Injustice 2 Review

By Marc Hollinshead, 1 year ago
NetherRealm, the hive mind behind the rebirth of Mortal Kombat, gave us a unique spin on the DC universe in Injustice: Gods Among Us a few years back. Injustice managed to take a well established set of characters and completely change them in a way that felt exciting, new and immensely creative. With Mortal Kombat X receiving a great deal of praise when it released in 2015, it seems that NetherRealm has a lot to live it up to in order for their flawless record to remain intact. The sequel to the superhero fighter, Injustice 2, was recently released but has it managed to capitalise on what came before and be a memorable fighting title?

Logo

Injustice 2 takes what was introduced in the first title and amplifies all of it. The most noticeable aspect at first glance is the sleek and smooth visuals. Every character has been created through motion capture technology and the results are phenomenal — even the smallest features feel very polished. Watching the character select animations is a joy in itself, as it never gets old watching one character whack another while their face impressively contorts in slow motion. The impeccable facial animations bring a film-esque quality to the cutscenes and it really does feel like you're playing out a superhero movie on the big screen. From the way in which characters fight, the animations when closing in on someone's face and the environments in which they battle, Injustice 2 is crafted to perfection from a visual standpoint.

The visual prowess of Injustice 2 comes fully into play in the game's story mode. As we have seen in the past, NetherRealm is a developer known for its emphasis on story in fighting titles and this one is no different. Continuing on from the original game, the boundary between hero and villain has all but disappeared, presenting us with a tale where Superman is the bad guy and Harley Quinn teams up with Batman. The game allows players to chose between two different fighters in specific story chapters, adding some unique dialogue depending on who is picked. While there is nothing drastically different when choosing one fighter over another when these options arise, it adds a little variety and potential replayability to the mode.

This is a surprisingly engaging story for a fighting game, portraying DC characters in a completely different light that still feels believable. Braniac is the main threat throughout Injustice 2's story, but the ambiguity of who is one which side, and whether or not one character will turn on another, is utterly fascinating.

The story mode is one not to be overlooked in <i>Injustice 2</i>.The story mode is one not to be overlooked in Injustice 2.

Injustice 2 offers highly addictive and enjoyable gameplay. Super moves make a return; while essentially the Injustice variant of Mortal Kombat's X-Ray attacks, they are extremely rewarding to pull off. Combos and arena transitions also provide that tantalising euphoria when successfully executed so battles are constantly exciting to play, no matter how much you brawl it out. The clash system offers another layer of gameplay as well, so a fighting game has never felt so flashy while managing to keep its core mechanics at its heart.

Battles can be fought in a number of modes if you aren't engaged in the story. Standard online modes are present, with King of the Hill and ranked matches keeping all players on their toes. Local multiplayer is also a viable option for anyone with a friend, and then there's the unusual AI battle simulator. Here you will assign a team of three defenders and send them into the virtual world. Other players will regularly challenge your team of fighters off-screen and if you check back often enough, you can reap rewards that your team has earned if they win any of these fights. On the flip side, if you are the challenger of another AI team, you will watch this battle play out and earn rewards in the same way. Apart from being able to fast-forward through a fight, you are doing nothing but watching. It's fun for a time, but for more engaging content, you will want to look elsewhere.

The majority of your single-player experience will be spent in the Multiverse. If you've played Mortal Kombat X, this will feel very familiar as it shares a lot of similarities to the Towers. Nonetheless, Injustice 2 manages to bring an enjoyable mode to the table. The Multiverse gives you access to countless parallel versions of Earth, thanks to Batman's all-seeing Brother Eye, and these timed events provide varying degrees of challenge in battle. Modifiers are scattered throughout fights from time to time once again. They will either help you or, as the case usually turns out to be, hinder you due to your opponent becoming super-powered.

<i>Injustice 2</i> certainly knows how flashy it is, and it is oh-so glorious to watch.Injustice 2 certainly knows how flashy it is, and it is oh-so glorious to watch.

Due to the ever-changing nature of the Multiverse, a fresh experience always lies in wait. Each multiverse has its own difficulty level and will host multiple events; you will be required to play through each of them and occasionally end your journey with a boss battle of sorts. The battle simulator provides unique story endings for each character, something that's worth checking out. With rewards constantly at your fingertips, it's a mode that is hugely addictive and offers longevity for anyone playing long-term.

