I loved Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game was the next logical step after Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe managed to do so well back in 2008, and gave NetherRealm Studios a new lease on life to make the ninth Mortal Kombat game awesome. People wanted to see the DC characters fight more and they got their wish in 2013 with an awesome fighting game and a unique story to the DC landscape that Warner Bros. actually approved. Four years later (because NRS was working on other stuff like Mortal Kombat X), we finally received a proper sequel with Injustice 2.
Before we go on, things are going to get somewhat spoiler-filled, so if you don’t want to know until you’ve played, turn around now! You’ve been warned!
The game takes place back on what is the video game’s version of Earth 2. (Or at least we’re calling it that since there’s very little talk about multiple universes in the game.) Superman’s Regime has fallen, some are imprisoned like Robin and Cyborg, others have escaped like Wonder Woman and Black Adam. The rest are trying to fix the world and repair the damage done, lead by Batman, some experienced hands like Green Arrow and Black Canary, and a group younger heroes. While trying to take down Gorilla Grodd’s newly formed Society, we discover his mysterious benefactor is Brainiac, who has come to destroy Superman and Supergirl and complete his collection of Krypton while adding Earth to it. Now it’s up to old foes to make new alliances to help bring him down.
The game picks up the familiar MK format that the NRS games have been following for the past few years. You join a character in a chapter, fight four battles to advance the story, then move onto the next character’s chapter. Each fight becomes increasingly difficult until you battle Brainiac at the end. An added twist they threw into this version is that in some chapters you can choose who you fight as—an example being in Chapter 3 you can choose between Green Arrow and Black Canary for each fight while the other just kinda of does their own thing to the side. It’s a nice addition, but it doesn’t really change the outcome of the plot in any way until you get to the end, so it’s also a bit of a letdown. The ending lets you choose one of two paths for the final chapter that help determine the final cutscene you get and how Earth 2 is shaped.
The gameplay is smooth and improves on the system that both Injustice and Mortal Kombat have become known for. Combos are easier to pull off, counters are easier to throw, throws and blocking feel much more in-tune with the combat than just secondary options. It’s like they sanded down the edges of all the rough spots from the first one. The two drawbacks are the combo chains and the super moves. First off, the chains are more hit and miss because of the fluidity of the fight. Meaning that if you time it perfectly you can get off a 14 hit combo without any issues, but the slightest miscalculation causes your combo to fail and your opponent a chance to rally back through your mistake. It sounds balanced on the surface, but you’ll find that you miss more often than hit.Meanwhile, the super moves come off as if they’ve been neutered. In the first game, pulling off a super move on your opponent wasn’t the end of the match, but it certainly was the second to last nail in the coffin for a match. In
Meanwhile, the super moves come off as if they’ve been neutered. In the first game, pulling off a super move on your opponent wasn’t the end of the match, but it certainly was the second to last nail in the coffin for a match. In Injustice 2, you’re lucky if you manage to get a third of their lifebar down after working so hard to get that maneuver. You’re better off learning the combo system and saving it up as a last-ditch effort if you’re losing, but no longer are they devastating moves that can cause the match to shift tides. Funny enough, a well-timed combo package will do just as much, if not more damage than your super.
Storyline wise, I enjoyed revisiting this world, even though things are bleak and it’s everyone’s worst fears come to life. But I do have issues with the random appearances, unexplained usage and failed efforts with some characters. For random appearances: at one point as you play as Flash, you’re suddenly greeted by Reverse Flash who appears once and never again. You’re shortly then joined by Green Lantern, who kind of explains why he’s back but it doesn’t show the hell he went through to come back. Also, Green Arrow (who is dead on this Earth) has come to help from a different Earth. However, none of that is explained in the game and is just left up to the player to seek out the answer through comics and other online resources. For those not interested in seeking that info out, they’re left in the dark. That all feels like lazy storytelling.
On the subject of unexplained usage: at one point you’ll be in Brainiac’s ship and you’ll run into Firestorm and Swamp Thing. No good explanation is given for either of them being there beyond “Brainiac took control of them.” At least when Canary and Arrow get kidnapped at one point, we get a reason for their kidnapping and return. And as for failed efforts—Doctor Fate is one of the best magic-using characters in the entire DC Universe and has a personality worth exploring. He’s used twice as a fighter in the game, with both times resulting in taking off his helmet to make him go away. Thie third is a cinematic moment with the helmet off and him not helping anyone in trouble. I’m sure a fanboy will run in here to tell me how wrong I am, but you have a badass character who could have added much more to the story than he’s being allowed, and instead he’s simply random cannon fodder for WB and NRS to say “hey, we got another DC guy you’ll like in this!”
Another aspect of the game is armor. Deepening on how you feel about gear mechanics, it could be the best or worst part of the game. As you fight in the game through one of the many modes it has (which a lot of the multi-character ones are awesome to try out) you will gain experience and level up your character. You’ll also earn credits (Source Crystals) and loot boxes (Mother Boxes) that will award you upgrades in armor and the ability to purchase other like you would in a game like Overwatch. The difference in Injustice 2 is that the armor actually goes towards your stats, giving you the ability to block faster, grapple better and attack harder. You’re probably thinking “doesn’t that put other players at a disadvantage online?” Damn skippy it does, and there’s not a thing you can do about it, because the only way to get better at the game in versus mode is to level up and get better armor to wear, killing the usual even playing field you would normally have against anyone in a random Flash outfit.
The armor is a pain to upgrade as well, as it gets damaged and can be transformed into other bits of armor to improve your character later. The design of this is all impressive, but it leaves out the simple fact that you could be awesome at the game with Superman and get handed a loss by a moderate player with Captain Cold who has much better armor and boosted stats. Some would argue it adds unpredictability and makes things fair for weaker players, but that’s just an excuse for a gear system that’s overly complicated and has no real business being in this game.
Injustice 2 has a lot of great stuff going for it, but there are flaws that keep it from being a perfect fighting game. Along with the usual characters withheld for DLC, the armor system that didn’t need to be here, and the flaws in some of the storytelling—it comes across as an awesome game being held down by unnecessary circumstances. And when you have dumb and pointless stuff overshadowing a lot of the good, it sours the experience. We’re not saying it’s a bad game at all, I had a lot of fun playing it and getting to run around as Batman and The Flash. The fighting game aspect to it is spot on with a story that capitalizes on stuff we’ve never seen before with two different endings. We’re just saying that there’s things in here that make us question why they had to be here, and why no one bothered to ask “hey, why is this a thing?”
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