I'll be honest with you guys before I start this: I suck at fighting games. Mortal Kombat, Soulcalibur, Tekken—I suck at all of them equally. Games that are 90% button mashing with a hint of strategy is something I just can't get into compared to other games out there. A lot of these games are just clones of each other too, just adding more of the same characters with different skins, and charging full price for a game you've otherwise already played.
That being said, I was stoked for Injustice 2. I'm a huge comic book fan, and frequently used to sit around with my buddies and hash out who would beat up who in what scenario. Injustice was supposed to answer that question, and give us the showdowns between characters we had always wanted. Instead, this game became a grab for cash and basically takes advantage of marketing popular DC characters. It's significantly dropped the ball. This is how Injustice 2 said f*** you to its die-hard fans.
None of us have ever seen this combo! Batman and Superman having conflicting ideology on how to deal with criminals!? Never!! If you can't tell the heavy level of sarcasm within that statement, strap in because most of this article will be riddled with sarcasm. The Batman vs Superman trope has been used so many times in DC Comics history that I could write a "new" take on Bats vs Supes with the effort that it takes me to write a story about a vampire falling in love with a pale girl. This is a huge f*** you to fans because we know this story! Batman needs some kind of equalizer, because Superman is a freaking God, Batman outsmarts Superman, but it takes all of his might because Superman is still significantly stronger, faster, and better than Batman. This isn't a new story, and instead they just added different context to the same retold story.
In the original Injustice game, Batman developed a pill that made everyone as strong as a Kryptonian. I won't get into how that makes zero sense, but at least the original Injustice addresses the fact that humans can't take a Meta-Human in one-on-one combat when the Super-Human is at normal strength. Take the image above: Deadshot is a normal human (albeit with some crazy bullet control), and Aquaman is the King of Atlantis, with super strength and such. To think that Deadshot's weak-ass jab is going to stagger the King of the Deep, with just his normal anatomy against a Meta-Human makes zero sense. Without an equalizer, which is never explained in Injustice 2, any Meta-Human should turn the normal human's bones to mush on first contact.
Wonder Woman is an Amazonian bred from a warrior culture, like the Spartans, and I can understand that someone originally had to explain to her that she can't just gut Cheetah and mount her on the wall. That being said, in every comic, Wonder Woman is a beacon of the good in people. She's fearless, and willing to do whatever she can to save someone in danger, While Injustice 2 is an alternate universe where even wonder-boy Superman is a baddie, her character motivation makes no sense. Superman got tricked by the Joker to kill the love of his life, and that changed him. Fair enough. Wonder Woman just sees Superman killing people and is just on board with murder because... well, they don't establish why! She's just brutal for the sake of being brutal, which doesn't represent Wonder Woman in any good taste, as one of the most developed characters in DC history.
The facial animation in Injustice 2 is some of the best I've ever seen. In no way am I bashing that this game clearly takes next-gen graphics, and elevates them right alongside Uncharted or Horizon: Zero Dawn, but the over-acting kills it for me. With old tech, it makes sense that you would want your motion-capture actors to over-exaggerate their facial movements, so that the editors and VFX guys have something to work with. But when you have an update to the tech, you don't have to over emote every single face expression. They all look like theater students in 7th grade who just learned how to expressively move their faces. The facial momentum is overacted, which becomes a distraction rather than a caveat to the plot or gameplay. Look at Black Canary and Supergirl in their scenes: they look like robots who were taught how to make human facial expressions poorly.
The improvements in both the graphics and the character models between Injustice and Injustice 2 are great, with major leaps being taken for the realism. Only issue is DC and NetherRealm seemed to have spent all of their time and money making Aquaman's jawline more subtle, and had no real changes to their gameplay or improvements upon the original game, other than a reskin for everyone. If you're going to keep the same game mechanics, with no real improvements other than visuals, release a patch or a remaster. At least then people know what they're getting into. While they added a few characters, there's no reason all the new guys couldn't have been DLC for the original game. I appreciate a visually impressive game, unless the visuals come before the gameplay.
Now this is just the biggest FU to customers! Obviously the game is the same format as Mortal Kombat: X. Same intro sequences, some fight mechanics, same super moves, and even the same animations on some of the characters. If you think they chose Captain Cold because he's an engaging, original character than you are out of your mind! They chose Cold because they have about a million Sub-Zero freeze animations pre-rendered. If you take out the gameplay, which is literally re-skinned Mortal Kombat X, and just look at their DLC choices, it's nothing but an FU to fans. I wanted a DC comics game, not DC vs Mortal Kombat. I would have rather they re-released Killer Frost or someone from the original Injustice, than throw in a character simply because NetherRealm has the model already done and it'll make them extra cash. If you look in the smoke in the background, I'm pretty sure we all see Raiden. FU NetherRealm.
I could go on and on about how these characters could have all been DLC for Injustice or even Mortal Kombat X, but the most frustrating thing is how the DLC is being done. If y'all can remember back in the day of Marvel vs Capcom and the character selection, you'll remember that there were about 100 characters to choose from. Injustice 2 plans on a bigger roster than the day-one game, but not for free. So you just dropped 60 bucks on a remastered game, just to have them tell you that the cool new characters are about $5 a pop. Red Hood: awesome character, but has an extra surcharge. This is nothing but disrespectful and generally asshole-ish behavior. Release a finished, fully rostered game, then reward its success by developing new characters for a loyal fanbase. Don't make half of the interesting characters extra on your full-priced game, or you get people like me who call you out on your shady BS.
