Developed by: NetherRealm Studios.
Published by: Warner Bros Interactive.
Featuring Batman & His Bitches from DC Comics.
Genre: Fighting Game.
Rated: 15 (suggestive themes and violence)
Edited by SHORT VERSION - Injustice 2 is the perfect game to play for the summer holidays with your mates, but the story is a bit of a mess.
Here's my pitch for a DC Comics video game.After many years of late night brawls, dead relatives and psychotic melodramas; Batman finally goes over the edge and becomes a death dealing psychopath. He forms a terror network with the League of Shadows and they declare "Justice" for the world, but many looked at it as "fanatical terrorism." Using his genius and money, Batman and his "Arkham State" quickly make short work of everyone who dare oppose them. He has access to everyone's phones, computers and communications via the Batcomputer and numerous Wayne satalites, meaning any and all resistance is quickly stamped out without a fuss.
Things really take a turn for the worse after they impale Superman with Kyrptonite and "President Wayne" beheads Wonder Woman live on national TV. Leading to a huge conflict with the remaining members of the Justice League as they vow to rid the world of Batman and his crippling insanity once and for all, with your custom character being the supposed key to victory. As an unknown Batman has no plan, strategy or method of combating your customer character, Batman is defeated and the world can finally be free of his tyranny
As I finish my pitch, a bunch of men in suits raise their hand and ask the same question of "Can't we just do the popular thing and make Superman the bad guy?"
That is the entire problem with the Injustice Universe. Making Superman a villain is like making Jesus an Athiest or Bioware competent. It doesn't make any logical sense to turn a poster boy for self righteousness and "good old wholesome American values" into Adolf Hitler. There seems to be this outright refusal to showcase Batman in a negative light and he MUST be "the coolest and most awesome person in the room!" When in reality he's a melodramatic mummy's boy, decked out as his fursona and beats up poor people everynight while ripping off The Shadow!
No I don't hate Batman, I'm awfully fond of the character but even as a fan I find his concept more comical than serious. I'm just saying I cannot picture Superman as a villain when they paint him as "Space Jesus" while it's perfectly natural to picture the paranoid millionare who violates people's right to privacy as the badguy. Even Theresa May would look at him and say "Bitch you need to learn some boundries!
Regardless, here's Injustice 2
. No flashy subtitle like "God's are still among us", "Aliens among us" or even "DLC will be among us for 14.99", just plain old Injustice 2.
This game and it's prequel were produced by the lads behind Mortal Kombat, where all of your favourite DC superheroes such as knock off Mr.Freeze, Shazam's own Shadow the Hedgehog, and Winston from Overwatch beat each other up for completely contrived reasons (oh and Superman and Batman are there too, I guess.) You know it's a sad time for gaming when I'm putting in DLC codes before I even put the game disc in. God forbid Darksied was actually ON THE FUCKING DISC am I right lads? I don't mind the fact that Red Hood or even Sub Zero are being added to the mix down the line, but if you're gonna complain about Capcom milking DLC for their fighting games you gotta be angry with this blatant excuse for padding as well. Considering they'll release "Ultimate Injustice 2" down the road, which has all the DLC added but you have to rebuy the same game again... now where have I heard that one before?
On that note, you'll probably expect me to compare Injustice 2 to the upcoming Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite. I won't take this path because that's exactly what these publishers want. Groups of fanboys arguing online about graphical hiccups or units sold while they sit in a giant bath filled with money, jerking each other off for they keep falling for this shit every single time. Any issues I have with Injustice 2 is not a reflection of my feelings for MVCI and vice-versa. I'll be copy pasting this little disclaimer when I eventually review that game just to hamer that message across.
I want to cover gameplay first, because I have a lot to say about the story mode.
