Jyger’s Rant – Injustice 2 Story Mode Review (WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD)
…So, I don’t own this game. Just throwing this out now. Not available for any systems I own, don’t have the money to get a new one, and so here we are. That said, I really wanted to give my thoughts on the story in Injustice 2, especially since I DO own the original and have given my thoughts on it in the past. Luckily, plenty of people, like Maximilian Dood and Kwing, have posted playthroughs of the Story Mode, so I’m thus able to give it my own review. Just remember, though, that as I’m doing this review, I’m speaking strictly about the story, not the game in terms of how it plays and whatnot. Although, I will get this out of the way right now: So far, based on what I’ve seen, it looks like a really good game, haven’t heard much wrong with it from a technical perspective yet, and on a personal note, NetherRealm Studios seem to have HUGELY improved on their facial designs and animations with this game. In fact, over all, I think this is their best LOOKING game of all time. Whenever they wanna make Mortal Kombat XI, they need to take inspiration from this game when it comes to the graphics.
But yeah, the story. So, this takes place a few years after Injustice: Gods Among Us. Superman is in a red solar prison for taking over the world, and his former Regime buddies are either planning to break him out, working to make up for what they did under his rule, or joining Gorilla Grodd’s new group, the Society. However, pretty soon, it becomes clear that the Society are just pawns in a much bigger game, as Brainiac arrives to capture Superman, add a few Earth cities to his collection, and then blow the planet up. Eventually, the situation devolves so much that Batman and his allies have no choice but to release Superman and work with the Regime to try and stop Brainiac and the Society before they destroy the world.
So, right away, I have a bit of a complaint to make. If you didn’t play that game…well, there’re a few details that this game tends to completely either ignore or glance over. Specifically, the heroes of the mainstream DC Universe were brought over to the world primarily presented in these games and the comics to stop an evil Superman who had pretty much taken over with a new group made up of former heroes and villains called the Regime. And while this game takes place on that world, I think there’re maybe one or two passing references to the fact that Batman had help from good Superman and the Justice League in taking down Regime Superman (as in they did most of the work and he got all the credit), and the player is otherwise left to assume Batman was bad enough to bring down Superman all by himself. Also, no mention of the super pills they took last game, which are meant to explain how people like Batman, Harley, and other characters without superpowers can go toe-to-toe with superhumans, get tossed around in outer-fucking-space, and survive without so much as a scratch on them.
Another issue with the story is that it has a bit of a…complicated relationship with the tie-in comics. Nowhere is that more clear than in the first chapter of the story, which is actually set during an operation that Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg were pulling on Arkham Asylum. Basically, some events that happened in the comics are considered canon, others aren’t, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of pattern as to what is or isn’t, nor is it made 100% clear what all is and is not canon anymore. One thing we DO know about what’s been changed is that, while Damian did apparently still kill Nightwing by accident, it didn’t happen during the operation on Arkham. Instead, the thing that tears him and Batman apart is Damian killing Zsasz…who, in the comics, survived way longer than that, and was actually responsible for killing Alfred. So, right away, we’ve got a double retcon, and that’s not even taking into account certain details mentioned by Cyborg about the deaths of Starfire and Beast Boy.
Before I get to the two biggest things that bother me about the story, though, let’s talk about some positives. First, you know I’m a sucker for stories that involve a ton of characters, and this has a lot of different heroes and villains with a wide range of abilities, from Harley Quinn with her dynamite and mallet, to Doctor Fate, sorcerer supreme of the DC Universe. From Captain Cold, a former bank robber with a freeze gun, to Supergirl, the last hope of Krypton with almost God-like strength and powers. Even Dex-Starr, who is quite possibly the avatar of everything stupid-yet-awesome about comic books, plays a minor role in the story. Characters from all walks of life in the DC Universe have various parts to play in this crisis, and all prove their worthiness to be involved in such a tale. Sadly, the majority of them are taken down a few notches at best by the last two chapters, which I’ll get to, but it’s still awesome to see them all here. Even Joker makes a return via Scarecrow-induced hallucination, which leads to the awesome sight of Harley, in a somewhat close approximation of her classic costume, giving him a good ass kicking.
