‘Injustice 2’, the highly anticipated sequel to its rather excellent predecessor, ‘Injustice’ released earlier last year amidst a ton of speculation and high hopes. The trailer, especially the one with Brainiac (who is also the primary antagonist in the game) voicing and pulling strings for battle lines to redrawn among our superheroes, was particularly menacing and terrifically well animated and made, also being what completely hyped me up for the game in the first place. Like many fans across the globe, I too grabbed the game in its first week and was done with the story mode faster than it took for the game to be shipped to me. However later in time it might be, I’d like to start this off with a review of sorts. Being a DC fan, this game completely geeked me out. I had a fun time playing it, and the visuals are a definite step up from the first ‘Injustice’ game.
However, as with the first game, at moderate difficulty settings, the gameplay lasts shorter than the accompanying cinematics, and while they are extremely fun and important to watch for plot progression, we’d all appreciate a little more gameplay with consequences (RPG progression style fighting) rather than the arcade-style fighting. That being said, I also felt that the plot structure this time around wasn’t as involving or epic as it was the first time around, precisely because of the lack of an inherent internal struggle within our heroes, which is what I personally revere DC for. The threat this time is of a global level and possibly beyond, and while there are flashes of that brilliance here and there, it never completely materializes, until, you guessed it, the ultimate final battle between Batman and Superman, that is in itself a single term selling point by now.
Elaborations aside, let’s get to ranking these characters, which is what this article sought to do in the first place. ‘Injustice 2’ retains a lot of the original roster, either giving them a facelift or tech update, while a host of new ones are introduced as well. The criteria for ranking would include the characters mythos within the existing DC universe, utilisation of their original powers in the game, including their moves, supermoves and fighting styles, the part they play in the story mode, and the extent to which they can be customised with gears and upgrades. Obviously, there are confirmed Injustice 2 new characters also on the list. Happy reading! (And playing!)
Disclaimer: Exclusive characters from DLC and mobile versions are exempted from this list, for obvious reasons. We have also not included Injustice 2 guest characters.
If one starts drawing parallels between the characters not reprising from the previous game, and the new introductions in this game, it doesn’t take a genius to identify that Deadshot was brought in as a possible substitute/parallel to Deathstroke in the previous game. While it never quite matches up with what a badass Deathstroke was in the previous installment, Deadshot is pretty cool in his own right and has quite a killer supermove, but never contributes anything substantial to the proceedings.
Easily one of the weakest characterisations in the roster, despite being a tier one member of the original returning Justice League. While he has a major part to play in the progression of the plot after he squares off against Batman, and later helps him restore Brother-Eye and engage with Brainiac’s defences, something about the character seems off. If I were to do it, I would attribute it to a probable miscast in the voice department, or the significant cosmetic facelift the character is given in this outing. Combat with Cyborg is only noticeably better than in ‘Injustice’, mostly making use of his arm cannons for projectiles or opening up boom tubes, which is somewhat admittedly cool.
The makers get the sly, physical demeanor of the demented doctor and the monster he transforms into for his opponents upon exposure to his concoctions of the fear gas completely on point. Add to that, the arena change everytime he poisons his opponent, and his absolutely terrific finishing move, he could have been one of the most formidable characters in the game, even possibly for Superman. While his inclusion in the roster is welcome by all means, he never rises above being a bump in the road for Batman’s insurgency group moving forward. Delightful to fight against as he was, with the addition of a chain-hook as a weapon making him all the more menacing, there was so much more potential with the character that left me wanting more.
12. Blue Beetle
The inclusion of Blue Beetle (and Firestorm) in the roster came as a surprise to all in the beginning, albeit a pleasant one. However, Blue Beetle had a killer move or two under his sleeve that shut the few naysayers. Gameplay with Blue Beetle is absolutely fluid, crisp and enjoyable, with well-defined and distinct moves and combos, and a cool supermove too. His development as a character, working under Batman’s watchful eye as a protégé, and struggling with learning to control the immense power he had been granted, is briefly glimpsed upon too. In terms of plot progression, he does exactly as much as you’d expect him to do, while the big guns do their jobs.
