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Injustice 2 Review

August 3rd, 2017 by

Injustice 2 001“Can we cram anymore in?” That seems to be the question that was at the forefront of Neatherealms Studios development offices when it came to Injustice 2. This element has to be deemed a success because, quite frankly, I have never seen so much content in a fighting game. This is a huge accolade to pin to a game and with this in mind you could say that Injustice 2 is the greatest fighting game of all time.

However we live in a world where fighting games are judged mainly by their gameplay and mechanics above everything else and at times this is Injustice 2’s kryptonite. The single player content however will make you start wondering if a fighting game focussed away from multiplayer action can be a hit.

Set five years after Injustice: Gods Among Us Superman is in jail, half the Justice League is dead and the other half are either conflicted, grieving or trying to restore a balance to Gotham and Metropolis. In all the confusion Gorilla Grodd has risen to power and the presence of Superman has drawn Brainiac to the world in order to study a kryptonions biology under a yellow sun. Can Batman and Superman work together to save the world or will Batman’s moral compass and Superman’s unlimited power be the greatest threat to planet Earth?

Injustice 2’s strength is in its storytelling and quite simply this story is amazing. Neatherealm went to great lengths to secure many of the voice actors from the classic DC Justice League animated series so it often feels like an episode of that but with the darkness turned up to 11.

Everything in the single player story mode is polished to the max. The facial animation is some of the best seen in video games; Full Stop – without the need for an emergency patch two weeks after release. The pacing is perfect and the cinematic interludes blend into the fighting action seamlessly. There are even branching moments depending on who you fight with and two separate endings – one of which sets everything up nicely for Injustice 3.

Once you have saved the world then a good next stop is The Multiverse. Fans of DC comics – and The Flash TV Series – will be well accustomed to the Multiverse. The multiverse is a theory that every action that is taken creates a new world with the action you didn’t take resulting in a similar but ever so slightly different world (still with me?). The worlds are easily named Earth-001, Earth-002 etc.

The changes could be simply that someone hasn’t developed a power that they are known for on Earth-001 on any other world or could be someone who is dead on Earth-001 hasn’t taken their last breath elsewhere or someone completely different being the known superhero.

In the world of Injustice 2, the Multiverse is a daily changing, single player challenge mode battling a gauntlet of enemies with special conditions. It might be simply that the lights keep flickering, you may have to complete a series of fights without being healed inbetween or you may find charcters transforming before your eyes (Robin into Nightwing being the obvious example).

That’s not all though. Injustice 2 also has daily challenges, a guild mode which sees you taking on huge raid-like tasks as well as arcade modes which feature even more beautifully crafted story scenarios. You will be playing for days, maybe weeks before you actually realise that you haven’t even highlighted the core multiplayer elements on the menu let alone started them.

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Each time you fight you receive a ton of rewards ranging from different types of in game currency, loot boxes, shaders and XP. These elements make up the “Gear” system. Gear affects the way your character looks as well boosting stats so you can tailor the character to suit your playstyle. Some of these boosts can be massive and if you don’t believe me; go and wear level 1 gear and fight someone with level 20 gear – it’s akin to taking on a Dark Souls mini boss with a water squirter whilst wearing nothing more than a pair of (Midlife Gamer branded) speedos.

Of course you have to be the right level for the gear you want to use – level 4 Batman cannot use a level 16 batarang – this means you need to grind that XP and although completing the mina story will be enough to get most characters to level 3, superman to level 6 and Batman to level 9 you will want to spend the time inn getting all of the characters to level 20 in order to maximise your gear usage.

One of the issues I did have with this system is that levelling up invalidates the gear you have received. Receive a lootbox at level 3 and you will only get level 3 gear meaning that Rare or Epic loot becomes almost useless in a few fights unless you spend regeneration tokens to regenerate said gear at your current level, however this actually randomises the gears stats to an extent and that great piece of gear may have no use on your now current build.

The second issue I had was that these pieces of Gear can dramatically alter your characters appearance which more often than not gives you that classic RPG feel of having great stats but looking like you got dressed in a dark room whilst stumbling around drunk. You can alleviate this somewhat by spending further resources in swapping the stats from one piece of equipment with another to allow you to look how you want but you only really want to do this once you have hit Level 20 otherwise you are constantly spending currency swapping stats as you level up.

Control wise very little has changed from the first Injustice, light, medium and strong attacks are here alongside throws, burn meters, special moves, combos and environmental damage. Injustice 2 doesn’t do this badly but it doesn’t do anything ground-breaking either.

What Injustice does suffer from is stiff controls, mainly as a result of buffer issues. Injustice’s buffer to see if you are inputting a special move or combo correctly is both too strict and too open. Sometimes you have the strangest finger gymnastics session where you are pressing and fully releasing buttons with a slight delay in order for them to register correctly whilst on other occasions you need to push the buttons as quickly as possible with no delay otherwise the game just throws light punch after punch.   You eventually get used to what is required the more you play with each character but we have fixed this problem over and over again in the past, surely we shouldn’t be seeing it so obviously this generation?

The incredible gear system also has an incredible flaw depending on how competitive you are. As the gear boxes lock to your level, for maximum efficiency you need to be level 20 before you start unlocking them meaning that you have to grind XP before taking on any of the cool stuff mentioned above. Alternatively you can play at your own pace and jump straight into the story but be aware as soon as you jump into the multiplayer and come across players who went the efficiency route you, like me, are filling up that water squirter and donning those speedos.

This brings me to the multiplayer modes. With a limited amount of gaming time I want my games to be fun and in order to get to a competitive level with a custom set of gear you have to blatantly ignore the cooler and the more innovative features – you know the fun parts. It took me about 45 minutes for me to know wholeheartedly I never ever wanted to play this game with another person but I do want to play this. A lot. I want to continually take on Multiverse challenges. I want to play through each characters story. I want every character to be level 20. I want there to be story based DLC. I want to keep coming back to Injustice in-between other games.

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With Injustice 2 we may just have the first single player fighting game. This isn’t new in the scope of all video games. Quite often a game will have a great single player campaign but completely lacklustre multiplayer mode – The Last of Us jumps into my mind for a personal example of this whilst others will think of Uncharted 3’s Multiplayer campaign – we have just never seen a fighting game go down this path.

Injustice 2 is simply the game you buy explicitly for the single player campaign with the off chance that you might get some usage out of the multiplayer when you have a party and that’s ok. After all the single player elements are pretty much perfect and will keep you coming back. NetherRelam are by default the masters of single-player content and have set a very high bar for other developers and I personally can’t wait to see where the single player fighting genre takes us in the months and years to come.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 9/10     Format:  PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC      Release Date: 11th May 2017

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  Injustice 2 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  two weeks. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

 

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