America - Front
America - Back
By Patrick Day-Childs 24th May 2017 | 10,169 views
DC's mightiest and, well, less mighty heroes and villains have come to blows once more in NetherRealm Studios' latest fighting title. This sequel to 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us boasts an impressive 29 playable fighting characters, most of which are familiar fan favourites. There are of course some less well-known characters to help round the roster out, including the likes of Atrocitus and Captain Cold, but NetherRealm aren't scraping the barrel with Crazy Quilt or Matter-Eater Lad just yet.
In terms of the campaign, things pick up where the previous game left off. In short, Superman feels that the universe's villains need to be killed in order to finally be stopped, but Batman takes a different view. This disagreement causes a huge rift between the headliner heroes and their respective groups of friends. If you're not familiar with the background to this rift then there's no need to worry - Injustice 2 does a good job of bringing you up to speed with the events from the previous game, and includes some great nods to the comics that obviously inspire the story.
As with most NetherRealm offerings, the single player campaign is quite well fleshed out and takes quite a long time to work through. The large character roster is employed to good effect to keep the gameplay fresh throughout its 12 (technically 13) chapters, and there's even some potential replayability thanks to the fact that there are two different endings and character selection options within certain chapters. The cinematics are fun and the fights are always interesting, so although the story is as cheesy and predictable as they come, it's still a great ride.
What hit me almost instantly about Injustice 2 is the sheer amount of content it includes, even in single player. The game offers something called the 'Multiverse', which is similar to the towers in Mortal Kombat titles, whereby you battle against the AI but with the gameplay or requirements to successfully win a bout being modified ever hour, day, and week. The Multiverse is also where Injustice 2's equivalent to the arcade mode is tucked away, with each character having their own unique ending, adding even more time to your potential solo adventures.
Of course for many a fighting game is all about multiplayer and Injustice 2 delivers plenty of content on this front as well. Online includes genre staples like King of the Hill, standard Play Matches, and Ranked Matches. For those who like a bit of originality and novelty there's an AI battle mode, which allows you to set a team of 3 AI against another team of 3 AI. It's quirky and unusual but can be pretty fun. It also means that when you come back to the game you'll often find that someone has tried to attack your AI team and that you've won a small reward in the form of a 'Mother Box' (Injustice's version of a loot box).
The Mother Boxes open up a world of customisation options for your fighters and the loot you acquire from them gives you all manner of things from new skins to buffs and even new attacks called Abilities. In online matches you can mutually agree to have these turned off in order to preserve the base game's balance, but I think it would have made more sense to have enabled two types of ranked matches - one with customisation fully enabled and the other with cosmetic customisation only.
Everything in the game is geared towards getting Mother Boxes, and while it can be rewarding to be given items as a reward, it often feels a little poorly implemented in this instance. For example, you can't open them all up instantly (so do not hoard them - trust me on this), or quickly at all for that matter, and so you can end up spending a good deal of time holding down the A button unlocking stuff that you can't even equip immediately anyway.
That all comes on top of the game's RPG-like elements. You level up alongside your fighters and each one of them levels up separately as well (certain gear you acquire can help in this respect, granting you bonus XP), unlocking improved stats and allowing you to equip high-level gear.
The fighting gameplay will obviously be familiar to both those who have played any of the more recent Mortal Kombat titles or the original Injustice. NetherRealm's staples like juggling, special moves, and of course super moves (or X-Ray, if you want) are all present, as is the meter burner that allows you to perform said super move or buff up a standard combo. There are no lazy recolours of pre-existing fighters, and even those that feel quite similar, such as Green Arrow being a bit like Mortal Kombat's Kung Jin, are actually played very differently.
In short, Injustice 2 is everything a Mortal Kombat game would offer, and everything a fighting game should be, making it a must-have for both DC and fighter fans alike, even if it does feel a little bit too familiar.