Another positive to the story is not quite something I suggested after playing through the first game’s Story Mode, but close and still appreciated. Several chapters of the game give you not one but two characters to play through with, and you choose which one to play as before each fight in that chapter. As such, you can mix and match who fights whom, or you can have your favourite of the two do all the ass kicking. It’s totally up to you. And I appreciate that. I personally suggested classic Marvel vs Capcom 2v2 style fights, but whatever. Still cool, and allows not only for different dialogue and scenes depending on who is involved in the fights, but for more characters to take center stage in each…at least until the end, but again, I’ll get to that.
So, now for something that annoys me to no end, and if you’ve played through the Story Mode and know me and the characters I like, you should be able to figure this out. Simply put, I am NOT a fan of how Superman, Wonder Woman, and Poison Ivy are written in this game’s story, especially the last two (although that could simply be that nothing Superman does could top what he did to Shazam last game, who is a CHILD). In particular, there is a scene where Poison Ivy uses her pheromones on Harley Quinn to turn her against her allies. Now, first off, I’d just like to point out that Harley is supposed to possess immunity to most poisons, toxins, etc., due to injections given to her BY Poison Ivy. But, let’s just ignore that for now, because that’s not what really aggravates me. Instead, after inhaling too much of Ivy’s pheromones, Harley starts going into shock, and Ivy’s reaction is to roll her eyes and show complete and utter apathy over her former lover lying on the ground dying five feet away from her… … …Linkara, I need you again!
Thank you!… … …Look, here’s the thing: I can see a situation where Harley and Ivy could be on opposing sides, sure, maybe even having to fight each other, but there is NO FUCKING WAY that Harley could be dying two feet away from Ivy, and Ivy would be on that level of not giving a shit. This is HARLEY we’re talking about. Regardless of if you subscribe to the idea of the two as a couple or not, the fact is that the second she saw her convulsing like that, she would have dropped EVERYTHING else and tried to help her, because be it in a romantic sense or not, Harley is one of the few people left that Ivy truly cares about. But she doesn’t. Why? Because Ivy is, in this story, irredeemably EVIL, as are Wonder Woman and Superman.
Now, I’ve brought this up in videos before, and they’ve brought up the defense that this is an alternate universe, so of course characters are gonna behave in ways we’re not used to. And yeah, as I said before, that was a thing in Injustice 1, and other than going to the extreme of Superman killing Billy Batson, I didn’t mind. So, why does it bother me here? Well, I thought about that, and I came to the following conclusion: It was easier to watch and deal with characters I knew and loved acting in such a manner in Injustice 1 because we had the versions we knew and loved going up against them. Hell, it actually made for interesting contrasts between them to see how they were so different, and yet had a starting point they could both be linked back to. Here, though, we don’t have that. We just have them acting like…well, MONSTERS. And, for that matter, why is it that we have characters who behave in a way that’s completely removed from the core of who they are, and then some who aren’t? Why are Barry and Hal able to realize the error of their ways in the previous game and try to redeem themselves, but Diana isn’t? You have to remain constant to the rules of how this alternate universe works, otherwise you’re inviting people to bring up these comments when stuff like this happens.
