With its combination of complex characters and superior graphic design, Injustice 2 often feels less like a game and more like a film that is periodically interrupted by aggravating button-mash sessions that will leave your fingers cramping long after the credits roll.
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm studios revisit the dystopian DC universe that pits hero against hero. Unfortunately, the newest installment of the franchise relies too heavily on the same formula of the previous game: intermixing a compelling story with subpar gameplay. The simplicity of the game’s mechanics, along with the Teen rating, broadens the appeal of the franchise beyond comic fans, but leaves the player wondering, “That’s it – that’s all I do?”
Storyline wise, the game, despite being a sequel, stands alone. Players can enter the story without fearing that they have been dropped right in the middle of a minefield. Opening with a playable recap of the last game’s events, Injustice 2 thrusts players into a world struggling to recover from the fall of Superman’s authoritarian regime. People live in fear. Wonder-woman and the Flash are fugitives. Harley Quinn is now Batman’s trusted advisor, and Superman rots in prison for his crimes… but not for long. As events unfold, each hero must decide which is more important: peace or freedom.
Despite the riveting storyline, the actual gameplay of Injustice 2 severely lacks innovation, descending into redundancy within the first fifteen minutes. Once again, the game’s creators regurgitate the trite formula of Mortal Kombat in a desperate attempt to appeal to non-comic fans. Players can suit up with the hero of their choice and compete in gruesome, over-the-top death matches in the game’s many side missions. Anyone not interested in the game’s comic book source material can delight in just ‘knocking out’ their opponent.
These fervent button extravaganzas require more patience, and perhaps aspirin, rather than skill. High rankings provide players with bragging rights and little else. Apart from the inclusion of new characters to play, the game’s only distinguishing feature from the first installment is the completely pointless gear system: a convoluted way of earning meager costume changes and increased abilities that, ridiculously, don’t carry over into the game’s main story mode.
Rather than enhancing the player’s experience, the gameplay functions only as a transition between cut-scenes, a disruption that, after the first few matches, you’ll wish could skip in order to get back to the story. Each hero clash up does nothing to advance the story; winners of the duels only get a snappy one-liner from their character while losers can always hit the ‘retry’ button and start right back where they left off.
One hour into the game and the truth will be undeniable … it would have been better as a movie.