The premiere DC Comics fighting game is back for more multiversal mayhem. How does the new game hold up against the original?
Pretty well, actually.
Released in 2013, Injustice: Gods Among Us took players to a parallel Earth, where The Joker tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane. Distraught, Superman killed the Joker and went on to install a totalitarian regime on the planet, being defeated only by a combined effort from the Batmen of two worlds.
The story mode in the first game was fun and expansive, and INJUSTICE 2 had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, developer NetherRealm was up to the challenge. Between the Injustice and Mortal Kombat series, they’ve produced some of the best fighting game storylines ever.
Here, we are back on the Earth where Superman took over, dealing with the repercussions of Batman taking him down. When the story opens Flash and Green Lantern are looking for redemption, while Wonder Woman and Black Adam are biding their time to break Superman out of his prison, with the newly-arrived Supergirl as their secret weapon. Everything goes to hell, though, when Brainiac – my favorite Superman villain! – comes to Earth looking to collect the two remaining Kryptonians and blow up the rest of the planet.
It’s a common foe, which gives the former friends a reason to join forces.
Once again, the story mode is a great reason to pick up the game, as chapters alternate between different characters trying to defeat the Society, a group of supervillains organized by Brainiac to help him with his goals. The voice acting is top notch and the character designs during the cinematics have been upgraded significantly from the first game.
But the real draw is the fighting. The game play for Injustice 2 is as easy to pick up as the last game was, with simple combos and special moves that anyone can pull off. All the best parts of the first game are still here: stage interactions; the transitions between stages; the special moves that cause a mini movie within the fight, all with little nods to the greater DC Comics universe. Long time fans get to say, “Hey! I know where that’s from!” while newcomers can still awe at the beauty of the screens.
In addition to the new story, NetherRealm keeps things fresh by introducing new playable characters and cycling out some of the old ones. Sadly, some of my favorites from the last go round, like Sinestro, Shazam, Hawkgirl and Doomsday are out, but we get a whole new cast of characters for the sequel.
Added to Injustice 2’s impressive roster are Supergirl (who makes one of the game’s 3 covers), Darkseid (as a preorder bonus), Red Lantern Atrocitus, big bad Brainiac (not playable until you beat story mode), Firestorm, Blue Beetle and Gorilla Grodd, to name just a few.
My favorite character so far, hands down, is one of the new class.
Black Canary‘s fighting style is so smooth and easy to play that I feel like I can use her to beat everyone without taking much of any damage. The runner-up for favorite player is Canary’s partner, Green Arrow, who was one of my favorite characters to play in the original game as well.
Once again, Batman and his ilk dominate the roster, with Bane, Canary, Catwoman, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Joker, Poison Ivy, Robin and Scarecrow all on the roster, with more to come (more on that later). That means that 10 of the 28 non-DLC roster spots have a connection to Batman in one way or another. With all the characters in the DCU, that’s way too many Gotham City residents.
STAR Labs missions from the first game have been taken out as well, replaced by the character customizer, along you to switch out each characters’ armor for upgrades that give better stats and new looks. You can even change up color schemes, as long as you collect enough Mother Boxes to gather each piece (as long as you don’t just buy them with the currency you build up). You want the Scarlett Speedster to be green? Or how about an all-white Green Lantern? It’s all possible.
Unfortunately, the skins available so far DO NOT include versions of Green Arrow, Supergirl, Flash, Firestorm or Black Canary using their CW TV show counterparts, like they did with ARROW for the first game.
Injustice 2’s version of the Battle Mode is the Multiverse, which allows players to fight different versions of the roster with modifiers to adjust the gameplay. Each world in the multiverse is only available for a limited time, which forces players to jump on certain worlds to get their bonuses. In the first week, though, I’m not getting any of my characters near a level 20 requirement, so I – and many others – may miss out on some of those bonuses until they show up again later on.
I have a lot of praise to heap on Injustice 2 – everything I’ve experienced with the game has been a lot of fun so far. But it falls victim to one of the worst crimes a game can commit in the modern age: charging more for DLC. I admit, I fell for it. I bought the Ultimate Edition of the game for $99.99 to guarantee I got the available skins, character shades and the nine upcoming downloadable characters.
The first three announced characters are Starfire, former Robin Red Hood (Jason Todd) and Mortal Kombat’s Sub-Zero. I honestly couldn’t care less about more MK characters, but as the lightened version of the preview image above indicates, Raiden is probably one of the upcoming DLC characters. My guess is Aquaman villain Black Manta, Grodd foe Solivar and assassin Lady Shiva (because you can never have enough Bat-related characters) are three of the others, but we’ll have to wait on those announcements.
Personally, I’m hoping Booster Gold or Elongated Man get a nod, but I’m not holding my breath…
More content is always a good thing, and the new characters and skins are clearly bonus material – meaning that the game is complete in the box if you want to opt for the basic edition – but the price tag continues to feel a little steep for the extras. Warner Bros. officials have noted, though, that they were going to be more aggressive with DLC this time around, because of how popular the DLC for the first game was. So, if you have a problem with the practice, we really have no one to blame but ourselves.
I’m happy with my purchase. The game has been fun and, once I finish the story mode, will likely still provide me hours of entertainment, even without the upcoming new DLC characters. The complete package may be a bit of an investment, but it offers a quality return and is worth every penny.
If you liked Injustice: Gods Among Us or the last two Mortal Kombat games, INJUSTICE 2 won’t disappoint. If you’re a DC Comics fan, the game is almost a must-own.