Injustice: Gods Among Us was a surprisingly fun title when it first released for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. After the surprise announcement for Injustice 2, fighting game and super hero fans alike are gearing up for the next DC show down. Although the game isn’t available until May, developer NetherRealm has treated fans to an online beta to try it out early. Thanks to my friend Mike, I recently got some time with the beta, and walked away with mixed feelings. There’s not a ton of content available in the beta, but it helped me get a better understanding of what’s in store for us when the full game releases.
Injustice 2 promises to have a large variety of characters from mainstream to lesser known. However, the beta only has four available characters: Superman, Batman, Supergirl and Atrocitus.
Superman is just as fun to play as he was in the first game. Much of his moves remain the same, including the overpowered laser blast from the original. Superman is a great character for newcomers to Injustice, as he is both strong and agile. He’s a character that strikes a good balance between offensive play and defense, albeit a little overpowered. Hopefully they’ll balance the laser blast before official release; I was able to win a game simply by spamming the move at the right time.
Batman is a bit heavier of a character, but has some great abilities due to his gadgets. You can throw batarangs, use your grappling hook, and generally make a mess of the enemy with your utility belt. Maybe it’s faulty memory, but I remember him being a bit more floaty in the original game. I haven’t gotten comfortable with his move yet, and I’ll have to spend more time with him in the final game to make a decision. However, Batman could work as a more tanky character. He’s a bit more strategic than the rest of the beta cast, so he’s a good character to use if you want to work on zoning and practicing special moves.
Supergirl is probably my favorite out of the entire cast so far. She’s agile and deals a ton of a damage. In fact, I think she’s a bit more unbalanced than Superman. I found myself gravitating towards Supergirl more than anyone else, due to her versatility and evasiveness. She’s devilishly quick, and can counter attacks quickly if used properly. She also has a teleport move very similar to Scorpion’s in “Mortal Kombat X”, and seeing as how he’s my favorite character, her play style aligned with my preference well. When the game officially releases, I can see myself sticking with Supergirl and learning her subtleties.
Our final character is a bit lesser known than the rest, but a pretty cool character regardless. Atrocitus is a villain of the Guardians of the Universe franchise, as well as an enemy of Sinestro. He’s the designated bulky character, playing similar to Bane in the original. Atrocitus is also my least favorite character in the Injustice 2 beta. While he’s a visually impressive character, he’s not the most fun to play as. Atrocitus is slow and doesn’t have the damage output to balance it out. I found myself struggling to grasp his play style, but as I mentioned before, tanky characters are not my forte. He’s got some pretty cool move sets, including a series of brutal punches that knock the opponent back. But these devastating moves deal minimal damage, and look more painful than they actually are. A character like Supergirl can easily evade his attacks and make quick work of his health bar. I’m sure there’s deep strategy and combos to learn, but I simply didn’t enjoy my time with him.
The beta also has two available stages to battle in. We’re treated to Superman’s Metropolis as well as the dark and brooding Gotham City. Both areas are ripe with activity, especially the dive bar section in Metropolis. Much like Injustice 1 and Mortal Kombat X, the environment can be used as a weapon. This makes for some pretty entertaining moments, like chucking a keg at Batman’s head or throwing a bar patron across the screen. Screen transitions also make a return, as you are able to knock your opponent through walls into additional areas. There’s three or four sections per stage, and each area looks distinctly different. It’s almost like three stages in one; and it’s a feature I really enjoyed in the original.
Lastly, I want to bring up a new feature. As you complete fights online, you are awarded with different items for the various characters. On the main menu, you can equip your fighters with various loadouts. These loadouts are made up of pieces of gear you’ve collected, all with stat modifications.
For example, Superman starts out with a basic costume. After playing a dozen games or so, you’ll probably have a couple of options for each piece of his suit. You can change the cape, pants, shirt, emblem, and head. This varies from character to character, but the functionality remains the same. Some pieces of gear add points to your health, defense, attack, or ability. Some also offer buffs to things like overall experience gain or currency rewards. It’s a cool system that adds a sense of progress to your play. Even though you might not be winning consistently, you’ll at least be gaining new items to upgrade your characters and make them look cooler. This could be a huge balancing issue though. As long as NetherRealm keeps the upgrade system outside of ranked play, the balance changes shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
I was impressed with the first Injustice, but not completely blown away. I’m mostly excited for the single player story mode, which there was none of in the beta. The beta for Injustice 2 has shown me that NetherRealms has spent time trying to refine the mechanics and add some new ones. If the story mode is exceptional, Injustice 2 could turn out to be a great fighting game. However, if they fail to balance properly and maintain support with continuous patches, it could fall flat on its face. From everything I’ve seen, Injustice 2 has a lot of potential if executed properly. Right now, it’s a pretty fun game, but not great. If you have the opportunity, I recommend giving it a go. At the very least, Injustice 2 is a heavier and more violent superhero fighting game. Those who grow tired of the flashy visuals of the “Marvel vs Capcom” series might enjoy the darker tone of Injustice. Ultimately this is all speculation until the game releases in May. When that time comes, I’ll be ready to give Injustice 2 a proper go. Until then, I’ve seen what I need to see. The mechanics are sound, the gameplay is fun and visually impressive. All that’s left to get right is the story mode and the balancing. If those issues are taken care of, we’ve got a good game on our hands.
Don’t forget to check back when the game releases for our review! I’ll be eagerly waiting until then.
*Special thanks to Mike Cunningham for supplying us with access to the beta.