NetherRealm Studios had two jobs with Injustice 2. Job one: Embrace the opportunity to tell one of the most exciting superhero stories ever. Job two: Deliver a fresh and exciting fighting game in a market that is shadowed by three giants of the genre that are rarely rivaled. The good news is, Injustice 2 does more than smash expectations, but obliterates them into vapour as if they were struck by Superman’s heat vision.
Injustice 2 picks up a few years after the devastating events of Injustice: Gods Among Us. The story throws curveballs straight away, setting it up to be impressive. Superman is held in a red solar prison which lowers his powers, the Joker is dead and Harley Quinn has now teamed up with Batman. Batman also has some unfamiliar faces on his side in the forms of Blue Beetle – a teenager that found a flashy magic battle suit, and Firestorm, a teenager and a professor who fuse together to access the Firestorm matrix and control fire in all its forms.
They fight against the likes of Wonder Woman, Black Adam and new arrival Supergirl who are trying to free Superman and save the earth from the newest big bad, The Collector of Worlds himself: Braniac. Braniac also enlists some famous villain faces to help clear his path to Superman, such as Gorilla Grodd, Deadshot and Poison Ivy, just to name a few.
The roster of characters is massive, with such a vast variety, that trying what each has to offer will take you actual hours. Each character feels very different to play, however tend to be broken down into four categories: Spell casters like Scarecrow, who favour combat a little more separated; brawlers like Superman, who thrive when up close and personal; brutes like Bane who are big hulking masses of pain and the quick and nimble speedsters like The Flash whose attacks favour speedy combos over powerful shots. Each character comes with their own set of combos, special moves, super moves and superhero moves to unleash pain upon each other with.
If each character didn’t already feel different enough, Injustice 2 has introduced the gear system, partnered with a loot dropping system which helps you unlock new gear for your characters as you level up. Each character can equip 5 different pieces of gear which alters their attributes making them a more effective fighter. You can also unlock cosmetic changes as well, and some characters also have alternate versions, such as Cheetah having the retro inspired Vixen skin. Not only can you customise the way your characters look and preform, but you can also unlock extra moves to go in your load-out, which can be helpful in turning the tide in your fights if the enemy doesn’t expect you to be packing that extra punch. Injustice 2 has really excelled in making the RPG-akin gear system feel neat and easy to navigate.
I really found myself getting stuck into single player game mode, The Multiverse, where Batman’s ultimate surveillance creation “Brother Eye” seeks out situations that need defusing all across the endless amounts of universes. You will need to level your character high enough to complete some of the fights and the battles are made harder because each universe has their own quirks in the way of modifiers. My favourite modifier has to be combustion; whoever gets hit by the other character suddenly burst in to flames and begins losing health until they can successfully land a hit on their opponent, making for some extra levels of tension.
“Every hit you make in each fight matters, every combo is not just a desperate button mash for victory, but a tactical move to ensure domination over your opponent.”
To add in extra playability, there are also weekly and daily objectives for you to complete, earning you in game currency or loot boxes, which is an easy way to keep you coming back for more.
The online worked really nicely and I found myself having my behind handed to me by kids about 15 years younger than me and putting me to shame. The match up lobbies are easy to navigate and because matches are short, you’re rarely waiting long to receive your thrashing from a pre-teen who has stayed home sick from school to make grown men cry because they are better at playing Aquaman then you are at playing Harley Quinn, because really you only picked her because she has funky hair and you wish you could pull off those leather tights and have two pet hyenas…
Anyway, the online is loads of fun with multiple game modes for you to beat people to a pulp in like; one on one ranked or unranked matches and king of the hill. I never really experienced many issued with the online gameplay, as the helpful folk at NetherRealm have included things like players pings and your likelihood of beating your opponent based on their past streaks matching yours.
Injustice 2 really succeeds where I never thought I’d see another fighting game succeed ever again. The game feels like a new concept. I know we had the first Injustice game where you could smash each other through walls and there was a kooky story to go along with that as well, but Injustice 2 has taken everything that worked well in that and improved upon it tremendously. Everything that felt over-the-top or rushed, they have fine-tuned and brought its purpose forward. Every hit you make in each fight matters, every combo is not just a desperate button mash for victory, but a tactical move to ensure domination over your opponent.
The Bottom Line
The team at NetherRealm Studios have really outdone themselves with Injustice 2. It is a perfect fighting game in a brutally competitive genre, and stands up and above the other fighting giants. The team have put together a fantastically intriguing story and really exceeds at making Superman, the hero of all heroes, kind of look like a complete jerk. Injustice 2 has seen the bar set for fighting titles and laughed; they have jumped so much higher than that bar and are sitting way up in the clouds where it could be a long time before anyone does a fighting game better than this.