The final major mode on offer is Guild play. Here, you team up with friends across the globe and collectively acquire rewards through simply playing the game. Guild multiverses allow you to tackle a specific event as a team. The next tier will be unlocked with enough victories, with even greater rewards to yield. A simple yet effective guild chat helps to keep a team communicating, and daily guild challenges will entice you to regularly check back and do your part to keep your guild at the top of the leaderboards. It's an addictive process, much like the rest of the game, and the sense of progression with your Guild makes every fight worthwhile.

If there is one thing that Injustice 2 lacks, it is that the diversity of modes is quite limited. The allure of story mode will have you wrapping it up quickly, so what's left will amount to the Multiverse, fighting online and taking on guild multiverses. There is much more to these modes than simply fighting over and over again, but a few extra quirks wouldn't have hurt. By nature, fighting games can suffer from repetition after prolonged periods of play, but a couple of titles in the past have strengthened their appeal by adding something brand new. If Injustice 2 did the same, it could have been flawless. However, the major elements of the game thwart this issue so it is more of a minor gripe.

There are plenty of different multiverses to play through, so you'll find yourself back here on a regular basis.There are plenty of different multiverses to play through, so you'll find yourself back here on a regular basis.

The final major element of Injustice 2 is its gear system, and it's because of this that you'll want to come back for more fighting action after the umpteenth hour of play. Through natural play of all modes you will quickly discover that Mother Boxes rain from the virtual heavens. Each of these boxes, when opened, will award you with various amounts of random gear for characters. Each piece of gear will provide bonuses in strength, ability, defence and health stats, with a few others simply administering special augments for a particular trait of a fighter. Gear ranges from common to epic, with rare abilities thrown in, and this is where the game's major progression aspect comes into play.

There was the potential for utter tedium when it came to opening Mother Box after Mother Box and being overwhelmed with the abundance of gear pieces, but this system manages to achieve the complete opposite. Unlike many fighting games of recent years, Injustice 2 is given a clear sense of progression. All of these pieces of gear will be stored in a character's personal inventory. When you go to customise said character, numerous categories will be available for you to switch up as you see fit. Levelling up each character is a must if you want to find and equip high level gear and thus become stronger. The fashion element is a complimentary bonus, of course, but the satisfaction gained from reaching level 20 and equipping that piece of epic gear with insane stats is an awesome feeling. Regenerating old gear to match your current level as well as transforming the appearance of specific pieces is an option, too.

Open enough Mother Boxes and Harley Quinn could look as glamorous as this.Open enough Mother Boxes and Harley Quinn could look as glamorous as this.

Looking into the game's achievements, Injustice 2 has 62 in total for the 1,000G. To bag them all, you will be required to explore all modes to the fullest, completing story mode in its entirety, play online matches until you're blue in the face and complete plenty of Multiverse events. Despite this, much of the list is riddled with character specific achievements that need you to defeat someone in a certain way. It feels a bit excessive as it takes up a large majority of the list, but all of these can easily be achieved on your own. Levelling up every character to the max will have you staying for the long haul so don't expect to be done with this game quickly. If you put the time in, the 1,000G can be achieved for players of any skill level.

Summary

NetherRealm has completely knocked it out of the park with Injustice 2 once again. Presenting us with a fighting title that sheds a new perspective on the world of DC is an idea that continues to be executed brilliantly. The game's story mode is highly enjoyable, and the superb animations and performances help to elevate it to movie-like quality. Gameplay is as slick as ever, and every available mode is rather addictive in nature. For the more casual player who has come for a story and few brawls, repetition has the potential to creep up on them so a variety in content wouldn't have gone amiss, but NetherRealm has still managed to utilise what's on offer to great effect. The gear system is an ingenious one, so you'll more than likely want to keep coming back for more so that every fighter is covered in shiny, epic gear. NetherRealm continues to show us that they really are the king of western fighting games with Injustice 2.
4.5 / 5
Injustice 2
Positives
  • Engaging story mode with impeccable facial animations
  • Multiverse is fun and continues to remain fresh
  • Guilds are worth pursuing for team rewards
  • Gear system adds rewarding element of progression
Negatives
  • Some extra modes would have been welcome
  • Repetition may creep in for some players
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 22 hours punching, kicking and flying his way through all modes and with all fighters, while earning 33 of the game's achievements along the way. An Xbox One physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.