NetherRealm Studios Raises The Bar For Fighting Games Story Mode Again With Injustice 2
How do you pull off a story mode in a fighting game? The easy answer would be sprinkling a little bit of story in between fights. But NetherRealm Studios have always gone one step further with its story modes. High-quality cinematics and seamless transitions from cinematic to fighting have been the trademark of the developer team. Other studios like Capcom have even acknowledged the high bar the Mortal Kombat series and the first Injustice have put for a fighting game story mode.
Injustice 2 raises the bar further.
With the Injustice universe being its own canon in the DC universe, there is now an official comic book line for the storyline, Injustice 2 takes place after both the first game and the comics where an authoritarian Superman has been captured and his Regime fallen. Despite the victory, Batman remains vigilant of any upcoming threats that he created Brother Eye, an AI surveillance program. The heroes that support Superman are laying low, biding the right time to set him free again, and a new group under the leadership of Gorilla Grodd appeared to potentially wreck havoc. Then Braniac arrived, set to take Superman and any specimen he finds interesting into his ‘collection’ while destroying the rest of Earth.
The setup totally fits considering the source material, but newcomers who haven’t played the first game or read the comics should not have trouble catching up. The story makes an effort to give at least one line of explanation of backstory or motivation. For example, wondering why Injustice 2’s Green Arrow looked different than the first? He’s the Green Arrow from another universe who just arrived, which he remarked when he is first seen in the story.
The cinematic moments in the story mode are all well done. A variety of angles were used for some shots and the orchestra score makes it feel like a DC movie. Not to mention the crazy details of all the facial expressions. If you’re not sold on the realistic design of the characters, looking them in motion may convince you.
The transitions between story bits to fighting bits are done well as expected. The jump from 30 fps to 60 can be a bit jarring, but the way the letterbox moves out of the screen to reveal the HUD elements is fantastic. Retrying a fight is also quick so the action keeps on going throughout the 12 chapters. They also justified the fights pretty well. It can be silly, but in universe based on comic book heroes, a disagreement of philosophy or unraveling of a tragic backstory is good enough reason for fisticuffs to happen.
But the best part of Injustice 2’s story mode is branching paths. Yes, there’s some decision making, but all it boils down to is picking who to fight as. You are encouraged to play the story again and play the fights as the other fighter you didn’t pick, and there is a different ending based on the choice you pick in the last chapter. Which kind of justice do you support?
Injustice 2’s story mode is definitely worth trying out, or at least watch a let’s play of it. The cinematic quality of the experience, the seamless transitions that keeps you engaged as the story goes, the nice pacing, and the unexpected branching paths makes this the best story mode in a fighting game so far. It’s around 3-4 hours of length, and there’s a branching path so it’s not that long. The story itself is nothing groundbreaking, but it is one well executed.
It’s not worth getting Injustice 2 just for the story, but if you enjoy the combat and only like playing solo, the Multiverse will definitely keep you busy.
Stay tuned as we work out a full review of Injustice 2 soon.