INJ2 Batman Key Art e1497597430934

Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: June 16, 2017

Injustice 2 is a fighting game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Injustice 2 is the sequel to Injustice: Gods Among Us which launched in 2013 to critical acclaim and praise; receiving the Best Fighting Game of E3 2012 award from Game Critics Awards upon its announcement before going onto win Fighting Game of the Year Awards in 2013 from D.I.C.E. Awards, Game Informer, GameTrailers, IGN and VGX. Injustice was developed by NetherRealm Studios who also created the Mortal Kombat franchise; therefore it could be stated that the inspiration for or progression towards the Injustice series dated back as far as October 8th 1992 when the original Mortal Kombat released. However, far more direct inspiration of the concept of specifically DC comic book superheroes or villains engaging in combat can be traced back to the November 2008 release of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Can Injustice 2 live up to the anticipation as being a sequel to Injustice: Gods Among Us and the quality fighting games created by NetherRealm Studios?

The storyline from the story mode focuses on the uprising of regimes stemming from unexpectedly forged and broken alliances between superheroes and villains. The story begins on Krypton as Supergirl witnesses the destruction of her home planet before leaping years into the future to show the fallout following the disagreement and ensuing battle between Batman and Superman. Injustice 2’s cinematic story can be compared to that of Mortal Kombat X due to the appropriate pacing between story driven cutscenes and seamlessly integrated fighting gameplay in which the player controls many characters; even providing the player with a choice of which character to fight as such as the Green Arrow or Black Canary in certain story related circumstances.

Upon the first time playing Injustice 2; an optional tutorial in which you control Batman battling Superman will be offered to the player which is essential to explore and learn from before venturing into the story mode. The tutorial starts with basic movement training such as how to dash, duck and jump; basic attack training such as how to perform basic, medium and heavy attacks; blocking mid, low, high and overhead attacks; and how to vary attacks by utilising directional attacks. The tutorial continues onto environmental interactions contained within arenas that can be used against your opponent such as a wall run followed by a kick and executing arena transitions, alongside how to perform various combo and jungle combo attacks as well as throws and preventing your opponent from performing a throw. The tutorial continues in such depth when covering special moves including a unique character power followed by advanced attacks, clash and character categories.

Multiverse is a rather interesting concept as it comprises infinite Earths that include their own superheroes and villains with Brother Eye monitoring alternate realities for irregularities that may require immediate attention which the player has a certain duration to complete before the alternate reality is replaced with another. Multiverse begins with a training simulation consisting of three sets of objectives including defeating sets of three, four and five alternate superheroes and villains respectively in what is essentially preparation for everything that the Multiverse has to throw at you. Every Multiverse consists of events containing a series of battles with their own respective difficulty levels and character levels suggested to defeat each event. Completing a Multiverse event provides not only one time performance rewards; the majority of events also offer a unique completion reward per event which is refreshed after the event, therefore resulting in players being able to replay the same event multiple times to earn separate rewards.

Single fight allows the player to have a one on one match against an A.I. opponent in any arena stage and a variety of match options to change the experience such as competitive mode for gear statistics, augments and abilities to be active or inactive; a level handicap with an opponent level set between 1 and 20 or equalized character levels; the ability to utilise interactive environments or not; and the chance of being able to knock opponents into a different arena via arena transitions.

Outside of the tutorial; practice mode provides an area for players to hone their skills against a customisable A.I. opponent who can remain as still or be as lively a combatant as preferred for an unlimited period of time, while there is even an option to record and playback portions of the practice session to review at a later time when figuring out how you performed a certain move.

After every match has been completed; players earn credits, performance XP and difficulty XP from selecting a harder difficulty for their profile, challenge XP for achieving the requirements of a challenge such as performing a certain amount of super moves, throws, uppercuts and much more besides and performance XP for the specific character used within the fight. Levelling up with a character will result in a variety of bonuses including increased quantities of inventory slots, hero card background, hero card icons and more besides, while levelling up your profile provides resources such as source crystals. Most importantly of all, levelling up with a character increases the respective statistics for strength, ability, defense and health; therefore gradually improving your fighter in each area of combat.

