Superheroes have never really gone out of style, it seems, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe started to spark the public interest some years ago. That goes for video games as well, of course, and I’d argue that DC has won out on that front with high-quality games like the Batman: Arkham series.
We can’t talk about great DC games without mentioning Injustice: Gods Among Us, of course, which was a surprisingly great superhero fighter; now we’ve got Injustice 2 serving as a worthy successor to that game’s throne.
After the events of the previous Injustice, Superman has been locked up and his tyrannical Regime has been dismantled; if that sounds a little odd to you, you might want to check that first game out. When the world comes under threat from the villainous Braniac, though, there’s only one Kryptonian who’s able to stand against the menace…or is there? Superman’s cousin, Kara, has been raised in secret as a crime-fighter in her own right. Can Supergirl, Superman and the rest of the DC cast stand against Braniac? Even if they do, is it worth risking Superman returning to his fascist ways?
As with the first game, Injustice 2 plays out like a Mortal Kombat game with DC trappings and characters. It’s actually a pretty good fit; Marvel’s more animated vibe works well with Capcom’s bright colors and anime action, while the darker DC characters and themes are right at home in a Mortal Kombat-styled game. Most of the cast from the first Injustice return (Shazam, a personal favorite, sadly does not) and there’s a bunch of newcomers, including fan favorites like Poison Ivy and, uh, probably-not-so-favorites like Captain Cold. It’s a pretty well-rounded cast with characters to suit most players, so you’re bound to find someone you enjoy using.
The actual combat is, again, something akin to modern Mortal Kombat games. The focus is on fighting rather than execution, so execution isn’t really a thing; rather than the complex motions you’d expect from games like Guilty Gear or BlazBlue, special moves tend to be two directions and an attack button. To shake things up, you’ve got meter burning, essentially a means of powering up your special moves by spending super meter, and clashes, where fighters wager super meter against one another to deal damage or regain health. Injustice’s signature bombastic super moves return as well; The Flash beating the opponent down through multiple time periods is jaw-dropping, to say, the least, and most of the supers are just as impressive.
You’ve got plenty of options when it comes to mixing it up, ranging from the standard NetherRealm cinematic story mode to a myriad of customizable and online options. The story mode is, of course, a highlight, and it’s worth playing through the five hours or so it’ll take you to finish it. As for the rest of the game, it’s complicated a bit by a new loot system that’s incorporated into pretty much everything you do throughout Injustice 2. Equipping your fighters with gear will change their appearance and stats; your customized cast can then be used in most modes, though thankfully online battles have an option to disable gear and level out the playing field.
Much like you’d expect, all of this looks absolutely fantastic in action. There doesn’t seem to be a PC version of Injustice 2, which is a huge bummer, but the PS4 version looked and sounded great on my PS4 Pro. The game runs at a nice, smooth clip and the characters and environments are all rendered in loving detail. The story mode in particular is glorious. More importantly, especially for a fighter, online play and multiplayer are all present and accounted for, and online seems to be largely congestion-free.
Injustice 2 is an easy buy for comic fans and those who loved the previous game, while fighter aficionados have a lot to enjoy here as well; you’ll see Injustice 2 at EVO, after all. We’ve seen Marvel fall a bit by the wayside in recent years, it seems, as DC’s Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and company have started to come into the limelight. Meanwhile, it’s been fascinating to watch NetherRealm step up to fight Capcom and Arc System Works in the fighting arena, and it’s ensured that those of us who love fighting games have had plenty to enjoy lately.