A fictional universe as deep and plentiful as that of DC Comics is often worth exploring, and Warner Bros. Interactive has made sure that the form these characters arrive in (at least in recent years) is wrapped in a top-tier experience. Injustice 2 is no exception. The second installment of the property makes for a worthy follow up to the original that throws some fan-favorite characters into the mix, fine tunes the gameplay, and deepens the mythos of the world these heroes and villains call home.
Those that are already familiar with Injustice: Gods Among Us will find a very familiar experience awaiting them, with the premise of iconic DC characters pummelling one another remaining very much intact. While the formula feels familiar, some slight changes have been implemented to ensure that the series continues to evolve in all of the proper fields – namely the meter system that was introduced in the aforementioned game.
Using portions of the meter in lieu of saving for an oh-so-satifying super or wagering pieces in a "Clash" can allow players to recover mid-air or roll out of the way of harm. These moments require expert timing and a solid level of combat adeptness in order to execute properly, which means that they'll cater to a hardcore audience that's keen on utilizing such design choices. With that said, casual users hoping to play through an engaging story featuring some of their favorite superheroes and villains are able to do just that as well.
The campaign featured within Injustice 2 is as engaging as NetherRealm's pedigree would have fans believe. An alternate universe where Superman is a villain is interesting in and of itself, but the plot unfolding with each and every battle does wonders to immerse players in the battle. Eventually a big bad surfaces which adds several new dimensions to the conflict, and that makes for some worthwhile elements to the story being told. Add in some different narrative-based paths based on what players opt to do during the campaign and players will find themselves occupied for hours.
Despite the story playing out entertainingly enough, there are sections that tend to drag. Given the limited roster, characters will continue to show up rather out of the blue since NetherRealm presumably tried to add fodder for gamers to tear through. The appearances of Atrocitus and Joker in particular feel shoehorned, while the ragtag group of villains assembled by newcomer Gorilla Grodd really don't make much sense for anyone familiar with the characters outside of Injustice – at least not in the context of in-game cutscenes or dialogue.
Having said that, there are quite a few fan-favorites present on the launch roster this time around, with a bevy of additional Injustice 2 fighters en route via DLC. Deadshot, Captain Cold, Swamp Thing, Gorilla Grodd, and Supergirl make for some of the best newcomers imaginable, with Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and Dr. Fate adding some surprising variety as well. It's a neat hodgepodge of combatants, with a head count of 28 characters available in the final retail package. Some may argue that this should have included more, but the sheer physicality of each maneuver and uniqueness of each hero/baddie's arsenal of attacks brings with it an intangible quality that'll hook users into the overall experience.
There are several modes that players can plug these fighters into after they've put a bow on the single-player campaign, all of which will reward them with the opportunity to gather more armor options for some of their favorite fighters. This new loot system is one of the main draws of Injustice 2, providing users with a number of stat-altering upgrades (or strictly cosmetic pieces) as new equipment is unlocked or earned or randomly found in an all too familiar blind pack layout. One drawback to finding some of the better gear is the amount of time that gamers will have to spend levelling up various characters before they can be equipped. This is understandably a pain for those that have managed to earn a few of the rarer wearables, but the system itself is an interesting one that'll keep fans preoccupied.
As it stands, Injustice 2 is a triumph for NetherRealm. The game expertly builds upon the foundation laid by the original with an endearing narrative, memorable fighters, gorgeous animations, and a slew of different modes and features that’ll keep fans engaged for countless hours. Despite a few weaker moments in the story, a so-so loot system, and a microtransaction-laiden cosmetic feature, Injustice 2 is a spectacular fight title by any standards. Best of all, this game doesn’t just cater to the comic book fan, but those that play it may find themselves with an overwhelming desire to acquaint themselves with the source material.
Injustice 2 is now available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided with a PlayStation 4 copy of the game for this review.