Injustice 2- Cruisin’ and Bruisin’ – The Platinum Review

I loved the original Injustice, and it wasn’t just because it was a game I was good at. It was a game I loved because it came out at a time that I was becoming disinterested in DC, I was getting married and my life was changing forever. So imagine my surprise when Injustice 2 was finally announced. Actually I didn’t care one bit originally. I wasn’t excited for this game because well, it seemed to be so similar to the new Mortal Kombat games. So did I like Injustice 2? Let’s find out!

Story-

Story in a fighting game is like story in porn, I mean it’s just the backstory for the action. In the end all that matters though is that giant finish at the end where one opponent is on the ground gasping for air while the other stands in triumph. Sorry…I didn’t know that metaphor would work out so well. Regardless, most fighting games stories suffer because they aren’t developed enough or they are just there to give the players something to hone their skills. The original Injustice had a great story that introduced these characters in a universe that made sense. Injustice 2…not so much.

(Some Characters existence in the story…is just weird. Trust me on this one)

This is mostly due to the fact that Injustice: Gods Among Us had such a strong story from the beginning. From Joker killing Louis Lane, to Superman killing Joker and eventually raising an army of super “heroes” to “protect” the world. It was an interesting what if story. It was backed up by a comic book (still is) and it was an interesting and inviting world. Injustice 2 suffers from the fact that if you haven’t kept up with the comics or played the previous game, this story seems kind of boring and mundane at points.

It’s also not nearly as interesting. It follows a more comic style approach to its story. Instead of it being focused on the individuals this time around and their thoughts on Justice and what to do with bad guys and society. It follows a much more traditional path of Superman is locked up because he is bad and then Braniac shows up and now they have to unleash the ultimate “evil” weapon on bigger bad guy. It’s not a bad plot device, but compared to the first Injustice, it’s a little lacking.

(YOU’RE HERE!!!! THERE’S NOTHING TO FEAR!!! MY HEART WILL GO ON!!!!)

Personally I loved the plot. I thought it worked out quite well in the end and because there are 2 endings it felt like there was even variety. This variety even takes place on certain chapters in Story mode, with some chapters focusing on two characters and you being able to pick which one you play on certain fights. It adds to some of the plot devices and just the overall feeling of the universe they created. The main bad guy “Braniac” works as a good villain for the enemies to fight, but the biggest problem I have is with the underdeveloped story plots.

In the first chapter it explains how Robin betrays batman in the first game to go and join Superman. It makes it seem like this is going to be a huge plot point, but ends up falling moot. In fact most of the big rivalries or emotional drama that could have been present in the game are pretty much non-existent. It’s not that it’s a bad story or even badly written, I just wanted more. That being said, for most people this story won’t matter one bit. It has to be mentioned though.

(My familial issues never quite rise to this type of fight…..yet)

Presentation-

I love how Injustice 2 looks. I mean honestly it is just a masterpiece when it  comes to presenting a world that is similar to my own, but completely different. From the tubes and pipes of Atlantis to the Animalistic feeling of Gorilla City, everything just fits. Every stage and area that is rendered feels fully realized and like I could adventure out into the map. I want to explore Metropolis and Gotham. I love the theatre in the background of Gotham as Riot Police show up and start to apprehend street thugs.

The world feels fully alive and this is without mentioning what is happening in front of everything else. Every arena feels fully realized, there may be some less realized ones, like the Fortress of Solitude or even Braniacs ship, but they still feel and look great, just not as cool looking as some of the aforementioned levels. The amount of detail that is present here is just phenomenal. From every level feeling as unique as the next, it just looks great.

(Gorilla City is awesome…no level transitions though..)

This is also true of all of the individual characters. With a roster of over 25 fighters it’s no slouch. Every character looks different and I never felt like I was playing the same superman or batman from the original Injustice. Every model has been turned up to 11 on the presentation scale. Batman looks more armored, Superman’s appearance just seems like he is a bad guy now and even new characters like Supergirl or Swamp Thing just mesh into the mix extremely well. This is also very apparent with their abilities.

