There was more going for Injustice: Gods Among Us than just being a good fighting game, with its wide roster of DC characters giving it a certain mass market appeal. Instead of retreading classic stories from comics, TV shows and movies, NetherRealm created their own tale within DC’s universe. It’s these foundations that Injustice 2 builds upon.
Injustice 2’s plot carries on in the fallout from the first game, but if you’ve not played the original you can get a general idea of what happened. Order has been restored as the characters of that game have had to deal with the consequences of their actions, but it’s all torn apart once more as Braniac turns up to wreak all sorts of havoc.
The story has three main sides with Batman’s allies, Superman’s old regime, and Gorilla Grodd’s Society all having their own plans for dealing with Brainiac. The cast of characters has also expanded to include the likes of Black Canary, Supergirl, the aforementioned Grodd, Captain Cold, and a host of others that are split across these three main party lines.
Without going into too much detail, the story is well written and the acting is of the highest quality. It’s really enhanced with sublime character animations during cutscenes and facial animation that is some of the best in the industry. Netherealm have had time to tinker in that department for a while thanks to the recent Mortal Kombat games and the first Injustice, but here the character faces feels like a step into uncanny valley. The story itself is split into twelve chapters with the mode taking around five hours to complete, and it is enjoyable throughout.
The single player content doesn’t end there, thanks to the Multiverse. This mode has new worlds popping up each day with their own fight stacks to tackle, as well as modifiers for each of them. In one world Gorilla Grodd could be called in to assist, while in another balls of ice would fall from the sky to freeze anyone touched by them. The Multiverse could easily keep you occupied for months after completing the story, and one of those reasons is the search for gear.
Gear is something of a contentious issue for Injustice 2. Sure you can do basic customisation for characters in other fighters thanks to alternate costumes, but for those costume changes to also alter some of their stats? That is what gear in Injustice 2 allows you to do and it can be earned through the Multiverse, in the story, and through playing online. Gear can alter a characters strength, defence, agility and ability as well as the way a character looks. It does have to meet a character’s level to be equipped, though you can recycle an item to meet a current level if you like the look of it.
The gear system is one that has a lot of depth to it and what you equip will depend on the kind of builds your going for. You can play around with a few options for each character as you can create different loadouts to use in fights. My Batman, below, has some decent agility which I may continue to build upon, while others may focus on strength or defence. It all depends on the kind of gear that you’re rewarded with.
Of course, the main concern for a game like Injustice 2 is the fighting. Playing on the standard PS4 the action feels smooth and it looks really good. Each person will have their own favourite characters to use – I gravitate towards Bane, Supergirl, Catwoman, Blue Beetle, Black Canary and Batman – while there will be others that fall by the wayside, but each character has a moveset that compliments their abilities almost perfectly. There can be times though that you can get caught being juggled in a corner by an opponent, both AI and human, which can be a little frustrating, but for the most part the action feels fresh and you never quite know how things will play out.
You can’t expect to go all out with punches, kicks, and powers, as blocking is just as important in the quest for victory. Standard attacks can be enhanced slightly by burning some of the ability meter, but this will in turn affect whether you can pull off the character’s supermove as well as chances in a Clash. In Clash you gamble on how much of your ability meter you use to counter an opponent, with this rewarding you with more health or dishing out damage.
When it comes to supermoves you need to learn the position your character needs to be in for it to take affect, otherwise you can simply keep on dreaming. At the same time, that knowledge will allow you to either quickly move or block an incoming supermove. You also have the option of using the environment to your favour. Characters with high strength can throw pieces of scenery at opponents to cause damage, while the more nimble characters can use those same items as springboards to get out of harm’s way.
There’s plenty to do online, as you can enter rooms and challenge others to fight, take part in King of the Hill tournaments, go for quick ranked matches to switch opponents constantly, or do a player match that will pair you with someone else who you can fight as many times as both parties wish. You can also join Guilds which offer more rewards and open up new challenges that guild members have to complete together.
While the netcode holds up really well with only very minor lag, there can be a little bit of a wait finding an opponent in ranked or player match modes. What is also interesting to see are the odds of winning percentage before each fight, comparing your record against that of your opponent. It lets you gauge whether you have a shot or whether you’re in for a beatdown.
Injustice 2 has built upon the original in every way and then added a whole host of content on top, setting a new standard for fighting games. The gear system alone adds a ton of depth allowing players to experiment with different builds for characters, and that keeps you coming back to the Multiverse or playing online. Injustice 2 has so much content to play around with, and if you enjoy fighting games or the DC Universe in general then this comes highly recommended.
Version tested: PlayStation 4