with the source crystals as your only option.
A DLC character at launch unless your pre-ordered, micro-transactions, and a season pass that includes 9 more characters are all a little ridiculous depending on your perspective. This is such a common practice within video games across the board now that is it even worth being distraught over? A lot of that perspective might change depending on how much you feel you’ve gotten for your money. In this particular case Injustice 2 adds more than enough to make up for any of this in my opinion, although I am not sure if I’ll ever be happy about order bonuses and season passes.
Injustice 2 is a fantastic game. For fighting game fans and combo lab technicians, there are tons of awesome characters to choose from. For those looking for lots of single player content, you’ve got that in droves with a well-acted and fun DC story with an almost endless amount of gear to collect and Multiverse objectives to complete. The fighting game genre seems to be making a bit of a turn. Hardcore fans can always be satiated with frame data and character options, but for those who want a little something more, NetherRealm seems to have an extremely strong handle on what you can actually do with a fighting game outside of the fighting itself. As a longtime fighting game fan, Injustice 2 impressed me on just about every thing it tried to do. I hope other developers can take notice of their successes and seek to offer more complete experiences with future releases.