Following the footsteps of many successful superhero-themed fighting games of the past,
Injustice 2 is a vehicle to re-establish the legitimacy of iconic DC
characters - who may or may not have seen their best days in
recent times (considering some low TomatoMeter scores). A video game like Injustice 2
as the perfect platform to not only re-establish Batman and Superman as two of
your most popular superheroes, but introduce lesser-known DC characters who haven't appeared in a major production in
a very long time (if ever). Running on this formula alone, Injustice 2
already has undivided mainstream attention - whether or not they even care about fighting games.
However, as a reviewer of fighting games specifically... I'm here to write a review of Injustice 2 as a fighting
Obviously, one of Injustice 2's main selling
points is that it is a fan service game. NetherRealm Studios took every
opportunity to cater to the DC fanbase. Injustice 2's nostalgic roster of
DC icons is wrapped up into a cinematic in-game storyline
where heroes and villains will inevitably cross paths, in some cases, for the first
time ever in video game history. In epic fashion, the engaging cinematics offer
something that most other fighting games don't even bother with. Along with the 5 or
6-hour story mode, there are 13,000+ lines of dialogue and 6,000+
intros / character interactions. Furthermore, Injustice 2's "Gear" customization system
pushes its own kind of fan-service, featuring countless nods to classic costumes and colors
school DC fans can fully appreciate. There are even a few alternate
"Premier" DLC character skins that have their own unique voice actors.
DC fans and "ultra-casual" fighting game fans will likely be impressed just
watching the cinematic intros, super moves, and story mode. They may
even claim Injustice 2 is the "best fighting game
of 2017," just before they silently quit playing it 2 months from now.
To the casual fighting
game audience, NetherRealm studios very successfully delivered a product that
anyone can pick up, enjoy, and happily put down in a few months (until the next $20 DLC
fighter pack arrives?). With
an advertising onslaught only the likes of Warner Bros could make
possible, Injustice 2's mainstream appeal and immediately recognizable
cast will no doubt sell copies. NetherRealm and WB definitely know how to market a
game, that's for damn sure. They're so good at marketing, in
fact, that it hardly matters to the mainstream gaming audience whether or not Injustice 2 is actually a
good "fighting game". On that note, let's get this fighting game review started... shall we?
I'm a fan
of those generic "playing card shape" character select boxes.
to Gods Among Us retains most of the features of the original: destructible
environments, stage transitions, cinematic super move sequences, and
meter management... lots of meter management. Returning fighters retain
many of their previous animations, special moves, and combos, most which have been retooled and
rebalanced. Injustice's Clash system also returns, with players
"wagering" super meter to restore health or inflict damage.
New mechanics such as
Evasive Rolls, Air Recoveries, faster walking speeds, and blockable
environmental attacks clean up the gameplay
system a tad. In
short, Injustice 2's gameplay
is a subtle improvement over the prequel's, but it still feels very similar to the
first game. Conveniently, the game starts you off with a Tutorial mode to get
new players acquainted with the mechanics. Individual character missions also provide a small
sample of what each character is capable of.
In Injustice 2's gameplay, many long-established fighting game fundamentals, both visually and
are put in a very different order of importance. These "differences
in fundamentals" will
either be immediately unappealing or be refreshing, depending on your taste and
experience with fighting games. Let's be real... Injustice 2 is heavy
on Mortal Kombat-style "Dial-A-Combos" and projectile
Injustice is still zoning hell... and players are heavily awarded for
Literally, players are rewarded meter for throwing "as much shit as possible" at
the opponent (and gain zero meter for defending).
And if you're not zoning
your opponent to a frustrating death, you're mashing out hard-to-read strings for easy
Speaking of which, memorizing attack chains (especially when learning multiple characters at
once) is more laborious than in other fighting games - due to the fact that most
of these chains have no rhyme or rhythm. They
don't correlate to a fighter's limbs, and they almost seem completely random. I
do remember in the 1990's when Mortal Kombat button
layouts actually did correlate to a fighter's limbs. (Street Fighter and TEKKEN
still do it. Why the change, NetherRealm?) Instead, Injustice 2 simply has
Light, Medium and Heavy Attacks, along with a Special Power button (basically a
"do-something-cool" button). There's also specific buttons for Throw,
Meter Burn, Interact (for environmental moves), and Flip Stance - because every
character in the game miraculously happens to be perfectly ambidextrous (another
quirk I'm not a fan of).
