While fighting games have never really been my forte, even I can recognise and appreciate Injustice 2’s natural ability to cater for my gaming tastes. I’m a single-player gamer at heart, always have been, always will be. And for the longest time this is something the fighting game genre has had a hard time catering for, the concept of fighting an opponent across a single plain understandably making the most sense when challenging someone of equal ability.
Enter NetherRealm Studios, an independent team of fighting game fanatics who even managed to survive the eventual breaking down of Midway, Mortal Kombat license still intact. It came as quite a surprise, therefore then, that the second entry in their now-celebrated Injustice fighting franchise has by now more than earned its place as the single-player fan’s fighting game of choice.
Look beyond the immediate draw of getting to fool around with DC’s impressive catalogue of heroes, it’s the plenty in-depth systems that make Injustice 2 tower above the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, and even Nintendo’s highly anticipated Arms. Shots fired, or in this case – punches thrown.
The key component NetherRealm keep being able to knock out of the park is one that remained untapped for the longest time – The campaign. Whereas prior to the release of MK9 most fighting game developers chose to focus their time tweaking a way at character balancing and gloriously complex combo setups, aspects such as these are exclusively geared towards the competitive multiplayer scene. Working my way up through the ranks (or a literally tower in old Mortal Kombat’s case) in single player, paled in comparison, and would often see me lay down the controller after only a few short hours of play.
That’s not to say that the various other fighting game franchises aren’t exceedingly good at what they do – Street Fighter II continues to dominate the conversation – but there’s a reason the likes of Capcom, Bandai Namco, and even Microsoft are suddenly seeking to replicate NetherRealm’s unabashed success with regards to single player content. It’s no longer enough to present liner lovers with a wall of exposition and call it a story. No sir!
NetherRealm have nailed the perfect way of catering for almost every type of player, but what is it about Injustice 2 in particular that makes it head, shoulders, and torsos above the rest? Of all things: Loot. Against all odds and expectations, with Injustice 2 the developers have uncovered a perfect method of keeping solo players coming back for more, all thanks to the lucrative loop that is quite literally the daily grind.
Injustice 2 regularly offers up a slew of worthwhile gear and loot in the form of in-universe mother boxes, and the result is this overarching need (at least in my case) to unlock everything for every character and see them hit max level. What this means is that rather than spend a few hours blasting through the story in roughly 4 hours, Injustice 2 has the potential for you to sink well up to 40. Obviously it’s not just this element alone that makes it work, both how NetherRealm strategically and sporadically drip-feed mother boxes to you. At times frustrating, but more often fulfilling.
Even Arms misses out on this opportunity of further gripping a new audience, squandering the inventive idea of characters with elongated appendages to simply have players progress through a bog standard “grand prix”. Injustice 2 delivers on the promise first hinted at in the first entry, and it’s likely to continue being the template that all others in its genre should strive to beat.