Injustice 2 Review

Truthfully, I've never been much of a fan of Mortal Kombat and its derivatives. The fighting has always felt clunky with robotic movement. The pace is slower and more calculated than something like Street Fighter or Tekken. While I've always continued to play them, it has been almost begrudgingly so.  Injustice: Gods Among Us, the first of this series, managed to raise my interest by infusing something I care about from time to time, DC comics characters. This only managed to keep my attention for roughly the length of time it took to beat its disappointingly short story (about 4 hours). 

Injustice 2, on the other hand, has  managed to grow on me the more I played it. The story mode offered chances to choose who you would fight as, resulting in multiple different match ups with unique dialog written for each. While this doesn't change the overall direction of the story (until the end), it provides enough incentive to make at least two passes through their crafted tale. 

The story itself picks up where the first Injustice ended. Superman is in Superjail, Batman has formed a new pseudo-Justice League with a few remaining heroes and a reformed Harley Quinn. Things are going alright, all things considered, until Braniac shows up and you can probably guess the rest. Fights are had, sides are switched, alliances form and break. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but it is presented with enough charm to carry it through the 6 or so hours it lasts.

Most of that charm carries over into individual fights. Almost every character has something to say to or about whomever they are set to fight. These comments serve to flesh out the lore of the alternate universe the game is set in. There is a lot to be enjoyed if you have any sort of reverence for these characters.

The optional 'Multiverse' mode provides a series of challenge fights that refresh every few hours to every few days providing ample chances to test your might with every character. Prevailing in these provides gear that can be used to not only improve your fighter's key stats (strength, agility, etc.), but also change their appearance. This incentives you to try and collect complete sets of gear that can radically change how your superhero or villain looks and plays. For example, some gear might be infused with kryptonite, which will provide extra damage against Superman or Supergirl. At least, that's the theory behind it. At the amateurish level I play at, the only real benefit I could tell was that higher numbers tended to be better, but wouldn't necessarily make or break a fight. As such, you may feel inclined to ditch higher level gear in favor of more fashionable fair. Luckily enough, the developer Netherrealm, placed in a system to copy the look of any piece of gear to another. The end result means that you can really make your fighter tailored to your favorite look without sacrificing power. The whole system really adds a layer of ownership to your version of a fighter and definitely carried me through a lot longer than I would have stayed with the game otherwise. You can also unlock move variations to change up your combos a little, but none that I encountered felt as dramatic as the different fighting styles you could select for fighters in Mortal Kombat X. On the one hand, it doesn't really feel as deep as MKX, on the other, you don't have to learn three styles for each character. This lets you focus more on your fundimentals and makes the game feel a little more welcoming to newcommers. 

The cast contains the greatest hits of DC. Batman, Superman, Wonder Women, and the Flash are all on deck, but part of me misses some of the cast that didn't make the jump from Injustice 1. Batgirl, Zatanna, and Raven are particularly noticeable in their absence, but ultimately, this feeling is less about wanting to actually play as those excluded characters, and more about wanting to have all of my toys in one play set. This is made up for with the inclusions of some unexpected DLC fighters, most notably Hellyboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don't know who it is making these guest character deals, but they deserve a raise.

Multiplayer is what you would expect. One on one fights against another person. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. Being able to bring my best character against someone much better and slowly learn their moves and style through repeated loses, slowly improving, until I was able to beat them was a blast. The inclusion of a tournament mode that removes gear benefits is also welcome when you want to try out a new character without facing a major handicap.

The visuals in Injustice 2 are top notch, particularly the facial animations. Alongside great voice acting, this makes for an excellent presentation. I'm not stoked on every character's design, but there are more good things to say about the game in this field than bad, so I'll leave it at that. The high quality presentation is particularly valuable since the game features a couple modes that let you have the computer fight for you. Having a system in place for you to watch character pull together combos really helps to learn what is possible for each character to do, giving you another tool to improve your own skill.

Overall Injustice 2 is about all you could ask for out of a Mortal Kombat styled game. Flashy visuals, a compelling universe, and bountiful content to test your skills on. If you are a fan of fighting games, there isn't much of a reason to skip this one.

4/5