Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: May 16, 2017
MSRP: $59,99 Normal Edition / $99,99 Ultimate Edition
ESRB: Teen, PEGI 16
Players: 1-2 (Single Player, Local Versus, Online Versus)
Available Platforms: PS4 [Reviewed], Xbox One
Injustice 2 builds on the success of the first game by reintroducing many known features such as clashes, level transitions and a huge part of the character roster. The most popular characters from the first game make a return while others have been replaced by new ones. Injustice 2 now has a total of 28 characters (excluding DLC) versus 24 in Injustice 1. This may not seem like a big difference in numbers but 28 is plenty for a combo rich fighting game like this one. The biggest upgrade, however, is the new loot box system. You earn loot boxes through game progression or buy them with in-game currency. These boxes contain gear for character customization. Not only does it change the looks of your characters but also their four attributes (strength, ability, defense, health). This allows for some strategic fine-tuning. Gear effects are disabled in ranked online matches, but can be used in unranked multiplayer and some offline modes. The loot system comes with gear of different rarity levels straight out of the RPG world – common, rare, and epic gear is up for grabs. This brings different looking sets for every character. A very nice addition to keep things interesting!
A video showing the full roster, attributes and arenas
There is also a traditional ladder mode with a unique ending cutscene for every character – a feature that’s neatly hidden at first sight. It can be found in the new “Multiverse” mode. Basically, you can travel between different planets of an alternate universe which is ever changing. The so called “Battle Simulator” is where traditional ladder mode is found and this one always stays the same. There’s even survival and endless play for those who want to test their endurance.
What’s special about the Multiverse is how your character level comes into effect. This is where your gear really matters. In fact, some missions are unplayable until you have reached certain minimum gear or level requirements. Because these events are changing you could spend a long time with it and that’s a ton of replay value right there (with some inspiration from Living Towers in Mortal Kombat X). If you like fighting games there’s certainly enough content to justify a purchase.
Let’s talk about graphics and performance: The game looks much nicer than the first one and has blazing fast load times. Especially the load times stood out to me right away. It’s an obsolute joy how smooth this game runs and it doesn’t sacrifice graphics to do so. I was playing mostly on the PS4 Pro but did a quick test on the normal PS4 and the loading times were really fast on either console. The same goes for multiplayer – where the loading screens are barely noticeable (~3 seconds).
Story mode has some of the finest looking cutscenes you can find in any game today. I love how detailed they are, you can literally see the emotions in people’s faces. Unfortunately, it isn’t very long – about 4 hours of playtime can be expected, including the 2+ hours of cutscenes. It really has quality, though.
As with the previous games there are Super Moves. They are very powerful finisher moves that deal a lot of damage at once. The reason I bring them up now is because of how good they look. Especially those that have you fly into the sky, or outer space. I just wish there was more than one Super Move per character so that it would stay interesting for longer. They do get real old real fast, but hey at least they are nice to look at.
Let’s move on the gameplay: Just like with most fighting games you have two health bars by default. One thing I like very much is the lack of long “breaks” or round announcement after the first health bar is gone. This makes the game feel much more fluid than some of its competitors. You fall to the floor for just a short moment and then the match continues right away without an annoying break. The gameplay feels very snappy in that it is quick and challenging with many opportunities for juggle combos. They made super moves and clashes very accessible – you just need to hit L2+R2 to trigger a super move and it’s the same across all characters. Getting started is easy but the amount of characters can be a bit overwhelming at first. The gameplay feels solid on all fronts and every character is very distinct. Even if you are new to fighting games this is a good one to start with. The button combos for special moves are as simple as can be and it doesn’t take long to learn the move list of a character.
As for the multiplayer: In my time with the multiplayer (about 5 hours in the 2 days leading up to official release) I encountered a few disconnects from server errors. Most of the time it was working fine and ran okay. Ping is always a problem in games like but it never got so bad that it would have been unplayable. The popular “King of the Hill” mode is in the game and of course there’s 1 vs. 1 ranked matches, unranked player matches and private matches with friends. There’s also an interesting feature called “AI Battle Simulator”. It’s like a base defense minigame. You can pick 3 defending characters for when another player attacks you. The AI will then simulate which team wins. In most cases the highest level character or the one with the best equipment wins. I used this mode a lot to level up my own characters. It’s a nice XP boost without much work. The maximum level for each character is 20, by the way.
One thing that concerns me deeply is the approach to microtransactions in this game. You can instantly max out a character to level 20 by spending so called “Source Crystals”. The developers assured it’s not a pay-to-win model and that it would not give an advantage, but it clearly and undeniably does. What gear you can wear is determined by your character level. A level 20 gear piece requires a level 20 character (and gear increases attributes so a level 20 char is basically unstoppable when fighting a level 1 char). These effects can be enabled or disabled in unranked multiplayer matches (in ranked they are always turned off). To a new player who doesn’t know about this it could be an unfair disadvantage. Furthermore, a level system is being used for the Multiverse Single Player missions. A level 20 character makes some of those missions too easy. Then there is a gold trophy called “Master Of All Trades” that requires you to reach level 20 with all characters in the game. A very time consuming task, but now you can pay for this trophy with real money. Given how expensive the Ultimate Edition already is and with the amount of DLCs in the works one has to wonder if those microtransactions are taking it too far. I can understand microtransactions for the sake of optional costumes, but not for maxing out characters at an instant – that’s game-breaking quite frankly. At the end of the day you have to decide whether you want to buy these things or not. Maxing out one character costs 10,000 Source Crystals. However, you can’t make use of this feature until you have reached level 20 with a character yourself. 150,000 source crystals are currently priced at $49,99 USD on PlayStation Store. That would be $100 to max out everyone which seems like a real cash grab and the only reason they put a gold trophy for it in the game.
Speaking of trophies, the platinum trophy (or 1000 Gamerscore) is not difficult to obtain, just time consuming. You can get 60% trophies within a few hours and then the farming begins. Some things like 100 Multiverse Events (Single Player), 200 Multiplayer Matches and maxing out all characters are quite time consuming.
Would you look at that… Batman grabbing a motorcycle from the background and driving it into Joker. There are lots of useable objects like that and your character’s build determines how they can be used (muscular fighters can toss them around, smaller ones use them for jumps). There are lots of small details in the game that might not be apparent at first sight. Such as the sheer amount of intro quotes or the mind-boggling number of quotes during clashes. Those details matter a lot to keep the game from getting repetitive and oh boy have they done a good job with that!
Injustice 2 comes together really well and proves once again that NetherRealm Studios are the kings in the world of fighting games. It can’t quite match up to Mortal Kombat X in terms of features but it’s the next best thing. If you are at all interested in fighting games I highly recommend it.
This is Great:
+ Stunning Graphics (especially those story cutscenes) and superb loading speeds
+ A fair selection of characters with many combos
+ Many features, the loot system is a nice touch to keep things interesting
Not So Great:
– Questionable microtransactions (buying level ups for real money)
– Game could have benefited from more super moves, they get real old real fast
With Injustice 2 you get a feature-packed all around great fighting game. The new loot system integrates well with the rest and you will be pleased with the fast loading speeds and pretty graphics. If you are a fan of fighting games this is a must-have!
Played on PS4 Pro (also tested on normal PS4) with Patch 1.02, using the retail Ultimate Edition (a review copy was sent but didn’t arrive in time).