Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Injustice 2 Review (XONE)

NetherRealm keeps its streak of accessible and crowd pleasing fighters alive with the release of Injustice 2. With a huge roster of DC heroes and villains, a deep customization system, extremely polished presentation and, of course, fantastic gameplay, Injustice 2 is a great and fully featured fighter that no fan of the genre, or of DC Comics, should miss. See all of the details here in our full Xbox One Injustice 2 review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive       
  • Developer: NetherRealm
  • ESRB Rating: “T”
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Awesome presentation; great roster of varied characters; solid gameplay; tons of content; cool story mode
  • Cons: Convoluted loot unlock and gear management systems
  • MSRP: $60

Injustice 2 takes place 5-years after the events of the first game that saw Superman going crazy and trying to rule the world with an iron first of misguided justice after the Joker destroyed Metropolis with a nuclear bomb. Superman is in jail now but his friends want to bust him out and continue his brand of peace through tyranny, but Batman and his allies are ever on watch to keep that from happening again. Meanwhile, a powerful new villain appears on Earth that temporarily reunites the two sides against a common enemy.

Injustice 2’s story spans 12 chapters and takes several hours to play through. Each chapter offers a couple of different playable characters and acts as a sort of tour through the cast so you get to dabble in almost all of them just a bit. The cast of nearly 30 characters is incredibly diverse and includes favorites such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, The Flash, and Green Arrow along with lesser known DC characters like Atrocitus, Swamp Thing, and Blue Beetle among many others. Whether you love DC and know all of these characters by heart, or don’t really know a lot of them and think the ones you do recognize kinda suck (… um, yeah, guilty), the sheer volume and variety of characters ensures you’ll find at least a couple you can love.

The most important thing about Injustice 2 is that the overwhelmingly high quality of the fighting gameplay on offer here is more than fun enough to make it worth playing even if you do find a lot of the DC Universe to be bland and uninteresting. And, of course, it’s an absolute treat if you’re already a huge DC fan. The gameplay consists of light, medium, and strong attacks with different directional inputs along with button presses activating new moves. By tapping out buttons in precise orders you can also perform long and devastating combo strings. Each character also has a unique summon or buff activated with the “B” button. And, of course, each character also has a massive super move activated when your super meter is fully charged. These super moves include Batman’s Batwing blasting foes with its cannons, Green Lantern creating a giant mech, or The Flash beating his opponent through different time periods. The super moves are awesome and make a lot more sense than Mortal Kombat’s “Might as well be Fatalities but they’re not” Xray moves since Injustice 2’s roster are all super powered and can withstand the extreme punishment.

If you played the first Injustice or Mortal Kombat 9 or X the gameplay should be pretty familiar to you. I went through the same cycle with Injustice 2 that I did with all of these games where it feels really stiff and limited at first, but once you get into the rhythm of how the game wants you to play the fighting systems are really, really fun and surprisingly intuitive. All of the characters have very unique and distinct moves, too, which also makes the game a ton of fun to play because there will definitely be at least a character or two whose style and moveset you’ll fall in love with. Injustice 2 is a total blast to play.

In addition to the story mode Injustice 2 also offers several other modes. There is local and online multiplayer, of course, as well as a neat new feature called AI Battles. In AI battles you select a team of three fighters, each equipped with any stat boosts or customization you apply to them (more on that below), and then they will fight online against other players’ AI teams. Your AI team can even fight online when you’re not even playing, so you can earn rewards without even doing anything similar to the drivitars in Forza. This way you can reap the benefits of playing online and earn currency and loot boxes even if you aren’t really skilled enough to be competitive yourself.  Another mode is the Multiverse that lets you fight with different random modifiers in each match.

All of these modes contribute to a currency and loot system. Each character has five gear slots, two ability slots, and a custom shader (color) slot, all of which has to be unlocked via random loot boxes or by accomplishing specific tasks. There is a ridiculous amount of gear for each character and, besides being different cosmetically, they all have unique stat boosts that can make that character more powerful. The loot is also level locked, too, so you have to play as each character a lot in order to level them up enough to be able to use the best loot. That is if you actually unlock the best loot, which isn’t guaranteed since it is random and you might not get the pieces you want or even gear for the character you really want it for. I’m not even going to get into breaking down loot you don’t want, upgrading loot you love, or spending real world money to get extra shots at more loot boxes. It’s kind of crazy.

The addition of the random loot boxes and being able to upgrade gear is a bit of a double-edged sword in Injustice 2. It promotes a sense of ownership because you can customize your characters with gear to make them look and play how you like. But it also takes a long, long time to play enough and unlock enough stuff to really get to that point, and that’s just for one character. Forget about extensively customizing the whole cast unless you play Injustice 2 as a full time job. The whole system is unnecessarily complicated and convoluted with too much stuff, too many mechanics, and multiple currency types. It doesn’t really hurt the overall game, though, and if you love the game you’ll surely play enough to be satisfied with it. I love the idea, but the execution is messy.

The presentation in Injustice 2 is extremely polished making it one of the best looking fighting games ever. The characters are intricately detailed and the faces and facial animations are incredibly good. The eyes in particular, something a lot of games mess up, look fantastic. I will say that the fighting animation is a little stiff and moves don’t necessarily flow together smoothly, but when everything is accompanied with so many special effects and particles you don’t notice the animation as much. The stages look great, too, and the lighting is excellent whether you’re fighting in Arkham Asylum or in Atlantis. The sound is great as well with a ton of voice work from a very talented cast and a solid musical score.

All in all, Injustice 2 is a pretty outstanding fighting game all around. It has a ton of content, a great cast with varied fighting styles, gorgeous presentation, and simple but satisfying fighting mechanics that make it fun and accessible for players of all skill levels. I don’t even really like DC Comics, at all, and I had a great time with Injustice 2 so die-hard fans will surely go nuts over everything the game has to offer. If you’re a fighting game fan, Injustice 2 is a must buy.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.