Having been a fan of Injustice: Gods Among Us, I was excited to see what Netherrealm could bring to the table with Injustice 2 and the fact that they have a good history of making solid fighting games as they did a fantastic job with the last two Mortal Kombat games, I was eager to see how they could improve upon the original Injustice and what new features they have brought along too. So with all that in mind, I’m going to start by talking about the story mode, which continues on from the original game but rather than switching between the different universes like it did in the first game, this time it solely takes place in the alternate universe. Obviously I don’t want to give any spoilers away but It is a very dark narrative that some will love and some will no doubt hate, but I seemed to be somewhere in the middle with it as there were some parts that I loved but there were others that left me feeling somewhat disconnected from it a little and some of the characters lacked something and weren’t represented as faithfully as they should of been. It is only a small criticism though as the story is well written overall and the presentation and voice acting are fantastic with some of the best facial capture I have seen so far this console generation. The story mode does a great job in giving you a fair amount of variation in characters that are used and this acts as an opportunity for you to play as characters that you wouldn’t normally use. There are choices to be made throughout the campaign and there are two different endings to it as well so a second playthrough is a must if you want to 100% complete the story mode which I did and not only did I see both endings but I also got some extra rewards too.
If there is one thing that Injustice 2 loves doing, it’s rewarding players with new stuff as almost every game mode will grant you with certain gear items, coins or loot boxes upon completion of a match which are graded depending on what challenges are completed and to what standard they are finished. Contained in these loot boxes are special gear items that can be used to not only boost your chosen hero’s attributes but they also change the look of them too and this system is what will keep you playing Injustice 2 over and over again to try and get that next piece of rare gear or that special ability that will grant you extra multipliers on your combos. It’s certainly a system that works really well and the sheer amount of loot that can be unlocked is absolutely endless, with so many different gear variations and colour schemes to unlock by earning the loot boxes, I could easily spend hours assigning new attribute boosters and new clothing items that not only gave my characters a unique look but it could also give them the edge over other opponents too. The amount of customisation that can be done in this game is pretty substantial and there are endless custom combinations that can be applied with multiple loadout options being available too, allowing players to have tailored characters for different battle styles. The levelling system is tailored around the gear too so the more your character levels up the better the gear is going to be that you acquire.
Apart from the story mode and the typical single match fights where you can take on the AI or one of your pals, there are also quite a few other modes in Injustice 2 that all offer different experiences and game styles. The online mode has a hefty amount of modes you would expect in a Netherrealm fighting game like lobbies, ranked matches, player matches, private matches and more. It has to be said that out of all the online matches I played, I never experienced any kind of lag or slow response times, in fact the whole experience was pretty seamless and I never had any frustrating disconnects from the servers or any delays on finding a match as it found one pretty quickly every time, which is a credit to the team. There is a neat little AI Simulator mode that almost acts as a management style mode. In it, you have to form your own tag team by choosing 3 fighters and then adjusting their stats and styles plus their gear to prepare them to go into battle online against other players’ teams. There is some tactical thinking to it and it’s fairly basic but it’s an addictive new addition that adds a slightly different outlook to a fighting game and it works really well. The stand out mode though is the huge Multiverse Mode which has daily live challenges that gives you a ton of loot items for each one you complete. It will vary in how many opponents you have to beat on each challenge and what objectives are included and it will even throw in distractions in to the matches too like slowing everything down, dropping random bombs, raining poison amongst so many other things and it works incredibly well. It’s such a fun and addictive mode and if you’re the kind of player who loves collecting loot to get those rare items then this mode is certainly for you, but even if you’re not about collecting loot then the sheer amount of variation in this mode will keep you entertained for hours as you complete each live stage that’s on offer that day.
Injustice 2 really is a great looking game and improves upon the first one massively, as there is a lot more detail going in to the visuals this time round with some wonderful lighting effects too and it’s without a doubt the best looking game that Netherrealm have done. All of the characters have some fantastic detail applied to them and the costume designs are brilliant and they have a wonderful comic book style to them that will no doubt please DC enthusiasts. The backdrops on the stages are lovely and atmospheric with various different interactive sections that you or your opponent can use and there are also a few arena switch trigger points that you can smash your opponent through, which always felt very satisfying no matter how many times I did it. The levels have been designed and created really well and the developers have managed to faithfully recreate some iconic DC areas like the Batcave, Atlantis and more, giving each one its own personality and they offer a fresh approach with each fight you have. As I mentioned earlier the face capture is superb and is some of the best I’ve seen in a console game to date, with wrinkles on the skin and real emotion on the characters faces it really adds to the superb voice acting on the story mode. The custom gear and costumes all look great and the additional items that you add to the characters don’t suffer any kind of clipping either which has been known to happen when other fighting games have tried to do something similar, but here it has been done really well and just shows how polished the game is overall. The audio is also fantastic with convincing crushing sounds, brilliant voice acting in the story mode and a good musical score to match. I’m glad to say as well that Kevin Conroy returns to voice Batman and gives a great performance as he always does when he voices the Dark Knight.
It is in the gameplay where Injustice 2 really stands out though as it’s an absolute joy to play with so many moves and combos to master that will do nothing other that give you a real sense of fluidity when playing. The moves aren’t easy to master but they’re not overly difficult either and fighting game veterans will feel right at home while the more casual fighting gamer won’t feel too overwhelmed by all of the moves on offer and will still enjoy the overall experience. With a decent roster of DC Heroes and Villains there are a lot of moves to master but I’m sure that there will be players out there that will stick to maybe just two or three characters as they like that particular style but I tried to be varied in my selections, especially when going through certain game modes as it kept things fresh and plus I wanted to level up as many as I could and get better gear for each one too. As for the selection of characters, I’m a little disappointed that there aren’t more than what’s on offer to begin with as I’d have liked to have seen more DC characters included with a beefier roster but the ones that are on offer though will certainly still leave you with a pretty good selection. I am however a little disappointed in the design choice for the joker as he is a little underwhelming and is nowhere near what I would deem as how the joker should be portrayed but it’s a small criticism in what is otherwise a decent line up. There are a few other fighting games out this year that will be battling with Injustice 2 for the top spot of fighting games this year and despite its pending competition, it’s going to take something very special to knock this great game off of its perch.