Injustice 2 Review – If Only The Movies Were This Good

A great game with some financial caveats.

Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Format: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Released: May 16, 2017
Copy provided by publisher to freelancer 

Fighting Game story modes usually feel like an afterthought in their design, or at least like they were bolted on to add value rather than being a design priority. Injustice 2 not only manages to make it’s impressively lengthy story mode feel like an important part of the game, but also handles telling a superhero crossover story centred around infighting factions in a super hero universe better than the MCU’s Age of Ultron and Civil War movies did.

Injustice 2 isn’t perfect, but it builds on its precursor to be an all round superior sequel to an already solid fighting game.

Injustice 2 takes place five years after the original game’s super hero civil war. Superman, who attempted to instill world peace through dictatorship, is still trapped in a red sun prison and Batman is slowly trying to rebuild the world to some form of normalcy. Many of the heroes who were serving Superman are seeking redemption. Others are focused on breaking Superman out to return to the plan he started prior.

The story mode in Injustice 2 is pretty lengthy for a one on one 2D perspective fighting game at seven hours long. The game is split across 12 chapters, each focusing on a couple of different playable super heroes, and it does a really good job of presenting an engaging playable comic book crossover event. It’s not needlessly convoluted, it gives each hero a narrative chance to shine, and it provides a nice tour of the playable cast that serves as a suitable tutorial for playing these characters competitively.

While much of the plot is predictable, I guessed the overall end point of the narrative within a couple of short cutscenes, this is ultimately made up for by the visual spectacle and superb voice performances on show across the board.

The only real problem with the story mode in Injustice 2 is its annoyingly common run ins with the uncanny valley. Subtle facial movements in Injustice look fantastic, honestly some of the best subtle facial movements I’ve ever seen in a video game. Acts like Harley Quinn chewing bubble gum mid conversation then pursing her lips to blow a bubble look truly stunning on a technical level.

The problem is that larger facial movements like talking often look deliberate, calculated and strained in a way that’s slightly unnerving. It’s so close to perfect, but not quite, and it creeps me out to watch.

Body movements and facial details are incredibly good when walking, smiling, and emoting to scenes happening around them, but lingering facial expressions on characters look significantly more natural than ones actively in motion. This is a common issue for games that fly too close to the graphical realism sun, but one I was willing to live with considering how otherwise stunning and highly polished the Injustice 2 story mode is.

Also of note, the contextual setups for fights in story mode, as well as the transitions from cutscene into combat scene, are beautifully handled. The smooth transitions between these two elements made it feel a lot more like a continuous and non fragmented experience than most fighting game stories which was really nice as a fan of linear narrative gaming experiences. I struggle to name another single player fighter with this high a level of presentation at launch in its story mode.

In terms of the actual combat system in Injustice 2, the only real changes introduced are a couple of new uses for your super meter. It’s still a combo heavy 2D perspective fighter, and the clash system where players can bet super meter against each other to heath small amounts or cause minor damage is still present, but you can now also expend super meter to use additional special moves, activate rolls or perform air recoveries.

Developer NetherRealm Studios have taken a very “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the overall combat system, making minor additions in regards to a couple of meter uses players asked for following the first Injustice, and relying on the addition of a bunch of new characters to keep the game fresh.

Rather than changing the core mechanics at play, Injustice 2 gives returning playable characters slightly altered movesets which iron out a few balance issues from the first game, and throw in an additional 15 new characters at launch. The new cast all feel unique in their gameplay styles, the alterations to returning characters improve overall gameplay flow, and the new character pool alone considerably switches up the way the game is played. Even without drastically new mechanics at work, there’s gameplay justification for picking up Injustice 2 if you already played the first.

Injustice 2 features a new mode called Multiverse which cycles through battles with special modifiers placed on character choice, health drops, types of damage dealt and other similar alterations cycles out after hours or days. While at launch this seems a promising way to keep providing players with new content, looking at the mechanics being modified I’m not sure how long NetherRealm can continue to offer fresh challenges without recycling content.