Injustice 2 is a step up from the previous game and I had a reasonable time with it. I do have some small critisisms, that merely border on nitpicks. The main one is the clash mechanic. I really don't like this feature mainly because it serves no real function other than padding. You somehow trigger one of these by accident, then you sacrifice between 1-4 bars of your super meter and the one with the higher bid wins. Completely pointless and I would have done without it. Now I did have someone say to me "Now hang on, it's a brilliant feature because you can cancel out a combo while playing people online!" Yet that all hinges on me playing this game online. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztVMib…
To be truthful, I just don't like playing fighting games competetively. I preffer to play them as a means to relax, ya know after coming from work as a means of unwinding. Then again, I'm the petty asshole who played those WWE games to have Stone Cold Steve Austin beat the shit out of a create-a-wrestler who looked like a teacher who gave me shit that day.
The second minor quibble is with the screen transitioning super moves. I don't dislike them persay it's just they go on for far too long. Say in Street Fighter IV, Ryu fires his shinku hadoken and it lasts roughly 3-4 seconds. Whereas here, Batman launches someone into the air with a MGS5 Rescue balloon, it's snagged by the Batwing, the Batwing launches them into the air to reference the Tim Burton movie and then proceeds to blast them back to Earth with machine gun and missle fire. This lasts 18 seconds. Now you might say "Well that doesn't seem very long?" but if you go through the story mode and pull one of these off in each fight. Get comfortable because it does begin to drag after a while. I mean the first time you see it you go "awwww that is so cool!!" yet by the 5th time you trigger one of these moves you may as well check your email, eat a sandwich or even grab a beer from the fridge. I get what NetherRealm were going for but it's just padding and wasting time.
They even get bloody ridiculous when Supergirl flies her opponent around the Sun and back then nukes them with laser beams and meteors upon reentry. I'm sorry how is anyone still alive after that? I can buy Superman and Wonder Woman shrugging that off, but you do that to say Harley Quinn and that bitch is as good as dead!
Beyond that, I found the mechanics to be decent. Black Adam was the guy I was actually pretty good with and I had the most fun with him. I do like how the game makes it clear what objects you can interact with on the stage now with a -R1- button prompt appearing on the screen. I haven't played a fighting game since Street Fighter V so I was out of practice and it was ages since I played Injustice 1 so I had to relearn a few things.
Not that it was a difficult refresher course since Mortal Kombat (and games in that style) aren't the most complicated thing in the universe. Basically my core opinion of Injustice is pretty much the same as last time. Gameplay's alright but the fluff they added to it is the real let down. NetherRealm are good, dare I say REALLY good with gameplay mechanics and overall structure but they'd be better having someone else handle everything else.
Finally, while the overall roster is by no means bad it does feel like they were reaching for characters at times. I guess this is what happens when you establish certain characters deaths before game 1 and then kill a few more off in said game. You can tell NetherRealm are kicking themselves for writing Joker and Lex Luthor out of the series storyline, meaning they have to settle with D-Listers like Cheetah and Captain Cold. They even resort to Reverse Flash and an evil Cyborg to try and create some conflict. I know Reverse Flash is a legit character but the evil Cyborg was a joke. I was half expecting them to have the heroes fight "Green Wonder Woman" near the end. Grodd was alright I suppose, although I couldn't help but make a few terrible Haramabe jokes, which became a bit meta when Aquaman turns him into a "Donkey Kongkeabab" at the end.
Even with certain highlights like Brainiac, you have the likes of Firestorm, Swampthing and even Blue Beetle causing me to say "Why are you even here?" Deadshot is here after the success of Suicide Sqaud (shut up I liked it) but you'd think Katana, Enchantress or even Captain Boomerang would have got in for comic relief at the very least.
Of course when all else fails, fill your roster with Batman characters. Harley Quinn, Bane, Poison Ivy, Catwoman and of course Scarecrow.... Because we needed to rehash Batman Arkham Knight to bring Joker back for one measly segment of the story. Beyond that, I still don't understand why Scarecrow is even here - I always saw him as the more insightful sort of chap who likes to beat people with their fears, not engaging in the good old fisticuffs. Yeah fair enough, you got "Freddy Kruger" doing his voice and all, but even if you had Celine Dion doing the voice it still doesn't make any sense. He's not exactly known for his combat prowes and even Batman Begins showed us what happens when he gets into a fight.