11. Black Canary
I would like to describe Black Canary’s inclusion in the roster as a gleefully pleasant surprise, and to have her fight alongside Green Arrow is a win-win situation for both. Another pleasant surprise that awaits the player here is her fighting style, which is absolutely fluid as a dance yet bone crushing. Her supersonic scream is a delight to use and super effective too! Easily one of the best fighters in the roster, and her voice acting by Vanessa Marshall and onscreen animated persona are equal parts charming and sexy.
The Damian Wayne Robin is, in my opinion, the most mature robin storyline in terms of his conflicted relationship with Batman, after ofcourse Jason Todd (later Red Hood), who is a personal favourite. However, as a singular character, Damian Wayne absolutely kills it (literally) due to his insubordinance and his standing up to Batman on various occasions and questioning his methods and morality. Here too, the conflict is fruitfully put to good use and the showdown between father and son sends chills across. His weapon of choice is a pair of swords, which makes his moves (and supermove) even the more brutal and crisp. The scene where he slays Victor Zazz while Superman and Batman watch is pivotally character establishing. Despite this, Damian remains an underutilised character in the larger scheme of things.
‘Injustice 2’ opens up with a cinematic of Krypton being destroyed by Brainiac’s forces and a terrified Kara running around, looking for refuge. It Is amidst this chaos and destruction that Kara’s mother sends her off to a distant planet, wherein she even encounters baby Kal-El aboard another ship. What this introduction does is that it establishes the tone of the game perfectly and introduces the villain without too much backstory. Secondly, it instantly makes you connect with Kara on an emotional level, and that, in my opinion manifests even in a progression style fighting game when you actually fight with that character. Her conversations with Kal and the eventual realisation of what her cousin’s powers have led to add a lot of gravitas to the proceedings, and brings in a complete outsider’s perspective, which is a definite plus in my opinion.
Sadly enough, apart from her supermove, her melee and ranged attacks lack a certain perceivable strength and continuity that renders it difficult to land combos in a way that the gameplay feels interrupted. Apart from that, she is a key player in the happenings of the game and has sufficient weightage in the story mode, both as a part of the regime and eventually, an insurgent.
Catwoman, as a character is the very definition of a fantastical femme fatale; dangerous, and sexy. The game does an excellent job of keeping these qualities in her character intact, while she does a lot of the running around and heavy lifting with Batman as an insurgent mole in The Society of supervillains, in the first half of the story. Admittedly so, Catwoman also has the smoothest gameplay mechanics and moves that would make a ballerina dancer shy away. Couple that with her metal claws, and she shows why she is not to be messed with.
7. Green Lantern
Green Lantern is among the original seven league members reprising their roles in ‘Injustice 2’. No surprises here, a great deal of attention has been paid to his character and his role in the plot, fighting style and moves, and the supermove, which for me, takes the cake. Having reformed after serving a sentence for siding with the regime, he now returns to side with Batman as an ally in the insurgency. The Lantern’s ability to conjure up objects, and the infinite possibilities it presents, using his ring is put on display here to great effect, and it delivers, both in the fights and in the cinematics.
When I say that Brainiac was the villain that the Joker wasn’t, I believe that statement opens up a two way street. Brainiac was mighty and made for a formidable physical foe even for Superman. Joker, on the other hand, made up for it by hatching an evil coy of a plan that disintegrated the league at its very core. While Brainiac is also all about the smarts, being among the smartest, in fact, in the DC universe, the threat he poses is purely physical and straight up apocalyptic. His plan never quite achieves the level of genius Joker’s did. However, what the Joker did set off a chain of events that made allies turn on each other. Brainiac, on the other hand, is the overarching villain who stays throughout and poses a threat that makes them side together, atleast for a short while.
While you never get to play as Brainiac in the story mode, make sure that you do so in the arcade mode. Brainiac’s attacks and moves are a fine mix between physical engagement and ranged attacks. Plus points for the body language that the animators absolutely nailed, Jeffrey Combs’ voice acting, and Brainiac’s ship design!
5. Wonder Woman
Of all the first tier characters in the roster, I still strongly feel that Wonder Woman’s motivations for the establishment of the regime were not guided strongly enough, and her turn as a goddess fully aware of her powers, ready to kill seemed a little unsettling to me. All that may have come to be because Wonder Woman has so firmly been established as an icon of good and justice over the years, her current swift dispensing of justice in the game is just uneasy to watch. Remember her murderous turn in ‘The Flashpoint Paradox’, where she slays Aquaman and Mera in cold blood? It is precisely that uncanny feeling that returns here.
