Games & Apps

Review: Injustice 2, DC Comics’ Latest Video Game Focuses on Fast and Vicious Superheroics

 

Photograph courtesy of NetherRealm Studios

Recently released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Injustice 2 is a fighting game developed by Chicago-based NetherRealm Studios, best known for their work on the recent additions of Mortal Kombat as well as 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us. Back with more of the same larger-than-life showdowns, Injustice 2 delivers a cinematic story while offering a range of options for single-player and multiplayer gameplay.

NetherRealm has a knack for inserting compelling narratives into their fighting games. While not always top notch, it’s usually well above what most people expect from the fighting genre. When Injustice: Gods Among Us was released with its exciting multiverse hopping and truly cinematic story-mode, I looked forward to another lovingly crafted tale in the DC universe. While not quite as epic in scale as Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice 2 remains exciting.

A direct sequel, Injustice 2 is superbly acted and executed. It follows the defeat of High Chancellor Superman at the hands of Batman’s insurgency. If that sounds a little off, that’s because Injustice 2 takes place in an alternate universe where the Joker tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane, driving him over the edge to become a despotic tyrant that kills all who oppose him. Injustice 2’s roster is full of heroes who have seen themselves become the villains. Some seek redemption while others revel in their twisted morality.

The story mode consists of a series of cutscenes with a mix of player controlled fights in-between. If you fail a fight, you retry it until you succeed and further the narrative. Fights are usually introduced organically amongst the cutscenes and contextually make sense. Sometimes though you’ll find yourself facing off against a foe for contrived reasons, but this rarely throws off the pace. Occasionally, you’ll also be able to choose which fighter tackles a fight, with an option to go back and choose somebody else if you can’t win with your original choice.

Photograph courtesy of NetherRealm Studios

The mechanics are really what determines the fate of any fighting game, and NetherRealm Studios delivers with Injustice 2. Those already familiar with Injustice: Gods Among Us will immediately feel at home, with few changes. Each fighter has the same basic move-set, but the way these moves are implemented as well as a few other variables make each fighter feel unique. This makes it easy for players who are just starting out as well as those looking for their favorite fighter. Even so, mastery of a character will require players to carefully learn their fighter’s moveset and quirks. Super moves are often spectacular and provide some of the most visually impressive moments in the game, with some characters leaving orbit or even breaking the laws of physics to hurt their opponent. Cinematics of longer super moves can get tedious as you helplessly watch your character get shot through space and you’re unable to continue the battle until it’s finished. For the more technically minded, each character has their move-set listed when the game is paused, and expands on that with damage and frame data for each move.

In addition to a story mode, there is the usual single fight option and a range of training modes for practice. There is also the standard multiplayer for playing with your friends in-person and/or online. For those who are looking to take things even further, there is the somewhat unique Multiverse mode; which are a series of ever changing timed challenges used to unlock customizations such as move sets and clothing for your characters.

One of the biggest complaints I have is the lack of variety in battlegrounds. Each stage is usually rife with interchangeable hazards, but lacks much else in distinguishing features. That said, each battleground is multifaceted and made of several levels that can be accessed by hitting your opponent with a heavy attack in the right spot. This will send them flying in a spectacular way that is almost as visually impressive as some of the super moves. So like for example, say you’re fighting in the streets of Gotham. A powerful attack in the right place will send your adversary flying through the wall of a nearby building with a stunning cinematic and now you’re fighting in a diner or something.

Photograph courtesy of NetherRealm Studios

In addition to solid fighting mechanics, there are a number of great voice actors with stand-out performances. Some examples are Alan Tudyk as a snarky Green Arrow, Richard Epcar doing a great Mark Hamill impression as The Joker, and of course Kevin Conroy, who is the definitive Batman voice for many. A favorite of mine was Jeffrey Combs, who does a stand-out job as the menacing Brainiac, the latest threat to Earth.

Injustice 2 is definitely the sequel you were hoping for. What it lacks in compelling battlegrounds, it makes up for with a great cast of core characters. If you’re looking for a fighting game with solid mechanics and a very entertaining single-player campaign, you’ll find it with Injustice 2.

Antal Bokor is from the far northern suburbs and is the proud owner of a Steam Library so vast as to be impenetrable. His love for video games started in the 8 bit era with the arrival of his Nintendo Entertainment System and quickly evolved into a multi-platform passion. Antal is also a lover of game history and development, and can often be found saving various universes from a multitude of evils. You can find him on twitter, too, at @TheAntalBokor.

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