By Andy Bartsch, Reporter
NetherRealm Studios returns with it’s followup to 2013‘s Injustice: Gods Among Us with Injustice 2. For fans of fighting games, the game’s a delightful treat. For fans of DC superheroes, there might be a few bitter pills to swallow.
Any gameplay footage you come across is evidence of how good this game looks. The graphics are simply breath-taking. The designs of the characters (and not just the costumes) are very detailed and interesting. The character models are some of the best I’ve seen in any game. Each character has amazing and realistic facial designs that really shine in the game’s cutscenes. For example, Superman’s face is clearly modeled after Henry Cavill, and it might just be me, but the Flash looks an awful like C. Thomas Howell, who ironically voices the Flash villain Captain Cold.
As with the first Injustice, the backgrounds have a beautifully design and are chock-full of Easter eggs for hardcore DC fans. Also, they are interactive. There are objects in the levels you can use to your advantage in a fight, whether it’s using a barrel as a projectile or using a car to vault over your opponent to get out a corner. Of course the best part is when you have you opponent at the end of the screen and a strong punch sends them flying out of the level and into another location, bringing them a world of hurt along the way.
Another way of bringing the pain with the enjoyable but sometimes challenging combo system. A staple of NetherRealm games is the brilliant way to string attacks together with a combination of punches, special moves, and a simple but unique super power button specially designed for each character. For example, Supergirl’s power button is a quick shot of heat vision, similar to Green Arrow’s simple arrow shot, but characters like Superman or Green Lantern can use their powers to make themselves temporarily stronger or more resilient to attacks. Enough successful attacks build up a power meter which if used properly can be used to unleash a devastating Super Move that triggers a mini cutscene that can take almost half of your opponent’s health, or the two combatants can wager in a Clash, where you bet on the amount of power they have in their Power Meters, and the outcome can either restore some health or take damage to whoever wins.
Like with most NetherRealm games, there are unlockables galore in Injustice 2: Metropolis Drift (not actual title), but also like most NetherRealm games, about 90% of it is paid DLC. This means if you wait long enough will be totally free when they release Injustice 2: The Complete Collection in 2018. (You watch, it’ll happen!). However rather than having unlockable skins, one of the game’s main features is the new Gear System, where with every battle you win, you receive new moves, armor, skins, and abilities you can add and customize every character with. The more you fight, the more your favorite character levels up and can equip better Gear as you progress.
Now while Injustice 2: Injustice to the Max (not actual title) is an amazing game and I highly recommend it, I still have a few personal gripes about it, and a lot of it has to deal with the story. With a huge roster of characters and years of source material to create stories from, you’d think this would be a prime opportunity to come up with a new interesting story for a new game. But no, the game follows up where the first one leaves off. Some minor spoilers ahead for Injustice: Gods Among Us, but the game’s been out for a while and the story is something DC fans are all too familiar with.
Rather than start with a new story about the threat of Brainiac, which would be enough to base a DC game around, the game follows the bleak alternate universe the first game set up, where Superman is a dictator and the Justice League has split among themselves.
You’d think a game about brightly colored crime fighters wouldn’t take itself so seriously, but the influences from the DCU films are very hard to miss. From Superman’s super move ripped right from Man of Steel, to Deadshot and Harley Quinn being a playable characters. The most lighthearted moments in the game are when you play as Green Arrow, who seems to be the only one having any fun in this game.
And if you’re a diehard Superman fan like me, you got ripped off, big time. Without spoiling anything, throughout the entire game, Superman is quite possibly the most stubborn jerk who isn’t a rich politician. There are two endings to story mode and as a Superman fan, I was not satisfied at all by either. In fact, I was quite insulted.
Another problem with the game is Ladder Mode. As with most NetherRealm fighting games, Arcade or Tournament Mode is replaced with its trademark Ladder that you climb with every victory. In the single player menu, the ladder is nowhere to be found. Instead, there’s the Multiverse, where new challenges are added every day in order to gain experience and Gear. Rather than calling it Arcade Mode, you have to choose “Battle Simulator” to enter the tournament ladder. I had to search online in order to find that!
On top of that, NetherRealm STILL has a bad habit of having lackluster endings. For their past several games, the endings have been nothing but ominous narration over still images. It feels lazy and unrewarding. Mortal Kombat 4 may have had its problems, but each character had a fully rendered ending with action and excitement.
My other gripe with Injustice 2: Judgement Day (not actual title) is the roster of characters. As I said, I feel Deadshot was only a playable character because of the recent Suicide Squad film and despite the fact the Joker died in the first game, he’s shoehorned in as a playable character. Which is fine, who doesn’t love the Joker? But the design is just weird. He looks like Eric Mabius trying to cosplay as American Eagle Joker. The Scarecrow design is very cool, and the choice to have Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) to play him is brilliant, but it feels silly that he has to gas someone with fear toxin before fighting them.
Granted these are just a few knit-picks. I understand they have to change the roster a little bit, and I do love some of the new characters. I love that Swamp Thing is a playable character as he’s been a personal favorite character of mine. Doctor Fate has a lot of interesting visuals when he fights, too. It’s fun to see a smaller character like Black Canary toss around a huge ape like Gorilla Grodd like it’s nothing.
ComicsOnline gives Injustice 2: Electric Bugaloo (not actual title) 4 out of 5 Twisted Alternate Realities.
Overall the game is great, but the story has it’s problems. So play the game then marathon Justice League Unlimited.
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