Character customisation has been introduced to the Injustice series in an unparalleled quantity as every character within the roster can have their gear and inventory upgraded to the player’s preferences spread throughout up to five loadouts with the fourth and fifth player loadout slots unlocked at levels 10 and 20 respectively, while there are a further two loadout slots for the A.I. controlled version of each fighter. Character customisation focuses on four major components of the body including head, arms, torso and legs with gear upgrading statistics for each body part such as early instances including Batman’s sturdy LW Max9 stab resistant mask providing improved strength and health attributes by 13 and 5 respectively, while destructive Batman’s anti-crime boots increase Batman’s strength by 10. In addition to two ability slots; there are also unlockable alternative outfits such as Batman starting out with the Gotham Knight Batsuit in dark grey and black, while the Beyond colour scheme introduces red from the Batman Beyond cartoon stylised Batsuit with players having the ability to view the colour scheme by rotating a 3D character model during the equip gear menus. Gear items are gradually unlocked via Mother Boxes which can be earned through winning matches or purchasing Mother Boxes utilising gold earned from match related performances. Mother Boxes are a further faithful nod to the DC Universe as they have been depicted to provide powers and abilities in a variety of comics, cartoons and film adaptations of characters belonging to the DC Universe. Mother Boxes can be decoded in the Brother Eye Vault at a variety of levels including bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond that produce a minimum of three gear items each. Gear items are categorised by their respective rarity such as common being an easier to find item, while rare is harder to find and epic is even better and rarer than rare which is a positive design choice as it makes the player think about their decision when regarding a particular gear item to choose over another. Some of the higher-end unlockable items contain exotic augmentations which provide resistance to environmental damage, earning XP at a faster rate and more besides, while fully assembling a Batsuit laced with Kryptonite drastically increases the quality of bonuses,

The features contained within the extras allow the player to view statistics of every game mode, alongside the win and loss percentages of every character and progression rewards for dozens of challenges from your customised Hero Card; view match replays of recent matches; and more besides.

Every character is a faithful representation of their respective comic book incarnations from Superman’s costume to Batman’s armour and even the styling of female characters such as Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman. The roster of fighters spans 28 characters excluding downloadable content with returning superheroes and villains including Aquaman, Bane, Batman, Black Adam, Catwoman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, the Joker, Superman and Wonder Woman. Nightwing does not officially return, although can be closely resembled by unlocking the Staff of Grayson ability in addition to various gear sets and shaders for Robin to look akin to Nightwing. Superheroes and villains introduced to the roster excluding downloadable content includes Atrocitus, Black Canary, Blue Beetle, Brainiac, Captain Cold, Cheetah, Deadshot, Doctor Fate, Firestorm, Gorilla Grodd, Poison Ivy, Robin, Scarecrow, Supergirl and Swamp Thing. It is worth noting that Brainiac is not immediately available as a playable character with the best method of unlocking Brainiac being completing the story mode.

Injustice 2 contains a vast range of fighting moves including combos that can be chained together from combining light, medium and heavy attacks in addition to powers that are specific to each superhero or villain such as Batman having up to three mechanical bats to throw at enemies, while Scarecrow unleashes some of his nightmare toxin. A clash allows human or A.I. players to wager a designated amount of their respective super meters under specific circumstances related to the characters’ health bars with the player who instigated the clash receiving health for winning the clash or in the scenario that player was to lose the clash; their opponent would inflict damage, although the quantity of health gained or damage inflicted depends upon the amount wagered. Super moves are stunning action packed cinematic set pieces including Batman calling in a beacon to collect the grounded opponent that is winched into the clouds before Batman’s aerial vehicle hits the opponent, dislodges, then locks on to fire a dual machine gun and a missile followed by crashing back down to the arena, while Poison Ivy surrounds her opposing fighter with carnivorous plants that wrap themselves around her opponents’ body before eating then spitting the character out. One of the most foreboding characters to fight throughout the entire roster has to be Scarecrow due to the long range attacks from a sickle that are extremely hard to evade even when in midair, while his super move tears open a portal that drags the opposing fighter through it via a large chain into a nightmare scenario in which a giant Scarecrow smashes the superhero or villain into the ground.

