Giant Bomb Review

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Injustice 2 Review

4
  • PS4
  • XONE

The long list of options available in Injustice 2 means that players of all skill levels should be able to find something exciting to do.

The roster is a good mix of expected stars and deeper cuts.
The roster is a good mix of expected stars and deeper cuts.

Comic book superheroes make for good fighting game characters. Most of them come in with defined fighting styles, strengths, and weaknesses that can help define a set of moves. Marvel's been doing it with some regularity over the years, to the point where each character comes in with certain expectations about the sorts of moves they should probably have. Now that NetherRealm has delivered a followup to Injustice: Gods Among Us, a similar cadence and set of expectations is getting established for DC's roster. Injustice 2 is a hard-hitting game that makes its cast of heroes and villains feel important, both with the way they fight and also with the wide range of modes and options that help make the game a good fit for wide variety of players.

The story mode fits the same blueprint that the developers have been using since 2008's Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, with a system that both takes you through a story and gives you a bit of a crash course in the game by automatically switching out playable characters from chapter to chapter. Injustice 2 continues the story of the previous game and once again pits Batman against a totalitarian Superman who just wants to straight-up murder criminals before they've even committed a crime. This time you'll make a couple of choices along the way, which usually determines which characters you'll control in a given chapter. But the structure is roughly the same as the studio's last several story modes--which is to say that it's the gold standard for telling a story in a fighting game. The tale itself, which puts Supergirl and Brainiac into the middle of the existing conflict, is an interesting one. Even as someone who doesn't much care for any of DC's characters, it moved at a nice pace and kept me interested in both the moment-to-moment action and the overall state of the multiverse.

The fighting itself plays a lot like the previous Injustice, which is to say it's also not entirely unlike the last couple of Mortal Kombat games. It feels good, looks great, and the vast majority of the moves aren't especially difficult to execute, either. You can get in there and have a good time, even if you aren't trying to be a tournament-status player. It has that same snappy feel that NetherRealm's previous work has, and that same staccato pace that lets you appreciate each hit as it lands. Of course, there's way more here for you if you're willing to move past the basics of low-level play.

Superman is a total dick. No, I know he's always kind of a dick, but this time it's on purpose.
Superman is a total dick. No, I know he's always kind of a dick, but this time it's on purpose.

Learning Injustice means learning how to time your juggles properly and really focusing on your super meter. "Meter burn" versions of your special moves are more or less required knowledge if you want to perform the game's best combos, though your super meter can be used for air recovery moves that help you get out of juggles, clash sequences that can let you break out of combos completely and risk your meter to potentially gain some health, block escapes that let you push an attack opponent away from you, rolls that let you get out of corners... It's all stuff that's easy to perform, but learning when to deploy all this stuff strategically while making sure you've got enough juice built up to do it feels like slightly more resource management than I tend to want out of a fighting game.

Though we tend to think of fighting games as almost exclusively multiplayer affairs, Injustice 2 has a really great assortment of things to do alone. In addition to the story and a standard training mode, the game also has the Multiverse, which is somewhat like the Living Tower mode in Mortal Kombat X. Here, the game serves up a variety of options for fighting against the AI. You can get into straight-on fights and see an arcade mode-like ending for each character, or you can get into deeper challenges that add modifiers and are often built around specific characters. These challenges are refreshed at set intervals, so there's almost always something different for you to do.

Some of those challenges might be easier if you had the right stats. In Injustice 2, each character earns experience points and moves from level one to level 20. You also earn equippable gear that can boost a fighter's stats or even add new moves to your arsenal. This stuff is pretty cool because it lets you piece together multiple looks for your characters and bring them into battle. The stats, which get balanced out in ranked matches, don't always feel like a huge boon since you won't often fight against characters who are lower level than you during any of the single-player stuff. Also, gear management is a real chore due to inventory limits, the time it takes to open an individual loot box, and the equipment interface. At times, it felt like I was spending more time playing dress-up than fighting... but that's mostly because a lot of that gear looks pretty good when equipped.

Injustice 2 has the same sort of background interactions and stage transitions as its predecessor.
Injustice 2 has the same sort of background interactions and stage transitions as its predecessor.

