Injustice 2 ReviewPrice:
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Injustice 2 is one of the most generous AAA offerings this year with a wealth of content more akin to an open-world adventure than a fighting game.
The sheer mass of stuff is notable, because in a genre that's becoming increasingly niche and existing largely to service the active fighting game community, several games — most recently Street Fighter V — have felt like anaemic offerings on launch day, fighting games that will get you online but little else.
Injustice 2 doesn't have this problem, launching with a five-hour campaign that's fairly well written and entertaining and backing that up with an extensive series of challenges which bear the thematically appropriate name of the Multiverse.
The campaign has the benefit of being relatively easy to understand compared to the multidimensional nonsense seen in Injustice's predecessor. Superman is the bad guy here, and after being tricked by the Joker into killing Lois Lane and detonating a nuclear device in Metropolis — all taking place in predecessor Injustice: Gods Among Us — he kills the Joker and turns into a little bit of a fascist. Superman runs amok killing multiple criminals and recruiting a loyal team of heroes and villains to enforce peace on earth, whether it's wanted or not.
At the start of Injustice 2, Batman has beaten Superman and imprisoned him, and then a bigger threat that forces the two to try to work out their differences surfaces. It's compelling when you consider the only dramatic narrative tool the game has at its disposal is best-of-three, one-on-one fights.
You'll play as several heroes, punch a few bad guys for some fairly decent reasons, and watch cutscenes. The story is typical comic-book crossover nonsense, but it's well performed enough — with some impressive facial animation work — that you'll forgive it any problems in the storytelling caused by the form.
The cast of characters is vast, a mix of returning and new fighters, with fan favourites like Supergirl, Swamp-Thing, and Black Canary appearing next to B-listers like Blue Beetle, Cheetah, and... Firestorm? Each character also has several alternate costumes, meaning you could see Power Girl or even second Green Lantern John Stewart. They're not actually playing the same characters, but the nods are appreciated.
Graphically, it's one of the most detailed fighters I've seen. As you rampage through the map, objects fly around in the background, getting damaged and disturbed as the fight rages. This also comes with the ability to interact with the arena, a system familiar to all who have played a NeverRealms Studios fighter, with brawlers bouncing off of walls to escape being trapped in a corner, or picking up a jukebox to leather someone with. It's balanced, and the interactions vary from fighter to fighter, with lighter characters leveraging speed for quick attacks or evasion and stronger fighters tearing items from the floor and walls to toss at enemies.
Despite a lot of interest in the genre, and indeed the act of superheroes punching each other repeatedly, I'm not very well versed with fighting games, and so I was glad that the game is quite easy to understand. Several of the more complex mechanics of the game washed over me when I first started, and I had a good time performing basic combos, using my super meter largely for performing flashy super-moves. These super-move attacks are simple to land and do a ton of damage in a pre-rendered cinematic that is, honestly, a little bit overblown, but they serve to show what a badass your hero is.