Wednesday
Aug092017

QCF: Injustice 2

f you told me five years ago that the same people behind Mortal Kombat were working on a fighting game based on the DC universe of comic book characters and that it was going to be one of the best fighting games of the modern era, I would have done more than just scoff at your claim. Clichéd reflections of hindsight aside though, Injustice ballooned into being one of the finest examples of a fighting game that’s been done in years, which left behind a much harder question to answer; would NetherRealm be able to top what they’ve done with Injustice in its the next installment?

Injustice 2 is a resounding yes to that question, as it takes everything that made its predecessor so captivating, and improves upon it in every way, in every sentiment of the word.

The idea of incorporating a license that thrives on heavy fan service and character driven narratives like the DC Universe, into a fighting game is no easy task, and yet NetherRealm managed to craft a follow-up plot to the Injustice universe that fleshes out its world into something more than just some flashy Elseworlds story.

Years following the fall of Superman, the remaining members of the superhero community are fighting to rebuild mankind, while the former members of the Man of Steel’s previous dictatorship, the Regime, are working to move forward on the path to redemption.

Despite the growing pains of their new status quo, there’s a new force blazing towards earth—one powerful enough to threaten both hero and villain alike.

While there are character’s that play a far greater role in the story than others, each personality showcased within the sequel’s story campaign is able to offer their own personal exposition to the plot in a way that isn’t bloated or off-base to the conflict at hand.

Every single character has something meaningful to contribute to the subtext of either another character or a plot-point, Harley Quinn, for example, is still dealing with the demons of her past, and in a specific run-in with the Scarecrow and his fear gas, hallucinates an encounter with the Joker. The clown prince of crime has long since been dead in the Injustice universe, but is now able to have a fight with a relevant character in the roster in efforts to give closure to a significant trauma that she’s been dealing with since the conclusion of the original Injustice title.

The fan service doesn’t stop there as the studio ingeniously implemented a spin on the Kombat Tower mechanic from MK X into the form of the Multiverse. The mode offers a selection of varied circuits that each feature a number of challenging matches that’re organized into themed gauntlets that’re centered around different stipulations or conditions that need to be satisfied in order to complete them. The rules and structures of the Multiverse events are all setup to reference key moments from DC Universe lore, relying on different matchups and modifiers to help recreate the different stories they’re calling back to in a way that’s dynamic to the game, and the source material.

The gameplay of Injustice’s fighting formula was already in top-form, I mean hell, you can still spot the original being grouped with the top ranks of EVO’s premier lineup since its initial release—against those odds however, the polish and refinement at work here has elevated Injustice 2 into an entirely different tier of quality.

The physics, hit detection, and pacing have all been upgraded with a sense of precision that wasn’t there before, allowing for bouts to get more technical, with layers upon layers of analytical tactics to explore. Juggling foes into the air with special moves, and combos can be as deep as a player would want them to be with the various meter-crush super moves, and environmental hazards to exploit; alongside the biggest and greatest addition to the core gameplay—equipabale gear.

Taking a nod from loot-crazy shooters like Overwatch, and Borderlands, Injustice gives you several opportunities to earn rewards in the form of character-specific armor pieces that you can attach to them in order to get in on an assortment of benefits. Using the same attention to detail, each item hearkens to some form of lore, or easter egg to that character both aesthetically, and functionally, containing boosts for either attack, defense, or ability stats for the wearer—and sometimes entire new abilities or upgrades to existing special attacks. There are ranks for each armor piece, and the higher the rank, the rarer the gear—especially if it’s part of a larger set that encompasses all of the armor options.  Imagine being able to fashion an outfit for Superman that gives him an extra ground pound ability, automatic stage-transition ability when linking a power attack input at the end of a combo, and an attack bonus against all lantern based foes; you can do that, and more.

The gear option offers what seems like a near limitless palate of options for equipment in Injustice 2. There’s so much content to sink your teeth into here, and grinding through the loot game hardly ever becomes tedious with the variety that’s available in this installment. Players are even able to scale weaker pieces of armor up to higher level with the use of Regen tokens, giving the opportunity for every piece of armor to mean something, no matter how common or weak they may initially appear to be.

Last year I criticized SFV for the gross mishandling of its content, because for as sharp as the fighting system in it was, it wasn’t able to go very far with the lack of modes of incentive, at least its initial launch—Injustice 2 is the exact opposite in that regard.

This comic book hero fighting sequel has some of the longest legs ever seen for a title of its kind, and it'll keep you pummeling through all the capes and rogues it offers for months, maybe even years on end.

Even though the DC brand is one of the most polarizing brands in comics today, Injustice 2 stands as one of the best fighting games ever made, and should be played by everyone, because it’s just that damn good. Be sure to pick up the season pass, or ultimate edition too, because it’s one of the rare instances where the extra content makes the difference out of the mileage you can get out of what’s already a jam-packed title.

 

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