It's also a pretty small roster if I'm being honest. Having a fighting game with less than 56 characters these days gets you fucking linched by the neckbeards with officially autographed fightsticks. Now I know the answer to my roster ramblings is "That's what the DLC is for!" but that really needs to stop being an excuse. No doubt I'll hoover all the DLC up (cus I'm good little consumer whore) but why not, and just hear me out for a sec, delay the game by a couple of months to add these characters into the game, beef up the overall package and THEN release the game?
I think what is starting to urk me a bit is how they openly say "Yeah we have LOADS of DLC ready to go!" on goddamn release day! Even Nintendo's new ARMS games is doing this, but at least there's it's gong to be free! Also, I'm only going to bring this game up to help illistrate my point, but at least Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite only has 6 DLC characters coming, where as Injustice 2 has 9. I don't mind DLC if it's content that's added about 6 months later, but to have content ready to go but to withhold it for extra dosh is a practice that really needs to stop. It's not as if these characters were needed for the story mode anyway, but since we're talking about story, let's address the flabby and rather bloated Elephant in the room shall we?
Can we stop having a plot where heroes split into 2 groups, where one is led by a socialist who believes in "the will of the people!" while the other embodies an Orwellian/Stalin/Hitler complex? It's not an interesting take on things, you're just inserting bullshit politics into a universe where people in funny costumes hit other people wearing funny costumes. I had to stop myself writing the rest of this review reffering to them as "Superesa May and Jeremy Corbatman" because that's basically what these characters boil down to. Even Superman says "the world needs strong leadership" near the end to drive the message home harder.
I really hate this generation of fighting games and their method of story telling. In the olden days, you had 2 silly cutscenes and 7 fights inbetween them, all lasting roughly 45 minutes. Now thanks to the Angry Joe's of the world, fighting game stories go on for 7 hours. Also that awful design choice of making you go through roughly the entire roster and not picking your character from start to finish. I really didn't want to play as Harley Quinn thank you very much, because the last thing I wanted to hear was more of Tara Strong's awful voice acting.
Continuing the events from the previous game, Superman is in prison while Batman attempts to rebuild the world. There's even a subplot about Batman inventing an NSA machine called "Brother Eye" who spies on everyone and the general public is none the wiser. However, nobody bats an eye (no pun intended) or even questions Batman on why he essentially has Theresa May's manifesto in full motion? While I'm thinking about this too much, the world knows who Batman is now. Shouldn't there be a warrant for his arresst? Being a vigilante is STILL a criminal offense. Granted he's Bruce Wayne and could pay for his own bail.... But considering he's been Batman for a long time, I don't think even he can pay off a fine that large. Bats should be sharing that prison cell with Superman. Well no need to think about it for too long because BRAINIAC conveniently shows up, in fear of having a plot where Batman is looked at as a villain.
Supergirl is supposed to be the main highlight of the story. We even get her origin story shoehorned into the intro for no real reason, but the team didn't know what to do with this character. We see her origin, and then she's just there among Wonder Woman's ranks. Just a quick mention of "Oh Black Adam found her" and that's all we get. It comes off as desperate at best. After that, she basically wanders around like a lost child, acting all confused or making puppy dog eyes whenever mummy Wonder Woman is being a cunt or when Cousin Kal starts doing his best Anakin Skywalker impression. In the same boat as Supergirl, Brainaic is an afterthought in the entire game. He gets a brillaint introduction, but ultimately takes a back seat in the end so we can have another contrived Batman Vs Superman fight. Even when Batman and Superman begin their preachy "Liberal Vs Conservative" speeches to each other, I'm amazed nobody says "hey, we have an unconcious villain over here, can we save this shit for another time?" I was actually expecting Brainiac to wake up and twat them while they were yelling at each other. I do like how the game gives you a choice on the ending, but it should have included a third option where Brainaic wins. As I said earlier, boiling this down to yet another contrived Batman Vs Superman narrative ultimately makes me wonder why Braniac even bothered turning up?
