Many can remember the crossover game ‘Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe’, the first time both universes would meet in a fighting game. It was not the best of successes but from this title came something very special indeed; a partnership between DC Comics and NetherRealm Studios. Following the reboot to the Mortal Kombat series with MK9, attentions focused back on the DC universe but this time giving it a full on standalone fighting game that took inspiration from MK9. Injustice: Gods Among Us had an incredible cinematic story campaign, great online action and a roster full of DC brightest heroes and deadliest villains to play as. Now the sequel Injustice 2 looks to take everything learned from the first game and dial the volume right up to 11.
Injustice 2 is exactly what a fighting game should be, following on from the excellent Mortal Kombat X, it has both a highly enjoyable cinematic story campaign, plenty of solo player game content and a challenging and rewarding online. After being fully disappointed with how Street Fighter V was released last year, having a fighting game that has enough reach to appeal to all kinds of players is immediately satisfying. Just starting up the game to see Batman standing in front of his Brother Eye computer system gave me chills. The first Injustice game really delved into the DC universe with enough depth to give super DC fans like myself plenty of little touches to show that a lot of thought and love had gone into so much of what made Injustice so fun to play, and happy to say this sequel follows up by giving even more depth into the DC Universe with a new roster that has many of the original line up but now features such variety with new characters and surprises added this time for fans.
Starting with the story mode and I found it intriguing that for Injustice 2, we pick up the action from the viewpoint of the alternate Earth where Superman, after being tricked by Joker into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child, Superman goes full on dictator and creates the Regime to dominant the Earth, stopping crime before it happened and acting as judge, jury and even executioner of anyone that steps in his way. With help from our Earth’s Justice League, Regime Superman was stopped, captured and left in a Red Sun Prison Cell which nullifies Superman’s powers.
The story deals with the aftermath as Bruce Wayne tries to rebuild his earth and restore some peace and sanity to the world, working with his allies including and most surprisingly, Harley Quinn. The campaign follows the same style as the first with cut-scenes telling the story and the player taking control of a character when a fight is triggered. Visually this game is a huge advancement over the original with character models and animation that definitely feel current gen. I particularly like how character costumes now have a more grounded look instead of the heavily armoured tone that they had in the original Injustice game. The story introduces the new characters on the roster really well especially Supergirl, as we are shown the moments leading into Krypton’s demise and how both her and Kal-El were sent off in ships heading for Earth when the destruction of Krypton caused Kara’s ship to go off course, arriving on Earth much later than planned with Kal-El now a full adult and having become Superman.
The story is really enjoyable with terrific cuts-scenes that tell the story all enhanced by recogniseable voice actors returning to bring their characters to life. I was also happy to see that some characters have been recast so now their voices suit the character far more than the original Injustice such as Flash and Green Lantern. The story could easily have been a great animated movie, it really is that good. I also really loved how the game now partners some characters together and gives the player the choice of which one to control in a fight. As a result it gives extra replayability to go back and tackle that same fight but using the other fighter instead, something that adds a clever twist in the final stages of the story campaign. It is satisfying story that delivers on the “what happened” next to the characters we met in the first game on this Alternate Earth and by focusing the story fully on them, there is no distraction by having two versions of one character where it was obvious which was good and which was bad. Instead now we have a story where we see each of the original characters dealing with their choices and guilt and it introduces new characters well with Batman recruiting new heroes to help him rebuild and new villains entering the mix because of the opportunity and vacuum created by Superman’s defeat. Having Braniac serve as the big bad of the game has the gravitas is should have, providing a genuine threat for every character that none of them can ignore.
The single player content continues with the newest feature to Injustice which replaces the original ‘Battles’ with the Multiverse. The original game featured an alternative Earth and that has led to this feature, fully explained by a great little introduction video that tells us how Batman used his Brother Eye system to investigate and detect other possible Earth’s leading to the discover of the Multiverse, an infinite number of Earth’s with an infinite number of alternative versions of Injustice characters. This mode is pretty much the DC version of the Mortal Kombat living towers, with timed events happening on Earths for players to tackle to earn rewards such as in-game credits and new pieces of gear. There is always something to do in the Multiverse and it will offer new challenges as players work on their characters of choice. Some will require a particular character level to tackle that event and some events will have special modifiers that can either aid or hinder a player such as maybe every fight having low gravity or giving the opponent a special power such as every hit inflicting poison damage on the player. Being the Multiverse, players will come across many different versions of the characters both visually and in power levels, which serves as a tremendous showcase for how the other new feature in the game, the Gear System, can change how a character fights but will come to the Gear System in just a moment.
