If I had to pick a single word to describe Injustice 2, that word would be "comprehensive." When it's all said and done, Injustice 2 stands as perhaps the most comprehensive DC superhero game I've ever played, audaciously attempting -- and succeeding -- to be all things to all people.
It presents an incredibly dense story mode campaign, profusely seasoned with world-class cinematic cutscenes throughout; it gives DC Comics fans near-limitless imagination fuel through its ever-renewing Multiverse challenges and thousands of lines of dialogue between characters; most importantly, it stands as a richly complex fighting game that is at once accessible and intimidating in its depth. Surely, you will find what you're looking for here.
And there's much more to come. NetherRealm Studios has embraced the "game as a service" model with open arms, and while we tend to approach the proposition of a game as a platform and not a final product with suspicion and timidity, I think that this model will ultimately serve Injustice 2 players in a way that is agreeably advantageous for both NetherRealm and its fans. But more on that later; you're ready to hear about this amazing game.
I discovered rather quickly that it would be foolish to attempt writing a comprehensive review of the most comprehensive superhero game I've ever played in a straight shot, so we're going to simplify things by talking about what I believe to be the most important aspects of Injustice 2; the things that are going to mean the most to you as a player.
We'll begin by talking about the story, and then move on to discuss the gameplay, gear, and replay value. For gamers, gameplay is always king. Since we're dealing with a franchise completely rooted in the world of comic books, though, I think that Injustice 2's story mode is the best place to start. Buckle in. You're in for a hell of a ride.
Warning: While I intend to keep this review spoiler-free, I'm going to assume that you've already played Injustice: Gods Among Us, or else know how it ends (or else don't care).
Injustice 2 picks up right where its predecessor left off. Superman is securely contained within his red sun radiation prison cell, and Batman has been unmasked as Bruce Wayne, who begins the game by explaining the state of affairs to the world's governing leaders. Batman remains as vigilant and paranoid as ever, knowing well that the remnants of what used to be Superman's Regime are still scattered about the Earth.
Injustice 2 soon introduces us to our co-protagonist Supergirl, who proves to be an apt foil to Batman. She's young, naive, full of hope, and trusting. She's also a formidable heroine with life-altering tragedies and motives of her own, and it's her relationship to members of the scattered Regime, the shattered Justice League, and her estranged cousin Superman that offers some emotional substance to the plot as it speeds along.
And speed along it does. While Injustice 2 isn't quite as scattered and convoluted as the original, it may still prove a decent challenge to follow for the more casual DC Comics fans or non comic readers. Like in any great comic book, the story in Injustice 2 will play on the storied history -- or histories, as is often the case in this twisted multiverse -- of its heroes to amuse and entertain players in many instances. As more of a casual fan myself, I couldn't help but feel like I was missing out on some really cool inside jokes or tips of the hat.
While this is a game best enjoyed by initiates, I can say with confidence that the DC Comics neophyte and even the common fighting game fan will be able to enjoy the sheer pageantry of this campaign. There are unforgettable action scenes that will have your heart racing for several minutes, and shocking moments that will have you and your friends talking for several months. It's an all-out, cinematic, superhero spectacle that you won't want to miss, and an exemplary achievement in presentation.prevnext
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Gameplay in Injustice 2 will feel very familiar to anyone who played Gods Among Us, though it has seen refinements and small, iterative evolutions which make it feel novel enough. You'll still spend the match stringing together simple three-and-four hit combos using your four face buttons, with the exception of the O (or B) button, which is reserved for character powers.
For the most part, combos and signature moves from the original Injustice have carried over into the sequel, so anyone who mained Batman there (for example) will feel right at home here. You can expect even more interactive elements scattered throughout every stage, and NetherRealm's flagship stage transitions are more over-the-top than they've ever been.
While almost all of the gameplay mechanics in Injustice 2 are carried over, players do now have the ability to tech-roll out of combos by expending a bar of their meter. This can also be done while in the air if you feel like you're about to be juggled. Now more than ever players will have to weigh the pros and cons of either saving up their meter to unleash devastating super moves, or else expending it during battle to enhance combos and evade their opponents.
