Review – Injustice 2
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Fighting Game
Director: Ed Boon
Release Date: May 11th 2017
Quick disclaimer before I start my review for Injustice 2, I am not a huge online gamer. Whilst playing through the game, I dabbled in a few online fights and played a few co op games with my better half, but for the most part this will be a review of the single player story portion of the game.
I was so pleasantly surprised when I played the first Injustice game. I am a big DC fan, but fighting games aren’t one of my preferred genres in gaming, yet this fighting game set in the DC universe blew me away. The story was intriguing, the characters were diverse and it was a unique taste on a beloved universe. Therefore, the sequel had a fair amount to live up to and while it is still a fun fighting game with a multitude of colourful characters, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as special as Gods Among Us did.
The setup this time around revolves around Brainiac descending upon the earth in search of Kal-El and Kara, the last two remaining Kryptonians and eliminating them. Since the events of the last game, Batman has been keeping Superman in a special prison that suppresses his powers and the world has remained relatively free of crime, however Brainaic’s arrival changes all this. From here onwards we have our superhero story, which sees epic battles occur and mortal enemies being forced to work together against a common evil.
Most importantly, the game is fun. Gameplay feels pretty tight, which is both a positive and a negative when compared to Gods Among Us. The controls feel more solid and purposeful, but also feel more restrictive and less forgiving since the last time. This makes button bashing a void method and forces you to learn intricate button sequences if you want to pull off a decent combo. Thankfully, the super-moves are really fun to watch and make you feel awesome when you manage to successfully pull them off.
I was so looking forward to the story mode in this game, I loved the story mode in the first game and was relying on this one to deliver also, unfortunately I found it jarring and hard to swallow, even as a lifelong comic book fan. The story in Gods Among Us was controversial amongst DC fans, as it turned a number of iconic characters on their head, causing them to fight on the opposing side from what we are used to seeing. In that game though, I thought it worked, character motivations were clear and there was context given for the heroes and villains who switched sides.
This time around, characters switch sides faster than a tennis ball at Wimbledon and half the time, there is no apparent reason for it. The most jarring moment came when Wonder Woman turned on Kara. In the mission that preceded it, Wonder Woman inhales Scarecrow’s toxin and through a hallucination and it is revealed that her worst fear is turning on her friends, yet in the mission immediately after this sequence, she turns on her friends in reality! With no apparent motive to do so other than she is unconditionally on Superman’s side, making no moral decisions for herself. It came across so awkwardly and felt lazy, it’s as if the writers totally forgot about the last scene that illustrated that the last thing that Wonder Woman wants to do is turn on her friends.
I did appreciate the graphics in the game. Netherealm have really stepped up their game since the first Injustice and there are some truly stunning moments throughout Injustice 2 and I don’t just mean in the cut-scenes. The area transitions are gorgeous to look at, the super-moves are very visually impressive and the detailed locations where the fights take place are also effective. The multiple unique environmental hazards present in each environment add an extra layer of unpredictability and opportunity to the fights and they do a good job of helping a player on the back foot start a comeback against their opponent. Facial animations and voice acting across the stable of characters is also solid.
Although the game is technically sound and the graphics are good looking, I wasn’t a fan of the character design overall this time around. The last game updated a few character designs, but for the most part followed the traditional style that the characters are portrayed in. This time, a lot of the character’s costumes look goofy and come off looking like toy armour rather than something a superhero would realistically wear.
The redesign of the Joker makes no sense. Not only did it look like they were trying too hard to make him look edgy, but in this universe, Joker was killed at the beginning of the first Injustice game and he didn’t look like that when he died. In this game he appears to Harley through one of Scarecrow’s hallucinations and looks similar to the Jared Leto version of the character from Suicide Squad, but why? As far as we know, he has never looked like that in this universe during the time he was alive and if you are going to redesign him, don’t base it on Leto’s Joker, (AKA the worst version of the character.)
The co-op is as much fun as you would expect and certain matchups are more interesting than others. As with the first Injustice, pulling off combos and super-moves on someone that is physically sitting next to you is a lot more satisfying than doing it to some AI or an online player thousands of miles away. There is nothing quite like the couch co-op experience when it comes to a fighting game. Injustice 2 is a lot of fun to play in a group as well, setting up a tournament and throwing in real life forfeits also makes things more interesting.
As for the online play, the few matches I did play ran pretty well, there were no sudden glitches present throughout my time, the lag time between the player pressing a button and the character executing the corresponding move wasn’t that noticeable and matchmaking was fairly quick.
In summary, I enjoyed getting to go back and review Injustice 2. Other than some jarring moments in the story, unclear character motivations and some naff character redesigns, there is a fun fighting game here buried underneath all of the nonsense. It is just a pity that you have to put up with all of these hindrances to get to it.
If you are a fan of the first game, then sure, I would recommend you picking this up and playing through it, but if you aren’t familiar with the series and are looking to jump into it and are considering grabbing the latest entry, I would highly encourage you to avoid it. You would be much better served picking up the first game. It will be a great deal cheaper than the latest version, the character designs are better and it’s a lot simpler and more fun overall.
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