When it comes to playing Injustice 2 online post launch, I put around 8 hours into the online mode and had zero issues with lag. Whatever they’re doing in terms of matchmaking and online infrastructure, it’s working very nicely.

In spite of my overall high praise for Injustice 2, I do have a couple of consumer facing complaints about the way the game’s launch is being handled. Everything you do in Injustice 2 is rewarded by either loot boxes, or in game currency with which you can purchase loot boxes. These loot boxes allow character customization, from colours to outfits, which on paper is a really awesome addition to the game.

Unfortunately, the loot box customisation is convoluted and luck driven.

Loot drops are totally random, with no way to tailor them towards characters you might want outfits for. There’s nothing to stop you receiving multiple of the same piece of gear, and the same piece of gear may have different stats each time you receive it, with no easy way to tell at a glance which version is the best.

There’s also systems in place for levelling up underleveled gear (in place of just rewarding you with level appropriate gear), systems for swapping the stats of one piece of equipment with another so you get your best stats on your favourite looking gear, and customisation options that affect your core moves and character strength which feels like a totally unnecessary addition for such a mechanically polished and well balanced fighter.

It took me a while to come to terms with the idea I should just claim my free loot boxes, take the cool looking gear, ignore the numerical stats entirely and just be glad for the cool things I got rather than worrying about full outfit sets. It’s not a great system, and seems purpose designed to try and push purchasing extra loot boxes to get that one missing piece of an outfit.

I’m also concerned that, at launch, there’s already 10 planned DLC characters for the game. Considering how vital having a full up to date roster is for competitive fighting game play, having this many additional fighters introduced as paid DLC pretty much necessitates a season pass purchase for the game, and I’m never a fan of season passes that are necessary to keep your game up to date rather than just offering optional extras. There’s a big difference between 2-3 DLC fighters over time and 10 planned at launch that need purchasing separately.

Overall, Injustice 2 takes a strong fighting game, delivers an incredibly rewarding and lengthy single player that feels like a priority rather than a tacked on afterthought, and considerably increases the scope of the game by adding in a vast number of well made additional characters to the mix. Sure it hits the uncanny valley a bit, and I’m not keen on the loot boxes or their DLc plans, but it’s hard to deny how much fun I had with the game at launch.

8.5/10
Great

Rcc
Guest
Rcc

Loot boxes in games should be banned. They’re GAMBLING and they’re the bane of the industry. They were either severely restricted or straightforward banned in games in Asia and those swindlers moved them to western developed games. They’re exploiting flaws in the human brain to nickel and dime money out of gamers and, most sadly, many times they’re UNDERAGE gamers. They should be outright BANNED.

Szklany
Guest
Szklany

Mate I get the issue. But loot boxes can’t be bought in the game. Like you can buy them with real money. There is physically no way to pay loot boxes with actual money.

HisDivineOrder
Member

Looks good, but I’m waiting for the PC version that MAY come. If it doesn’t, well, I’ll have waited for the FULL version that comes with all the DLC.

Saygah
Member

It’ll come to PC. The previous one did, as did the last MKs. Heck, even the “PS4 exclusive” KoF is heading to PC!

Hoo-ah
Guest
Hoo-ah

They didn’t give the final DLC characters to the PC version of MKX because the playerbase was small or something, don’t remember exactly.

Don’t get your hopes up.

Saygah
Member

Who were they? I’m pretty sure we got them all….

[edit] Just checked on the wiki. The 2nd DLC wasn’t available until the XL update. PC players had to wait from March to October 2016. Last year argument!

Chris
Guest
Chris

Are you sure you want to wait? Warner Brothers is notorious for releasing inferior PC ports and then abandoning them, aren’t they? Was it injustice or mortal kombat they gave up on?

TheFantasticPau
Member

Great review. Could do with a bit more explaining about exactly how the game is built to take your money. You got people thinking Loot Boxes can be bought with Real Money.