Combat in Injustice 2 feels fast, fluid, and impactful. There is plenty of room for newcomers to hop in, and there are a few character (like Batman) who feel very responsive for button-mashers and newbies. If you're a veteran looking for more technical characters they're here in spades, and whether you want to specialize in striking, zoning, grappling, or countering, you'll have at least a handful of attractive heroes and villains to choose from.
Like most fighting games, Injustice 2 becomes more rewarding as you put in more time and practice. The skill ceiling is very high, so playing online can be a punishing, degrading, and demoralizing experience. To get the most out of this system, find one character who you really enjoy and wear them out in practice mode. Then fight the same character AI at a very high level to see how they string together simpler combos into more devastating ones. Pretty soon you'll be the guy online mopping the floor with the salty tears of your victims.prevnext
The biggest change in Injustice 2 is its gear system. Every single character has mountains of armor and accessories just waiting to be unlocked, and they all alter their stats and appearance in some way. While many hardcore fighting game fans were initially worried that gear would disrupt character balance, and it will, it's important to remember that you can always toggle a "competitive mode" option for your online matches, which returns both players' heroes to base stats no matter what they're wearing.
Knowing that, unlocking and equipping new gear quickly becomes one of the greatest parts of the game. The artists and designers at NetherRealm went above and beyond to craft seemingly endless varieties of armor and flair for every one of these characters, and it results in a progression and reward loop that will absolutely tickle RPG fans to death.
With every single fight you're gaining experience and leveling up. With each level comes the eligibility to wear higher level gear, and the end-game gear looks incredible. You want a carrot on a stick? Unlocking a level 20 piece of gear for a level 5 character who you adore really inspires you to hit the grind and use that character more.
Do you want to build the ultimate grappling Black Canary who can afford to get in close, take a few shots, and sling down even the greatest of foes? With this gear system you can do that, collecting and equipping armor that greatly boosts defense and turns that pretty bird into a singing tank. Know exactly how you want Black Canary to look, but you don't want to mess up your tanky build? Using source crystals you can change the appearance of gear you have equipped to look like different pieces of gear you own, so with enough time and dedication, your heroes will look and play exactly like you want them too.prevnext
I can tell you for sure that serious fighting game fans have a long road ahead of them. The combat in Injustice 2 is a well of gratifying complexity from which competitors will drink for years to come. Not everyone will be eager to hop online and compete with other players, though. What will keep the single-player enthusiasts coming back?
That's where The Multiverse comes in. The Multiverse is a collection of survival-mode trials which challenge players in a vast variety of ways. Each Multiverse challenge will bid you battle your way through a sequence of AI opponents, offering unique and exclusive rewards should you succeed. At any given time you may find four or five worlds present in the multiverse, each with its own collection of challenges for you to take on which range in difficulty and absurdity.
The Multiverse offers almost endless novelty. All of the challenges here are timed, and none of them last forever. Some challenges may appear for days, while others may only last a few short hours. Some of them may have you blast your way through five normal opponents, while others may task you with selecting a specific hero to fight through modified stages, against modified opponents.
Ed Boon told me himself that there are thousands of these Multiverse challenges worked out that will appear over time, and you can expect specially themed events for holidays. Additionally, the continual grind for gear and multiple branching points in the game's story mode offer lone wolves more than their $60 worth.prevnext
Injustice 2 is the game you've been waiting for; it really is all things to all people. There are enough hits that it's easy to look past any misses, though there are indeed some misses. Zoning characters tend to have a frustrating advantage over close-range characters, especially online in the hands of a try-hard. Superman never really sees any kind of interesting character development or evolution in the story mode, remaining the same one-note dictator throughout. Some of the scenarios conjured up to justify one group of heroes battling another are petty and meaningless, and those fights come off as filler, but it's all in good fun.
And it is all good fun. Injustice 2 is going to BFF! POW! its way into the hearts of long-time fans as well as newcomers. I can't wait for you all to see what they've done with this story, and I can't wait to see what kind of incredible gear builds I see online. I look forward to countless nights of Multiverse surprises and working together with Guild mates to dominate the leaderboards.
Most of all, I can't wait to feel powerful again. In the end, we all just want to feel like kids living out our grandest superhero fantasies, and Injustice 2 succeeds in building a bridge between our now-adult imaginations and those high and inspiring dreams.
WWG's Score: 5 / 5prevnext