However, as a playable character in the game, she is probably among the best ‘Injustice 2’ has to offer. She is fiercely battle trained, and a warrior’s spirit reflects in her every move. The game makes excellent use of her shield, the lasso of truth and the sword to whip out absolutely brutal combos. Her fights with Cheetah, her long standing nemesis are the most fun to play for obvious reasons.
Before even landing my hands on the game, I knew for a fact that playing as Aquaman would be a great deal of fun, primarily because a trident is the ocean king’s weapon of choice, and that the attacks can be wildly imaginative, from summoning a shark to bite your opponent’s head off, to letting them face the wrath of the ocean, leaving them gasping for breath. The trident stabs and slices are absolutely brutal, and the visceral underwater supermove is a treat to watch. Easily, one of the most fun AND powerful characters to play with on the roster.
Story wise too, the character seems to have developed from his previous outing, although conflicted as ever between Atlantis and the surface world, amidst getting a noticeable facelift from makers who have taken it upon themselves to correct his infamous image of gleefully riding a shark wearing orange and green tights, and they do not disappoint.
I won’t be too wrong in stating that the ‘Injustice’ storylines, and the Regime and Insurgency are essentially an extension of Batman and Superman themselves, and their individual ideologies. Therefore, as strong as he is in this universe, his character remains pivotal to how the Justice League moved towards ‘Injustice’. Ever being the boy scout and the personification of all good, everyone, on the flip side of things wanted an incarnation of Superman who was evil and totalitarian in his methods, and the Joker did absolutely that. This tyrannous (though somewhat reformed after his incarceration) Superman is a guilty pleasure to watch, eventhough his motivations seem misguided at times. His interactions with Kara and Diana are well written, and needless to say, sparks fly when our star crossed superheroes, Batman and Superman unite on screen.
Play wise too, in contrast to the other superpowered beings in the roster, Superman’s moves involve a lot of punching around and physical engagement, and less reliance on his projectile attacks, which is a good thing. The heat vision and freeze breath though are aces up his sleeve and are well translated in the gameplay. Other than that, his supermove is the most ‘Superman’ thing about this game.
2. The Flash
Apart from every other reason that the Flash finds himself on the list for, the first and most important one that I wish to give out is his supermove. When sheer brilliance of thought and the right tools combine, this is what you get. For starters, I describe this in detail. As the supermove begins, Flash catches hold of his opponent and travels to a different timeline, slamming him into the Sphinx’s nose in Egypt. Next, the opponent still in tow, he travels back in time to the prehistoric age, slams the opponent into a T-Rex, and runs back. In the current timeline, due to the Flash time travelling at great speeds and frequencies, time remnants are created, into which the current Flash (arriving with the opponent from the prehistoric age) slams the opponent, making the time remnants disappear. Exercise a degree of caution since the above may have sounded like a nerd’s rant if not actually seen to be believed! Hands down, the best supermove of the entire roster. Everything, from his bulked up physique, to his swift melee moves, to his reformation as a character in the story comes later. This, unequivocally, tops it.
One absolutely can’t blame the makers for giving Batman the coolest tech upgrade and making him the most easily playable character in the entire roster. It is an established fact by now, Batman’s popularity as a character has eclipsed that of the big guy on most occasions, and the games are an arena Batman owns since day one. ‘Injustice 2’ is no exception. You will find my statement corroborated when you find yourself automatically gravitating toward choosing Batman to fight, whenever that choice is offered. That is partially because watching a mere human, The Batman, face off against gods and mutated super beings is a guilty pleasure the ‘Injustice’ games made possible. His moves are clear, calculated, and well reflect his training in the martial arts, with the exception of his bat-tech backed supermove, which fades in comparison. He plays a major role too in the development of the plot and in spearheading the insurgency again, not to mention his neon lit, kryptonite powered suit that looks, for lack of better words, absolutely freaking badass. Then, ofcourse, there is the delightful plus of the character being voiced by Kevin Conroy. Warranted #1!