I will start this review with a full disclaimer – normally, fighting games are not my cup of tea. It has nothing to do with the violence or anything like that, but mainly because of the following few reasons: I get bored with them fairly quickly; I’m a sucker for a good story which is often something many fighting games lack; I often get frustrated at the sheer amount of stupid button configurations needed in order to pull off the best moves. Now many among you will be thinking “what’s this idiot doing throwing the best part of £50 down on a game that he is already expecting to dislike?” You would be right to have such thoughts, and probably not far off on the idiot part too, but let me tell you, Injustice 2 nearly had me converted. Nearly.
Still with me? Good, because Injustice 2 is a solid game with a ton of content to keep even the most flighty among you entertained. Throw in the fact that the roster is a who’s who of the DC comic universe, and you have a certified fan-boy wet dream on your hands – and that comes from someone who, as you all now know, is a self-confessed button basher.
Following on from the events of Injustice: Gods Among Us (surprisingly the last fighting game I played, which was also a major contributing factor in me picking up this one), the world is still reeling from Superman’s heel turn after The Joker [SPOILER] made him see red and kill Lois Lane [END SPOILER] and Batman’s efforts to repair some of the damage caused both figuratively and literally during the events of the first game. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t played that one, as Injustice 2 doesn’t dwell too much on what has gone before, instead thrusting you into a brand new tale.
The game starts during the fall of Krypton at the hands of Brainiac, with Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl, making her escape amidst the chaos and destruction. Starting in such a adrenaline-fuelled fashion is not a large surprise for a game that features DC comic book characters so prominently, and from here it doesn’t let up. The story is superb, and does a great job of introducing new characters and locales in a way that doesn’t feel overly contrived or tenuous. You take control of Batman during the game’s opening beats, but throughout the course of the 6 – 8 hour campaign you will have thrown down as Green Arrow, Flash, and Superman fighting in Metropolis or Gotham or even Gorilla City to name but a few – also returning are the transitions that occur when you send an opponent crashing off-screen using a heavy attack, which causes an animated scene to play out as they bash off scenery like a pinball doing a fair amount of damage in the process.
Playing through the campaign is a good place to start too, as no longer is blocking and spamming heavy attack a reliable option. Counters, recoveries and meter-burns are all terms I was introduced to in the first five minutes, and after half an hour I felt like a legit bad-ass. The storyline was ticking a lot of the right boxes for me, and I did find the combat enjoyable enough to the point that I was starting to pick up how to pull off various combos on a whim which did make my fights much more enjoyable to participate in – so much so that I decided to take myself online and give that side of the game a bash, which only served to bring me straight back down to earth I got my arse well and truly kicked.
This is the other side to Injustice 2, as besides the meaty campaign there is a huge amount of content to gorge on, and I don’t just mean online multiplayer either. Each match you play gains experience, unlocking the usual assortment of banners and badges to customise your online presence, levelling up individual characters as you play and your overall Injustice 2 profile. Not only that but each of the base characters can be upgraded with gear that has an impact on their appearance, attributes and abilities when equipped. This gear can be found in loot boxes which can be unlocked by hitting various milestones within the campaign, or by competing in Multiverse battles which are a sort of tournament mode where you battle through a certain amount of enemies to receive your reward and extra experience depending on the difficulty of the fight, with the amount available changing hourly.
This brings a whole RPG element to Injustice 2, and I was surprised at how quickly I was flicking between menus to check how my characters were doing, or to open more boxes to see what gear I had collected to help me on my way. As well as this there is the obligatory online mode, but as a man who knows my limitations I stayed pretty clear of this for the first couple of hours after losing to someone online playing as Deadshot, whose sole tactic involved him sitting at the far end of the screen and spamming Deadshot’s Wrist Cannon to effectively keep me out of arms reach while sapping away at my health bar. After rage quitting, shutting down the PS4, looking online for tips, realising this was a slimy tactic that had a few folk shouting in online message boards, feeling better about myself and finally calming down and returning did I then enjoy a few online fights, to my genuine surprise as this is normally where my attention wanes when playing fighting games as there is only so much virtual punishment I can take. I found I would play a few online, unlock some gear, equip it and then fight some more, but the real attraction to me was the sheer amount of content available offline, and it was this that kept me coming back to Injustice 2 once the main storyline had been bested.
So let’s return to my main reservations about fighting games, starting with the first – I get bored easily. Well this is true, but so far Injustice 2 has kept me enthralled through the main storyline, and I’m currently visiting a number of worlds via the Multiverse in order to further level up Catwoman, having done so already with Batman, and hoping that I can finally acquire her Cat Call ability via a loot box to unlock a trophy. As well as doing that I did replay some of the storyline’s chapters in order to see the alternate ending, which added another hour or so to my playtime. As for point 2, story, Injustice 2 features a lengthy campaign that includes numerous DC characters, and all are represented in a way that kept me interested even if I did guess how a few things would turn out having either been sign posted earlier or just because I’ve read enough comic books to allow me some insight.
Even with that in mind, the story did end with enough clout to leave me feeling entertained by the time the final credits rolled. And the combos? At times, Injustice 2 did have me playing using the d-pad, and there were plenty of times I was sure I had hit a certain button combination in the right order only to have my character flail about like a drunken toddler with a full nappy, but by and large I was able to master some of the trickier moves and pull them off when I wanted to. This precision all went out the window the minute I went online however, and I must confess that at times I did resort to button bashing – old habits die hard and all that. Sure, with time I dare say I could pull this in a touch and make my fights more fluid, with well thought out combos and calculated counters, but right now they look rather one-sided, with me often on the losing one, which does get a little frustrating at times. This is neither here nor there, as Injustice 2 does have enough in the way of content that I could ignore the online mode entirely and not feel like I was missing out, bar the obvious trophies tied to online wins, as most content can be unlocked and attained through other means.
So is Injustice worth your hard-earned money? As someone who doesn’t normally go for this genre of game I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did enjoy it. Injustice 2 get’s a lot of things right, and in my humble opinion is one of the best fighting games this generation. Fighting aficionado’s are sure to find a lot to love, as will newbies to the genre or folk like me who don’t often give fighting games a second glance. An interesting story, satisfying combat and a stack of content with the promise of more to come, Injustice 2 might make a fighting game convert of me yet.
Injustice 2 PS4 Review
Injustice 2 does more of what made the first Injustice so popular - a meaty campaign, satisfying combat and a stack of extra content with the promise of more to come means that Injustice 2 is a fighting game that appeals to pros and newcomers alike.
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*Reviewed on a standard PS4