Environment design is rather varied comprising of 12 arenas including some arenas that feature two stages that can be chosen between to set the preference of where to start the fight. Each arena and their respective stages are themed on characters such as two stages located in Arkham Asylum, one stage that showcases The Joker’s Playground, one stage in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, two stages within Gotham City, two stages located in the Batcave, two stages set within Metropolis, two stages onboard Brainiac’s ship and more besides. Every stage depicts their comic book origins as accurately as DC comic book fans would have anticipated, while destructible elements and arena transitions present an appropriate layer of interactivity to the environments.

Injustice 2 features downloadable content in the form of pre-order character Darkseid, while the Ultimate Pack season pass provides all of the additional content from the Ultimate Edition for players who own the standard edition. The Ultimate Pack includes gear shaders; alternative character skins such as Reverse-Flash for Flash, John Stewart for the Green Lantern and Power Girl for Supergirl; alongside three fighter packs with the first fighter pack being the only additional content shared between the Ultimate Pack and the Digital Deluxe Edition including Red Hood, Starfire and Sub-Zero.

If you want a Vita native Injustice game instead of remote play, then the Ultimate Edition of the prequel Injustice: Gods Among Us is available for Vita at retail. Injustice 2’s remote play performance is exceptional as the graphics, audio, controls and general performance retains the quality of the PS4 version. Control optimisations include tapping the top left of the touch screen to change stance and simultaneously tapping the top left and right of the touch screen to perform a special move, therefore providing a control scheme that is as fluent as the DualShock 4 controller. The fluency of the control scheme culminates in the same home console experience during remote play which is quite amazing due to the amount of combinations available to perform such a wide range of fighting moves without L2 and R2, while the capability of customising the control scheme results in a definitive control scheme to suit every player during remote play.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 as they always feel extremely responsive, especially considering the quantity of combinations from the vast amount of fighting moves with four preset control schemes and two customisable control schemes to choose from. The default control scheme consists of pressing square to perform a light attack; pressing triangle to perform a medium attack; pressing X to perform a heavy attack; pressing O to perform a character power; pressing L1 to perform a throw; pressing R2 to perform a meter burn; pressing R1 to interact with the arena; pressing L2 to flip stance; combining any of the basic fighting moves into a powerful combo; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to move your character and position your character in accordance with the fighting move; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.

The DualShock 4 controller vibrates after an enemy attack has made impact with your fighter with the severity of the punch, kick, grapple, character power or special move resulting in a subtler or heavier vibration. The lack of touch pad implementation is surprising given the amount of detail in the preset control schemes and the quantity of freedom offered to players throughout every alternative button in the two customisable control schemes. The touch pad could have provided an alternative to the analogue sticks and d-pad in regards to swiping in the appropriate direction to move your character, while tapping the touch pad could have just as easily provided an alternative for the light, medium and heavy attacks or character powers. The lack of light bar implementation is also surprising as it could have formed an alternative HUD by producing various shades of colour to represent the remaining health of your fighter or a colour tone unique to each character.

