Injustice 2 Review: Redefining Fighting Games

In 2013, NetherRealm studio gave me the amazing gift that I always wanted as a comic book fanboy. I got to beat the crap out of Superman with Nightwing, my favorite comic book hero. It was a compelling story, and the fighting mechanics were a great iteration from the Mortal Kombat developer. So of course, I was incredibly excited when we found out that there was a sequel in the works. However, I didn’t think it was possible for them to up their game to the point of surpassing the original. Well, I was utterly, emphatically wrong. Because Injustice 2 is a superior game to it’s predecessor.

The narrative takes place a short time after the events of the first game which shows us that Superman has been placed in prison, with some other notable characters, and Batman has been bringing law and order to Gotham. The first game was all about the never ending argument of killing criminals, and whether doing that allows you to still call yourself a hero. It was a great concept to build a narrative around, and NetherRealm knocked it out of the park with its execution. Teams were formed and lines were drawn, so it’s no surprise to find out that things are still not great between our heroes. This game’s narrative still attacks that core concept of when is it ok to kill in order to save lives, but it also gives characters from the previous game an opportunity to redeem themselves for their actions.

However, the big the bulk of this game’s story takes place surrounding Kara El aka Supergirl, and her history with the infamous villain Braniac. He arrives to destroy the earth which sends our heroes, no matter which side they are on, to join forces to save the planet. The story goes some places that, for me as a comic book fan, I really enjoyed to see them explore. There’s also some great moments showing us that not all of these heroes have turned to the dark side, and some of them have realized that they were wrong from the previous game. The game is also able to provide such a strong story because of the fantastic voice work by the actors. I have to give a special shout-out to Laura Bailey who dominates it as Supergirl, and there’s a certain moment of dialogue that really gave me goosebumps, which you would never expect from a fighting game’s narrative. Speaking of Supergirl, the roster in this game is fantastic. I never thought I wanted to see Blue Beetle, Doctor Fate, and Atrocitus on a roster, but now, I want them to always be on the roster because they add so much to this game. The rest of the new additions are fantastic as well. There’s always characters that I want to have, but I am really happy with what we are given.

The game’s mechanics haven’t really changed too much from before. They have seemed to make the combos a tad easier for new players who just want to enjoy their favorite superhero battle. The core buttons still total to about four, but there are plenty of reasons to use the other buttons on the controller if you so choose. The combos are also different from the previous game, so don’t worry everyone, you won’t see the exact same move set from before. The ultimates are still easy to perform with a well timed two button press. I will say that this time around, it does seem that you need to be a bit more patient when you decide to perform your ultimate though. Last game, I did find it kind of easy to land them as long as your opponent didn’t intentionally block it. This game, you need to time it well enough, and you need to make sure your opponent is in the right position. Example: Aquaman’s ultimate requires your foe to be standing up right within range of his trident strike, but Supergirl needs you to be close enough for her to land an uppercut. The game is simplistic enough for anyone to pick it up and play it, but it definitely has the timing and mechanics for pro players to still feel the challenge from the games that NetherRealm has become accustomed to making.

There are plenty of things for a player to do in this game if they just want to keep it a single player experience. Whether it is the story mode, which offers two endings by the way, or its the practice room to perfect your combos. But this year’s newest addition is the Multiverse. The Multiverse is essentially the same game mode as the previous game, Star Labs, where the player will achieve daily or even weekly challenges to better your skills or get plenty of in game currency. Whether its time based battles or matches that include modifiers, its a fun mode to explore if you just want to play by yourself. I had a match early on that included health packs constantly dropping within the match, and I found myself stressed more about getting the hearts than defeating my opponent. The tension was organic and a blast to play. It’s also a great nod to DC comic book fans because the Multiverse is a device constantly used in the comics, so its really just a fun new mode for players to enjoy. The multiplayer aspect of the game is still a ton of fun. Whether you are playing your friends in couch coop, or you are playing people online, there is plenty for the hardcore fighting fan to do when you want to play against someone. They have added guilds to this year’s game which is a great way to build a social experience for gamers. That guild can play against one another, or they can play against other guilds in order to build rank or get really cool loot.

Now for the coolest new aspect of the game: The gear. NetherRealm took a play from Activision’s playbook, and they have offered players the ability to build yourself the armor of your dreams for every hero or villain in the game. Have you ever wanted to give Aquaman amazing red and blue armor? Yeah, me too. So, it was awesome to have beaten the game, and I receive several pieces of Aquaman armor to make him look incredible. You can collect gear through the many game modes, guilds, or just beating the story. They offer loot boxes for you to try and collect too that holds gear whether it is common, rare, or epic (the typical gear norms). The gear also has stat buffs that truly allows you do build the character that you always wanted. There’s plenty of diversity in choices for how you build your armor set, and they really offer the player the chance to just have fun creating what you really want.

Injustice 2 is a great addition to what I hope will be a continuing series for NetherRealm. It accomplishes in everything that they try to achieve, and they offer something to all fans of the DC universe or just fans of fighters. This game has given me some of the most fun that I’ve had with a fighting game, and I believe that will hold true with most fans of this series. The narrative strikes a wonderful chord, and the character list offers diversity and fun gameplay for all challengers. I hope this game can bring a bit of joy to your gaming life because for me, this is one of the best fighting games ever made.

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Robby Steltenpohl

Robby is a co-host of The Gaming Outsider and a contributing writer. He's a published author, sports nut, and huge Star Wars fan. Also, Robby believes that the Bioshock series is the greatest written video game series of all time.