When super meters first arrived in fighting games in the early 90's, they were
an "accessory"... an extra element which can be used to turn the tide
in a match (and in most fighting games today, this is still the case). However,
management plays a much more crucial role in Injustice 2, almost taking
priority over fighting fundamentals. Of course, meter can be used for EX specials will extend combos (and
are usually the best option strategically). Lazier players can save meter for
one big super move. And on that note, Injustice 2 super moves are
almost as lengthy as a Final Fantasy summon from the PS1 era (I'm looking for the "skip" button and can't find it).
The cinematic super moves are impressive the first few times, but get old and
repetitive - especially since many supers take characters completely out
of the stage they're fighting on. Lastly, meter is used to "wager"
during clashes which can result in a health boost for the player who wagers
Back to the subject of
"zoning"... many of the best 2D fighting games
of all time were very successful in implementing zoning. The Marvel VS Capcom
series took the idea of zoning to the extreme. The reason why MVC games
are known for fun zoning mechanics are partly due to the vast amount of "space"
your character is able to move around in. MVC characters also have super jumps, flight, and air dashes, providing tons of
movement options for dealing
with projectile spam. Injustice 2 characters rely on using background
elements to move around, and some characters have limited flight options.
However, the action still
feels very condensed - as most action takes place on the ground. Considering the insane
zoning options many characters have, things
can get claustrophobic and frustrating... fast. I think Injustice 2 would
benefit from more movement options (such as super jumps) and larger stage
environments (vertically). It would also make more sense for a superhero game...
since most superheroes I know usually take to the air at some point during their
these numbers and stats in a fighting game? Ridiculous.
Injustice 2 does
some things right in terms of gameplay. Like in MK9 and MKX, there
are some pretty fun combo possibilities. The core combo system isn't half bad. There are even some Street
cross-up combos from the air. Due to the jumping speed,
performing cross-ups in Injustice 2 definitely feels weird and requires unnatural timing
(another reminder of how very different Street
Fighter and Mortal Kombat are). I've always been a Street Fighter
guy before being a Mortal Kombat guy, so you might say this is a matter
NetherRealm's "reboot" back into 2D fighting games started back in
2011 with MK9. They have stuck with this basic formula over the past 6
years, with slight variations for each new game.
One of the main draws of
Injustice 2's gameplay is still the background interaction and how
much it effects the gameplay. While background interaction in gameplay is still
pretty innovative, relative to the time span of fighting game history,
Injustice 2's core fighting
mechanics seem to be streamlined to the point of rewarding the cheapest of tactics.
seems to cater to a certain
"old" way of thinking for designing gameplay engines for fighting
games. The overall gist I get from studying a few character movesets is that the
designers want me to find the cheapest moves and spam the hell out of them.
And judging from watching a few tournament matches, spamming does work. Very
well in fact.
In Injustice 2, projectiles don't "nullify" one
another. Perhaps it doesn't make sense in the lore for bullets to have any
effect on magical eye lasers, but this creates a very spammy atmosphere for
a fighting game stuck on the ground. Dashing and back-dashing also feels
awkwardly sluggish. Injustice 2 literally
punishes you for back-dashing by making it so slow. On the other hand, certain characters have
stupidly fast forward dashing. It's doesn't even make sense for a character like Joker to
basically have a teleport as a forward dash. Animation-wise, it also looks awkward. Characters seem to "skate around"
in the weirdest poses while dashing. I also dislike the idea of
having to "wager" super meter to prevent my opponent from gaining a
health boost. Wagering isn't fighting either... and I don't even "wager" this much
when I spend a week in Vegas. Players can also "spend"
2 bars of meter to get out of an air combo.
"Your battles, your way"... Who needs to
learn how to cook anyway? Just order that fast food... because: "Your burger, your way".
You almost gotta hand it to Warner Bros with that brilliant subliminal advertising
to lazy Americans.
Batman VS Superman... because nobody ever actually wins.
Did we just segue into the animation paragraph? Yes we did. I'll start with the
positives. Most special move "effects" in Injustice 2 are done well.
