Reviews May 30, 2017

Injustice 2

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Reviewed By: Andre Thomas
System: PS4 (Also on Xbox One)
Genre: Fighting
Rated: T
Players: 1-2 (2-10 Online)
Cost: $59.99
Release Date: 05/16/2017
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: NetherRealm Studios

The great people at NetherRealm have once again, brought us another reason to geek out. Being a huge fan of the original Injustice – no seriously, read my review if you don’t believe me – and having read the comics leading into this game, it’s safe to say that I’m amongst the “geeked”. With that said, Injustice 2 has some stiff competition. Though it’s true that pitting some of the greatest heroes and villains in the DC Universe against one another almost always equals a good time, Tekken 7 is right around the corner. Will Injustice 2 remain in our consoles for the foreseeable future or be promptly replaced when newer fighters drop? Well…you see...

Injustice 2 is the direct follow up to the original game, taking place in a world where Superman stopped being a boy scout and started murdering villains. This was due to the loss of his beloved Lois Lane; the Joker pulled one last cruel act before becoming Supe’s first victim. As the story goes, Superman became judge and jury, ordering his fellow superheroes to go about dispatching villains with extreme prejudice. Of course, this didn’t sit well with Batman. With the ad of heroes from an alternate reality, Bats was able to end Superman’s totalitarian rule. Things didn’t end well though. The onset of Injustice 2’s plot depicts a new supervillain group’s rise to power and the invasion of Brainiac. With Superman out of commission, at least temporarily, Batman and the select few heroes who are still actually heroes, have their hands full.  

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Now I won’t dig too deep into the story because it is absolutely incredible/should be experienced by anyone who has ever followed the DC Comics history. I can’t deny, it takes a lot for me to get used to seeing Superman and Wonder Woman as villains, considering that they are some of the greatest heroes ever created. The line was drawn so deep into the sand, that I thought it would be impossible for NetherRealm to bring back the Justice League (or what’s left of it). That’s of course before the introduction of certain villains.

It makes sense for NetherRealm to add new heroes and villains to Injustice 2. It’s a sequel after all. That said, they’ve tweaked more than just the roster. The new gear system, for instance, addresses an issue I’ve had for a while. Namely the repetitive nature of fighting games for the casual fan. It’s easy for the more hardcore of us to stay entrenched as we learn combos, frame data, and such. We aren’t the only one’s keep this genre alive though; as seen with Capcom’s SFV. Thankfully, NetherRealm has been great with providing extra modes and features that offer a broad appeal while also catering to longtime fans. Like with the implantation of a gear system.  With each fight (regardless of mode) there is the possibility of unlocking new armor for the assorted heroes and villains. Most of them grant some sort of attribute boost; some might provide more health while others allow you to do more damage to certain characters. All of them allow what seems like an endless amount of individuality. With each unique armor piece, you gradually watch your beautifully rendered character transform into nearly a completely new character. Normal Batman vs tricked out Dark Knight counterpart, complete with glowing bat chest piece.

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The previous installment allowed us to unlock full costumes, which was great. I love being able to mix and match my gear to make my character’s look unique though. The added bonus of altering a hero to better adhere to my style of play is well…a bonus. But what is unique is how you can learn new moves by opening loot boxes and leveling your characters to max level. These “mother boxes” are ranked from bronze to platinum and can be unlocked by playing through the game. So, with every sweet costume you come across online, you’ll know that that player put in the time to earn each piece. It’s a way of providing a preverbal carrot on the stick, encouraging players to keep playing.

Adding some RPG elements into a fighter might not seem like a smart idea at first. There’s the issue of balance. NetherRealm made sure to give players options on this front. Whether you want all of the gear to be cosmetic only, offer a slight bump in stats – the game will raise both players base stats to match one another, keeping things close even with active gear – or be able to fully unleash the power of your rarest pieces, you can. There’s also the randomization problem. I can understand why people don’t like loot boxes. Where receiving a gold mother box only nets you common items or decent gear for characters you don’t like. If I had to think of a bright side to this set up, at least, it’s that you aren’t actually spending real money for a randomized box. Microtransactions are present but they are limited to premier skins and shaders; you can’t spend money to boost your stats via gear.

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You may be wondering why I have talked about the moment to moment fighting yet. Well, it’s because the combat is just a good as it ever was. The many combos, super moves, cancels – they all work/feel as they should; it’s more what we’ve seen from the first Injustice and Mortal Kombat, but in a good way. Speaking of feel, one difference between NetherRealm fighters and others is how heavy the characters seem to be while playing. A good comparison would be the Blazblue series, where the fast-paced fights are more akin to cinematic anime fight sequence. With Injustice 2 though, hulking beasts and light-on-their-feet heroes move as such. Playing as Gorilla Grodd is like playing as a real gorilla…who just happens to be a genius with “control” issues.

Even after completing the story mode and battling for hours online, I still can’t get enough of playing this game. My daily routine now includes hitting the gym, going to work, family time, multiverse – a mode that’s similar to the towers offered in MKX. It has become that addictive that it’s almost second nature when I’m home now. I will say, some of the premium skins they allow you to unlock would have been better as their own characters. Learning that John Stewart would be nothing more than a voice over and visual swap for Hal Jordan was a bit frustrating. Not to mention that it would have made sense, based on how the previous story ended, to move away from Hal and give John a shot. A man can dream, right? Injustice 2 also doesn’t benefit from being new. Most of what is here was present in the last game. All of that aside, NetherRealm has set the bar for what fighters can be this generation. Again!

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By having the game ready to play on its release date, forgoing simple features like the ability to spectate matches, it was already positioned well. ahead of the competition. Adding interesting mechanics, a great story, reliable online play and more, easily pushed it ahead of the competition!

Gameplay: 9
It’s more of the same gameplay wise. New elements like the gear system, add to the entertainment. Also, the story mode is a blast.

Graphics: 9
This game is gorgeous for the most part. Some of the characters have this clay-like vibe during close ups though.

Sounds: 9
The banter between characters add another level of comic sweetness to the game.

Replay Value: 10
The fights are awesomely chaotic, there’s gear aplenty and modes like the multiverse. All of which add to endless hours of fun! The multiverse and gear leads to endless hours of fun

Final Score:

9.2