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Injustice 2 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Injustice was something of a surprise hit that defined what a great fighting game had to do in terms of content and story. Injustice 2 takes all of that, improves on it subtly, then changes the game completely by providing a simply unrelatable amount of content to the single-player fighting experience.

The Pros: 

+Vast character customization
+Deep dark story that continues from the original
+Seemingly endless rewards for continued play
+Stunning visuals and iconic character moments
+Great base play that will be ready for tournament play at EVO

The Cons: 

-The amount of content could be considered overwhelming
-If you're not into a gear-grind, that could be frustrating considering how much there is

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
10

The original Injustice was a game that no one really expected much out of. After the lackluster response to Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, it seemed the concept of superhero fighting games under the banner of NetherRealms might simply be a novelty one-off.

So, when the fine folks behind Mortal Kombat announced a fighter focusing solely on the DC cast, it was received with cautious anticipation. Little did we know the story mode was once again going to redefine the genre and spin off a series of successful comic iterations as well.

To say that the original story was a bit of a departure from the standard DC storylines feels like a bit of an understatement. A more apt description might be that it was a gamble for the writers at NetherRealm. Luckily, fans of DC and NetherRealm were rewarded on that gamble with a storyline that has expanded into its own full universe featuring a decidedly darker take on the heroes of the Justice League.

Batman vs. Superman

Heading into the sequel, I wasn’t clear (as I had dropped out of the comic run for a lengthy period) on how the story would pick-up. It almost seemed like a nightmarish fever dream concept that I though DC might ask NetherRealms to walk-back as they built up the cinematic universe with Warner Brothers. Thankfully, I’ve never been more wrong.

Injustice 2 picks up a couple of years down the line after the competition of the initial game’s story where Superman has become the villain and following the win of the first story you’ve managed to capture and subdue the God of unification. Now a new threat looms and the heroes and villains of the DC Universe must once again choose sides to decide how best to deal with the impending planetary destruction posed by Brainiac.

Braniac

If you played the original Injustice then you’ll have an advanced working knowledge of the sequel. In terms of the mechanics of the game, there hasn’t been too much of a leap. In fact, the characters who see a return to the roster play very like their predecessors with a few balance tweaks and subtle changes to their skillsets. One of the new features of the game can change that interruption dramatically.

Considering the game is all about the concept of “every fight defining you” you can customize your favorite characters beyond pieces of gear and modification of their base stats. One of the most interesting implementations of this design principle is the fact that you can now customize characters with new/different abilities, skills, and play styles.

In one example, once you’ve leveled up The Flash to his max level (20) you gain the ability to add a projectile-based attack. You could, however, earn this sooner as well with a lucky roll in the loot boxes the game offers. Either way, you can dramatically change the speedster’s play style to someone with a ranged option instead of being locked out by anyone with a fireball, laser vision, or in the case of Deadshot… many, many guns.

The Flash

One of my favorite things about NetherRealms working with DC in an alternate universe storyline, with seemingly no limits, is the fact that they have been able to pull some lesser known friends and foes from the comics into the game. The original Injustice got all manner of bonus points from me when they added Lobo to the downloadable character roster. This time around we get to start with characters like Swamp Thing and Captain Cold, characters that generally don’t get enough of the limelight (in my opinion). As the game continues to expand with DLC as well, we can look forwards to some characters that haven’t seen light of day on the video game circuit before… like playable Black Manta who is already coming down the DLC pipeline.

Speaking of the cast diversity and the ability to customize it even further, the biggest new features of Injustice is in the armor/item system. When the game was initially revealed there was a lot of talk regarding how the system would function. It seemed, at the time, there would be a multitude of outfits to choose from that would affect how your character played/fought. Now that we’ve had some time with the title, we know it’s even crazier than that!

