Look, even if we pretend Batman vs. Superman didn’t exist (and a lot of people would like to), Batman has been killing for a long, long time. I’m sure he justifies it to himself: “The fall killed him, not me.” “He died of electrocution! I didn’t make the electricity!” “The Batmobile was on autopilot. Not my fault!” Can someone do something about it? Does he need a therapist to deal with his serious denial issues? Probably. But that’s not what we’re here for.
Injustice 2 is the follow up to 2013’s rather good fighter: Injustice. On an alternate Earth Superman was tricked by The Joker into killing Lois Lane and setting off a bomb, killing millions in Metropolis. Superman kills The Joker in his rage, and decides that he will rule Earth with a regime of his creation, filled with other superheroes. Batman, amongst others, manage to take him down and lock him away, thus saving the world. Enter Injustice 2, in which Brainiac has come to wipe out the last Kryptonians as well as Earth. Batman and co. try to stop him, but it quickly becomes apparent that the only one who may be able to best Brainiac may be the imprisoned Superman.
Normally story in fighting games isn’t really important, but NetherRealm have continued their tradition of crafting a well put together story, with excellent cutscenes and a chance to play as a large variety of characters. Occasionally you can select between two characters and it even includes multiple (well, two) endings. A single playthrough takes around 5-6 hours, and feels like a good length for the story it tells. I enjoyed the campaign a great deal and got a good feel for which characters would work well for me (I settled for Harley Quinn).
Beyond the campaign, there are the usual training and single fight options for the solo player. There’s also the excellent Multiverse mode that provides different challenges every few hours meaning there’s always something new to try. Perhaps there’ll be bombs falling from the sky, or the level will undulate, or maybe the whole stage will be upside down. Not all of them are hits, but they’re all different and keep things fresh. On the multiplayer front, there’s local and online as you’d expect. There’s also an AI battle mode in which you select a team to take on another player’s AI team. It’s a nice distraction that helps you unlock items, but it doesn’t really add much.
Items! As you play, you’ll gain boxes that contain gear and colour schemes for your heroes. Many of these have benefits to your character, from increased health and attack, to specific effects such as increased ranged damage. This was a nice addition in the Multiverse mode, but in online matches (Player matches anyway, I didn’t notice it in Ranked) it becomes a little irritating. Whilst this option can be turned off, most online players use this gear, meaning you can easily end up against someone with a more powerful character than you. Also irritating is the fact that the boxes are seemingly random, meaning there’s not guarantee that you’ll get any items for a character you like. Whilst it does encourage you to look into other characters, it can be frustrating to open 5 boxes and find not a single useful item for your level 18 character.
The controls are as you’d expect for a fighter, with light, medium and heavy attacks, as well as a character specific ability. I like the character abilities, as they play into each personality. Green Lantern powers up his ring, Supergirl fires lasers from her eyes, whilst Aquaman can form a water shield to slip out of combos. Special moves can be powered up by spending meter earned from fighting. Meter can also be used in a Clash, which is one way of breaking out of a combo. Players will bet chunks of their meter, with the one spending the most gaining an advantage. Super moves can be carried out by hitting both triggers when you have a full meter which involve a brief cutscene of the attack that look excellent but can become tiresome after you’ve seen them a few times. Also, Batman’s involves the Batwing firing missiles at his opponent. How is he not murdering people with this?! Robin doesn’t even have super powers!
Speaking of how things look, this game looks beautiful. The characters are fantastically well animated with lots of incidental detail, even when they aren’t the focus of attention. The animation quality carries through into battle as you might expect, with moves looking fluid whether in the air or on the ground. Apparently some of the animations are recycled from Mortal Kombat X (well done to Drakulus, Cheap Boss Attack, and Counter Attack on the CA Podcast for spotting that) which is a little disappointing. It makes sense as they are basically the same fighting system, but it would have been nice if it had been all new.
The sound is also excellent, with great voice acting throughout. The battles open with the two competitors threatening each other, and these change based on who is involved. This also happens with Clashes, and it comes across as excellent attention to detail when Batman says something different when he’s fighting The Joker or Cyborg. It certainly helps make the battles more dramatic and helps maintain that comic book style. The music is…present. I didn’t really notice it a great deal, so read into that what you will.
Overall, this is one hell of a package, with tons of content for solo or competitive players. It looks and sounds great and above all it’s fun! And when it comes to games, whether it’s fun is kind of important. More than that though, the fights are satisfying, with weighty feeling attacks that can smash opponents through walls or damage the scenery. It’s just a shame that the gear system felt a little weak at times.
Injustice 2 was developed by NetherRealm and published by Warner Bros. I played the game on Xbox One and you recommend it to anyone that has an interest in fighting games. It’s accessible enough to allow beginners to have fun (you should have seen us the first time we tried it!) but has enough depth to challenge veterans. Give it a go. Just don’t get on Batman’s bad side.