And then there’s my last issue: The end of the game, and if you don’t wanna know, then sorry, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. This is your only warning…Okay, so Superman and Batman go up to the Skull Ship to stop Brainiac, save Supergirl, and restore the stolen cities. Unlike in past chapters with multiple characters, the final two fights of this chapter have you fighting Brainiac twice, once with Superman and once with Batman. Personally, I would have changed it to where you choose which of them fights him the first time, and then Supergirl takes him on in the final battle. After all, not only does the Story Mode start with a flashback to her escape from Krypton after Brainiac invades, but we frequently see her side of the story as it unfolds even outside of her chapter, plus she gets a good shot in on Brainiac just before the last fight, AND she plays a big role in the ending of the game. So, clearly, the story largely centers around her, meaning it makes logical sense for her to be the one to take Brainiac down in the end. However, what’s a bigger issue is…that’s NOT the final chapter. The final chapter involves Superman and Batman, having successfully stopped Brainiac’s ship from crashing due to Superman interfacing with it, as well as managing to restore all of the Earth cities sans Metropolis and Coast City, coming to an argument over whether or not to kill Brainiac and take control of his Skull Ship, thus risking the remaining cities that haven’t been restored yet, or keep him alive long enough to restore the cities. And guess what? The story ends with them fighting AGAIN, leading to you choosing which one to play as in fighting the other and their allies. So the story ends with either Batman defeating Superman with a Kryptonite-enhanced armor and then banishing him to the Phantom Zone, then inviting Supergirl to take Clark’s place on a new Justice League, or Superman defeating Batman, bonding with Brainiac’s ship, imprisoning Supergirl in the red solar prison, and using Brainiac’s tech to turn Batman into his slave…Oh, and I’m assuming (don’t know this for a fact) that you get the special armor shown in the ending for the character you chose.
So, what’s my problem there? Well, it’s two-fold. The first reason I dislike it is because I would’ve personally ended the game with Brainiac’s defeat…then I would have had Superman DIE trying to use the ship’s systems to restore the Earth cities. Yes, I would have KILLED Superman. Barring that, I suppose he could’ve been left critically injured past the point of being able to recover quickly from solar rays, thus leaving him comatose or the like. Either way, I would have had the story end with him making that sacrifice, and then, as he lies on the floor, surrounded by friends and family, he looks back on how everything that went wrong stems from his decision to kill the Joker, and finally realizes his mistakes. It wouldn’t have magically taken away everything he did, but it would have at least let him go out saving the world and acknowledging that he did wrong. And then, from there, I guess you have Supergirl taking his place on the new League, the Regime all either surrender, go into hiding, or likewise realize their errors and join the new League, and so on. Oh, and I also would’ve added a teaser at the end for Darkseid deciding to try his hand at attacking Earth next, since…well, let’s be honest, that’s probably where they’re going.
The other reason I don’t care for the end of this game, either one, is because… … …Well, because I don’t care. I don’t care that Superman and Batman are fighting AGAIN. I’m too numb to it now. Why should I care that Superman and Batman are going to fight for the 11,311th time?…That’s one for every day since The Dark Knight Returns #4 came out, btw, and oh dear lord, I just now realized I’m two days removed from being exactly one year older than that comic. My God, I’m old. But the point still stands, I’ve just seen it too often, and I just don’t care to see it ever again. So ultimately, the ending doesn’t impress at all. It literally leaves me going “Oh yay, this again…”, and that’s not how a story should end. Like, it really says it all when, the first time they fight in the game during Chapter 1, all I can think during this scene that’s supposed to be really dramatic and sad is “Wow, I love the gold trim on Superman’s cape in this scene. Looks really good, and adds some much-needed colour balance between the red, blue, and yellow”.
So, as a result, for the ending leaving me so disappointed and for everything else that went wrong…I have to unfortunately give the story a thumbs down overall. There ARE moments I like and even love, like Harley beating down Joker, Hal Jordan fighting off the urge of the Red Lanterns’ rage, Cyborg vs Grid, the reveal that Batman kept the old round table for the Justice League, and so on. But it’s just overshadowed by a story that is infuriating at times and just unenthusing at others. Sorry, NetherRealm, but this is one story I just couldn’t give my approval to. Better luck next time, though.
Anyway, what did you think of the Story Mode? Let me know in the comments below, and let’s hope that Mr. Boon and DC listen to what we have to say next time. Ja né!