Doing justice to console fighters
After the success of Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm Studios turned their attentions back to the DC Comics roster with Injustice 2. Its predecessor wowed with an original story that respects the source material, while also being a great, accessible game. The bar now raised, we went in expecting more fine work from the Interactive Entertainment division .
The single-player mode took me just over five hours to complete on Medium difficulty. That may sound short, but the duration felt perfect. The story is succinct and action-packed, smoothly transitioning between combat and cutscene, yet knowing when to take a breather. Character writing and dialog are on-point, with a good balance between drama and humor. And although unlikely, I’d love to see storydriven DLC missions featuring the side characters – they’re just that good.
A huge reason for that is the staggering production work that went into them. Simply put, Injustice 2 is one hell of a looker. It’s a collection of amazing character modeling, facial animation, and texture work, so much so that some scenes could very well be in a CG blockbuster movie. If you have an HDR compatible set-up, this is one title not to miss. It all sounds the part too, thanks to amazing voice acting work and casting.
For now, let’s get to the fighting. Again, I’ll have to stress that I come from a casual fighting game background. Like any casual scrub, I turn to light button mashing when in a panic. If that sounds like you, then boy have I got news: Injustice 2 is a blast to play.
This boils down to largely universal button inputs, easily triggered specials, and a returning Clash mechanic that spells the difference between a loss and a desperate comeback. I’m not implying dumbed down gameplay here, as there are plenty of online players who’ll hammer home the fact that skill matters, usually through a series of juggling combos. It’s just easier to get your foot in the door and to start having fun; it won’t leave you staring at fully charged meters, wondering what the hell to do.
The best part about it all is that Injustice
2 has plenty of solo content to chew through while one’s skills develop. There’s plenty to learn here, from the various character move sets to core concepts such as zoning, juggling, counters, and cancels. Rather than being in practice mode all the time, players can hop into the new Multiverse mode to tackle a series of challenges. Essentially, it pits you against alternately-skinned characters in a series of matches, with varying levels of difficulty, fighting conditions, and challenges. It’s a constantly updated list, each Multiverse destination tied to a countdown timer, some of which are longer than others. The proposition here is that it serves as an endless, dynamic extension of single-player, playable offline and sweetened by the allure of Gear and character-specific endings. Gear is the other new addition to Injustice 2, providing equipment drops and unlocks to customize and augment the characters. These are readily acquired via regular play across the different modes, each item tied to a rarity level. From a cosmetic perspective, the Gear system is a wonderful alternative to predefined skins, allowing players to mix-and-match cowls, gauntlets, boots and more into multiple loadout slots. The other aspect to the Gear system lies in passive bonuses, such as a statistic or ability boosts. Predictably, the rarer the item, the better these upgrades are, as long as you meet the character level requirements. You’re free to disable these boosts in multiplayer matches for a fair playing field, leaving only the cosmetic changes.
Where multiplayer is concerned, things are similar to the first game. Latency wasn’t an issue most of the time; you’ll get to see an opponent’s ping before agreeing to a match, but like most peer-to-peer games, it’ll ultimately depend on the time and day that you play, subject to network spikes on either end. While the overall online experience was positive, I see myself jumping into the Multiverse or a local multiplayer match far more often instead.
NetherRealm Studios went above and beyond with Injustice 2, packaging a highly competent and enjoyable fighting game with a spectacular single-player campaign. The Multiverse also grants the game plenty of added longevity for solo or offline play.
Injustice 2 sets an all-new benchmark for a fighting game package.
Unlockable gear, sets and color shaders let you customize your favorite character six ways from Sunday.