I bought Injustice 2 because of a GIF.
I never thought I’d say that about a game, but here we are. It was a short clip from a cutscene showing some excellent face-capture on Harley Quinn, and between that and hearing good things about the single player story, it was enough to make me want to dive in.
Covering games for a living, sometimes you just have to skip stuff as there’s simply too much to cover. Not really being a fighting game guy, and not getting a review copy, I figured I just might let Injustice 2 go. I really don’t like non-Smash Bros. fighting games, as I find them both too complex and too boring at the same time, and I don’t dare try to ever write opinions about them because I will get torn to shreds by the Very Serious Fighting Game Community. I respect them, but they are very intense. However, in this case, I ponied up the $60 for Injustice 2 and have not regretted it over the course of the last few days.
Injustice 2 is probably the most massive fighting game I’ve ever played, just in terms of the sheer scale of stuff to do throughout various modes. I rarely think fighting games are worth the money, because they usually have somewhat anemic story modes (if they have them at all), then you play some local or online matches and move on, unless you’re a big enthusiast, which I am not.
But here I am, having just played about 30 matches in a row with Harley Quinn, and dozens and dozens more across Injustice’s expansive roster. I won’t go into depth with a full-scale review here, but here’s what I love about Injustice 2:
It is, indeed, very solid. I won’t say that all characters have as great of facial capture as Harley in those select scenes, but the voice cast is stellar, and Injustice is arguably one of the most interesting storylines DC has produced in recent memory, sparked by the first game which pitted the Justice League against each other. Batman V. Superman borrowed some elements from it, but did it more poorly than the comics and the games.
Here, the two warring JLA factions are still warring, but have to come together to fight off Braniac. What follows is a typically great Netherrealm story campaign that’s twelve chapters that expertly think of ways to let you play as a bunch of heroes and former villains in a wide variety of locations. Somehow, it doesn’t feel forced, and again, the storyline of this game (and the last one) are better than anything DC has produced in years, certainly on film, and probably in the Arrowverse as well. It reminds me of the good old days of the animated series, with a harder edge to it.
The difficulty curve is pretty manageable for someone who doesn’t normally play these types of games. It took a few matches, but I got the hang of it quickly. Thankfully, once you reach the end there’s no brick wall boss like Shao Kahn who is so hard and cheap you want to murder your television, which is what turned me off from MK9 years ago, and I did manage to finish the campaign as a result. While I don’t know if the story is as good as the first Injustice, it’s still solid and very enjoyable to play through.
I was expecting to drop this game more or less after the story and my first five online losses, but there’s an entirely new component to the game called the “multiverse” where rotating challenges appear on a multitude of earths. Sometimes it’s fighting 5-12 guys in a row, sometimes it’s doing it with different stipulations, sometimes there are boss battles, and objectives you need to complete in order, or with certain characters to give you bonuses. It’s endlessly entertaining and you can really never run out of stuff to do there given how it rotates frequently.
But why are you trying to do all this? That leads me to my next point:
Oh yes, Injustice 2 has Diablo-style loot drops, and I can’t get enough of it. Instead of just alternate costumes for heroes, you open loot boxes and get drops after matches of specific pieces of gear, masks, capes, gloves, weapons, that apply to each character. They give them various stat boosts or bonus perks, and there are even gear sets in this game, where if you get enough pieces they give you big bonuses.
I thought this was going to wade into danger territory by selling power through microtransactions, but you cannot buy these loot boxes with real life money. You have to earn them by playing alone, and the only thing you can buy is currency used for cosmetics, shaders, costumes, transmorg, etc. It’s a fantastic, highly addictive system, and between that and the individual character leveling, I love it. My only complaint is that there are so many fighters that you will often get gear from characters you never play. The system is weighted to give you end of game drops for your character more often, but landing a choice epic item is reallllllly tough. I can’t imagine the sheer luck it will take to assemble a full set of epic gear for one character.
AI Battle Simulator
This is the thing I find the most hilarious about the game as it directly appeals to someone like me who hates fighting other humans in games like this because I am terrible. You can use all your leveled heroes and their looted gear to create an AI team that you use to attack and defend against other AI times, the fights playing out automatically. It’s a good way to farm loot boxes and XP for characters, with little to no effort, though the rewards are limited. It’s just hilarious this mode exists, and I can see a lot of people thinking it’s pointless, but I sort of love it.
Seriously, Injustice 2 is a great game. I’m not even touching on the actual mechanics of the fighting, which I will just say is as good as Injustice/Mortal Kombat has been in their last few iterations. The super moves are brutal and/or hilarious, and using arena hazards and special moves is intuitive. I am missing a lot of complexity in the fighting, I’m sure (I literally have to quit tutorials when they start demanding I know how to “cancel” moves), but I’m having a blast with it, and have upgraded past pure button mashing into something resembling actual tactics, at least against my AI opponents.
Can I recommend this at $60? That’s still a tough call. You may want to wait until it drops to $40 or lower, because I am not sure how long of a tail it will have, as I might burn out soon, but I certainly don’t regret my purchase. If you’re a fighting game fan, this seems like a no-brainer, but those who stay away from the genre may be a tougher sell, even with everything I’m saying. Still, if this sounds good to you, give it a shot. And pick Harley. Harley is the best.