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Yahtzee reviews Injustice 2.

Transcript Edit

I think it's fair to say that the DC Comics universe and its various adaptations could stand to take itself a touch less seriously. "Oh, it's easy to be an armchair cinematographer, isn't it?" snarks Johnny DC in reply. "You try getting in a cheery mood when you feel the need to break $400 million on opening weekend or your executives will have to take a pay cut and cause the collapse of the local pool-cleaning industry!" I'm just saying, Johnny DC, that Superman and Batman crying in the rain smashing each other's faces in and talking like pro wrestlers with mouthfuls of cat litter might be drifting somewhat from the essence of those characters, that is to say, power fantasies for little boys who don't want to tidy their rooms. But here's Injustice 2 anyway, another team-up between the DC universe and NetherRealm, the Mortal Kombat people, although DC shouldn't feel special, because the last Mortal Kombat game ended up crossing over with Alien, Predator, Jason Voorhees, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and basically everyone that ever replied to their emails, so I'd advise DC to get themselves down to Clap Clinic once they get back from their honeymoon.

Still, as I believe I said last time, the one-on-one fighting game and the superhero comics universe are an actual combo, as both are concerned with larger-than-life characters beating the snot out of each other for one incredibly-contrived reason after another. The broad incredibly-contrived reason running through the Injustice property is a falling-out between Batman and Superman over whether or not killing people is good. Batman takes the position that killing is the uncrossable line at which all negotiation breaks down and vigilance gives way to tyranny, while Superman takes the position that "Wah wah, I'm really sad and cross, and I'm not going to tidy my room, so there!"

After the events of the first game, Superman is in super-prison until he jolly well does tidy his room, young man, Batman's trying to rebuild the world, Supergirl has turned up and is being misled by Wonder Woman, who had precisely none of Superman's motivation to turn evil, but did so anyway with about twice the gusto (because that's what happens when you let those slimy girls into the treehouse club, isn't it, lads?), and to this big ball of nonsense comes a new threat in the form of Brainiac, planet-destroying one-man Borg Collective and classic Superman villain, named presumably by someone who assumed they were writing an escapist fantasy for boys and not a gritty, apocalyptic horror epic.

Injustice 2 takes a stark, realistic art style that makes the main cast resemble a bunch of mums and dads escorting their kids to the cosplay convention and getting a little bit too into it. The highly realistic faces are breakfasting in the ski lodge overlooking the uncanny valley, especially when Black Canary does her screaming attack and she looks more like she stubbed her toe on a coffee table, but hey, all the realistic graphics in the world would go to waste the instance the fight actually starts and the two characters start boinging back and forth like a pair of hyperactive grasshoppers playing British Bulldog.

And yet the obvious effort that went into making things look arse-achingly authentic is contrasted against a distinct lack of effort everywhere else; it's obvious that they've simply taken the basic skeleton of Mortal Kombat X and slotted different characters in. It uses the exact same pre-fight banter script: Character A says banter, Character B says response banter, Character A gets offended, commence hyperactive grasshopper business. Same camera angles, same elaborate animations every time. Gorilla Grodd always produces a skull and crushes it when delivering banter line 3. Where is he getting all these skulls from? Is there a little off-screen monkey slave with a big bag of the fuckers?

Also, I wonder if some of the choices of D-list character additions might have been affected by what assets NetherRealm already had lying around. We had Killer Frost last time and now Captain Cold, I suspect because they'd already made a load of ice effects for Sub-Zero in the last Mortal Kombat game, who, incidentally, is also getting added to this game as DLC, which is an act of supreme redundancy; that is, at best, putting a cherry on top of another cherry that already had a cherry on it. I worry this sort of thing is going to turn into what Guitar Hero turned into, but with characters instead of songs. If you're just going to use basically the same bloody framework every time, why even bother making entirely new games when you can just keep adding downloadable characters to the existing ones? That's pretty much how M.U.G.E.N works; perhaps I should keep my ideas to myself, because I can faintly hear the sound of Warner Brothers executives hyperventilating.

I'm still not a big fan of actually playing fighting games; it's for twitchy people who like inputting stupidly complex button combinations in very short notice, like a jazz pianist on meth. Tutorial doesn't help; still got no idea what the fuck a "bounce cancel" is, unless it's a surefire way to disappoint a children's party. I would think these five-minute-long super-moves would break up the game flow rather drastically; maybe fighting game fans appreciate having a little time-out to sip their Coke and reset all their finger bones.

But you know what? I've come to appreciate fighting games as a sort of bare-bones exploration of characters. My favorite Batman villain is Scarecrow. Don't know why; maybe 'cos his bits were the highlight of both Arkham Asylum and Batman Begins, maybe 'cos I bet no one ever gets all up in his grill for not liking Smash Bros. enough, but I admit, I got a kick out of playing as him in this game and going through his Tower Mode to the ending. Of course, before I could do that, I had to find the Tower Mode, and they don't make that easy; it's buried right in the bottom of Multiverse Mode like a furtively-stashed porn mag under a mattress. Multiverse Mode, incidentally, is the method by which the game stacks up six or seven random, unrelated fights and pretends you're achieving something; it's the long-sought-after missing link between gaming and data entry.

The other main new feature is gear drops: crack open your hard-earned loot boxes, and you'll be rewarded with a glove, a pocket square, and a sweatband for Dullard Woman and Captain Never-Used, which ups their flouncing ability by .1%. This loot crate shit is an indictment of the times, especially since they're always so bloody successful, and it's not like unlocking a fun alternative costume where the Joker looks like how he looked in landmark issue 537 of Flouncy Comics. Most of the gear does very little to change the overall look of a character; most of Superman's torso is just a hundred variations on a theme of "blue jumper with lines on it".

So in terms of what I want out of a fighting game, Injustice 2 is cloyingly stupid. Watching the story mode and its increasingly-contrived setups for a conveyor belt of fights in the same six or seven locations is like watching a school play with an irresponsibly extravagant budget. And incidentally, did everyone just forget that normal humans can't beat up super-humans on equal footing, or is that one of those things we weren't supposed to notice? But you know what? Injustice 2 is like a puppy chewing a fire extinguisher: it's charming in its stupidity, but I'd rather watch it on YouTube than have it in my house.

Addenda Edit

  • Holding out for a dead parents backstory: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I'm also glad the casting of Robert Englund and Jeffrey Combs allowed me to bring to life my Nightmare on Elm Street / Star Trek DS9 crossover fanfic
  • Would you like to see my mask
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II

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