DragonMageDrake
Member

I really like the first Injustice, and MK9 & MKX were two of my favourite fighting games ever, but WB’s business models have really put me off buying their games early. I’m waiting for the inevitable £40 GOTY edition.

CoolyCass
Member
I’ve been loving the game so far (even if I’ve only just been able to play because England). I really, really like the animations. My sibling person said they thought it was a bit uncanny, too, but me? I just loved the look of everything. It was wonderful to see, erm… Acting? Yes. Acting. And while I am the kind of scumbag that bought the great big ULTIMATE MEGA SUPER EDITION so I’m not really gonna be missing out on the characters (woo, Starfire!), I do still have troubles about it. Because, yeah, it’s a lot of characters. Nine in… Read more »
Saygah
Member

+1 for “Woo, Starfire!” Her last run by Amanda Conner was awesome.

Weasel Biggs
Member

The first game was great, but I don’t really get the sense that this warrants a day-one purchase.

Chalk one up for the “Will wait for the Hyper-Mega-Game-of-the-Year-Eleventy-Billion-Deluxe” crowd.

That said, I wasn’t worried. This is NetherRealm, it’s not just a dinky throwaway Capcom brawler. Ed Boon’s new-ish studio is the only joint in the fighting circuit that even seems to care about delivering a decent story mode. MK9, the first Injustice, MKX… All good stuff.

Uldihaa
Member

Just how does the stat boosting gear work in on-line play? It sounds a bit too much like “For Honor” to me.

Also, there are loot drops from matches too. Those you can set to be for the character your playing in the Options. At least, I think so. Was watching a streamer and he set his loot to be character specific. I don’t think it affected the loot boxes though.

TheFantasticPau
Member

Gear Stats are turned off in Ranked Matches.
I’m not sure what the default is with Player and King of the Hill matches, but I do know there’s a way to change it on the character select or stage select screen.

BiscuitWheels
Guest
BiscuitWheels

You can set chose whether or not to use the gear bonuses before the start of a fight. And, I believe, gear doesn’t effect ranked play.

Uldihaa
Member

So what’s the point then? I’m honestly trying to come up with a good reason for this gear to have stats, and I’m drawing a complete blank. It just seems superfluous. Why play in matches where gear boost could decide a match over skill?

Nutarama
Guest
Nutarama

Mostly it’d be for a single-player campaign. Enemies get stronger and gear compensates for that, especially if you’re not good at the game.

InfamousDS
Guest
InfamousDS
I guess WB has finally won the war of attrition started by EA, as Fee-to-Play elements are briefly mentioned as an inconvenience but otherwise didn’t affect Laura’s opinion. Shame, really, but inevitable. You can only go so long dealing with something before it becomes the “normal” and I’m more sad to see that AAA’s plan worked than I am about it not being a big deal for Laura. Combined with Jim deciding he would probably do a World of Tanks episode over the recent studio hiatus nonsense pulled by 2 major companies, I just don’t know how I feel. Maybe… Read more »
vexer
Guest
vexer

I’m sure Angry Joe will rail on WB for this crap given how big of an injustice fan he is.

Rifleavenger Sashiro
Member

All the videos I had watched made the game seem pretty good, but if it’s going to use some screwy customization system laced with fee-to-pay elements as the default for online play I’m passing. Thanks for the warning. I’ll enjoy this vicariously via Youtube instead.

Sperium3000
Member

To be *absolutely* fair, you can totally turn the stat changes off when going online, and on ranked they’re off by default. You are absolutely not forced to use the gear as anything but cosmetics if you don’t want to. So the pay-to-win is not at all strong here.

TheFantasticPau
Member

There’s no Fee-to-Pay Elements in the Gear System. The loot boxes can only be acquired through in-game currency and playing the game. You cannot spend the real world currency on Loot Boxes.

