Injustice 2 Review (PS4)
Injustice 2 is the sequel the 2013 Injustice: Gods Among Us which features heroes and villains from the DC Universe battling each other. This time the roster of fighters available is sitting at 29 fighters with new additions including Supergirl, Swamp Thing, Doctor Fate, Black Canary, Blue Beetle, Firestorm, Deadshot and Gorilla Grod.
The story mode is a great way to play each of the available characters for a few fights to get a feel of how they play. This time, the story is set in the same place and time as Injustice Gods Among Us and picks up just as Superman is defeated. NetherRealm Studios games always have an excellent story and this one does not disappoint. The story weaves its way through each of the characters ensuring that everyone’s favourite character gets in on the action. Although it can get a little cheesy and cliché towards the end, Injustice 2’s story mode is the strongest thing about the game.
A must play for those who are not championship fighting gamers is the well-crafted tutorial mode. This goes into detail of how to pull off not only the more advanced moves but also basic movement and simple one button attacks. The tutorial also takes great care in explaining all the concepts and actions available to you in a progressive manner. A neat addition to this is being able to see the AI show you the move you are trying to master by simply pushing the touchpad of your controller at any point.
One of the points the marketing for Injustice 2 has been pushing is the customisation. For the first time in the series, you are now able to customise not only your character’s outfits but even some of their moves. Throughout the game modes you can earn items and credits that can be traded in against new parts of your character’s costume. The parts will alter various stats such as speed or strength and have a rating in terms of value (from common to rare to epic).
The way the customisation has been implemented into the game feels similar to the strategy of a collectible card game. Each character’s costume may be broken into five or six parts which means you need to play a heck of a lot of fights to earn all the pieces for all the 29 characters’ other costumes. On top of these parts, you will also be trying to earn move sets and colour schemes. The level of customisation is really well done and harks back to the golden age of customisation that we used to see in Namco’s Tekken and Soul Calibur series’.
Extending the single player experience further is the multiverse mode. The idea here is that Bruce Wayne has built a computer that can monitor parallel universes and warn him when the heroes there are up to no good. Once a world has been identified it is then your job to go and win matches whilst completing certain objectives. These objectives can vary from completing a match as a certain character or winning a match without using any throws. The rewards for completing these planets are mother boxes and credits which are used to get more accessories for your character customising pleasure.
Mechanically this mode is the same as the Tower mode from the Mortal Kombat games where daily and weekly challenges are set. For those who prefer to go through fighting games on their own, the multiverse will present a healthy challenge and give them an extra depth to their game. Each world has a small story explaining what the heroes and villain of that planet are up to and why they need your help.
The multiplayer offering in Injustice 2 consists of all the usual suspects. Couch multiplayer has the usual two player match as well as a tournament offering that should keep your casual game days rather occupied. The online element also has the regular options Ranked and Unranked matches available with options for players to load in their customised characters. There is also the option to create your own online room for your friends for when your friends are too far away to join you on your couch. Online matches were very smooth to play in our opinion. The character’s intros looked a little jerky on start-up but things were very smooth once the matches began.
In terms of the fighting, Injustice 2 uses the system NetherRealm Studios have nurtured over the past few games. Characters have medium, light and strong attacks controlled by the triangle, square and cross buttons respectively. The circle button again controls the character’s unique chargeable attack. These attacks vary from character to character in terms of animation and power; Batman has three homing batarangs at his command, Harley Quinn gets a dog-like creature to attack you and Black Canary has a limited scream to disorient her opponent. The powerful special attacks from Injustice also return. These normally involve an attack that screams to the personality of the character you are playing. Poison Ivy’s attack has her trapping you with her trademark vines and summoning a huge carnivorous plant to devour you as a wee snack.
Pulling off combos and special moves feels a little hit and miss for this casual fighting game player. Standard combos are fairly easy to pull off well where the inputs are merely various button pushes. Where things get a little tricky is when trying more advanced inputs using the analogue stick of the standard controller. The stick feels too loose and twitchy with characters flipping into the air rather than jumping a step backwards. This is a long standing problem with fighting games and standard controllers in general which I’m not too sure will ever be fixed. After struggling during the tutorial with the more advanced moves, I found myself ignoring them and sticking to what I could easily pull off. Rather than this limiting the experience, Injustice 2 is well balanced enough that you are still able to play through the game even at a medium difficulty without mastering every fighting concept in the game.
Presentation is another area where Injustice 2 stands out. The voice acting again is top notch and every inch of care has been taken to ensure the videogame is close to the DC universe. The environments the fight take place in also contain a great deal of detail. Arkham Asylum looks as foreboding as the Fortress of Solitude looks impressive. Each destination has the interactive elements you can wall jump from, throw at someone or even punch them straight through into another setting. At the end of a multiplayer fight each of the characters has the usual celebratory pose but in Injustice 2 it has a cinematic slow down effect that just looks so cool you’ll spend a few hours fighting with each character to view each pose.
The game however is not without its faults. Injustice 2 does feel slightly imbalanced when it comes to certain characters and moves on the roster. Deadshot in particular has long range attacks that can be used to spam an attack that will drain your health rather quickly. This would not be that much of a problem if the attack was not as overpowered as it is. Batman feels slightly overpowered on the whole again as his moves are far easier to combo than someone like Poison Ivy. Although this was frustrating during online play, it is rarely an issue in single player unless you have the difficulty level cranked all the way up. I do suspect that, as they have done in the past, NetherRealm Studios will release patches to address these imbalances.
Overall, Injustice 2 is a very rewarding experience. Put in the time and you will have played through a rather cool story, built up some interesting variants on your favourite heroes and of course, beaten the snot out of your friends. The NetherRealms Studios games have always been seen as the poor relation to the Tekken and Street Fighters of the world in terms of technical fighters. And as true as that may be, in terms of a complete gaming experience the old guard had better be shaking in their boots.