I went with the Superman ending in the end, due to my disdain for the masturbatory attitude the game expected me to shower Batman with. Also considering if Bats allowed Joker to be given the death sentence or, I don't know, put the fucker down like the rabbid dog he is, this mess wouldn't have happened to begin with. Yet I didn't forget about the whole Brother Eye concept and how ultimately useless Batman was in dealing with Brainaic by himself. Not to mention Batman just shanks Supes with a knife for no good reason near the end. That was kind of a dickish thing to do. The game was basically yelling at me "PICK BATMAN!" and I laughed so hard at the ending you get when you pick Superman. I won't spoil it here, but it's so fucking cartoonish that it really made my day!
Besides that, the chapters usually follow the same formula as last time.
CUTSCENE - FIGHT 1 - CUTSCENE - FIGHT 2 - CUTSCENE - FIGHT 3 - CUTSCENE - FIGHT 4 - CUTSCENE.
The only real difference this time is that some chapters give you 2 characters to choose from, in that you'll pick one you prefer and send the other one off to the green room. When they do the eventual Injustice 3, I'd like to see them expand on that idea. You're given 2 choices at the start, choose one branch of that story and can swap constantly with new choices and selections. Allow me to show you what I mean. Say you begin with a argument between Flash and Green Lantern. You pick Flash and you move onto say Wonder Woman, you're given the choice again but this time you choose Wonder Woman. This continues all the way to the end and you'll have over 30 possible endings if you decide to stick with a character all the way to the end. But that's me getting my hopes up for it'll ultimately come down to the same basic thing. Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Predictability.
To say the story mode is a let down is like saying the Snap Election was a bit of a fuck up! It ultimately goes nowhere and features the most unlikeable versions of most of your favourite DC Heroes. At least last time, it had the basic versions come via dimension hopping to remind these chucklefucks what they're supposed to be doing. They don't have that excuse this time and that's what makes it worse. Also, a small plothole regarding Green Arrow. Wasn't he supposedly "killed" before the first game? What is he doing here alive and well? There is a secondary story mode (kind of) called Multiverse Mode. I played about with it for a few hours. Nice concept. Not much to say about it really.
Finally, let's talk design. I don't normally like to knock a game for its looks, because "graphics don't matter" as we all know. However I do like to critic things from an artistic choice and that is why I feel Injustice 2 is uglier than a botched boobjob. I mean it's visually impressive and all that but everyone looks like aging pornstars, all playing super hero dress up and they sound like people who know they're in a fighting game and just phoned it in. I'm not sure why a standard fighting game needs the kind of high calibur graphical design that is demanded by the AAA Gods. Somebody should have told NetherRealm they're making DC Mortal Kombat, not Red Dead Redemption.
I think it's the faces that bug me the most. Catwoman can't seem to decide what ethnicity she is and Damien Wayne looks like someone in his mid 30's. Joker's design is something that was met with, shall we say "mixed reception" across the Internet? At least we can say Jared Leto isn't the worst Joker anymore. This guy looks like a zombiefied member of Green Day! The only characters who look half way decent are the guys wearing a mask or all the non human fighters.
Here is my conclusion on Injustice 2. It's alright for a weekend, but you'll only break it out when you have friends around or need to relieve some stress after work. Or if you don't want to support the developers due to their relaince on DLC, Loot Crates and Microtransactions (The Unholy Trinity of Modern Gaming Sins) then watch the cutscenes on Youtube and save yourself £90... Oh no, I'm not joking with that. Injustice 2 comes in 3 flavours.
I mentioned the voice work being poor, because it really sounded like nobody gave a shit. You have the usual suspects, all present and accounted for. Phill LeMarr, Steve Blum, Laura Bailey, Fred Tatasciore, Travis Willingham and of course my eternal punching bag, Tara Strong. She never fails to amaze me that with every appearence she makes - her Harley Quinn somehow continues to get worse with each title. I'm begging that this game had Fatalities added to the mix so I can shut Harley up for good! Maybe Sub Zero can help me out on that one, since his victory animation cheekily has a Fatality in it! Meanwhile Kevin Conroy REALLY sounds like he's fed up with playing Batman now. If I was forced to play the same grump, bordering on emotionless drones about vengence for over 20 years I'd probably be getting tired of it too.
Standard Edition = £44.99.
Deluxe Edition = £59.99.
Ultimate Edition = £89.99.
Now you wanna talk about an "Injustice" then your poor wallet is gonna be crying foul on that one!