Pitting the world’s finest against each other has never been quite this exciting. Following the mind-bending narrative from the original Injustice, this direct sequel deals with the aftermath of Batman and Superman’s beef, all while introducing a brand new single-player challenge mode called “The Multiverse,” and the implementation of a new gear system. So, on a scale from Batman v Superman to The Dark Knight, how bat-shit crazy awesome is this game?
Injustice 2 takes place a few years after the fallout from the first game. While Superman is locked up for being an authoritarian d-bag who’s hell-bent on killing other baddies, Batman is busy trying to piece the world back together during a time of unrest. The Justice League as we know it is shattered, and famous alliances are no more. The loyalties among characters are tested by an impending threat, and from there, the story unfolds in a sort of predictable manner.
Overall, the narrative is much easier to follow in comparison to the first game, however I enjoyed the madness from the first game a bit more. That’s not to say that Injustice 2 isn’t interesting; it’s just a bit less wild. To be honest, it’s a much more cohesive narrative than Batman v Superman . You won’t find any Martha-silliness here.
You can expect about 10+ chapters of unwinding narrative where you’ll play as several different characters, taking down friends and foes alike. It’s a surprisingly beefy campaign that’ll reward you with nice loot when completed (which we’ll discuss in a minute). You’re also able to switch between two different fighters at the start of select battles, which is a nice little touch that gives you the option to try out new characters and/or fight as ones you prefer throughout the campaign.
From a gameplay perspective, Injustice 2 is fine-tuned and tight with plenty of variety to make each fight a battle of both strength and wit. From a technical standpoint, all of the fighters got an upgrade in walking speed, which increases the tempo quite a bit. As you’d expect, each character is equipped with their own fighting technique and jaw-dropping specials. Chances are you’ll find someone that fits your play style. The nice thing is that none of the characters felt like simple skin swaps. For the most part, each character felt unique.
Arenas are colorful and riddled with interactive items sitting in the background just waiting for you to toss them at your foe. Whether it’s someone sitting at a bar, or a giant box, there’s never a shortage of throwable items. The edges of the arenas also usually allow you to run off the wall to get out of a corner. If that’s still not enough, you can also knock your challenger into another part of the arena you’re playing on. If used correctly, arenas can help you swing the battle in your favor.
That’s what I truly enjoy about this game; there are so many opportunities for you to complete an epic comeback, whether it’s by harnessing your special, using the arena, or even taking advantage of clashes—which allow you to burn special bars to regain some health—you’re never really out of the fight. And in general, the game is so easy to pick up and enjoy regardless of your skill level. It also helps that it features a grip of characters we love. Where else are you going to watch Harley Quinn join Batman’s team?
If you’re more of a single-player kind like me, then you will still have plenty of content to dive into after you complete the campaign. This is all thanks to the introduction of The Multiverse. This new mode is similar to the Mortal Kombat Towers, where you will go into gauntlets with certain challenges like increased character speeds, etc. One of the strangest challenges I faced was having the screen go dark every two seconds. As you can imagine, it was a tricky fight. Keeping up with the Multiverse will award you with new gear and it’s a great way to level grind. This basically offers, never ending replay value.
The most controversial aspect of the game as I see it is definitely the gear system. Everything you do either gets you gear or gives you points to buy boxes that gift you gear. It’s a pretty standard loot system when it comes to distribution. Gear provides certain augmentations like taking less damage from environmental items, or on the flip side do more damage against bad guys, giving you the opportunity to create your very own unique fighter. However, it probably won’t affect the competitive scene, just because it most likely won’t be allowed in competition. How it affects local co-op is up to you. Some of the most powerful augments, however, only work in the Multiverse, so again it’s not as broken as it might appear at first. Because gear has certain level requirements, it made me want to compete in the Multiverse to level up my Blue Beetle, just so I could use the level 20 Scarab Epic piece I unboxed. It’s a hook that kept me wanting to play hours on-end. Some might not enjoy this, but casual players will get a lot of joy in this.
All of this is great, but what takes the game to the next level is the attention to detail. Everything in this game is gorgeous. Arenas, graphics, and even characters (despite the weird Joker redesign) look glorious. Even small things like the brief chatter that goes on between each character before a fight breaks out is fantastic, and often hilariously well-written. It also looks like they added special dialogue for each match-up. As a result, I never really found myself skipping their intros every time I played couch multiplayer. I wanted to see how they’d react to each other.
The roster itself is rather diverse as well and includes some lesser known cats that I hope become more mainstream. Blue Beetle (Jaime) in particular became my number one. It’s not often we see a Latino character in a Superhero production that’s not some sort of gangster (I’m looking at you, Suicide Squad), so I’ve been maining him.
Injustice 2 is without a doubt the complete package. It is a robust DC universe mashup narrative spanning all reaches of that universe and the introduction of the limitless Multiverse make this one of the beefiest fighting games on the market. The gameplay is super tight, easy to grasp, and difficult to master. The gear system also gives the game an RPG element, which adds a ton of replay value in the process. Unfortunately the Online and Guild system weren’t completely rolled out prior to launch, so we’ll have to wait and see how that truly works once the game is officially available. A strong online experience can turn make this game’s life expectancy limitless. We’ll also have to see how the competitive scene receives the game. Even then, this is a brawler worth investing your time into. It’s madness at its finest.
At the end of the day, it’s still badass to watch DC’s best characters duke it out.
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 JUSTICE BURRITOS
This review was completed using a PS4 copy of Injustice 2 provided by NetherRealm. The game hits shelves on May 16, 2017.
Images: NetherRealm Studios
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