For example, Braniac's tentacle arms are animated brilliantly
and definitely look "next-gen" for a fighting game (too bad Braniac
himself moves like a old man mixed with a gorilla, but we'll get to that later). Other projectiles
have impressive lighting effects, even though some appear very small onscreen and
are hard-to-see. While most basic throws have good animations and ouch
factor, in typical Mortal Kombat-style fashion, many
punches and kicks are nothing more than characters "flailing their arms
about". If it's really up to the DC heroes to save the world, we're
screwed, because most of them still can't throw a proper punch or kick. Nearly all
characters appear off-balanced as they "reach
past their center" while punching. And they still "face their opponent
horizontally" like they're stuck in a 1990's Mortal Kombat game.
They also don't bend their knees when they jump, and cape physics are as stiff
as in the first game.
NetherRealm also struggles with (or pays no mind to) getting
their characters to hit "cool poses" during special moves. You know,
memorable poses... like Ryu's Hadoken, Terry Bogard's Power Wave, or Scorpion's Spear
Throw. When I
think cool poses, I think Capcom and SNK sprite artwork from the mid 90's... or
for more extravagant/exaggerated poses, JoJo's
Bizarre Adventure. One of the main visual quirks of Injustice 2 as a
fighting game (and
yes, there are many), is that characters end up repeating stupid and funny-looking
motions while spamming their special moves. Superman looks
"happy to be constipated" every time he shoots an eye laser, for
example. It looks terrible, and you better get
used to seeing some projectiles used 30+ times a match.
Injustice 2 does
some things right with the animation, but ironically, it has nothing to do
with actual fighting. If you've seen the trailers and the story cinematics, Injustice
2 raises the bar for character facial animations in not only
fighting games, but all video games. Indeed, Injustice 2 characters are really
really good at talking. Injustice 2 takes every opportunity to have characters yapping
in front of the camera. Destructible background environments and interactions (such as objects on the floor and
walls) also have impressive animation. All those amazing talking & background animations, but they couldn't get other things to look natural,
such as "basic walking
animations". Examples: Robin's laughable "waddling" forward, Catwoman's
"constipated" walking forward, and Darkseid's quirky-as-ever "jumping
with his hands behind his
Another major visual flaw of Injustice 2 (returning from the first
game) is that characters appear tiny on screen. When
viewing a screen from a distance, Injustice 2 characters resemble tiny stick figures when you squint. Even Injustice
2's "biggest, beefiest" characters hardly fill even half of the
screen vertically. They're not eye-catching, they don't have screen presence
the screen isn't zoomed in during cinematics), and they're usually dark and drab
attire doesn't help them stand out either. Not only is this a
visual flaw for a fighting game, this actually effects gameplay negatively - as it's
harder to see characters' tiny limbs (and clunky animations don't help any). To
compare, the size of SFV's and GGXrd's
characters dwarf Injustice 2's characters on screen, and a typical Injustice 2
about the size of one TEKKEN 7 character's leg. The camera during gameplay is also jarring at
times. Super moves and stage interactions run at 30fps, which is just gross. While Injustice 2's graphics take
their moments to shine (usually close-ups on faces), the core graphics engine and the way certain
animations and scenes are handled is not very pleasing. Most of the visual
effects that I love most about fighting games are either non-existent or done
poorly in Injustice 2.
effort in their 5-hour cinematic story mode doesn't go unnoticed.
Injustice 2 comes at a time where superhero movies oversaturate the box
office (to the point where I don't pay to see them
in theaters regularly anymore - which actually saves me hundreds of dollars a year,
now). So let's talk about
Injustice 2's ultra hyped-up story mode, which carries itself like a
stand-alone movie. Before I get started... Spoiler Alert: The good guys win.
This is partly the reason my interest in superhero
movies has diminished over the years. There's never any surprise, and the good
guys have to win in under 3 hours, making the iconic villains
seem useless and not even much of a threat.
I guess it's easy to say Injustice 2's story mode is
"good" by video game standards. Obviously, the bulk of Injustice 2's production value was
put into the cinematics. Judging
how the story was written and paced, I would guess Ed Boon and company watch a lot of
mainstream TV and bad Hollywood
movies, because they certainly captured that "vibe" in Injustice 2's story mode.