The Multiverse also features the arcade mode for the game, where each character will have their own “story ending” by completing the modes in the Battle Simulator. The Battle simulator is a twist on the ladder system from Mortal Kombat, where the player can select a different ladder requiring the player to defeat a set number of fights in order to reach Brainiac. Defeating him will give provide a short story ending cinematic for the character who defeated Brainiac. I am really impressed with just how much solo player content Injustice 2 has and is something NetherRealm Studios has gotten right both in Injustice and in Mortal Kombat X. Not everyone wants to battle online competitively and Injustice 2 embraces that choice with the Multiverse meaning every day and almost every hour or so, there will be something new for players to do with each of the characters on the roster.
The best new feature for Injustice 2 has to be the Gear System, something that not only allows players to customise each of the characters on the roster from a cosmetic point but also in how the gear can enhance a character to improve them for taking on the Multiverse. Each character is made up of a head piece, torso piece, arm piece and leg piece of armour and players can create different loadouts for each character, applying gear pieces which can boost attribute such as health, damage and skill levels. Different tiers of gear will give greater improvements and some can even give characters brand new moves such as The Flash gaining a projectile move or Black Adam gaining a new Magic based attack. The best thing about this new loot system is that the game will quite literally reward the player with loot for everything they do in the game. I completed the story campaign fully and discovered I had earned almost 50 Mother Boxes, which when decoded via Brother Eye will give anything from 2-3 pieces of gear in the bronze tier Mother Box to 5-6 in the Diamond tier Mother Box. Bronze, Silver and Gold Mother boxes can be earned from playing events in the Multiverse and by levelling a character up but can also be purchased using in game credits. The fact you can earn credits, Mother Boxes and pieces of gear for all characters just by playing the game. Even Shaders, which change the colour scheme of a character, can be purchased which is really great when you come to the Premium Shaders, these will change a character to resemble a different character such as The Flash can become Reverse Flash and Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick via Premium Shaders. Supergirl can become Powergirl, Captain Cold can become Mr Freeze and Cheetah can become Vixen. Each Premium Shader will add new dialogue as well, and in loadouts, players can still apply new gear pieces to boost attributes but cosmetically the Premium Skin will override the visual look. The very fact you can earn enough Source Code credits to buy the Premium Shaders was a satisfying surprise. By compleing the main story campaign, I discovered I had already earned enough to buy a Premium skin so naturally picked up Reverse Flash. It may take some time to earn the 6000 Source Code credits needed to buy the Premium Shaders but that only makes it all the more rewarding once you have.
Online the options remain the same as the first game with Ranked matches and Player matches and I have found the servers to be stable and matchmaking very quick and fluid ahead of the game’s release in the UK today (19/5/17) following its release in the US last Tuesday. Gameplay wise the action actually feels more smoother than before, with a fluidity to putting combos together that with each character having accessibility to their move-sets from basic combos and special moves to devastating chained combos that do huge damage. Map transitions and environmental interactions return with even better looking animations but what I appreciated most was how returning original characters have been improved but keep their original moves so if you played The Flash or Batman for example in the first game, their same moves will be in Injustice 2, allowing a real pick up and play factor to this sequel. Improvements to Flash and Green Arrow have for me at least, really elevated them showing that NetherRealm heard and learned from player feedback. Supermoves are back and by golly they are visually impressive to see, adding that real wow factor to fights for each of the characters. For those wondering, the gear system does not apply for online battles, so whilst the cosmetic changes will show, any boosts to attributes do not feature when battling other players, which means all players will be on equal footing, leaving it to character choice and player skill alone.
Injustice 2 really is the evolution of everything NetherRealm has done in recent years with Mortal Kombat 9 and X as well as the first Injustice game. Improvements enhance what already was a superb fighting game but they have gone full on trying to deliver a complete fighting game experience whether you just want to have a solo experience or taking your favourite characters online to battle other players. The story campaign is certainly not throw away and is highly enjoyable, the new Multiverse adds so much content that you could spend hours in it and the Gear System is perhaps the greatest character customisation system in a fighting game I have come across. As a big DC Comic book fan and fighting games, Injustice 2 really does deliver the best experience I have had in both for a long time.
Players of all skill levels are catered for in this game, making sure that everyone can enjoy this experience which is the game’s greatest strength. It wants everyone to enjoy their time in the game from solo content to online content and a Gear System that allows players to create their own characters to the point where the Batman you have put a loadout for will be your Batman, with a slim chance of meeting another player’s Batman that will look the same. The variety of the roster is rich in DC comics and I am so glad that characters like Black Canary, Blue Beetle and Swamp Thing have been added because everyone knows the main Justice League characters but by adding more characters it will give players a better understanding of the DC universe.
Injustice 2 is certainly a game for DC Comic and fighting game fans and delivers so much at every level, this will certainly be my go to fighting game for quite some time.