NetherRealms / Warner Bros Interactive (studio)
19 May 2017 (released)
28 May 2017
The sequel to the DC Comics beat-em-up has arrived at last. How does it hold up against its predecessor, and does it match up to the latest in the genre?
For a start, the fighting is just as sublime as you expect from NetherRealm Studios. The fighting system is just as sublime as it was before, with some small additions such as being able to burn meter to escape a combo, a feature that will be invaluable to new and old players. The new additions to the roster here also feel like they belong right away, making you spoiled for choice as to who you’ll play as, although one or two (especially Deadshot) feel like they need a little balancing. The returning fighters will also be immediately familiar to players of the first game, although they have had a few tweaks and improvements here and there to spice things up.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the gameplay is the gear system, which allows you to customize every fighter with new equipment that is earned through gameplay. This can allow for more than just stat building, as some items have distinct augments that can give advantages in certain matches, such as increasing environmental damage, or increasing experience gain. Combined with the all-new Multiverse, which throws randomized ladder-style sequential matchups at you, with varying modifiers and objectives on each ‘verse to mix things up. And for those who want a more standardized Arcade Mode feel, there is always the Battle Simulator, which offers up the traditional affair. After all, you’d have to be a bunch of dunces to not put in some sort of Arcade Mode…
Sadly, there are microtransactions involved (called Source Crystals, which can also be earned painfully slowly in-game) and while somewhat thankfully you cannot obtain the gear with them, you can fast level characters or transform gear with the paid currency, giving an unfair advantage to those dishing out the cash. To me, it doesn’t matter that ranked matches deactivate this stuff, by default it’s active in player matches unless both players agree to turn it off, opening up the possibility for some serious mismatching. Real money advantage has no place in this type of game.
Making this worse is the unbearable grind. The maximum character level is twenty, but it feels like a hell of a slog getting just one there. This is made worse by the level requirements of several of the Multiverses. Enjoy looking at those objective rewards from afar if you don’t want to just use the same character over and over, because most of the time I’ve found getting the rewards requires at least one event completed that needs a minimum of a level 15 character. If anything, this really shows where they want you to spend your money, as the Source Crystals can be spent to level up a character at 10K a pop once you have at least one character at the maximum level, which is approximately four pounds each. That is just pure greed, and stains what is otherwise a great game in its own right, but I refuse to overlook this just because you can’t buy the gear with it.
If playing solo is your thing, then the story matches up with the quality from the last game. While some characters do feel thrown in just for the sake of it, I can’t fault them too hard for trying to make sure the whole roster makes at least one appearance, and sometimes those singular appearances can help to flesh out the major stars just a little bit. You won’t go unrewarded for playing the story either; not only will you be levelling up the characters as you go, you’ll even get some free epic gear for your characters, which will be a major help for fighting in the Multiverse. Through this, playing the story won’t feel like the hump you have to get over just to unlock the final boss without paying for him.
++ Wide variety of characters
++ Well-written story
+ Great gameplay, needs some balancing
- Heavy grinding (unless you use AI)
- Unlockable abilities can be unbalanced
A PS4 copy of Injustice 2 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review