Maybe I'm the wrong person to review Injustice 2's story mode, because I
tend to appreciate different types of movies and TV shows. You know, productions that avoid cliches, are driven by deep storylines and characters,
and don't bank on redundant and predictable plots and
events (AKA the typical superhero movie these days, which is sad).
So is Injustice 2's story actually "good"? Parts were
enjoyable, but as with MKX's story mode, there was no shortage of
typical Hollywood cliches. "Life saved in the nick of time" cliches,
awkward "okay now we're tip-toeing and sneaking around" cliches, and
many others. For example, Green Arrow and Black Canary encounter the main
villain early in the story. And
what does Brainiac do? Well, Mr. Brainfart decides to reveal his major
world-conquering plans to the good guys, in detail. Yeah, the writers even went ahead and
fit in the most generic
superhero cliche of all time, and took themselves seriously.
If Braniac lived up to his name, he wouldn't have
done the the dumbest possible thing any main villain could do. So, Injustice 2 has a "good
Perhaps, if you're easily entertained, or 5 years old. If you can look past
these things and you're a major DC
fan, you'll enjoy playing through the mode with the main heroes and heroines.
It's certainly not bad, but parts were bland and redundant for my tastes.
At least visually, Injustice 2's story mode is pretty impressive. Skin
textures & costume textures look great up close. Again, the facial expressions and dialogue animations are the star
of the show. However, some characters actually make too many facial expressions - almost to the point of being unrealistic.
Because most normal humans don't actually move their face muscles that much when they talk.
Did Supergirl's parents not tell her her face will stay like that if she
doesn't stop making all those funny faces? She's gonna have bad wrinkles when
she gets older.
Even with the high production value, Injustice 2's
story mode has some surprising flaws. There's some pretty bad aliasing seen in
the environments. Also,
the aspect ratio of story mode didn't fill my TV screen. It used the
cinema-style black bars at the top and bottom (note that the game was running on PS4 Pro with a 4K TV). It's actually disappointing that all
the action had to be shrunk down on my TV screen, and this isn't a problem I've
experienced with story modes in other games.
Also, the crispness of the
character models and the animations created a very odd "jittery"
effect throughout the entirety of story mode (as Ed Boon
likes to put it on Twitter... it's jittery AF). Lastly, the frame rate
constantly drops throughout story mode (and some of the story pacing is as choppy as the
Not only the story, but the entire game also suffers from a painfully generic score and sound design. It
sounds like 99% of over-hyped Hollywood movies these days. Like I said, they
captured that vibe. In all honesty, I was actually "more entertained" by other, more unorthodox story
modes in recent fighting games (such as SFV's and TEKKEN 7's) - even though their production value
doesn't live up to Injustice 2's. When it comes to video game stories,
I like "different"... because if I wanted to go see a predictable superhero
movie, I would go waste $20 on that. On that note, Injustice 2's
story certainly seems like a great movie when put up against blasphemies like Batman
V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016). Think
I'm being hard on Injustice 2? You wouldn't want to read my reviews of those
"JustAss" movies (or maybe... you would).
and LVL... STR... DEF... ABL... HP......... is this... Destiny?
Let's wrap up this review with Injustice
2's Loot / Gear system and the Multiverse mode. While playing through various modes,
players earn Loot Boxes containing random costume items and shaders for characters. The items are
then collected in a congested menu, with way too many numbers and stats, and there
are even costume "Loadouts" - a term more fitted for an FPS or RTS.
If you play for a few hours straight (such as playing through story mode), you will end up
unlocking a lot. And when you return to the main menu, the game suddenly goes
into "full seizure" mode. The Loot Box opening animation is an
eyesore, and you have to hold a button down for several seconds to unlock each
one. In short, I didn't find opening Loot Boxes fun or satisfying, and the
collection of junk you acquire just seems overly complicated and annoying.
Your character / experience also has to be a "certain
level" to equip certain gear, which can be frustrating if you're not planning
on spending 20+ hours with the game and just want to customize characters.
