While loading up INJUSTICE 2 for the first time, I thought back to the days of sticky floors and the smells of the hot dogs on the roller and nacho cheese wafting through the air. It was the late 80s and a small gas station in rural Utah had just received what would be my first fighting game experience: STREET FIGHTER. That game was extremely tough but oh so rewarding and absolutely groundbreaking. What do I do with all these buttons?! Many quarters were pumped into that game, many more than I care to admit but the string of good arcade fighting games kept coming over the years. Now, this grumpy old gamer, who is very hard to impress, is again blown away by INJUSTICE 2 and what it brings for fighting game fans both veteran and newcomer alike.
Story and Gameplay
In case you've been hiding under a rock for the past several years, Ed Boon of the MORTAL KOMBAT fame formed NetherRealm Studios and has been pumping out hit after hit (pun intedned) and impressed many with the first INJUSTICE a few years back. While it had some rough edges, it was especially a blast to play with a group of friends and featured a ton of single player and mutliplayer experiences. INJUSTICE 2 cotinues some of the story elements from the first game but honestly, it goes so far and beyond it's predecessor it terms of sheer content and things to do, it's absolutely mind blowing.
The story mode is so meaty and polished, it alone is worth the price of admission. The story cutscenes and fights blend seamlessly together and while it gets unnecessarily dark at times, it's intriguing and polished to a spit shine as you progress and unlocks goodies at the same time. Couple that with The Multiverse play mode with features timed challenges and a plethora of awards, unlockables, loot, and equipment to keep single player fans engaged for months. Multiplayer is also packed with the same high quality modes, polish, and activities to engage in. The Guild feature is a bit underwhelming but more on that later. Overall, gameplay is fast, furious, and feels much tighter than the first INJUSTICE. Although, if you aren't a huge fan of NetherRealm's fighting systems, I doubt this will convert you but in my opinion, it's still the best game they've developed so it shouldn't be ignored. Online play even in low bandwidth situations was solid and I had a blast leveling up by both delivering and receiving epic smackdowns.
Look I'm a huge sucker for incredible graphics mixed with solid gameplay and INJUSTICE 2 delivers in spades. Both artistic and technical artistry is on display around every corner you turn. Menus are uber polished and easy to navigate, cutscenes feel like AAA summer blockbusters, fire, smoke, fog, and the green gas from Scarecrow look phenomenal. Seriously, INJUSTICE 2 is by the far the most gorgeous fighting game on the market today. There are a few interesting looking faces in the human characters but honestly, that's just nitpicking in an other wise amazing package. The supers in particular are extremely satisfying and I couldn't wait to check them all out. Facial animation and lip syncing are also stars in this crazy show and it's wonderful to see it so well implemented into match intros, the story, and overall smack talk.
The audio portion of the game deserves just as much credit as the visuals because each slap, smack, kick, laser beam and blast of Harley Quinn's dynamite is punchy and dynamic, never lacking the oomph that makes fighting games click. Music and voice acting are also top notch and instead of gushing more about it, I suggest you hear and see the game for yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, there is so much to do and see in INJUSTICE 2, regardless if you only want to play single player, mutliplayer, or a mix, the replayability of this title is just insane, With new characters and content already planned and with what I'm sure will be even more to come, it will take a long time to tire of the forumla.
What It Could Have Done Better
Speaking of content, personally, I find the Ultimate Edition version of the game at the price of $99.99 to be absoltely ridiculous, an insult to consumers and a disturbing trend among recent games. Now, I get the economics and options of DLC, DLC characters, and collector editions where you get physical goodies but $100 bucks for just a handful of digital content is not cool. I am sure there will be a Complete Edition but for launch, it's crazy to see a small set of said digital content be at a $40 premium. Developers, please stop making characters preorder or immediate DLC from the get go. It's extremely greedy and feels like a slap to the face of those who invest the already high $60 entry point. Luckily, in the game itself there is very little else beyond some of the equipment management and confusion on stats, (What stats does each character really need?), that I think INJUSTICE 2 could do better. Yeah, IMHO some characters like Wonder Girl and Super Girl can look a little funky but once again, I'm splitting hairs at that point.
In the end, I am absolutely blown away by what INJUSTICE 2 has brought to the fighting game genre and most of all, the extreme polish present in the final retail version. It's everything a sequel should be including tight gameplay, a massive and quality story mode, incredible graphics and audio, along with a ton of content really make this purchase worth your gaming dollar. Most of all, even if you aren't fighting game fan, you still should check it out because watching Catwoman smash her motorcycle into Superman's perfect yet annoying mug never gets old..