A story of dread, deceit and destruction with plenty of twists and lots of bone shattering spectacles, Injustice 2 is a fantastic sequel that improves on its predecessor in every way possible. Developed by NetherRealm Studios, famed for their Mortal Kombat series and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Injustice 2 was released in May 2017 for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One along with ports for Android and iOS mobiles.
To start off, I went on into this game completely blind, having not watched any trailers or character reveals. I was not expecting much from the game, thinking that it would be just another re-skinned Mortal Kombat game with a somewhat boring rehashed Batman v/s Superman story but I was more than just pleasantly surprised. Almost every aspect of the game felt fresh and refined, fixing the kinks of MK XL and Injustice 1 which ended up with a game that was a genuine superhero game and not like a bunch of buff fighters cosplaying as our favourite/hated DC characters.
Let’s start off with the eye candy, the graphics of the game which are quite stellar. They’re a little better than Mortal Kombat X which makes the game very pleasing to the eye. Character models and faces are modeled in a way that reflects their comic book/cartoon characteristics but also with additional touches that make them feel more lifelike but also giving them a grittier and darker look which fits the setting of the game. The faces and facial animation really shine through the cutscenes, especially Harley. The female characters’ faces no longer look plastic-y or badly modeled like in Injustice 1 and suit design is something that is a hit and a miss from character to character. The Joker looks like a teenage self-hating emo kid with his trench coat and hairstyle while Scarecrow’s design was my absolute favourite. Fret not however as you do have the ability to customize your character’s gear by unlocking them through story progression or by using in-game money to purchase them.
The stages do a wonderful job of showcasing the after effects of the previous game and the area that your characters are in. The Batcave feels like the Batcave with his suits, Batmobile and so on. It feels very authentic and immerses you even more, especially with the stage interactions that are always a fun little thing to do. With visuals this good, the game still manages to run at 60fps on a regular Playstation 4 during the actual gameplay while it drops down to 30 during cutscenes and sometimes lower than 30. This is somewhat jarring because the transitions from fights to cutscenes is very good.
Along with the gorgeous visuals, the audio of the game is on par with it. Hits are impactful with the right amount of bass and crunches that give it that oomph, that strength that shows the physical prowess and magical powers of these heroes and villains. It is extremely satisfying to hear Superman gut punch someone or hearing the laser vision hitting someone. Voice acting is great all around with a star-studded cast of voice actors that includes Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Steve Blum, Phil LaMarr, Tara Strong, Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham . The background music fits in well with the stages and cutscenes have a good score too but there were times where the music felt out of place in certain cutscenes that felt quite important to the game. It just made the whole scene fall flat and lose its impact.
Talking about impactful scenes, the story of the game surprised me with how intriguing it was. It had me hooked after the 2nd fight scene until the very end and yes, this game had multiple endings and I highly recommend getting them all. The story helped introduce characters smoothly, especially the lesser known ones like Firestorm, Blue Beetle and Atrocitus. They did not feel forced in or out of place and helped establish them for newcomers of the series while also treating fans of the DC universe. The game also has fan service that was handled in ways that were interesting, to say the least as I don’t want to spoil too much about it.
Like all the other Mortal Kombat games and the previous Injustice game, this too includes a story mode for the characters that is separate from the main storyline of the game, present in an Arcade Mode type of mode where it’s just a bunch of matches that end with the story. The interaction between characters was one of the most fun parts and had me chuckle multiple times with references and snide personal remarks. It also features a Multiverse mode where you can play with random handicap and modifiers to spice things up a bit from the regular modes.
Now let’s talk about the core gameplay, the make it or break it for fighting games. The fighting system is carried over from the Mortal Kombat X game but has been tweaked and refined to fit with the theme of the game. The core moves remain the same while even character sub-groups carry over and the variety of fighting styles adds to the replayability. For e.x. Ivy plays a lot like Scorpio and has a moveset very similar to him, with similar basic moves and combos. Air Juggles and combos were fun to do but were hard to pull off partly due to me not being that great at them. There was no input delay and combat was satisfying. There are tutorials for beginners who want to get a better understanding of the fighting system but you can always resort to button mashing as that works well too.
The Clash system makes a return and works just as it did in the previous game by wagering a portion of your Super Meter when you’re in your 2nd health bar and are getting hit. Winner of the wager gets back the Health they wagered while the loser loses the amount they wagered. Super Moves also make a return and are a lot of fun and brutal to witness and work in the same fashion as the previous game.
I did have two annoyances of the Super Moves though, one of which has been present in all the games. The first being that they can be somewhat long and are not skippable which means it can break the momentum of the fight and slows things down, which might be a plus point for some. The second being that the time taken to initiate the attack is a bit long which makes it very easy to block them while playing against Humans or when you’re defending against the CPU. Once you do beat an opponent in the first round, it’s just a 5-second animation before you get back to fighting which helps a lot with the flow of the game and your health also carries over. You don’t have to wait for a screen fade or for someone to go “ROUND 2, FIGHT!”.
I also found it weird that after delivering the final blow characters would get back up and then fall down to go into their “losing” animation which just felt off especially after brutally beating down someone with a Super Move. The loading times between matches and to start a match up are around 10 seconds at most which is great especially if you’re playing on “Hard” and are getting stomped on by the CPU. It allows you to quickly get back into the fight instead of sitting there and raging at a loading screen for half a minute or more.
The game features an RPG system which is new and adds to the replayability and customization. This is done through a loot-dropping system known as the “Gear System” via which you can customize your favourite character’s costume pieces and equipment with status-altering effects. These loot crates are dropped at the end of every fight. Gear can be unlocked via story progression or by using in-game credits to purchase them. Gear comes in three varieties: equipment, shaders, and abilities. You can mix and match your Gear but using a complete set gives you an additional buff. The game will also include five separate gear loadouts for each character, allowing players to switch between their setups at the beginning of each match.
Every playable fighter is given four base stats: strength, defense, health, and ability, the latter of which impacts special attacks. As players collect experience points and subsequently level up, their characters’ base stats will increase. You can further enhance your base stats by equipping gear obtained from loot crates or by purchasing which also customizes their look. Rarer gear can have better stats, better visual effects, more exp. gain or more in-game currency. Additonally, There’s a microtransaction system that allows you to purchase these skins and “Premier Skins” and “Shaders”. Shaders are additional colour schemes for character gear while Premier skins are just skins which turn characters into different characters. For e.g. Captain Cold turns into Mr. Freeze with his own voice and dialogue, Hal Jordan turns into John Stewart, Flash can turn into Reverse-Flash and Jay Garrick Flash and so forth.
To wrap this review up, Injustice 2 is an amazing superhero fighting game that is polished, visually appealing and an absolute blast to play. If you’re looking for a fighting game or, a game to play with your mates or something that is a lot of fun, you should absolutely get this game and experience it for yourself. I personally recommend this game for the amount of fun I had playing this with my friends without getting bored.