Things that usually worry me are when two characters have extremely similar abilities. Like Superman and Supergirl. The fortunate fact is that enough love and attention was placed into the characters abilities to make them different. Supergirls abilities are a little more fast paced and she moves faster than superman. Catwoman and Cheetah move at completely different speeds and move in entirely different ways. Even if two characters abilities may seem similar, everything looks different due to the way in which characters move and interact.

(I love the new Bane)

If even want to get down to brass tacks we can discuss the new gear system. I will discuss the controversy in a bit, but I want to say from a presentational aspect it is wonderful. If you are playing against friends or even a random opponent online there is now a difference between the two characters. My Harley Quinn is different from the rest of the Harley Quinns out there. My Supergirl is now actually Power Girl. Everything just feels very unique and allows for you the player to have a unique sense of identity as that hero.

With color pallets that fit each hero/villain and outfits that are pulled straight out of the comics. Everything just looks right. This is also present in the sound design. Kevin Conroy as Batman and even Tara strong as Harley reappear, and some other well-known voice actors, and make it feel like a complete package. The second I heard Kevin Conroy I was instantly enamored with Batman once again.

(It’s pretty cool honestly, if not controversial)

Oh and one last thing to mention. The game is absolutely beautiful and in fact my wife was watching one of the in-game scenes in story mode and Wonder Woman’s wonderful……assets were being displayed. My wife looked to me and said “Did you see her butt? DAMN!!!!” So yeah the game looks great.

Gameplay-

I’m going to break this down into several sub-genres. This is so it makes more sense, because there are a lot of gameplay aspects to talk about, however most of them are really good.

 

Combat-

First and foremost combat here feels fantastic. I’m not a big fan of fighting games in general. I either feel the fighting is way too overcomplicated, or that the fighting is too simple and lacks variety. For example I hate Street Fighter, it’s not a bad fighter, but I have never been able to learn that fighting system. I like the fighting system from Mortal Kombat and even the system from games like Smash Bros and Play Station All Stars, because to me having fun is the first part of the equation.

Things like super moves and meter burns add to the overall fun of the combat. Utilizing simple combos in Injustice 2 is a really easy process to learn. From mastering how to shoot a laser out of Super Girls flashy eyes to learning how to make it a constant beam, it easy to learn, difficult to master. This is partly due in fact to the amount of variety present in every character. The Flash has his special combos and then they can be combined with his power to slow things down.

(Utilizing ever hero’s super power and abilities lead to some fun combos)

This type of flexibility in combat allows for you as a player to experiment with your favorite characters and discover what you like and how you want to play. If you don’t want to be fancy and use meter burn combos you can always wail on an enemy until your super move is ready and then unveil an awesome amount of carnage on your unsuspecting foe. The game gives you options and wants you to figure out how to play. In the same vote though environmental actions still exist and it’s still a little wonky on whether or not everyone will like it.

They won’t win you the match alone and they can be dodged, blocked or even completely useless. It still can give an advantage in player vs. player fight. These can be disabled, but it does exist and it’s worth a mention at the least. That being said combat is as smooth as any Mortal Kombat and you will love the amount of pain you can deal out with Injustice 2’s combat system.

Online/Gear-

My number one worry with games like Injustice 2 is always their online infrastructures. How is Matchmaking? How is the quality of the matches? Am I going to be playing against top-notch players for the next hour? Thankfully I think the matchmaking this time around is much better than the previous entry. When we get to the trophies I’ll talk a little bit more about this. While playing ranked matches I found myself actually winning about half of the matches. I did get in matches where I was clearly outranked and outmatched, but I still gave it my community college try, as the senior took my Supergirl and flushed her glasses down the glasses while pulverizing my body with laser fire.

The fact is…I got beat bad sometimes. It did teach me a few things about characters I hadn’t played or didn’t know very well so it was interesting. That being said the Ranked Matches felt fair, but you did need to understand at least the basics of combat. The online matches/player matches are a mixed bag however. This is because of the gear system. You can turn this off, but I played very few matches where this existed and found it to be more trouble then it should be.

(Gear definitely makes a difference when fighting)

The gear system is great for presentation and entertainment, but the thing it does wrong is that it makes online matches a pain. Gear changes your attributes, strength, ability, defense or even arbitrary percentages. These pieces of gear change your appearance as well and are leveled 1-20. Taking a level 5 Harley versus a level 20 anything is hardly a fair fight. The amount of gear they have can double their health and defense and makes it feel like you are fighting a boss, not an online opponent. I like the gear, but I wish there were no stats attached to them. It feels a little cheap for an online mode.