Sperium3000
Member
Eh, the uncanny valley stuff really doesn’t bother me. I’ve been following this game since the reveal trailer, so some characters when the game was first announced and on the final product might as well be completely different species. Also, if anyone wants the inane opinion of someone who’s into fighting games at a competitive level, Injustice 2 is a great fighting game with a huge problem with overzoning. This is something Injustice 1 also had a problem with, but despite the adition of some tools like the meterburn roll, Netherrealm didn’t really do much to change. It’s fine when… Read more »
Anton
Guest
Anton

Hey Laura, any chance that Jim’s going to commission you for Tekken 7?

Great review, by the way.

Yusblind
Guest
Yusblind

I’ll pick it up in a year when the inevitable complete edition comes out.

Joe Keckley
Member

I feel like i should wait for the obvious to come

‘Komplete edition” 6 months down the line

Polishfury5000
Member

Cool, I liked the first one enough. Though as a casual fighting game fan, I just don’t see a reason for me to buy this until whenever NR releases an “ultimate/complete/GOTY” edition with all the characters.

LamontRaymond
Guest
LamontRaymond

Why not review it on Let’s Play Videogames?

Fallen Prime
Member
Fallen Prime

Because Jim paid her to do it here and she’s happy to help a friend?

George
Guest
George

Laura does freelance work for a number of publications and Jim pays.

Nobodyimportant
Guest
Nobodyimportant

The only thing that i find sad is the whole “we are going to wait until the sequel to bother with doing what we said we were doing in the first place” mentality that has come out as of late =/

MuddyScarecrow
Member

It’s that same attitude that had me really hating the story of Watch_Dogs. That wasn’t a game. It was a goddamn commercial for a franchise nobody had any reason to care about yet. Also before you end up showing your face to tell me how wrong I am or how you didn’t feel that way, I don’t care, Vexer. Your opinion doesn’t change mine. I’m sorry but that’s just how it works.

vexer
Guest
vexer

Strongly disagree there, Watch Dogs absolutely was a game and a damn good one at that, Jim himself liked it quite a bit.

Never claimed my opinion would change anyone else’s moron, nice try troll.

MuddyScarecrow
Member
Mhm. Ok. I think that’s the very first time anyone’s ever called me a troll. I feel like I should be getting a Troll Day Cake now. If you don’t think your opinion will change anyone’s then why the FUCK do you keep doing this?! We. Don’t. Care. I did not like that game very much. It didn’t feel very developed. I’m glad you liked it. I’m glad Jim liked it. But I disagree with Jim. I disagree with him on his opinion of Link Between Worlds as well. That’s what happens. You don’t have to reply to every single… Read more »
vexer
Guest
vexer

If you don’t care, then why did you even mention my name? If you REALLY didn’t care you wouldn’t have even brought me up at all, so clearly you obviously DO care on some level.

I can respond if I damn well please, you’re not the boss of me.

MuddyScarecrow
Member

I care that you’re annoying. It’s your opinion I don’t care about.

Saygah
Member

Still a better love story than Twilight.

Chris
Member
This was a great contribution to this comment thread, it sure is good that you made it. Whatever would we have done if we didn’t know that you liked a game someone else didn’t! And the way you defended your point, rather than actually saying why you liked the game you simply threw in the name of a famous youtuber who agreed with you? Brilliant! And then throwing a pointless personal insult at the end, that doesn’t negate your point at all! Really, this is a master class in how to be a welcome, liked member of a community and… Read more »
vexer
Guest
vexer

That was a fantastic post! It totally wasn’t asinine or a waste of space at all! Really you are a truly intelligent human being!

You are totally not a stupid troll or brain-dead moron at all!

Chris
Member

Just to be clear, which of us has Jim singled out at least twice to tell to stop spamming comments? And which of us repeatedly posts “well Yahtzee says” or “total biscuit says, so” despite Jim calling that out on the podcast as a huge waste of time?

Rifleavenger Sashiro
Member

Can you you direct me to where that happened? Diamond’s salt and bile, and getting called on it, is an essential metaphysical force that helps me remained tethered to this world in a corporeal form.

