No injustice in this sequel: story mode expands experience


In a time where it seems like everything is a shitty remake, NetherRealm Studios has broken the cycle and released one of the best fighting game sequels to date. “Injustice 2” is a sequel to the award-winning, 2013 release “Injustice: Gods Among Us.”

“Injustice 2” is a fighting game set in the DC Comics Universe featuring 28 playable characters, and 10 DLC characters. This huge cast contains 13 of the characters from the original Injustice and three crossover characters: Hellboy, a Dark Horse Comics hero, along with Sub-Zero and Raiden from the Mortal Kombat series. Some returning fan favorites include Green Arrow, Batman and Harley Quinn.

The success of the Injustice series began with experience of its creators. NetherRealm Games was formed from the merging of WB Games Chicago and Midway Games in 2010. This is important because Midway Games produced the Mortal Kombat series, including Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, the first fighting game featuring DC Comic characters.

“Injustice: Gods Among Us” won acclaim for retaining game mechanics matching those of Mortal Kombat, but giving players an entirely new experience unlike any past fighting game. It won 2013 Best Fighting Game awards from IGN, Game Informer and Spike VGX, to name a few.

“Injustice 2” followed suit by winning the Best of E3 2016 award for best fighting game and scoring a nine out of 10 rating from Game Informer, IGN and Polygon.

The single-player story mode follows a clash of morals between Superman and Batman, forcing heroes and villains alike to join together and choose a side. Throughout the story, you get to experience a few fights playing as every character in the game. This can get pretty troubling when you’re stuck against a high-level enemy and forced to play a character that you’ve never used before. For some, this is a fun challenge, but it can get repetitive after spending two or three fights learning a character just to have the character change next fight over and over again.

This story mode style allows for a much longer and more in-depth experience, but took away individualized character stories. “Injustice: Gods Among Us” featured a short, unique story for each character, allowing players to avoid unwanted characters. “Injustice 2” showed another major change in story-telling by pushing the bounds of comic violence. The dark mood is set as soon as the story begins with the death of a beloved Batman villain, and the foreshadowing that more deaths are to come.

My biggest problem with past fighting games has been the lack of achievements. Generally, players gain experience points and level up, but you don’t gain anything in-game. I only played fighting games with a friend for that reason; playing solo was only for training. “Injustice 2” blew me away with the inclusion of a loot system for character customization and bonuses in battle. This gives you something to work towards and rewards for completing challenges and playing solo.

While gear can be won throughout story mode, the majority of loot is gained in the form of randomized “mother boxes” that generate multiple pieces of gear for any character in the game. Loot is separated into five different categories: headwear, arms, legs, torsos and weapons. Each piece comes with a unique name and look that matches the character’s personality. A majority of the gear is straight from the comics and lets you mix and match to create your own version of all your favorite characters. Most gear also grants your character a small advantage to their health, defense, attack or ability.

Mother boxes are gained by completing challenges in the Multiverse, a constantly updated list of battles where players must defeat multiple enemies with the added difficulty of game-altering modifiers. These modifiers range from the floor pooling up with blood, slowing down the movement speed of both combatants, to Halloween-themed pumpkin bombs falling from the sky every few seconds. The Multiverse gives players a limitless amount of play time doing fun, but difficult, challenges to unlock more and more loot.

Hidden behind all the cosmetic improvements, NetherRealm has implemented a huge variety of new moves, combos and dodges. “Injustice 2” includes a ridiculously long list of moves divided into four tabs on the menu. With such a wide variety of moves, even experienced players will be finding new combos and chains all the time. Unfortunately, more combos and chains also means enemies will be hitting you with crazy long chains of attacks, sometimes taking down more than half your health without even giving you a chance to touch the ground.

NetherRealm has balanced out these new additions by adding a meter-burn dodge. This allows players to use a portion of their meter on a dodge move that makes you temporarily invulnerable, stopping your opponent’s combo chain and giving you a chance to fight back. Meter-burn dodges and attacks give you a large advantage during combat, but they drain your meter, which is used for supermoves when full.

Supermoves are one of the only game elements that stayed basically the same as the first game. With a full meter, players perform a single attack that, if not blocked, begins a short cut scene where your character obliterates the enemy and takes down a large chunk of their health. The best feeling in the game comes when you finally get a tough opponent down to low health, you land your supermove on them and you can sit back watching the cut scene take down the remainder of their health.