Online, Injustice 2 behaves pretty well and contains the modes you'd expect to be there. Ranked and unranked fights are capable of running great, provided your internet connection is up to it, and the same system of rooms and text chat found in previous games from NetherRealm are still here. A king of the hill mode lets you get eight players into one game, and you can spectate the other matches while you wait your turn. There's also an asynchronous mode where you pick three characters and tweak their AI to your liking, then send that team up against other players' AI teams. You can speed these up if you're only interested in the outcomes, and it's a good way to earn a bunch of loot boxes, too. Overall, it all feels really fully featured and robust. There's a lot to do, even if you're not the sort of player who wants to fight strangers on the internet.

It's also worth mentioning that the game looks fantastic. It transitions into and out of story mode cutscenes really cleanly, and there appears to have been some additional attention paid to character faces, which animate really well both during the story and during fights, super moves, and victory poses. The backgrounds are nicely detailed and active, with an emphasis on the type of low lighting you'd expect to see when fighting in front of a busted-up movie theater.

You may already know if NetherRealm's brand of fighting is for you or not, and Injustice 2 plays a lot like the studio's previous work, so it's unlikely that it'll change your mind. The fights are fun and flashy, with nice depth for players willing to spend the time learning those nuances. But Injustice 2 also sets a very high bar for content variety in a way that opens up the game to people who might just be fans of DC's heroes and villains, too. If you're open to the idea of a fighting game, you're almost certain to find something worth liking.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+

35 Comments

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ripelivejam

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Now Ben just needs to review Guilty Gear and Jason needs to review Tekken and the fightingopacalypse will be complete!

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turboskerv

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I hope the story is easy likevthe first. I can't hang with MK's story

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ChaosDUNK

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Great review! I wish the character-specific tutorials were a little more fleshed out, but other than than that it's a ton of fun.

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frytup

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Two GB reviews in one day?? I'm afraid.

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monkeyking1969

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I feel this review.

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Jakelshark

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This review doesn't seem very scientific

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emphulio

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I haven't touched a fighting game since Tekken 2. With I2, I started with very easy and have now made it to medium. I like this game a lot

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Kamui97

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That Ed Boon interview really made me think about Tekken and Injustice. Tekken, as a fighting game, is excellent in every way. But it is so uninviting for new players and has so many points of frustration around their fighting game. Injustice seems less hardcore, but much more welcoming for new players and much more inviting. I really like Tekken, but there are so many aspects of that game that annoy me. Injustice seems like the opposite.

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GalacticPunt

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Play Injustice 2. It's a good game.

Hope it gets competently ported to the PC. Keep that monster Dave Lang away from it.

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BradBrains

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BradBrains  Online

Good review!

The only issues I have with the game is on harder difficulties the AI is incredibly frustrating and dont act like player and more like very efficient robots. But really thats nether realm . I think when it comes to core fighting thats were Tekken 7 beats it

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soulcake

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Edited By soulcake

GB dropping them reviews. Next up Tekken 7 ???

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Luchalma

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I kind of don't care about fighting games, and I totally don't care about DC. But this looks really cool for some reason.

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KgKris

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Wake up sheeple! Ed Boon paid Jeff for this review in free loot boxes!

(JK loved the E3 coverage)

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steveurkel

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Edited By steveurkel

I have all chars at level 20 except for red hood and brainaic

thats right, I haven't finished the story but I have all chars at level 20 ... I've never played online

game is real good

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avantegardener

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Edited By avantegardener

WHAT! 2 REVIEWS IN 2 DAYS! This some sort of website...about video games?

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karlbright

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"No, I know he's always kind of a dick, but this time it's on purpose." - Caption typo?

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karlbright

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@avantegardener: That's what happens when you start hiring millennials. They join the team and suddenly you've got written revi - no, that's not right.

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SethMode

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@bradbrains: You ain't kidding, duder. On some of the Guild Multiverse harder challenges I almost lost my mind. It just doesn't "feel" right. The AI feels like it is responding in a fraction of a second to what input, and not like I'm playing a real person. I get that that's basically what it is, but I appreciate when a game at least goes for the illusion.

All of that said, I have really, really enjoyed this game.

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SethMode

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@karlbright: Now you have me rereading this quote and second-guessing myself. Where is the typo? I read it as basically "he's accidentally a dick all the time, but in this universe, he's now a dick intentionally."

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karlbright

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@sethmode: I thought it might have been "Now, I know he's always kind of a dick, but this time it's on purpose."

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Nocall

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I love me some Jeff text reviews. It's like surprise Christmas every time one goes up.

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mrcraggle

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Edited By mrcraggle

WHAT! 2 REVIEWS IN 2 DAYS! This some sort of website...about video games?

