Definitive fighting game of this gen
Injustice 2 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is the most robust, well-rounded fighting game I’ve ever played. Not only does it have extensive single-player and multiplayer modes, but hands-down has the best campaign of any fighting game. There’s so much excellent content to explore here, it practically boggles the mind.
If you’re not familiar with Injustice, this fighting series pits iconic DC Universe superheroes and villains against one another. From Wonder Woman, to Batman, to the Joker, there’s no shortage of familiar faces you’ll find in this acclaimed franchise. As for who’s behind the game, that would be NetherRealm, the world-renowned studio led by Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon. Their most recent hits include 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us and 2015’s Mortal Kombat X.
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
The Injustice story continues
Injustice 2 picks up five years after the dramatic events of the previous game. While the previous story had us hopping between alternate realities, this one takes place entirely in the dystopian universe. In it, Batman is now attempting to bring order to world following the collapse of Superman’s regime.
What’s neat is we get to see the fallout, including former regime members attempting to put the past behind them. However, some Superman allies remain loyal and are scheming to break their leader out of his red sun jail cell.
While all of this is going on, a larger, graver threat looms on the horizon. Gorilla Grodd has assembled a new supervillain group called “The Society,” a nod to DC’s Secret Society of Super Villains. This powerful new team consists of well-known baddies like Bane, Cheetah, Poison Ivy, Deadshot, and Scarecrow. As bad as all this sounds for Batman, unfortunately that’s not even the worst news.
You see, looming on the horizon is something far more sinister: Brainiac. He’s come to Earth to add it to his collection of shrunken worlds, and wants Superman while he’s at it. With multiple crises happening all around him, Batman starts gathering his allies to save the planet before it’s too late.
An epic campaign
Injustice 2‘s lengthy 4-5 hour campaign features 12 chapters with each one focusing on 1-2 playable characters. To accommodate all skills levels, you can choose from five difficulty setting, ranging from Very Easy to Very Hard.
When starting out, I highly recommend the story as your first destination as it’s an excellent primer for the game. You’ll get a chance to try out the new characters, as well as see what’s changed with your returning favourites. Additionally, you’ll score plenty of “Gear” to power-up your roster of heroes and villains—more on that in a minute.
For extra replay value, at key moments during the campaign you’ll choose who to play as between two characters. Whoever you decide upon, you’ll control in the next big battle scene. This branching aspect gives you a more personalize story, and incentives you to replay chapters to see the other side. The game also includes two entirely different endings, so make your decisions wisely!
Graphically, the cutscenes are exceptional, and certainly a huge leap forward from the previous game. The voice acting is also spot on and brings the more than two dozen characters involved to life. What’s most impressive though is the transition between cinematics and gameplay—it’s seamless and very cool looking. You’ll watch as the camera sweeps around a fully 3D scenes into the 2D-perspective used with fighting. Other series have experimented with similar transition effects before (e.g. Metal Gear) but Injustice 2 is the most convincing.
Massive roster to play as
There are 28 playable characters to select from right out of the gate, and 10 more coming as paid DLC. The starting roster includes 15 new characters, along with 13 from the previous game who all have altered movesets.
Naturally, returning favourites include icons like Batman, Catwoman, Flash, Harley Quinn, Superman, and Wonder Woman. As for the new characters, we have a great mix of popular and lesser-known ones. These range from Scarecrow, to Poison Ivy, to Atrocitus, to my personal favourite, Swamp Thing. It’s a deep, superb roster that contains a good mix of hand-to-hand fighters, tank-ish brutes, and mystical beings.
A wealth of game modes
As touched upon earlier, Injustice 2 is absolutely packed with game modes. On top of the story mode, other single-player modes include Single Fight, Practice, Tutorial, and The Multiverse. The last one is the most interesting and is modeled after Mortal Kombat X‘s Living Towers mode. Multiverse offers rotating challenges to complete, each with a time limit be it hours or days.
While exploring the Multiverse, I was happy to discover the Battle Simulator area that functions like an Arcade Mode. You have your choice of taking on towers that range from easy to hard, with vary numbers of A.I. opponents. The best part is characters have their own unique ending, giving you incentive to replay the mode multiple times over.
Moving on to local multiplayer modes, you can have standard 1v1 Versus matches or set up Tournaments. Furthermore, there’s an addictive A.I. Battle Simulator mode where you create teams and have the CPU duke it out. Using the Simulator, you challenge your friends’ teams to see who picked the best combination of heroes and Gear. You can even earn XP for your characters after the automated battle, which I thought was pretty cool.
Last but certainly not least, Injustice 2 offers online play including Ranked, Unranked, and King of the Hill. Ranked assigns you a score that can go up or down depending on the outcome of matches, while Unranked is where you can play for fun. King of the Hill is a winner-goes-on type mode where players try to dethrone the king. A neat aspect of this mode is you can spectate when it’s not your turn, giving you valuable intel on your opponent.
Get in gear
Of course the big standout feature this time around is Injustice 2‘s RPG-style Gear and progression system. As you participate in battles you’ll gain gear loot, and in-game currency to purchase even more. The gear comes in five categories: head, arms, torso, legs, and a character-specific accessory. Equipping gear will alter your character’s stats, be it their Strength, Defense, HP, or Ability (special move power).
Not only can you significantly improve your characters’ stats, but gear also modifies the way your heroes look. Thus there are performance and cosmetic considerations to think about when customizing your heroes. Furthermore, you can also unlock new abilities for your heroes, and find shaders to adjust their colours. There are dozens and dozens of individual gear pieces for every character, but keep in mind loot drops are randomized. That means it can take time to find the perfect gear for that one character you really like. Overall though, I had a blast finding and equipping new gear, and it’s a major incentive to play often.
Injustice 2 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is my favourite fighting game so far this console generation. The roster is huge and excellent, there are so many different modes included, and the gameplay just feels right. Without a doubt it also has the best single-player story mode I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. The original Injustice was stellar, and with the sequel NetherRealm has set their already high bar a few notches higher.
+ Rich story full of twists and turns
+ Vastly improved graphics
+ Exciting roster of heroes and villains
+ Excellent new Gear system
+ Huge quantity of game modes
– May need to grind to get the Gear piece(s) you want
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5