Injustice 2 Review
As I sit here writing this review, I only took a break from playing Injustice 15 minutes ago, yet I am already suffering withdrawal symptoms. Injustice 2 has very quickly become a GOTY contender for me, although I do appreciate that the year has only really just begun in gaming terms. I hadn’t played much of the original Injustice, but recently I have gone on a huge superhero movie binge, and as a keen follower of TV shows such as Arrow and The Flash, I was instantly familiar with at least 90% of the roster in the game. To put it simply, Injustice 2 is superb. It is so much more than just a button-bashing beat-em-up, and I was shocked at the level of content that the game had to offer.
Visually, Injustice 2 is the best looking superhero game to date. Every single character, whether he’s as famous and loved as Batman or as unknown as Cheetah, has gone through a serious amount of polish and expert voice acting. Batman even looks better in Injustice 2 than he does in the Arkham series, and that’s saying something. My biggest surprise was how Injustice 2 is not only a game designed for multiplayer. In fact, I have spent more time enjoying the single player than what online has to offer. Considering all of this is available at launch, I am extremely thankful and impressed by the developers.
The fighting mechanics are not the most difficult if you were to compare the game to the likes of Street Fighter. Ultimately, Injustice 2 is a fighting game wrapped around a story that quite cleverly forces superheroes and villains to form allegiances against other superheroes and villains. The combat system is fluid and each character has a unique set of moves that have been expertly designed to make you feel as if you’re truly playing as them. Each character also has a special move that can often alter the momentum of fights in an instance if successfully executed. As an example, executing the Flash’s special move will have him drag his opponent into the speed force and smash his opponent as he travels through time. Once executed successfully, the super move cannot be blocked half way through, but the animations are some of the best I have ever seen and they never get old. Harley Quinn’s is particularly painful.
Special moves are executed as long as your special meter is completely full. However, you can also decide to use this meter for other, smaller but effective tasks. As an example, you can carry out a quick escape, which lets you more easily avoid opponents’ special moves. Expert fighters online make very good use of the special meter – something I am still trying to master.
You can also use the environment as a weapon. Often scattered around are trash cans and projectiles that you can use. Again, they can all be dodged. Each character also has the ability to carry out a more powerful kick or punch that changes the location of the fight. I found that this wasn’t the case for every single map. In some arenas, you can even bash your opponent against the backdrops, such as a large metal elephant statue at Gorilla Kingdom.
Although I initially thought that Injustice 2 is all about who is the best attacker, I soon found out online that a good defensive player can be even more dangerous. There are some characters like Deadshot and Green Arrow who can use long-ranged weapons. In many fighting games, characters who can unleash long-ranged attacks can be very frustrating as there is no way to reach them. In Injustice 2 however, a good player can very easily dodge long-range attacks. You’ll also find that some characters are much faster than others. Black Canary is much faster than Gorilla Grodd, but what Grodd doesn’t have in speed is compensated with brute strength.
Injustice 2’s juggling system is also very effective. It never feels overpowered, and you can very effectively juggle opponents with combos as long as you time them well. As an added bonus, you can even juggle against the environment, which makes the combos look even deadlier. Every single character has different ways to juggle his/her opponents, so you cannot use the same movesets to carry out the same actions.
The actual story mode is the centerpiece for the single player experience, with Superman having committed a murder for the greater good (who he has murdered I shall leave a mystery), and Batman facing off with Superman due to his actions. This leads to a variety of other superheroes and villains siding with either Batman or Superman (many of them only for personal gain!). There is clearly a lot of hypocrisy in the story mode. After all, we have Batman acting as the voice of reason and acting high and mighty, whilst aligning himself with villains to team up against Superman!
My biggest issue is with the Joker, who I simply do not like in the game. I don’t like the way he looks and I definitely do not like the way he sounds. If Justin Bieber dressed up as the Joker for Halloween, he’d look like the Joker from Injustice 2. He also doesn’t sound anywhere near as twisted and sinister as the Joker we’ve grown to love in the Arkham series and on the big screen.
One of the best aspects of the story mode is that it gives you an opportunity at some point to play as almost every single character. You get to be a part of their journeys and experience what their take on the whole Batman vs Superman saga is. The AI does get better over time, so you need to be quick at learning the moves of the new characters. You don’t have a choice to play as the same character in the whole campaign. It is scripted in that sense, and if you lose a fight, you will have to replay it until you finally win. It’s a very linear story mode, but one that I still found very enjoyable just because it contained superheroes that I’m familiar with!
The Multiverse mode is where the game really shines. If Destiny were to be a beat-em-up game, it would look a lot like this. Here, you can level up your favourite characters and earn new gear for them. The new gear isn’t just visual either. They boost stats for your characters, and these are needed to take on even tougher challenges. Each unlock will focus on strength, health, abilities or defence. Each character also can get access to legendary item sets that will give you a real edge as it impacts aspects such as projectile size and whether you have juice in your meter from the beginning! You end up stocking the character up with gear and equipment that suits your best play style. Before you know it, the character looks nothing like the original variant, but in most cases even cooler. When going online, you can play friendlies against other people with their geared-up characters. Thankfully, competitive matches are still with the base equipment. What’s best is that you can still compete with the cosmetic changes to show off what you have unlocked.
The customization for each superhero is unreal. You can go as crazy as changing Superman’s logo. You can add head gear to people who do not have one. You can completely change the colour coding of the outfits. I cannot stress how much you can customize each character. You can make Cheetah look like a character worth investing time in (no offence to Cheetah lovers)! In true RPG style, there are even loot crates if you want to try your luck and hopefully unlock something special through those means.
The Multiverse is not necessarily for someone who is young. In fact, due to the nature of the mode, there are a lot of menus, and a lot of options to choose from. For kids who just want to fight with superheroes, standard versus play and the campaign will do (although I do have to admit that some of the special moves are awfully violent, which I love). The game has a tutorial mode but that’s only to help beginners get through the mechanics of the game. When you enter the Multiverse, you’re on your own.
Online multiplayer is what you’d expect. The servers are stable and I was able to enjoy lag-free games for the most part. There are plenty of gamers online right now, so jumping into a match doesn’t take too long. I like how you can take the customizations from Multiverse to show off online – although it is demoralizing when someone else has a cooler outfit than you. I would personally tune in to live competitive eSports streams if Injustice 2 were to become a competitive eSports title. The industry is crying out for more of this sort of game in the eSports genre and Injustice 2 has the potential to take ownership of that.
Injustice 2 is everything I expected it to be, plus a whole lot more. I have seen the TV adverts flying about, but I never expected the game to look equally as good as the CGI. I expected a single player mode, but never thought that it would be packed full of so much content, that the single player experience is more enjoyable than what online has to offer. I am currently in the middle of trying to unlock as much as possible for the Flash. Some of the characters have alter versions of them, such as Reverse Flash. Playing Injustice 2 on a Dolby Atmos 7.1 system, through a 4K Sony projector and a PS4 Pro is the ultimate thrill ride that could only really be bettered if there was some way to enjoy the entire single player mode co-operatively with another friend.