NetherRealm Studios/WB Games
Marvel has long dominated the movie industry, with both representations of solo characters such as The Punisher and Spiderman, or super-teams such as the X-Men and most recently, The Avengers. Meanwhile, the DC comics universe has faltered at the box office with disastrous one-offs of heroes such as Green Lantern, Steel, Supergirl, and Catwoman (Warner Bros. seems to be getting things back on track with their new reboot of the DC universe centered around the Justice League, however).
Conversely, DC has (for the most part) shined with regards to how its heroes are portrayed in the video game industry, which by the way dwarfs the film industry in terms of annual revenue. And NetherRealm Studios is a big part of DC’s careful handling. It didn’t begin that way though, with NetherRealm’s first attempt, an awkward pairing of the DC and Mortal Kombat universes back in 2008 (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe). However, after that first clumsy step, they rebounded with Mortal Kombat 9 in 2011.
Whereas fighting games have never been known for having particularly compelling storylines, Mortal Kombat 9 marked arguably the first time when fighting game fans embraced a backstory. Since NetherRealm had already tried its hand at rendering the DC universe, it only made sense that they’d attempt to develop an all-DC fighting game, and Injustice: Gods Among Us was born in 2013.
Even though Injustice had a spectacular debut on consoles, its PC port was stymied by some issues, including poor optimization and choppy framerates. To NetherRealm’s credit, they released a multitude of patches and updates that addressed any concerns that game had, and the first Injustice still a solid pickup for fans of both the DC universe and fighting game fans in general.
NetherRealm decided to try and one-up itself with a sequel, simply titled Injustice 2. Besides one actual injustice as far as I’m concerned (they killed off the Martial Manhunter, nooooo!) Injustice 2 is just loaded with content that should appease both online fighting game enthusiasts, as well as those who prefer solo play.
Let’s start with Injustice 2’s storyline; just like its predecessor, it’s surprisingly good. The fighting action actually fits naturally within the intriguing narrative, rather than it being the other way around. I’ve always felt that the pre and/or post battle dialogue in other fighting games such as the Street Fighter and Tekken series’, felt stilted and rather hackneyed. That’s far from the case, here.
How the sequence of events unfold feels much more natural, and not just an excuse to line up your next opponents like so many bowling pins. In addition to that, the narrative-based fights adroitly tie-in to the overall plot in some manner. In this sense, you always have the impression of progress which feels a lot more substantial, rather merely than beating your current opponent/level.
The fighting game mechanics of Injustice 2 are a clever combination of being both beginner-friendly, and deep enough to keep the more hardcore types engaged. For instance, I’ve watched fighting game newbies or casuals do their typical button-mashing thing, and since each character’s abilities are so powerful, they actually win their fair share of battles. However, match them up with someone who has invested some time into memorizing the various combos and super powers present within each character’s move set, and they’ll usually emerge victorious. In other words, Injustice 2 has a low-skill point of entry, but a high skill ceiling.
Injustice 2 is also absolutely filled to the gills with content. Sure, you’re find the usual single player mode present, but here the campaign is pretty hefty, clocking in at around five hours or so. That is something that both Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 5 have faltered on, since they each feature shallow and/or short single player modes.
A full-on gear system is also present in Injustice 2, and you can gain all kinds of gear across the game’s bevvy of (both single and multiplayer) modes. Take for instance, the DC Infinite Crisis-inspired Multiverse mode, which features a carousel of different arcade-style challenges. The heightened challenge of this mode ensures that players possessing higher levels of skill can earn the game’s more valuable loot boxes. If you’re a more casual player such as myself, you can always prepare yourself for these higher-tiered challenges by jumping into Injustice 2’s fully-fledged tutorial mode, in order to practice your moves.
As far as graphics are concerned, Injustice 2 has some of the best visuals I’ve seen in a fighting game to date (perhaps only equaled by Tekken 7’s). Not only are the character and battle FX outstanding, but each of the game’s backgrounds are meticulously rendered and full of little details that make them seem like real places. While Tekken 7 offers expanded stages that you can knock your opponent into, Injustice 2 takes this concept a step further. Not only can you blast your foes into different areas (temporarily) by hitting them with your main power move, but you can also permanently knock them into different parts of each stage by hitting them against one side of that stage. This not only changes the pace, but also offers a fun change of scenery.
NetherRealm must have been listening to fighting game fans across the globe who have been complaining about weak single player modes, as well as an overall lack of content with regards to most modern fighting games. Injustice 2 offers so many different single and multiplayer modes, a wide array of challenges (across multiple levels), and an excellent progression system, that it’s almost a daunting prospect to play (in a good way). Completionists should be kept busy for quite some time, while the more casual set will be greeted with an easy to pick-up-and-play, yet hard to master fighting game.
Injustice 2 features outstanding graphics that make its pugilistic gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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