Injustice 2 is a fantastic fighting game, filled to the brim with an endless amount of character customization options, an engrossing story, and on-point online modes that will pleases DC fans and fighting game fans alike.
Developer: Netherrealms Studio
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 copy for review.
Admittedly, I’ve been excited for Injustice 2 since its original announcement. The storyline in the first game, Gods Among Us, is among the best stories in any fighting game thanks to its willingness to embrace the idea of Superman, the moral compass of the DC universe, becoming a tyrannical monster. Combining an interesting storyline with exceptional Mortal Kombat-esque combat made Injustice: Gods Among Us a hit, so could a follow-up possibly surpass such a stirring reputation? The short answer is undoubtedly, yes. Injustice 2 takes everything that worked in the previous game and improves upon it by trying out a variety of new things that bring new life to the already exceptional world of Injustice.
The story of Injustice 2 starts years before the events of the first game, as players watch the main villain, Braniac, destroy Krypton and eradicate its residents. A single girl, Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl, is sent off-planet in a pod alongside a baby boy, Kal-El, best known as Superman. While Kara’s pod is knocked off-course and sent into a state of hypersleep, Kal heads towards Earth, destined to become the planet’s red and blue protector.
The story then jumps to shortly before the beginning of Gods Among Us, showing the shifting allegiances of characters before finally transitioning to the present, when Superman and some of his Regime is locked away after his rise to power. Wonder Woman and Black Adam, previous Regime members, are in hiding in Kahndaq after finding Kara and training her, while Aquaman has returned to Atlantis. This status quo is quickly shattered as Braniac attacks, leading to Superman being released from jail, a battle against Brainiac and Gorilla Grodd’s new villain team, “The Society”, and eventually, culminating in one more Batman v Superman fight.
“The vast majority of the characters used in the story contribute to it in some way, making it feel as though no time is wasted, which keeps your attention in a way few fighting games’ stories can.”
The story is a worthy continuation of the stellar first game’s narrative, as it implements a variety of new characters, ranging from Blue Beetle to Reverse Flash, in a way that feels natural and interesting, while still addressing the existing conflicts in a satisfying way. The vast majority of the characters used in the story contribute to it in some way, making it feel as though no time is wasted, which keeps your attention in a way few fight games’ stories can.
Injustice 2’s gameplay is more akin to Mortal Kombat X’s than Gods Among Us’s, which is a marked improvement. Combat feels smoother and more impactful, as each blow has a good deal of weight behind it. Many of the original gameplay mechanics still remain, such as interactive environments and bar-based clashes, but they’re largely improved. Clashes take up less time, and every character feels different, aside from the obvious premier skins that are simply cosmetic changes for existing characters. Captain Cold (my personal main) plays nothing like Cheetah, meaning everybody will find their own unique mains to use.
Outside of the story there are typical modes like Versus and Online, but Multiverse mode is the one that truly stands out. As a form of arcade mode, Multiverse mode has you going to various “universes” for a set number of battles. The multiverses expire and change after set periods of time, meaning there’s always more for you to experience. Some multiverses will give you assist abilities, where playable and non-playable characters both have certain attacks (such as a flame trap from Constantine, or Damian Wayne hopping out to throw a batarang), which you can use repeatedly. These multiverses change up the regular gameplay while getting you gear, providing plenty of single-player fun after the story has been finished.
Injustice 2’s multiplayer is exceptional, with a decent number of modes. I played great deal of matches, and I never had any major issues with the framerate or lag. It’s a smooth experience, which is essential for any decent online play. The King of the Hill mode is a plenty of fun, but Ranked and Player matches provide simple and quick enjoyment. I’m sure I’ll be playing plenty of online in the months to come, so I’m glad the online turned out to be near seamless.
Instead of the different play-styles seen in Mortal Kombat X, Injustice 2 introduces the new “gear” system. Battles will often provide you with pieces of gear, or credits to buy loot boxes with gear in them. Every piece of gear is exclusive to a character, as it not only changes their stats when equipped, but their appearance as well. This means it’s incredibly unlikely that your opponents will have your exact character layout, making your mains feel unique.
“To ensure there’s a sense of balance to the system, gear-based stat boosts can be disabled or enabled in online or offline multiplayer …”
These changes also impact their stats, meaning you can base your gear layout on either stats or appearance. There’s even the option to change the appearance of one piece of gear to another’s while still retaining its original stats, which goes to show how much customization means in-game. To ensure there’s a sense of balance to the system, gear-based stat boosts can be disabled or enabled in online or offline multiplayer, depending on player preference. Even if low-level players choose to use gear and go up against higher level players, their levels are balanced out so that the stat gap isn’t as daunting. While the player with better gear will still have some advantages for being prepared, the difference won’t be large enough for the match to be decided before it even begins. This is some incredibly smart planning on Netherrealm’s side, as it makes matches fun for everybody without devaluing the hard work of people with better gear.
The visuals of Injustice 2 are great for the most part, though the faces of certain characters definitely dip into the uncanny valley. While the stages and character models are detailed and full of character, characters like Catwoman and Blue Beetle have eerie faces that contrast with the rest of the decent-faced roster. You can cover their faces with gear technically, but that won’t make me have fewer nightmares about Blue Beetle’s victory screen.
Injustice 2 has amazing voice-work and serviceable music. Alongside classic voices like Kevin Conroy as Batman and George Newbern as Superman, characters like Scarecrow and Captain Cold have voices that largely differ from their usual voices. These differences tend to work however, and I’d be completely fine with them becoming their default voices in the future. While the tracks aren’t overly memorable outside of the main theme, the majority of the soundtrack works as action movie battle fodder, so it serves its purpose well.
The Final Word
Injustice 2 is a spectacular sequel and a remarkable fighter. The story, gear system, and multiverse modes give plenty of replayability to the game, while the huge roster of diverse characters ensures there’s something for everybody. DC fans and MK fans rejoice, as whatever Earth we exist on has this fantastic game.
-MonsterVine Rating: 5 out of 5 – Excellent