There is a noticeable improvement in graphical capabilities when comparing Injustice 2 to the first game which is powered by a customised Unreal Engine 3 that was previously utilised by Mortal Kombat X. Injustice 2 features much improved facial animations that provide greater emotional emphasis and reactions to being on the receiving end of an attack, while graphical detail has increased for not only fighters, but also environments such as Fortress of Solitude possessing particle effects that were not present in the same stage in the previous game. PS4 Pro support provides 1440p resolution when outputting to a 4K television, alongside enhanced textures and shadows, while super-sampling produces better graphical fidelity on a 1080p television. HDR 10 standard is fully supported on PS4 and PS4 Pro which elevates the quality of the colour palette within the darker environments in contrast to the bright effects during combat and even throughout every story cutscene. Frame-rate performance between PS4 and PS4 Pro remains pretty identical with the majority of combat gameplay running at a stable 60FPS, although the frame-rate drops to 30FPS during intro sequences and super moves which does not impede upon gameplay at all as they are both non-interactive instances.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the title menu, main menu, single player menus, two player menus, online multiplayer menus, character customisation menus, brother eye vault menus, guilds menus, extras menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad and the right analogue stick. The background of the menus is rather cinematic as Batman stands in a high-tech facility located in outer space amongst the stars as the Earth rotates. Leaving the game idle on the title menu for around 15 seconds will provide a variety of gameplay demos showcasing different superheroes, villains, fighting moves and stage environments.

Voice-overs bring life to every character throughout all game modes with exceptional performances from a talented cast including Kevin Conroy returning as Batman having voiced Batman and Bruce Wayne in all of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games as well as voicing Batman in many Batman and Justice League cartoons ever since Batman: The Animated Series began airing in 1992 with his first Batman game actually dating back to The Adventures of Batman and Robin in 1994, while Alan Tudyk returns as Green Arrow having portrayed Wash in Firefly and Serenity, voicing Sonny in I, Robot, voicing King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph and performing motion capture and voicing K-2SO in Star Wars: Rogue One. Richard Epcar returns as The Joker having voiced the character in the previous game, Infinite Crisis and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe as well as voicing Raiden in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat X, while Tara Strong returns as Harley Quinn having portrayed the character in the previous game and the Batman Arkham games, alongside Fred Tatasciore who returns as Bane having previously voiced the character in the first Injustice in addition to voicing the Hulk in various cartoons, voicing Cable in the Deadpool game and voicing multiple characters in Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy. Susan Eisenberg returns as Wonder Woman having voiced her in the previous game and multiple Justice League cartoons, while Grey DeLisle returns as Catwoman having voiced the character in the previous Injustice and the Batman Arkham games. Further notable returns include George Newbern as Superman and Phil LaMarr as Aquaman and the John Stewart guise of the Green Lantern.

Laura Bailey is introduced to the Injustice series as Supergirl having previously voiced Chun-Li from Street Fighter IV onwards and Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Steve Blum is also introduced to Injustice 2 in which he portrays the Hal Jordan guise of the Green Lantern and Victor Zsasz with Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. Robert Englund is the biggest introduction to the Injustice series as Scarecrow which is rather appropriate as he portrayed one of the scariest characters in film history; Freddy Krueger in six A Nightmare on Elmstreet films from 1984 to 1991, two seasons of Freddy’s Nightmares television series and the film Freddy vs. Jason in 2003, while Robert Englund is no stranger to videogames having voiced Freddy Krueger who appeared in NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat in 2011 as a downloadable content fighter and appearing as himself in Call of Duty: Black Ops’ zombies themed downloadable content Call of the Dead.

Sound effects consist of punching, kicking, grappling and a variety of fighting moves as they are aimed, blocked or landed, crunching impacts from super moves and painful screams and groans, especially when a super move has inflicted such damage upon a character, while destructible environments are reflected when a fighter throws an object towards an enemy or a fighter is driven into a nearby object, alongside climactic cinematic music which perfectly compliments the voice-overs and sound effects. The DualShock 4 speaker produces a sound effect when your fighter and enemy fills one bar of the four bars required before performing a super move.

