GAME REVIEW: Injustice 2 (Xbox One) – ‘Quite Simply An Essential Purchase’
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After the botched release of Street Fighter V, fighting game fans are more than ever vocal about their desire for single player content. Battling your friends in online lobbies is fine, but without some substantial single player content to bolster the overall package, that game is dead in the water. Injustice 2 heeded that warning; this is quite possibly the most complete fighting game of the current generation.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ever since Midway folded and NetherRealm Studios rose from the ashes to create more Mortal Kombat games, they’ve been churning out great quality fighting games with alarming ease. Injustice 2 is no exception. Whether it’s the compelling story mode, the limitless potential offered by the Multiverse and the loot system, or even just the amazing gameplay, this game offers everything.
Injustice 2 plays out as a four-button 2D fighter with light, medium and heavy attacks. The fourth button is each character’s unique special ability, which can vary from a swarm of bats for Batman to Supergirl’s eye lasers. Each ability has a variety of uses, whether that be linking combos together or changing the properties of your moves entirely.
Like all good fighting games, Injustice 2 utilises a meter system, which can spent to modify special moves or to travel across the screen with Roll Escapes. That second one is perfect when trying to get in against zoning characters. Overall, it’s a simple system that any casual comic book fan can pick up and play, but offers enough depth and combo flexibility to entice even the most hardcore of fighting game aficionados. There’s also a handy tutorial which covers all the basics, so anyone can learn the mechanics of the game.
The story mode will be pretty familiar to fans of NetherRealm games. Each chapter sees you playing as a different character, where you’ll fight a set number of opponents before moving on. Those fights are broken up by cutscenes that come equipped with great voice acting and animations. Seriously, for a fighting game, these facial animations are almost frighteningly good.
The plot is fantastic too. Continuing on from Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman’s regime has crumbled, leaving Batman to protect the world. Enter Brainiac, who’s looking to add Earth to his collection, causing former Justice League allies turned enemies to join forces.
Injustice 2’s narrative doesn’t feel like a fighting game story, with whatever stigma that might imply. It’s a great comic book story, period. The underlying plot point concerning the unstable alliance between The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel is intriguing throughout, and both endings leave the feud with some interesting scenarios if NetherRealm Studios decide to make this a trilogy.
But the story mode barely scratches the surface of what makes Injustice 2 such a substantial game. Let’s talk about the Multiverse mode. The mode is basically the same as the Living Towers mode from Mortal Kombat X. At set intervals, new challenges and reward opportunities present themselves. The challenges themselves are varied enough, though they do mostly involve taking down a couple of enemies with some kind of modifier involved. You can even form guilds with up to fifty players and take on your own special multiverse with its own set of trials and loot.
Yes, loot. If you’re not up to speed with Injustice 2, there’s a gear system in play that’s both innovative and engaging. Each story chapter, each Multiverse world, each daily challenge gives you opportunities to earn Mother Boxes. These boxes unlock items of varying rarity that modify the stats of different characters, whether that be a simple health increase to doing more damage to villains in the Multiverse mode.
It’s this loot system that adds another layer of strategy to an already comprehensive title. Say you’re taking on a challenge of high damage villains. Unless you have a loadout that gives you increased health and defense, and the passive ability of doing more damage to bad guys, you might struggle.
Not content with just changing stats, your new gear can also offer new moves, or buffs to existing moves. Batman’s Bat Swarm can be changed to instantly attack your opponent instead of surrounding you, whilst Harley Quinn gets a new move which buffs her attack damage.
Because of the random nature of the Mother Boxes, it’ll be a long time before you discover everything this game has to offer, but anyone who gets frustrated by that very randomness in other games (Overwatch) will find the same problem here. Injustice 2 throws Mother Boxes at you like there’s a sale on, but it’s still infuriating to be grinding as Bane only to unlock Cheetah’s “Destructive Leggings of Fatal Instinct”.
One of the main concerns about Injustice 2 surrounded the gear system, specifically if players could opt out. Players joining in a month’s time might be matched with characters too powerful to overcome, but that issue has been addressed, somewhat. Whilst ranked matches are stat-free, with gear serving a cosmetic purpose only, local and online player matches require both participants to agree to a “competitive mode” match. If your opponent wants to play a level 20 Brainiac, equipped head to toe with Epic gear, there isn’t much you can do.
Hopefully, this is something NetherRealm will address. The ability to matchmake based on competitive preference would be a great start, but it’s a small gripe compared to the overall value presented here. Injustice 2 is quite simply an essential purchase, whether you’re a comic fan or love fighting games, and proof that NetherRealm Studios produce quality and quantity.
With its content-rich Multiverse mode and the boundless possibilities of the gear system, the thrilling Story experience, and the superlative game mechanics under the hood, Injustice 2 proves why NetherRealm are setting the pace for all fighting game developers.