Injustice 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2017


PC Review - 'Injustice 2'

by Cody Medellin on March 1, 2018 @ 12:15 a.m. PST

Injustice 2 allows gamers to choose from a massive roster of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains and build the ultimate version of their favorite DC characters.

Buy Injustice 2

If you're willing to forget the SNES/Genesis release of Justice League Task Force, then Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was the first time characters from the comic book publisher were cast in a fighting game. As long as you were a fan of the fighting style that Midway (later known as Netherrealm Studios) used in its main franchise, then the game was quite good, despite the lack of gore in the finishing moves. Injustice: Gods Among Us ran with the idea and adopted the fighting style from the eighth Mortal Kombat game while also changing out a few things to make it more accessible to those who hadn't played a fighting game before. It also added a story that was faithful to the source material and good for the genre. The sequel, Injustice 2, premiered on consoles last year, and now the PC gets a turn.  

The fighting system in Injustice 2 is similar to a game like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Your attacks are divided into low, medium and high types, so you can determine how damaging and slow your attack is but not necessarily whether it'll be a punch or a kick. There's also a power ability button that lets you do things like call remote-controlled Batarangs that can act as timed projectiles or throw meat for Harley's jackals to munch on so they barrel through anyone in their way. The combo system favors juggling, as you can initiate several bounce attacks to keep the opponent in the air so you can get in some free hits for your combo. The environmental interactions in each stage change depending on the character you use. A lighter character like Catwoman may bounce off a car, but the vehicle is a one-time projectile for a strong character like Superman.

For experts and novices alike, Injustice 2 is really about meter control. Building power on the meter is easy, which is good since there are a number of ways to use it up. Burn one segment of the meter, and you can add some more punch to your special moves. Burn the whole meter, and you can unleash a devastating special combo move. Burn two segments, and you can cancel bounces, do defensive rolls, or push away an opponent who's closing the gap on you. You also have clashes, which force you and an opponent to choose how much meter to burn to get a bigger hit or get some health back, so it's a good equalizer if you do it at the right time.

The faster gameplay speed, more bouncing opportunities and an expanded use of the meter make this game feel tighter than the previous title. The real difference is the gear. Much like Tekken 7, there are a ton of things you can outfit your favorite character with, and there are different color schemes so they can stand out. Unlike Bandai Namco's fighting game, however, the gear here augments your stats in major areas, like defense and health. The power differences aren't significant until you arm yourself with level 20 stuff, but those small things are noticeable when you start mashing them together.

You're awarded items via loot boxes. The game loves to give out loot boxes at almost every opportunity, whether it's for completing daily challenges, leveling up, or completing a mode. However, the game has no qualms about giving you gear far above your character level, so you can open a bunch of boxes and find that your favorite character's new pieces can't be used yet. Further, you'll get gear for every player, so it's good if you're trying to power up everyone, but if you only roll with one character, it can be quite a slog to get the stuff he or she needs.

Like the first game, the roster is balanced between some well-known DC characters, some that may have gotten popular through other media, and others that are obscure unless you're a fan of the publisher. You have the current Justice League members, and Green Lantern. There are some famous villains like Catwoman, Darkseid and Joker in the mix. Fans of the WB DC shows will be happy to see the likes of Captain Cold and Supergirl, albeit in their comic iterations and not the live action ones, while the Suicide Squad gets some representation with Deadshot and Harley Quinn. Then you have the likes of Atrocious, Black Adam, Dr. Fate and Swamp Thing, to name a few.

Some preset colors for certain characters like Supergirl and Flash are actually new characters, like Power Girl and Reverse Flash, respectively, complete with new voices. While it's disappointing to see that some characters from the first game were removed, the success of this series and Netherrealm's history with releasing surprise DLC for Mortal Kombat X means that they may return in DLC.

Most of the recent big-name fighting games have emphasized online and tournament play, neglecting solo fighting game fans in the process. The two major modes in Injustice 2 provide a plethora of things for the solo fighting game fan to do. The story mode continues from the original, this time with Batman's and Superman's groups teaming up to get rid of Brainiac and a group known as The Society. If you're familiar with the last few Netherrealm titles, then you'll expect a sprawling adventure that lasts a while and has you fighting with just about every character on the roster. You'll also have a story that is well written and adheres to comic canon.

The heart of the single-player game is going to be the Multiverse mode (along with the alternate, more difficult version located below it). While it is the area that houses both the arcade and survival modes, players will be most interested in the other missions. It's set up similar to Mortal Kombat X's Living Towers mode, as each universe has a different configuration and storyline, whether it's using Flash at half-speed or playing with any character at double damage. There have already been lots of tie-in universes, like one for the "Justice League" movie, and the tie-in universes only last for a limited time. It also helps that Multiverse mode is home to gear that's not part of the loot boxes, so there are lots of reasons to play this mode.

In addition to  the seemingly endless supply of things for the solo player to do, there's online play. It features the usual selection of ranked and player matches and a King of the Hill mode, but you can only use your gear's natural stat boosts in player matches . You can still play in ranked matches with your gear, but it'll be purely cosmetic. There's also a Team Battle mode, where you can pit your team against another and let the AI control the outcome for you. The appeal is limited, but you can get a loot box from the experience. The good news is that despite the wait time between the console and PC versions, the online community is still there. It's always a concern for a genre that's mostly confined to consoles. While Injustice 2 doesn't have the benefit of cross-platform play like Street Fighter V, it's been fairly easy to find a match on the PC.

The PC version only has a few extras, and almost all of them are expected for the platform. The game automatically supports both Xbox and PlayStation button prompts if you plug in their respective controllers, so there's no fiddling with the options unless you want to remap buttons. Just like the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, the game supports HDR, and it also supports native 4K. There's a quick benchmark to test your hardware, and all of the graphical options have explanations about what they do. There's even support for specific RGB lighting effects if you want to play with a keyboard instead of an arcade stick or control pad.

That said, PC enthusiasts may be displeased with a few platform-specific things that are missing. The game caps out at 60fps, which is fine for the genre but those with higher refresh rate monitors will be disappointed. The cut scenes for story mode are done with some slightly noticeable compression on higher resolutions. More disappointing is the fact that the fight introductions, victory screens, and super move scenes cap out at 30fps. This falls in line with all of the previous Mortal Kombat and Injustice games, but it would've been nice to see the frame rate remain solid throughout the match.

The presentation does not disappoint. Though it is still using a heavily modified version of Unreal Engine 3, the texture work is superb, and the models look gorgeous. The animations saw some improvements this time around, especially with the mouths during the cut scenes; it makes the game look more realistic without hitting uncanny valley. On the audio side, there aren't many changes from the first game. That's a good thing, since the vocal performances from a cast mostly comprised of veteran DC voice actors and an epic score make the game sound as good as it looks. The game has a robust introduction sequence for every fighter, and there are loads of different sequences, depending on the match. Those who have a vague knowledge on Catwoman and Batman's relationship can expect their introductory dialogue to be a little flirty. However, play that same pairing multiple times, and you'll notice enough different dialogue that it takes a while before a particular sequence repeats. That's even true of characters who don't have special dialogue between one another.

Though it didn't launch day and date with the console versions, Injustice 2 remains a solid fighting game for PC players. The fighting system is a marked improvement over the original, and the online performance is solid, but the single-player content and loot system are what will keep people playing. There's so much content here that those who aren't interested in playing online will still feel like they got their money's worth. Fighting fans and those who enjoy the DC universe should definitely own this game.

Score: 9.0/10

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