The trophy list includes 63 trophies with 60 bronze trophies, 1 silver trophy, 1 gold trophy and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Untouchable bronze trophy for going 10 seconds of the match without being hit by your opponent which will most probably be achieved during your first match in the Multiverse training simulation, while harder trophies include the Master Of All Trades gold trophy for reaching maximum level with all characters. There are at least three online multiplayer trophies including the Winning Is Fun bronze trophy for winning 10 ranked matches; the A Real Contender bronze trophy for playing 200 online matches; and the Only A Real Master bronze trophy for defeating an online player who has 90% health when you have 10% or less health remaining. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 30 to 50 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are 5 difficulty levels including very easy, easy, medium, hard and very hard with the major differences between each of the 5 difficulty levels being that fights on very easy and easy difficulty levels are winnable for as long as both fighters have a similar character level. From medium difficulty upwards; there is a noticeable increase in the movement and aggressiveness produced by any opponent which results in a far more intense and frenetic battle, while the very hard difficulty level is for absolute veterans of fighting games as the enemy is constantly attacking your character to a point in which it can be hard to land a single attack, therefore requiring an element of strategy in how to defend against the enemy in order to buy that window of opportunity to launch a counter-offensive to turn the fight in your favour. However, if you are yet to level up your character sufficiently, then even facing an opponent on very easy difficulty could be problematic if the player allows the opposing character to have a level handicap of 20 when your character is still on level 5 as it increases the strength, ability, defense and health statistics, while producing a greater probability of your enemy blocking a special move.

Local multiplayer comprises of two game modes including versus and tournament with versus mode effectively being a two player version of the single player single fight mode as the same premise, characters and options are retained with exception of character level handicaps. Tournament mode sees both players’ characters immediately set to level 20 to provide more of a challenge from both characters having greater strength, ability, defense and health statistics, while an arena is selected at random and the win and loss ratio of both players are tracked throughout each fight.

Injustice 2 possesses a wide variety of online multiplayer modes and online functionality including King of the Hill, ranked and unranked matches. There are enough players online to regularly be able to find a fight, while the performance during online multiplayer is effective for a fast paced fighting game.

A.I. battle simulator provides players with the ability to create a team of three A.I. controlled characters at the level you have levelled each character up to and equipped with your previously unlocked gear. The unique twist is that your team enters the A.I. battle simulator to fight another team of three characters, while players can sit back and watch the action unfolding, cheering on their A.I. controlled team in a best of three as your team earns XP per character and for your profile in addition to credits and Mother Boxes.

Guilds is an entire area dedicated to players being able to socialise and play together in order to co-operatively achieve aims such as progressing through the Guild Multiverse and earning trophies. A player can create their own Guild or join a Guild created by another player comprising of up to 50 players within a Guild, while the creator of the Guild can promote or kick players based upon the quality of their performances and the quantity of contribution towards the success of the Guild. Trophies work much in the same way as the challenges from single player as a player strives to achieve the current level of the challenge before moving onto the next level accompanied by a new goal to reach. However, every player within a Guild must combine their progression in order to collectively accomplish a certain figure to earn trophies such as Guild Battles for defeating members of another Guild during 10 online ranked or player matches; Guild Sparring for fighting with another member of your Guild in 50 online ranked or player matches; Boss Damage for inflicting 20,000 in total damage during boss battles; and much more besides, while players are rewarded with a Guild Mother Box for earning a trophy.

Online multiplayer is also supplemented with additional online functionality including daily challenges such as landing 10 special moves and weekly challenges such as connecting 600 super moves as a guild which are also complimented by online leaderboards.

Significant replayability stems from every game mode in Injustice 2 and gameplay feature such as the natural unpredictability of the outcome for every fight against A.I. and human controlled opponents, earning XP and levelling up, unlocking and decoding Mother Boxes to unlock common, rare or epic gear items in order to customise gear loadouts, faithful representations of DC comic book superheroes and villains, learning a large amount of fighting moves tailored to each superhero and villain, an incredible story mode, a unique Multiverse mode and excellent local and online competitive multiplayer.

• Title: Injustice 2
• Developer: NetherRealm Studios
• Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-2 (Local Multiplayer)/2 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
• Hard Drive Space Required: 28.86GB (Version 1.04)

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