Gearing up for a fight.
I really suck at fighting games. Even though I have been playing them since the glory days of arcades, I have never advanced past competent at any one of them. That said, a lot of fighters these days focus on the competition aspect, leaving out people who still want to enjoy the game, but sadly have little content to keep them coming back. Then there is NetherRealm. Injustice 2 follows a lot of the same mold the team has become known for, and adds a brand new gear system to keep players coming back for more. The result is the most feature-rich fighting game ever created.
Injustice 2 picks up the story from the first game. Superman is no longer a boy scout, and Batman is determined to shut him down. This time around, a common threat appears in the form of Brainiac. This forces our heroes to make an uncomfortable alliance to stop the larger problem. The story mode continues the tradition of NetherRealm’s quality. It is goofy at times, but true to the source material. One thing that really stands out though is the performance capture. The facial animations and direction are simply stellar on all fronts.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
The story mode will run most players 5-6 hours, and once again I love that it bounces around, letting players experience a large portion of the cast. Story mode will also unlock Brainiac as a playable character, or he can be unlocked via microtransactions. More on this debacle later.
Once story mode is complete there is still plenty more to keep players interested. The new Multiverse mode works similar to MKX’s towers. There are hourly, daily, and weekly challenges. These range from simple one-off fights to bosses with insane health. The new leveling system scales fights based on four attributes, and equipping gear can sometimes be the difference in a battle.
There is also a Guild system where 50 players can join together to complete daily and weekly challenges. All of these modes award them with Mother Boxes, which are packed with new gear for each of the characters. My Diablo itch is scratched, and I never imagined I would be grinding for loot in a fighting game. Not only does the gear give new abilities and stats, but it also changes a character’s appearance. There is some truly fan-service-y items to be found.
AI Battle Simulator is one of the more interesting new features. This mode allows players to create two AI loadouts of each character. I could equip them with unique gear, or simply copy and paste one of my other loadouts. This mode also allows for customization of the AI’s fighting style. 60 points are divided up among six different traits such as rush downs, combos, and more. These fighters can then be used in any of the single player modes, or set as defenders. Again, all towards the goal of earning more loot boxes packed full of gear.
The gear system is robust. Players can upgrade it to match their level at the cost of a token, which is earned through game play. They can also transform it to take on the visual characteristics of another piece of gear. There are also shaders and premium shaders, which actually serve to bring new characters into the fold. Like I said the game is packed with content and fan service.
The fighting itself will feel familiar to anyone who has played a NetherRealm game. Combos are dialed-in and juggles are all the rage. The presentation is epic though. Watching some of these super moves is fantastic. The showcase the game puts on is impressive, not to mention the visuals are absolutely outstanding. The game supports a rock solid 60fps and even HDR support on both XB1 and PS4. It is also worth noting that each character feels unique, which is extremely hard to do, especially with a roster as large as this one.
Now for the things that really bother me about Injustice 2. First off, there are four types of currency in the game. Thankfully, most of them don’t feel egregious outside of Source Crystals. These can be purchased with real money and can be used to buy premium skins, upgrade characters to level 20, and more; basically things to circumvent time. While the game is packed with content, seeing stuff like this in a full $60 title really rubs me the wrong way. On top of that, Darkseid and Brainiac being purchasable feels rotten. Darkseid was only free for people that pre-ordered the game, meaning if later adopters want to use him, it is going to cost them another $6.
For those that do come to fighting games for the competitive aspect, Injustice 2 has that as well. Online modes are aplenty with the stable returning: versus, ranked, King of the Hill, and more. It is worth noting that the gear aspects and traits are turned off in ranked mode, and players have the option to not use them in player matches, aAlthough both players must agree before it starts. My online sessions were fantastic, which is not common for a fighting game at launch. NetherRealm has refined their net code since the release of MKX and it works beautifully. It doesn’t change the fact that I suck, but at least it works well.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how good this game looks. The character faces in story mode are simply uncanny. The fighting itself moves at a blistering pace without ever missing a beat. Also, one small note that usually goes unnoticed is how polished this game is. Everything from the quickness of the loading and menus, to the easy explanation of how things work really stand out. So much so that the small annoyances stand out even more, like not being able to equip gear from the box opening menu. NetherRealm really took the time to tweak this game to a fine point.
Injustice 2 is a lot more of what I loved about the first game. The gear really adds to the single player aspect. I find myself grinding characters and decking them out with the latest fashion. It is addictive, and will likely keep me playing for months. It is impossible to argue the value they packed into this game. Whether their style of fighting game is up your alley is another story. Injustice 2 won’t suddenly change anyone’s opinion of the developer’s work, but it will thrill fans of it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.