Injustice 2, brought to us by NetherRealm Studios, is the ultimate fighting game experience for fans of superheroes or fighting games in general. There are many reasons to love it and not much at all to complain about. As a big fan of the genre, I was floored by the entire package. Now let me tell you why!
Feel The Burn
Injustice 2 is an incredibly deep game, but at its core it’s a typical fighter. You string together combinations of light, medium and heavy attacks to perform elaborate combos in the hopes of diminishing your opponent’s health completely before they can do the same to you. In typical fighting game fashion, you have several special moves at your disposal for each character along with input commands that will have your thumbs sore for days. The combat is extremely dynamic and very hard hitting. It’s very easy to get into, yet extremely difficult to truly master all of its various systems and mechanics. I spent over 120 hours with the title and I still have a ton to learn. There’s more to it than just punching and kicking.
The meter burn is what makes Injustice 2’s fighting so compelling. It allows you to use segments of your super meter (there are four total) to power up your attacks and pull off other manoeuvres that can totally change the flow of combat. Do you save your meter up to unleash an ultimate attack or strategically meter burn moves to control the battlefield? There are other ways in which to spend your precious super meter. You can use two bars to perform an “Air Cancel” which allows you to escape being juggled. Many expert players love to dish out heavy damage by keeping their opponent airborne during combos. In most fighting games your options for getting out of these situations are slim to none. It’s nice to have such a simple way to counter these tactics; you can “Escape Roll” to get out of sticky situations such as being stuck in a corner. The opportunity to be defensive has never been so easy in a fighting game. Injustice 2 always gives you a way out, if you can pull off the moves.
Clashes are yet another way to spend your super meter. Each fighter can use one clash per battle once their health reaches the red zone. When a clash is triggered, players bet segments of their super meter and the winner is defined by who bets the most. If the player that initiates the clash wins, they will have a bit of health restored, but if it’s the other way around they will suffer extra damage. It’s an interesting risk/reward mechanic that can sometimes create tense situations. Overall, the fighting system favours those with skill over button mashers.
Time To Level Up
Injustice 2 also introduces RPG mechanics into the fighter genre. You can level up every character (29 total characters without DLC) to a maximum level of 20. With each level, the character will gain stat increases, such as increased health or better defence.
At certain levels, characters also learn new special moves that you can then swap out for old moves if you’d like. You also gain inventory slots that are used to hold gear as you level up each character. The character’s level also directly affects what gear that they can equip. This brings me to my favourite part of Injustice 2… the gear system.
Get In Gear
The gear system in Injustice 2 may be the biggest improvement to the fighting game genre in decades. It adds a customization aspect that goes deeper into the gameplay than any other prior attempts. During the game, you will unlock tons of motherboxes. Motherboxes are Injustice 2’s form of loot boxes that are all the craze in gaming these days. Motherboxes contain pieces of gear for your characters, new abilities, or new colour shades for your costumes. Examples of gear may be a new cape for Supergirl or a new whip for Catwoman. Gear can drastically alter your characters’ appearance. It gives you something to show off to your friends and the online community. I truly felt that my versions of characters really belonged to me and no one else.
Gear isn’t just there to make your character look different. Each piece can grant stat bonuses such as increased defence or ability. Some grant killer abilities, such as being laced with kryptonite (that can give you an edge when used in certain situations or against certain characters). You can get even more bonuses by collecting and equipping some matching sets of gear. These are usually the best bonuses available in the game. You can turn the stat bonuses off and make the changes purely cosmetic if you wish. I had to do this often when inviting casual players into matches to level the playing field. If you don’t like the bonuses of a particular piece of gear or if its level is currently lower than that of the character trying to equip it, you can spend in-game currency to take care of the problem.
You can raise the level of the gear to your current level and reroll its stat bonuses. You can also trash gear in order to get more credits. To me, the gear system is where the game shines brightest. It completely changed my outlook on the fighting game genre and I hope NetherRealm studios brings it into the Mortal Kombat franchise.
Fighting Against The World
Fighting against other players via online play is the single feature that has kept fighting games alive since the death of arcades, so I’m happy to report that Injustice 2 has the best online experience in any fighter to date. The net-code is excellent! Out of the hundreds of matches I played, very few featured any lag or cut out. Everything ran smooth and the game’s performance was just as good as single player.
There are standard modes, such as player and ranked matches. In ranked matches, gear bonuses are nullified. There are also two King of the Hill modes. The standard issue and one called “Hot Seat”, where you take part in every match, win or lose. This mode is intended for streamers. You can also visit the player rooms and lurk around with other competitors inviting them to various match types. The gear system seems to have been embraced by the community. People love showing off their character builds and seeing how they measure up against everyone else.
Another huge feature of Injustice 2 is the single player “Multiverse” mode. This can never be completed because NetherRealm is constantly adding new events to a rotation. For example, as of the time of this writing, there are new events based on the Justice League movie. In multiverse mode, you are given several different worlds to choose from, each containing its own set of unique events. Some of these events require you to be a certain level or play as a certain character. Sometimes the events will alter your fights in some pretty creative ways, such as turning the screen upside down or bolts of lightning falling from the sky. Things can get pretty interesting and chaotic regardless of skill level. The multiverse will be your primary source of credits, motherboxes, and experience points. The arcade mode, along with survival battle, is tucked away in this mode under a world labelled as the battle simulator. Almost all of my time spent with the game was in this mode.
In Guilds We Trust
Injustice 2 introduces yet another new feature to fighting games in the form of the guild system. Guilds are much more than just a way to group up with friends and like-minded gamers. They offer their own challenges, and even their own multiverse and rewards. There are daily and weekly guild challenges that all members must help the guild work towards. It’s best to try to find a guild with many members to help with these challenges. Guild motherboxes usually contain more rewards than standard boxes. You don’t have to join a guild, but I’d highly recommend it.
A Story Mode Worth Playing
Usually, the story mode in a fighting game consists of a bit of text at the end of a fighter’s arcade ladder. In recent years that has begun to change and Injustice 2 is here to do it right. It took me around four hours to complete the story and I enjoyed every minute of it. It certainly won’t win any awards with its’ writing, but it does a great job of giving everyone on the roster a reason to be beating each other up. The story features branching paths as well as multiple endings, so you’re gonna wanna play it at least twice to see everything. It also showcases the beautiful graphics engine and wonderful character models. You can really tell that everyone at NetherRealm studios poured a lot of love into the title. The 3-D character models are ultra detailed with wonderful facial animations and the interactive stages show the same amount of attention to detail. The super move cinematics, in particular, got me pumped up each and every time I saw them. The sound is top notch, too. Hearing Kevin Conroy (Batman The Animated Series) return as Batman and Tara Strong (Batman Arkham City) as Harley Quinn, it instantly feels familiar.
A Super Powered Package
As I said earlier in the review, there isn’t a lot to complain about. The only thing that comes to mind is that they could have added interchangeable super moves. I saw the same cinematics hundreds of times for each character and given the amount of customization in the game I think the developers could have addressed this. It is a small gripe and one that does not detract from the overall experience.
Injustice 2 is a perfect fighting game. It’s intuitive and the fighting system is dynamic enough to accompany all playing styles. It’s a beautiful looking and sounding piece of software and the microtransactions aren’t shoved in your face nor required to win. It gives you plenty of reasons to continue booting it up. I played it a ton and certainly plan on giving it even more of my time. If you’re a fan of fighting games do yourself a favour and go pick this up.
- Dynamic Combat
- Addictive Gear System
- Superb Visuals/Audio
- High Replayability
- Need’s More Super Move Cinematics