Not only can you customize the look and fighting style of the character, but individual pieces from set can cross with other pieces, making your character completely your own. Each piece of armor (head, body, legs, etc.) will offer your character stat advantages (spanning the standard: health, armor, damage, and power trees). This allows you to forge your favorite characters into something that models your play style, in the example of The Flash (who I will continue to mention as he was my first level 20 character) I was able to tweak him for a hyper aggressive playstyle where he deals out massive damage using his special attacks, though his combos and basic attacks hit like cotton. This means I have a particularly effective “hit and run” style with The Flash that wasn’t in his base-model ideology.

Deadshot vs. Aquaman

The depth of this character customization is something I could easily talk about at length, thanks to the seemingly unending yield of armor parts for the characters. You can have any character fight and look any number of ways you deem interesting to your playstyle and beyond that can customize their CPU-controlled playstyles for diversity in CPU matches (like online, or just grinding out story-completion in the Multiverse which replaces MK’s Tower Challenges).

As important, or perhaps even more important, is how you receive the rewards of these character customizations. I briefly mentioned that this game has loot boxes, which are rated at different rarity levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond) and what’s interesting is the diversity in the ways you can earn them.

Playing through the game’s story mode will unlock some base items for your characters as your overall rating improves and levels up. You’ll also get some shaders/color schemes to choose from as you dive down into character-specific challenges and story-arcs. But where the game really gets interesting is in the Multiverse and Online Challenges, which can be combined with bonuses received from joining a guild online.

Atrocitus

Where the game goes from being a “solid package” to “something you’ll probably play daily” though is in how much game content is available. Not only in the never-ending rewards system which can be reaped daily through all manner of challenges, logging bonuses, guild rewards, and even from playing the mobile version and linking accounts but in how much content there is beyond what is expected from a traditional fighter: the multiplayer/online.

Multiverse events update every couple of hours with new themed challenges and fights. Like the Tower in MK, this can take the form of themed fighters and extended periods of blasting through them, to things like the screen being rotated upside down in “Bizarro Mode” or random obstacles taking the field in the case of challenges like the ice missiles or electrified floor. There’s also a static story-mode challenge that allows you to complete a side-quest story with a different ending for every character, and as referenced earlier these Multiverse challenges can be completed by setting up an AI profile for your characters and letting it do all the heavy lifting for you!

Dr. Fate AI

If you want to maximize your reward gain though, you should consider the online portions of the game. Guilds will net you rewards just for being a member, rewards you can compound by participating in a separate-but-similar Guild Multiverse game mode. Here you’ll run through similarly randomized Tower-challenges like in the single-player version, but for every guild member that completes the time-sensitive challenge the rewards are greater (moving from say a single bronze box to a couple of diamond boxes if everyone clears the same objective).

What initially blew me away about this title continues to do so even weeks later. For the first time in my fighting game experience, there’s no shortage to the SINGLE PLAYER content. I’ve been playing the game solo for about three weeks now and am nowhere close to having completed all my characters or seeing all the in-game content. With the promise of DLC adding to that via new characters and challenges as the game continues to expand and evolve, this is something that I never expected to play for much longer than the initial play period plus a couple online fights and the occasional dust-off during hang outs with other fighting-game fans. Instead, I’m logging in daily, completing challenges, even playing the phone game to try and hunt down rare gear to further customize my hero roster and obtain everything I want/need to have a completed collection of customized DC characters.

Atrocitus vs. Aquaman

It's impossible to shout-out all the amazing things the team has done because even weeks later I don’t feel like I’ve seen it all. There are cameos and nods, easter eggs and alternate costumes that turn characters into completely different characters (like in the case of The Flash, you can become Reverse Flash). It’s part of the reason I’m so far behind on posting this review. As a game it is magnificent, as a fighting game it is unprecedented, and as a comic property, it is pretty much every nerd’s dream for a fantasy league of superhero fighters.

Review is based on a retail version for Xbox One, provided by the Publisher.

Injustice 2
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive
Developer: NetherRealms
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), Playstation 4
Release Date: 
May 11th, 2017
Price: $79.99 (CDN with options for Deluxe and Ultimate Editions at $99.99 and $129.99 respectively)