Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Fighting Game
Platforms: PS4, XB1
Warriors, New and Old
My biggest issue with the first Injustice was the general movement speed of the characters. Combat felt sluggish, as jumping and dashing in toward opponents was easily countered by spamming projectiles, resulting in a frustrating experience at times.
Injustice 2 counters this by not only increasing movement speed, but adding air and dash escapes, allowing players to dash out of juggle combos and projectile spamming, respectively. Combat feels much more fluid, resulting in the viability of more play styles.
Speaking of play styles, Injustice 2's roster includes returning characters, high-demand characters, and some more obscure ones, like Swamp Thing, making for a very diverse set of play styles and tactics. Not only this, but it makes the roster much more interesting than the first game since it sparks interest in some of the lesser-known DC heroes.
Characters like Superman play like you'd expect, doing huge amounts of damage up-close; however, characters like Poison Ivy are designed specifically to keep opponents away with abilities like summoning a plant-creature that acts like an automated turret. The personality of each character is nailed through their move-sets and outrageous super moves that look absolutely gorgeous on
One returning feature I'm not a fan of is the the clash system. When either character drops to their second health bar they can initiate a clash, whereby they can bet bars of super meter to gain health back. The system can turn a match on its head and secure a comeback, but the way the action has to stop, so that characters can enter a lengthy set of animations and dialogues, is annoying; it brings the action to a halt and makes chipping that health away again feel like a real grind.
Overall, everything has been updated, diversified, and made more fluid. Injustice is more accessible, and yet, more complex than ever.
Firstly, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, the ability to play dress up with your favourite hero is an absolute treat. Having a completely decked-out version of your favourite character, or even transforming a character into another does a lot to enhance one's enjoyment of the game.
Gameplay-wise, gear is actually a revolutionary concept in terms of fighting games. This is the first time I can recall RPG elements being added to a fighting game as a core element, almost to the point where Injustice can be considered a fighter/RPG hybrid.
Gear can boost one of the four stats each character has, namely: strength, ability, defense, and health. These affect damage dealt through physical attacks, special moves, damage absorption, and health points, allowing players to, essentially, build their characters into classes.
The addition of special moves, character traits, and load-outs means that players can build multiple versions for the same character. For example, one load-out for batman may have high ability points and added air projectiles, making him more effective at zoning, or he may have high defense and an enhanced parry for a more strategic player.
The gear system does, however, make things a touch complicated for a fighting game, especially since characters themselves can be leveled up individually. Gear pieces have level requirements, so you'll often end up with a mountain of gear for a character you can't equip until you do some grinding, which isn't so enjoyable. The sheer amount of gear, leveling, currencies, and build variety can feel like a chore to sift through.
The multi-verse is a new mode in which players must battle through arcade-like towers, each with their own set of challenges, difficulty, and performance-based rewards. Similar to MKX's living towers, these towers change after a set period of time, keeping things fresh.
Injustice 2's story mode may just be the superhero story never told, set into a video game. Playing off the events in the first game, an evil Superman and his regime have been imprisoned as Earth deals with a new threat in Brainiac. The far-reaching effects of the first game create some really impressive and believable moments. Morals and alliances are called into question as former heroes struggle to overcome the evils they had once committed, treating the evil Superman angle with respect rather than a cheap gimmick. Outstanding voice acting and animation drive home a really polished product that offers a 5-hour story mode, discounting the alternate paths one can follow.
Online modes have been tweaked to support the gear system, without having an effect on competitive play. Online matches come in a variety of flavours. Returning modes like King of the Hill and player rooms make matchmaking easier. These modes are then split into player matches and ranked matches.
Player matches allow the player to freely use gear, and they receive all bonuses, perks, and specials they've assigned through the gear. These matches can make for some interesting clashes, especially when considering build variety.
Ranked matches allow only base characters, making for a balanced, fair, and competitive environment. It's nice to see the RPG elements have not compromised the competitive experience in any way.
Unfortunately, finding matches that would stay connected was a pain. The servers seemed incapable of handling cross-region play between anyone outside of Europe or North America. This put a serious tarnish on my online experience as I would wait up to ten minutes to find a single match, only to have it desynchronize partway through. Unless I played someone from the exact same region, online play was nearly impossible, which is a shame considering the matches that stayed connected were an absolute blast.
Lastly, the AI battle simulator allows players to build a team of AI-controlled fighters before pitting them against another player's team. Players can sit back and watch as their team competes, earning mother boxes in the process. This is another great addition that makes earning gear just a little more convenient.
Final Score: 8.5/10
- Fluid combat
- Gear system
- Amount of content
- Brilliant story
- Interesting/diverse set of characters
- New features are overwhelming at first
- Poor online performance