Chris
Member
The most recent time was Podquisition 130, right after the start of the new comment system. He was under a different one of his sock puppet accounts at the time, Michael Prymula, but there was a point where he was accounting for more than a third of the comments on the episode after only a few hours. Jim basically told him to stop responding to every section of the podcast as he listened to it and said he was dominating the conversation too much, while Diamond tried to argue he was still adjusting to the new comment system. Never mind… Read more »
drownedsummer
Guest
drownedsummer

You write some stuff in a text box and press enter. A vast amount of adjustment required.

Trigfire
Guest
Trigfire

Well to be fair fighting games always did it like that, what with their “ultimate” und “super ultimate” etc. editions.
Though that doesn’t make it any less shitty of a thing to do.

Sperium3000
Member

It depends on what’s being asked. There’s stuff that simply couldn’t be done with the first game without a complete revamp of the fighting system, which at that point would cost so much time, effort and money that you might as well make a brand new game.

Camio
Guest
Camio

Well, as one of those weirdos who plays fighting games for the plot, I absolutely appreciate this review.

Fuck WB though. Greedy bastards. I’ll buy it when it’s on a MASSIVE discount.

Artemiy
Guest
Artemiy

Just wait for the super-ultra-megaforce edition with all the DLC included.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Did anyone else think Superman looked like Steve Martin? No? Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me

muskman
Guest
muskman

this comment system sucSKELETON WARRIORS

Simon Cui
Member

Can’t wait to get this game on pc in a few years with all the dlc bundled together

MuddyScarecrow
Member

I’m not sure I’d risk that. It could end up being severely broken like pretty much all their PC ports. Jim told people just pretend they don’t make games on PC. You’ll be much happier that way.

Artemiy
Guest
Artemiy

Also, isn’t a DLC “character” Reverse Flash present in the storyline? “Yay” for the on-disk DLC!

BlindDemon
Guest
BlindDemon

reverse flash is a skin for flash,moveset is the same

SnakeSDR
Guest
SnakeSDR

Reverse Flash is an unlockable Legendary Shader that changes The Flash. There are other ones for other characters that you can acquire either through random loot or buy buying them with Source Crystals, the premium currency, which you can earn in game through in game achievements (not system level ones). A few of these were bundled with the ultimate edition, but you can still earn them in game technically, it’s just faster and easier to buy them (which is what WB would like you to do).

madmatt213
Guest
madmatt213

I’m pretty sure the playable version of Reverse Flash is as a “premium” skin for Flash, and as far as I know you can only get that skin (at this time) by buying the deluxe version. I too am waiting for a complete edition in a year+, so I am only piecing this knowledge together from articles and videos.

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player
He’s not a separate character, he’s an alternate skin for The Flash. Available in the Ultimate Edition and possibly later but I’m not sure. There’s a similar bit of business with a skin that changes Green Lantern from Hal Jordan to John Stewart and one that turns Supergirl into Power Girl. Oh, and some of those shaders and equipment and whatnot? Some of them are only available in exchange for “Source Crystals” which are Injustice 2’s microtransaction funbux that cost real money to buy. I don’t know what the ratio is to stuff that you can earn by playing the… Read more »
Artemiy
Guest
Artemiy

I know that he’s just a Flash skin, just… There’s content sold on DLC that’s already in the main game. “Classy”!

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player

I feel like him being just a Flash skin with a different voice actually makes it worse. It’s not even “pay extra for this character who’s already in the game,” it’s “pay extra for this alternate skin that’s already on a character in the game.”

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player

It’s the kind of thing the Skullgirls developers parodied with Fukua after Decapre was announced.

ProfDinosaur
Guest
ProfDinosaur

Kinda, the reverse-flash is a costume for flash. (With different voice lines) same with John Stewart skin for GL, the Grid skin for Cyborg, Powergirl skin for Supergirl. There’s a Jay Garrick skin for the Flash as well

sillyskeleton
Member
sillyskeleton

It’s the same thing for Darkseid. If you didn’t pre order the game you have to pay extra for him, essentially punishing anyone that wanted to wait for the reviews, or even just buy the game on release day.