On the bright side, there are some cool throwback costumes possible (if you
collect all the parts), and many of the gear designs themselves are
cool-looking. If you put the time in, the unlocks can be rewarding and add
replayability for sure; it's just a shame the whole thing is a clusterf*ck. There
are way too many menus, sub-menus, numbers, and random other useless crap. Also, since characters appear so "tiny" during
gameplay, costume details and customizations hardly matter. Customizations can
be appreciated up close during clash scenes, win poses, and some supers (which
might be enough for some people). But if you ask
me, details during actual gameplay matter more. Some Gear also has an effect on gameplay, adding power-ups here or
there or new techniques. Thankfully, these effects can be enabled or disabled in
Finally, Multiverse is similar to the Living Towers mode from MKX. In
Multiverse mode, players choose from different versions of Earth from alternate
dimensions and storylines. Each Earth has its own opponents, challenges,
difficulty, and rewards upon completion - and some of them are only present for a limited
time, which motivates players to participate while they last. There are also
some random "moddifiers" and gameplay gimmicks that happen
randomly, adding some quirky variety to the
1-player experience. Lastly, there are Guilds, and
Guild-specific Multiverses, adding a social element to hunting down loot and
experience. As far as online mode goes, your basic features and NetherRealm-style modes like "King of the Hill"
4, Xbox One
16th, 2017 ()
May 17th, 2017 ()
May 19th, 2017 ()
Flash, Wonder Woman, Harley
Quinn, Bane, Catwoman,
Poison Ivy, Gorilla
Grodd, Atrocitus, Blue
Beetle, Deadshot, Robin,
Thing, Cyborg, Darkseid,
Green Lantern, Green
Arrow, Black Adam, The
Joker, Doctor Fate, Firestorm,
Cold, Red Hood, Starfire,
Black Manta, Hellboy
Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe, Justice
League: Task Force, Mortal Kombat X, Mortal
Kombat 9, Ultimate
Marvel VS Capcom 3, Killer
Instinct Season 3, Blazblue:
Central Fiction, Street Fighter 5, The
King of Fighters XIV, Tekken
7, Guilty Gear Xrd REV2, Marvel VS Capcom: Infinite, Dragon
6.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.0 / 10
6.0 / 10
/ Sound Effects
5.0 / 10
6.5 / 10
6.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
Options / Extras
7.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation
9.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun
6.0 / 10
6.0 / 10
8.0 / 10
Review based on PS4 Pro version
Injustice 2 is more than a decent
superhero game... the character roster alone is a pure DC fan-service, and
obviously, any fan of DCU will thoroughly enjoy it. This fact, however,
does not automatically translate to Injustice 2 being a good fighting
game. Perhaps it's a matter of taste, but in my opinion, Injustice 2 is fundamentally
a sloppy fighting game. There are some cool visuals to take in, but the best visuals
of the game have nothing to do with actual fighting. Visual elements and
gameplay nuances that I appreciate most in fighting games seem under-prioritized
or overlooked in Injustice 2, while things I could care less about are
over-blown and pushed in front of the camera.
I'm convinced Injustice 2 was designed to be watched more-so than it was
designed to be played. It's a cookie-cutter fighting game by today's standards, utilizing
certain "standards" set by Street Fighter IV in 2009... Every character has
1 repetitive super move, 1 win pose, and a pretty standard
variety of specials and EX moves. In fairness, NetherRealm did a good
job with each character's moveset and playstyle overall - and they are perhaps a bit
deeper than your typical SF4/SFV character. However (and a big
however)... So many characters are blatantly designed to just be
annoying. If you plan on playing Injustice 2 competitively, you're
most likely going to have a stressful
ride learning and dealing with spamming, zoning, and meter gimmicks. To me, learning how to
defend against zoning
and spamming in such condensed environments does not seem fun, and winning by such cheap
never satisfy me either. Simply put, I prefer more honest fighting games.
For gamers who don't usually play
fighting games, Injustice 2 seems like a real achievement - at a glance. Casual folk at comic conventions, who typically enjoy mashing buttons
in fighting games and
making characters do cool things without any skill involved, will most likely love Injustice
2. That's not to say Injustice 2 does not require skill, because it
does. It's just that the type of "skills" one would build to become a
good Injustice 2 player will not likely translate to other fighting
games. On the flipside, skills that players build in other (more technically
sound) fighting games translate nicely to Injustice 2... Catch my
Injustice 2 strikes me as 2017's "Welcome to Fighting Games" starter pack for
lazy gamers. Some of the gameplay
systems seem catered to the "complainer" types of fighting game players...
