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Injustice 2 - Hands-On Impressions

We visited NetherRealm in Chicago and got our hands on the studio's next super-powered fighter.

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It's been a few years now since Netherrealm released Mortal Kombat 9 (2011). Before that we were given a lot of poor MK games, and a bad DC fighting game in a shape of 2008's Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. The problem that time around was that Midway (who owned MK at the time) and DC Comics didn't want Sub-Zero to rip off Batman's head, or Scorpion burning Superman alive (which would have been impossible anyway).

But, it did sow a seed with the developers, and that seed grew to become Injustice: Gods Among Us, which released in 2013. This is what comic book fans had been waiting for. The game was a critical success, and even won "Best Fighting Game" at E3 in 2012. In the beginning of the development cycle, there was a lot of discussion between Netherrealm, Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Especially when Netherrealm said they wanted to make Superman a tyrant and dictator of Earth. But as development of the premise continued, DC and Warner came on board, even to the point of wanting to expand this multiverse into its own thing by tying it in with a comic created by DC Comics themselves. The legendary comic book company even helped flesh out the story, the lore, the look, and feel of the characters.

And the story is as follows: The Joker kidnaps and starts operating on a pregnant Lois Lane, when Superman arrives to save her, he gets drugged with fear toxin by Harley Quinn and The Joker. He sees Doomsday there, and starts attacking him to keep Lois and his unborn safe. What he doesn't know is that it's not Doomsday he's beating up, it is in fact Lois. Batman tries to get Superman to stop, but is too late. Lois is killed by her husband. The Joker had also placed a device inside Lois that would set off a nuclear device in the middle of Metropolis if she were to die. It goes off and kills millions of people.

Superman, struck with grief and anger, goes mad, and together with Batman finds the Joker. Batman tries to calm Superman down, but in the end the Kryptonian hero punches his fist through Joker, killing him instantly. From then on, Superman makes a promise that nothing like this will never ever happen again. He crowns himself supreme ruler of Earth and vows to stop all evil by any means necessary. Batman, with his moral code of not killing, pledges to do everything within in his power to stop Superman and anyone who sides with him.

It's refreshing to see Superman not being the poster child for the boy scouts anymore. He has the power to, in his view, change the world for the better and decides that incarcerating evil doesn't stop it, it just postpones its inevitable release or escape. Snuffing out these villains on the other hand will remove that evil forever. We highly recommend you read the comic series, it's awesome!

Injustice 2

That takes us to Injustice 2. How does one improve on the previous game? The biggest news is the gear system. You earn actual gear, like what you'd see in an RPG, when playing the game (both by winning and losing matches). Much like games like Diablo, Final Fantasy and Nioh, the gear has base stats that change things like your character's strength and how much health they have, but it also changes their look. Alternative skins in fighting games is nothing new, the difference here is that the gear changes the overall look of the character, not only the colour. And no, it's not simply DLC costumes either.

When we got to play the game, we ended up fighting a purple-clad Superman with a gold trim cape and a white-wearing Batman that looked more high tech than usual. According to Tyler Landsdown, community specialist at Netherrealm, he was often surprised and impressed by the the number of variations the game can throw at you, and the imagination of the players making said variations. On the question of whether players will be able to make the characters look like coloured clowns by, for example, having turquoise pants and a neon green top, the answer was "no". There is a "look" to every character which you can't break, which also ties in with the colour combinations. So to remedy this, similar to what you might have seen in games like Destiny, they've made shaders, which "are colour packs that change the colour scheme of the character, but retains the look and feel of the character". These shaders are also earned just like gear. So, if you want Batman to look a little more like the Adam West version, chances are you can. Want Wonder Women to look more high tech? Go for it.

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