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player

Wasn’t there also a pre-order exclusive character? I flatly refuse to buy games that have those.

Artemiy
Guest
Artemiy

Darkseid IIRC.

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player

I did some research and yup, Darkseid. Skipping this one.

Sperium3000
Member

Neat!

BAH!
Member
BAH!

My understanding is that, like other WB games, the Darkseid bonus will be available for purchase later on, but pre-orders get it “for free”.

They did the same thing with at least two of the Batman games.

Potato Sack
Guest
Potato Sack

I’ve stopped buying Neatherealm games at release due to their Season Pass/Day One DLC practice. I don’t need a fighting game enough to drop the price they want to for everything at day one. I’d rather wait a year or so for them to re-release it with everything at $60. Hell I waited for Mortal Kombat 10 until XL was about $20. It’s madness that any game wants to ask $100 for the “complete” version of it.

Potato Sack
Guest
Potato Sack

Glad to hear it’s good. I’ll wait until they release it as a complete game for $60 or lower in a year or so instead of dropping $100 to get everything now.

Chip Self
Guest
Chip Self
Solid review. I do disagree on the comment that this single player story mode tells a better crossover story than Civil War though (Ultron, yes, because it was shite). There are so many pointless “oh that person just landed in the room and really has no business being in this scene, but oh fuck it let’s have em fight anyway” fights that don’t serve plot or character development. They’d probably cut several hours from the story mode without them. The whole story just feels like a clusterfuck, but I felt the same way about Injustice 1, so maybe it’s just… Read more »
Fallen Prime
Member
Fallen Prime

I love Civil War to death and still hold a good opinion of AoU, so that line just did not land with me. If they do it right in Injustice 2, good on ’em, but they need to knock it out of the goddamn park to best Civil War.

But I’m interested in picking it up, since I have a soft spot for fighting games and the CW shows have revitalized my interest in DC’s properties.

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player
The story of the first Injustice was literally the second-oldest tale in fighting games: There’s a jerk, there’s a bunch of people what want to beat up the jerk, optionally some folks what want to protect the jerk, and a reason why they all have to fight each other until only one is left to challenge (or not) said jerk. The only thing Injustice added to this was a series of excuses for why the jerk was Superman and the others were the DC Comics characters that the marketing team felt would sell the most copies of the game. At… Read more »
drownedsummer
Guest
drownedsummer

Mark Waid wrote a very similar story with Irredeemable.

TheIntern
Guest
TheIntern

Too bad I really don’t care for this whole SuperHitler storyline. As an Elseworlds it was a chilling enough tale but they keep dragging it out to keep that “dark and edgy” tone.

Bitt_Player
Guest
Bitt_Player

I’m more bothered by the fact that The Joker seems to be less “The Clown Prince of Crime” and more “A Murderous Hobo With a Skin Condition,” although DC has been pushing him in that direction for a while, now that I think about it.

Weasel Biggs
Member
The goofy aspects of the character have been utterly linked to Mark Hamill’s portrayal of him, to the point where anything outside of the Bruce Timm series or the Arkham games has to go in starkly different directions to stand out. Owing to the success of Heath Ledger’s Joker, I think the whole “murderous hobo” angle has been elevated to the point where it’s the character’s second most canonical interpretation or angle of approach. That said, I’ve always hoped someone at DC would reshuffle the cards and leave the bigger world-shattering plots to Ra’s Al Ghul. The Joker’s more of… Read more »
Rifleavenger Sashiro
Member

Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Injustice 1 use the more “goofy” Joker, owing to that version being from a non-Injustice timeline?

Since Injustice is a “dark” timeline, and all playable characters in Injustice 2 are from its own timeline, it makes sense for this Joker to be a grittier take.

Sperium3000
Member

The story this time around is considerably less dark and edgy though.

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