Ranked mode does not utilize gear at all and puts you both on a level playing field. The gear can be bought with in-game tokens and yes you can buy the credits with real money as well. Personally though I never thought it was intrusive and at a moral level I am against them, but they never negatively affected my gameplay. The online modes all ran extremely well. There is even a King of the Hill game variant which I quite enjoyed. Overall there is plenty to enjoy in Injustice 2’s online modes.

(Everything is fair in Ranked Matches, except your individual skill level)

Multiverse-

One of my favorite parts of Injustice one was the individual scenarios you could play. Sorry I can’t remember the name of it. The part that was cool was that you played fights with certain debuffs and buffs against a variety of enemies and also played some mini-games. That’s gone in Injustice 2, but what is in its place has a lot more longevity and is a blast at the same time. Welcome to the Multiverse.

The multiverse is kind of never-ending, see if you can do this challenge style game. A planet shows up and says there are three enemies on this planet and this is the scenario. So Batman from earth #1157 has gone crazy and let loose all of the villains from Arkham. So you have to fight against them and then on this version of Earth lightning bolts rain from the sky and you have to dodge them while fighting. It all feels diverse and gives some more longevity.

(Multiverse mode adds a lot of longevity to the game)

This is also because there are challenges to complete along the way. Every multiverse world has 3 or more objectives to complete. Some may be just beating a certain challenge, whereas another may be not throwing enemies on that level. These types of challenges just add another level of depth. You are also rewarded items and gear boxes based on your score. You get higher scores by beating the multiverse objectives faster, using super moves and not losing. In a time where you can set a game down and never play it again due to lack of content, Injustice 2’s Multiverse is a great way to add value and interest in the game.

The last part of Multiverse is the battle simulator. This is a kind of Arcade mode, although I wish it was just put in the game as arcade mode. You pick the amount of enemies you want to fight, a fighter and play until you fight Braniac. After you beat him it gives you a little cut scene and story that tells you more about that character and that scenario. It is well done and feels complete. Overall Multiverse is amazing and adds so much more to the game than the original ever did.

(Individual Character endings can be varied….and interesting)

Trophies-

I hate online trophies. I mean honestly they are usually some of the worst designed trophy lists of all times. Injustice 2 though. I dig it. Way to go on making a trophy list that is online for some parts that doesn’t completely suck. Now there are some difficult trophies and some of these are going to take a serious grind, however I do think they are completely worth it. First off you are going to have to beat the story and all of its alternate endings. So expect about 7-9 hours of dedication to the story, but it does help with some other trophies.

Most of the trophies are simply beating an enemy with a certain ability with a certain character. These are even sometimes area specific with hitting enemies into certain items or even inside jokes in the DC/Mortal Kombat universe. Now for the toughies. You have to play 200 matches online and win 50 of them. It’s not too bad, but because of the gear issue, you will probably need to level up your character first. This is actually okay as well because you need to level every character to max level.

(It is a grind, but it’s fun)

You level them up by just using the characters. Playing multiverse also levels them up which is good because you will have to complete 100 multiverse events, which trust me…is a pretty long trophy. You will need to also win 10 ranked matches, which is totally doable. The only 3 trophies which might get annoying and may require you to either boost them with a friend online or require extreme luck/chance are as follows. Defeat an enemy after you are at 10% or less health and they have 90% or more health, Dethrone the King in KoTH with Double trouble as Harley and vote correctly 5 times in King of the Hill.

It’s not a bad list, but expect to be playing it quite a while, especially if you are like me and playing it quite casually.

 

The Verdict-

Injustice 2 is just a phenomenal fighter. It has a wealth of content not only online, but also for single player. It has an extremely varied roster, which could have a few more characters, but is still going to be loved by DC fans and non DC fans alike. It’s fighting is easily accessible but complicated enough that dedicated fans can learn many ins and outs of the system. It may have a few small blemishes, but overall it is an exceptional fighter with an exceptional amount of content as well as great trophy list. I give this my first ever rating of…