Clash of the titans… again…
*A note before we get into this, Reuben has decided that he is officially retiring from game reviews because he simply no longer finds passion in writing about games. What a ponce, eh?
368 days ago, I stuck a review out of Mortal Kombat XL. Since then we’ve had about five/six game reviews… haha… hehe…
Anyway, that was the last fighting game release from developer NetherRealm, who had burst on the scene with the MK series 25 years ago. Since then, they’ve had film adaptations and other good stuff, but easily the best thing to happen to NetherRealm, though it may not have seemed it at first, was the acquisition of the rights to use DC-branded characters.
After trying, and failing, to merge the two universes in 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, they made the smart decision to make a DC fighting game, something fans have wanted for ages and ages, in 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us and it was really rather good. I enjoyed it a fair amount as it perfected what was good about 2D and 3D fighters, but it could be bettered, which it was in the aforementioned XL. So, 4 years after that, 9 years after MKvDC and 25 years after the first Mortal Kombat, could they top themselves even further with a super smash? Or become the villains with felonous failure?
Immediately, I found that Injustice lacked the variety of game options that I saw in MK, with the single player modes offering “Single Fight”, “Story” and two practically similar practice modes, none of these need any explanation. I mean it’s pretty standard so I haven’t got much to moan about, but MK had six game modes! So I am bit disappointed.
The actual gameplay is very similar to MK in that it’s the fighting game, dumbed down. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved that game so much because it was dumbed down. I don’t have the time or patience to learn 53-hit combos so I appreciate being able to have a game that takes reflexes and reactions over what is basically a good memory, not that I’m having a dig at those who prefer that. One thing that Injustice has that MK lacks, however, are level transitions. Along with interactive environments, which really enrich the gameplay already, the level transitions act to further make these levels have an effect on the fight, rather than just being a backdrop. As well as this, the game also retains “supermoves”, a less horrifically-violent adaption of MKX’s X-Ray moves. These allow the less-experienced player to perform some kickass bizniz and can prove to be turning points in any fight, as the bar is filled by both dealing and receiving damage.
That being said, while I found MKX to be a lot more fluid and fast-paced, Injustice seems to be much more clunky. I’m not saying it’s unplayable for a second, but it seems a lot more combo-centered and heavier than its predecessor. For a player like me especially, this leads to many fights being a lot slower and less friggin’ awesome-looking than I’d like them to be. This is probably the game’s most glaring flaw and what makes it not quite as good as it’s gorier counterpart.
The story, however, is big improvement on Injustice: Gods Among Us. The first game had a bunch of bullsh*t about alternate dimensions just to justify The Joker being there (I won’t spoil it) because YOU CAN’T HAVE A BATMAN ENTITY WITHOUT THE JOKER OBVIOUSLY (ithoughtbatmanbeginswasprettygoodthough) SHUT UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP
Anyway, though it does take place after the first game and the timeline does check out properly, these “multiverses” are only mentioned in passing. Though you could say the idea of Brainiac invading Earth and the gang banding together to defeat him is a bit simple, but I remember the first game just being too ambitious and falling flat tremendously, so it’s very welcome in comparison. The game also allows you, in some chapters, to pick between different characters. However, the kicker is that, to complete the story 100%, you must replay the chapter as the other character, demanding a nice bit of replayability that’ll only add an extra hour or so to the overall campaign.
Graphically, this game looks very good. The facial animations in the cutscenes are top quality, which is something particularly difficult to nail, and the environments are extremely detailed, as are the chraracter models. It’s difficult for a game nowadays to look awful but sometimes games look exceptionally good among the pack — this is one of those games. I can put the quality of graphics in this game in a six-word statement; “A worrying attraction to Harley Quinn”.
The game also adds a very new and interesting dynamic to the pie as well. With character loadouts, Injustice 2 has an unexpected RPG-like quality to it. Characters can be assigned different gear, abilities and shaders (some of which change the character completely (bar moveset)), found in “Mother Boxes”, which are either won or bought with in-game currency (tenk gawd). In addition to this, each character can be levelled up to Lvl. 20, with each piece of gear having an assigned level, as you’d expect. While you wouldn’t expect this gear to have a massive effect on the gameplay, it really does, with my level 8 characters smacking up level 2 characters like wet Play-Doh. This allows the gameplay to have a really welcome extra layer of depth to it.
This also adds further to the replayability of the game. I’ll probably do my hardest to get at least a few of my characters to level 20 so I’ll definitely get my money’s worth in single player alone.
However, as you’d expect, Injustice 2 is a bundle of fun with friends. While not as viciously entertaining as MK, the tense, low-pace, high-damage gameplay turns up the suspense ten fold, with many games going down to a matter of a slither of health. Moreover, online, Injustice is surprisingly adaptable, even if I did only stick to unranked, because, Jesus Christ, ranked is not my bag. Sorry, but there’s only so many times I can be called a fag by 2 year old Croatian boy…
Overall, Injustice 2 is a really solid fighting game. Some astounding, if sexually confusing, graphics, asurprising extra layer of strategy and a feverish level of replayability really set it apart from both the Injustice and MK franchises. However, a fundamental flaw in the gameplay keeps from adding to the pile of fighting greats.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations