In 2013 Injustice: Gods Among Us was released to massive fanfare. The reasons for this were simple: it was a fun and innovative beat’em up there was an extensive roster of iconic DC characters, but most importantly it had a genuinely thrilling story. The idea of a Superman turning to the dark side and battling a rebellion forged by his greatest friend Batman has been told before but never has it been told with such conviction. At the heart of this game was an emotional core set up by the Tom Taylor comic book of the same name. This all made for an unforgettable experience that won many awards and fans. Four years later and NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have released the highly anticipated sequel Injustice 2.
Four years and Injustice 2 has big shoes to fill, in many people’s opinions (mine included) Injustice: Gods Among Us revolutionised the landscape of what players should expect from beat’em ups. From the choice of playable characters to the exemplary story Injustice: Gods Among Us had a lot going for it especially since the last time fans got a DC style beat’em up from NetherRealm Studios it was the less than stellar Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Now with Injustice 2, there are a lot of expectations going in, can it keep that level of enjoyment in the gameplay? Can it bring anything new to the franchise and most importantly is the story as engaging?
With joy in my heart, I can say that Injustice 2 has the story that fans of Injustice: Gods Among Us are craving for. Watching the fallout of the incredibly intense war between Supermans Regime and Batmans Insurgency play out in Injustice 2 is fascinating. The heroes are still broken, the world is slowly rebuilding, and peace could be on the horizon. Unfortunately, there are elements of unrest in the world there is a third faction being raised, the Society with Captain Cold, Poison Ivy, Bane, Catwoman, Cheetah, and spearheaded by Gorilla Grodd are preparing to take over the remnants of the world. In far off Khandaq Wonder Woman and Black Adam are licking their wounds from their loss at the hands of the Insurgency in the previous game all the while training a newly found Supergirl hoping to use her to free her cousin Superman from his prison. Speaking of Tyrant El, he’s enjoying himself sunbathing at a red sun prison being continually guarded by newcomers Blue Beetle and Firestorm. Now while all this chaos is brewing there is an ominous force off in the darkness of space, and he’s watching intently, waiting for his moment, it is, of course, the terrifying Brainiac.
Injustice 2 once again sets up an intriguing story; it’s a film (someone on YouTube has mixed all the cutscenes together, and it’s awesome). The characters are nuanced, the stakes are high, and the acting is top notch. If there were any issues with the story mode is that it’s not long enough. I felt simultaneously impressed and disappointed at the ending of Injustice 2. I loved the impact of the ending but felt it wasn’t enough because certain characters were left by the wayside as the story progressed. An example of this is when the Reverse Flash shows up for literally no reason other than to f**k with the Flash. Their fight is fantastic and incredibly memorable but then the Reverse Flash is gone only to be seen in one final battle that has no real significance, and he’s not the only character to trip on this issue. Harley has a strong presence at the beginning of the game but then disappears in the latter half, Swamp Thing is never used to his true potential, and neither is Atrocitus, though he also makes a memorable cameo.
On the technical side of Injustice 2, almost every aspect is firing on all cylinders. There are a lot of returning elements: there are environment interactions, clashes between you and your opponent and arena changes that damage your opponent when activated. The graphics are incredible, leaps and bounds above its predecessor. There are some design issues, Supermans new suit has some questionable fashion choices, but apart from that, every texture on every costume shines. I was constantly in awe every time I watched the introductions of every character. On that note each character has their own dialogue with every other character meaning you’ll be treated to lovely little Easter Eggs between characters Atrocitus and Hal Jordan, the Joker and Damian and Doctor Fate and Swamp Thing (these have some of my favourite interactions). On the topic of the characters, the roster of Injustice 2 is decent you have a lot of returning favourites from the first game, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Then you have characters like Swamp Thing, a slow bruiser with an intense green finger, Blue Beetle who’s move set can change between fast but weak attacks to slow but brutal ones. These new characters are great, but unfortunately, some characters feel like simple reskins of old characters. The biggest example of this is Deadshot who moves like Deathstroke so much so that his ultimate attack feels far too familiar.
The newest aspect to Injustice 2 and the most fun part is the gear customisation, customising how your personal superhuman looks are so satisfying. All the gear is level based, so you have to earn the right to wear those cool boots or that impressive headgear and to add more depth and longevity to the experience each character has to be leveled up individually. To gain access to all this DC loot players have to earn Mother Boxes which range from bronze to diamond, and they give all the goodies to deck your favourite heroes and villains in. In my eyes, this means that you will get to know each and every character if you want to complete this game 100%.
As well as the gear element another new addition of Injustice 2 is the Multiverse Mode which is an improved version of the S.T.A.R. Labs mode from the previous game. It pits you against AI characters in unique battles where there are a multitude of different objectives. Unlike the S.T.A.R. Labs mode, however, Multiverse Mode never comes off as padding for the sake of lengthening the game. Multiverse Mode has so much to offer, great rewards and a great challenge for gamers of any level. If there were any major issues, it would be that the game has crashed on me twice, both times at pivotal moments and that was infuriating, on top of that the online matchmaking was slow. I had to wait a while to get into a game, but thankfully when I did, it was a lot of fun.
Injustice 2 is a welcome return to the universe that we fell in love with in Injustice: Gods Among Us. It expanded on everything in the first game while keeping everything we loved. If I’d recommend anything it would be to wait for the game of the year edition because it will be a game of the year, and it’ll be cheaper than buying all the DLC separately because Injustice 2 needs more characters and they are coming, unfortunately in DLC form but if you can’t wait for that I wouldn’t blame you. If you’re looking to beat the GamEir my PSN tag is Burningson, I’ll see you in the Multiverse.