Nope

Loading Video...
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betabetamax

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My GOTY so far. Blown away by how much there is to do. It literally feels like playing with big action figures that look as cool as I remember them.

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greenmac

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First Injustice was fantastic, even for someone like me who's extremely bad at fighting games. Glad to hear this one measures up.

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avantegardener

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@avantegardener said:

WHAT! 2 REVIEWS IN 2 DAYS! This some sort of website...about video games?

Nope

Loading Video...

My mistake, 'Youth Culture'?

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thejross

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@ripelivejam: Let's get Dan to review the new DBZ fighter when it comes out. I bet Jason's head will explode

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clovy

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@turboskerv: OMG the MK story. Even to this day I have the phrase "Shao Kahn Wins" burned into my soul from how many times I heard the announcer say it during the final boss.

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MetalBaofu

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I hope the story is easy likevthe first. I can't hang with MK's story

I'd say it is, but I don't remember having any issues with MK's story either. Injustice has difficulty settings for the story, I thought MK did too, but it's been a long time since I played that, so I can't really remember.

@luchalma said:

I kind of don't care about fighting games, and I totally don't care about DC. But this looks really cool for some reason.

Probably because it is. I'm not really a fighting game person either, but I find the combat in these Injustice games to be fun. With certain characters, at least. Not really a fan of the bigger, slower dudes in this. These games work as perfect Gamefly rentals for me. Play for a few days, have some fun, send it back.

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lethalki11ler

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Edited By lethalki11ler

I could read anything Jeff writes tbh, great review! I've been thinking about getting Injustice 2 for a bit now, just to scratch that fighting game itch. The tiniest discount on PSN and I'm in

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scrappypixels

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Glad to finally hear @jeff's written thoughts about this. Solid review of a solid game. Really been enjoying my time with Injustice 2, need to get back to it really!

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JCpublic

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Edited By JCpublic

I bought Injustice 2 Ultimate edition for $100 and thought it was a total rip-off, how on earth is it 'ultimate' if they expect you to pay for Darkseifd and a bunch of other stuff separately? The game-play itself is mediocre, really pretty identical to Injustice 1 with a different character roster with no real improvements, just more ways to give them money. The story just plain sucks. Half the fun of Injustice 1 was watching twisted, alternate-universe counterparts of your favorite characters...in the sequel, pretty much all the heroes are heroic, the villains are villainous, and it all gets old pretty quick.

This game was released with a lot of bugs, and the advertising for the so-called 'ultimate edition' was so misleading I actually got SONY to refund the entire $100 I paid for it. If you bought it and feel misled, I suggest you contact SONY and get your money back. Really not sure where all the super-positive reviews come from. Either people are being bribed by Time-Warner or they just love these characters too much to admit they are being scammed. If you buy any version of this game, wait awhile, then buy it used, standard edition, you are NOT missing out on anything, and they will have fixed most of the bugs by the time it is a reasonable price. I love DC characters, Injustice 1, and the Mortal Kombat games by Netherworld, but this was an unremarkable effort at an astonishing price and they clearly put more effort into the greed than the game.

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Inresurrection

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@jcpublic: Wow, what a great and thoughtful write-up you've got there.

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Cameron

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I put over 30 hours into Injustice 2 and I've only played three matches online. It's the first fighting game I've ever really enjoyed (maybe the second, Soulcalibur had an impressive amount of content at the time) because the single-player isn't an afterthought like it is in most other fighting games. Having gear and experience for the characters makes it feel like you're training your fighters while you improve your own skills at the game. I love it.

@betamax said:

My GOTY so far. Blown away by how much there is to do. It literally feels like playing with big action figures that look as cool as I remember them.

That's an awesome way to put it. It's the same kind of fun I used to have playing with action figures, only they can do way more and look way better.

@jcpublic:

It's fine to dislike the game, but it's silly to think everyone who does like is getting paid by WB or rabid fanboys of DC. I'm neither of those things, and I think Injustice 2 is a huge improvement over the first game. Also, no one is getting scammed. While I agree that the Ultimate Edition should come with Darkseid, they are very clear about what comes in that edition. It has nine upcoming DLC characters, three character-swap costumes, and two shaders. Is that a good deal for $40 extra? Not for me, but some people want all the characters, and this is a cheaper way to get them than buying them individually. Being a bad value doesn't make something a scam. It would be a scam, for example, if they said it comes with nine DLC characters and then they only put out two, but that's not the case here.