Let's say were having Atrocitus fight Green Lantern. You'd think they'd have a few more words to say to each other before they beat each other into submission, right? They, and every other combination of characters, have a few different voice lines, with the same frustrating pattern. Atrocitus says something, Green Lantern responds, Atrocitus gets offended. A talks, B responds, A starts the fight. It's the same three one-liners back and forth in a pattern which becomes stale as soon as you realize it's there. No one expects a full cutscene before every fight, but maybe sometimes they can just fight after two words from Batman, and maybe Black Canary and Green Arrow can have more of a back and forth than Joker and Swamp Thing. This would suck otherwise, but this is also the exact same format as Mortal Kombat X.
Batman always enters in a cloud of smoke. Superman always breaks his restraints. Gorilla Grodd will crush a skull in his hand. These never change based on the location, and never change based on who you're fighting. its the same movement with a different spoken line, which frankly just seems lazy and was most definitely an oversight on NetherRealms' part. It takes away from the depth of the characters to think that Batman only knows how to throw smoke to make a dramatic entrance, rather than sneaking up and attacking his opponent from the shadows. You know, like Batman typically does. I get him making an entrance to fight Damian, or even the Joker. But you're telling me that if Bane shows up, they have to have a dialogue before Batman starts to fight?
We've all had that talk- who could win in a fight: Cheetah or Swamp Thing? Oh, you haven't? You haven't stayed up late at night asking yourself if Captain Cold could beat Gorilla Grodd in a 1v1? What's up with these D-list characters! No one is excited about some of these obscure characters (that being said I love Atrocitus in the comics, but I spend more time explaining who he is to people than playing as him). Quality over quantity, or just quantity, you have to pick one. You either need a roster made up of every DC hero and villain (including Condiment King), or stick to the heroes people want to see. I would have rather seen Mr. Freeze or Two-Face over Dr. Fate and Cheetah. Choose characters that are unique, and that the fans are going to want to play as, not random people who they're only going to play as because they've already mastered Deadshot.
If you're pretty much just re-skinning a game, then why cut characters? Nightwing, Raven, Hawkgirl, Shazam, Solomon Grundy, Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Ares, Killer Frost, Doomsday, and Sinestro all didn't make the cut for Injustice 2. This crew, including all of the DLC characters from Injustice, didn't make their way into the new installment. For no discernible reason! Some of these characters are the coolest, and the most fan-favorite characters from DC Comics' roster, and to cut them for no reason is just a huge f*** you to fans. In almost every fighting game in history, your character roster tends to only grow and expand with each game, adding new characters and updating favorites, rather than just ditching some of your more original and diverse characters for janky replacements.
Never before has a tutorial prepared me so little for actual combat, and I've played all the Dark Souls games. Now, fighting games have their own niche form of combat system, which seems to be hit-or-miss among gaming fans. I know people who kick ass at fighting games and suck at first person shooters, and vice versa. That being said, if you have a complicated system, your tutorial should be able to teach someone who's never played that style of game before, which is something that Injustice 2 misses the mark entirely on. Not only do I constantly have to refer to my skill list, but the game assumes you know how to juggle after the first few tutorials, which is something really only seen in professional level fighting games.
The super moves in Injustice 2 are badass. The only issue is that each one feels like a dead stop to combat. You go from spamming combos and button mashing to sitting not moving for the full cinematic super move. It's not that annoying, other than the fact that if you play right, you could get your super multiple times a match. This makes sitting through literally the same looped animation over and over again get obnoxious and cause headaches. The other annoying point with this game is that most supers can be blocked like a normal attack, just by holding away from your opponent. Nothing is more BS then when a lucky block stops you from finishing your opponent, or how every computer past Hard mode will never mess up that timing to block your super.
This menu gets confusing real fast. I spent 20 minutes looking for the classic tower mode, which I figured was here because every Mortal Kombat game has it and this game isn't exactly original. It's weird to navigate, and generally confusing and not user friendly. When customizing, it lists all the characters in the game, rather than showing who has new equipment, or your most played. You get to scroll through pages of characters and equipment to try to figure out who got something new and who got some useless cosmetic upgrade, usually a character that you don't play. The setup should be like any other multiplayer game: campaign menu, and multiplayer and single player options. That's where the tower mode, Multiverse, and any of this other BS is.
This could have been so cool, but misses the mark by a mile. This is the weirdest, most annoying content in the game. This just puts a random number of enemies in front of you and makes a half-assed story plot to keep you engaged. The annoying part is that it could have been great. Many of the missions allow you to level up characters and get new equipment quicker than just free-fighting in single player, but for some reason they put level requirements for most of the levels. If I'm trying to level Harley Quinn with her multiverse level, don't require me to grind her to level 20 before I can access her Epic Drops. Grinding isn't fun. And the other problems within the game reveal themselves after your 15th game in a row fighting as Cyborg.
Why!!! Why does this game need loot crates! It's not Destiny, its not World of Warcraft, and Batman doesn't need different armor pieces that boost stats in a fighting game. The dumb part that screws over the fans is that this makes the game pay-to-win. You can buy mother boxes, to make your character stronger with real cash. This just means some trust fund baby is going to have a stronger Deadshot than me simply because he can afford the $100 coin pack. This makes the game closer to a Clash of Clans-style game, not the supposed AAA game from a reputable studio that it's supposed to be. This was the biggest disappointment for me, seeing how money-grabbing the gaming industry has become. Let's get back to games you win by actually outplaying the other player.