*whines* I wanna break out of a combo in
the air... *whines* I want a health boost with my unused meter when I'm
losing... *whines* I just wanna spam projectiles and win sometimes. (I
can go on in more detail, but you get the gist.)
Curiously, Injustice 2 doesn't even seem "built like a fighting game" first
and foremost. The menus and general terminology are more fitted to a First
Person Shooter or Dungeon Crawler. Actual common terms in Injustice 2: Strength.
Health Points. Performance Points. AI Attributes. Profile XP. Match
Rewards. Credits. Loot Boxes. Mother Boxes. Gear. LOADOUTS... Are. You. Kidding?
Can you say clusterf*ck? This is
over-the-top, over-complicated fluff. Way too much on the "BS stats and
numbers" for a fighting game, much less any video game. Couldn't NetherRealm
just do a decent customization mode without having spam Loot Boxes and
Stats Requirements? Was too much Overwatch being played at the
NetherRealm offices? Also, how does Overwatch, a competitive FPS, have far less
BS/stats/numbers than Injustice 2 does?
I give credit to NRS and WB for knowing how to promote a game (they've done far
better at this than other companies recently), but a few things about Injustice 2's advertising
rubs me the wrong way. I miss the days when expertly-drawn character artwork was
used to advertised fighting games.
Instead of any trace of hand-drawn artwork to promote Injustice 2, a $99 ultimate edition (with 9 DLC
characters) was announced mere days after the
Sadly, many gaming companies blatantly use DLC to "advertise" games
these days... and just like NRS took heavy cues from other mainstream games for
Injustice 2's menu design and in-game terminology, they've done the same
thing with advertising. I can't say I respect such a practice...
Also, thanks to the Warner Bros.' advertising machine,
and NRS/WB pushing $10,000+ into
tournaments in the first month of the game being out, players have every reason
to play Injustice 2 competitively. NetherRealm and WB have built a trusty
formula... and you almost have to respect them for it. But like other NetherRealm
fighters, Injustice 2 doesn't seem built to last long-term. A popular pro player once said the problem he sees with
NetherRealm fighting games is that they "seem built on day 1 to be patched in the future..."
NetherRealm will most likely patch the hell out of Injustice 2, and it's yet
another reason why I'm not a serious player of NetherRealm fighters. (Fun Fact: Most of my
all time favorite fighting games had the exact same balance and gameplay on day 1 as they
did on day 3001.)
For me, one thing I've always loved about fighting games are the cool things
you can make happen as a player. Things that not everyone can do
with ease. Unintended combos, fancy stance transitions, hidden moves, etc. Some
fighting games these days tend to make things happen for you... most of the
time, Injustice 2 makes things happen, not the player. Injustice 2 might be fun to play casually, I can admit that. However,
watching the game as a spectator... Injustice 2 just looks sloppy. It never fails to look
like "little stick figures throwing random shit at each
other" most of the time.
Injustice 2 isn't that bad of a game. It's that fighting game
you can show to your Uncle Lewis who hasn't played a video game since his Atari
days in college. He will be impressed by all the "next-gen" fluff, enjoy watching
you punch people into the sky as Superman and shoot down opponents with the
Bat-plane, but he'll probably forget it all when he
leaves for work in the morning because he has to load bodies onto a train
(there's still plenty of stuff you don't know about him). You might think I went off on a tangent there, but I'm
trying to entertain myself... because Injustice 2 bores me as a fighting
It's no secret that I'm more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan. But I promise, if Injustice 2
featured Marvel characters
instead, I would
be making the same exact criticisms. As a matter of fact, you can probably expect a similar tone in my future MVC: Infinite review... because I'm
not feelin' that game too much either.
Even though I personally expect more depth out of a fighting game in terms of
gameplay, I've come to terms with the fact that some gamers these days actually
prefer things simplified. Injustice 2 actually streamlines this idea fairly
well. No, really, they did a good job with some things. Following the tradition of the past few NetherRealm fighters, Injustice 2 does innovate in the way of
presentation-value and cinematics. But once the cinematics wear off, and
you've watched the same repetitive super moves 200 times... what are you left with? I think you're left with a mediocre, clunky
fighting game. ~TFG