Tag Archive: ed boon


The original Injustice was an epic comparable to any major comic book event, movie release, or series of TV crossovers. It had everything from multiple universes to the kind of fights fanboys spend way too much time on the internet arguing about. Couple this with tight gameplay all around, and it is no wonder the game was such a hit. Topping all this in its inevitable sequel would be no easy feat—and although I enjoyed the first game of the series a tad more, Injustice 2 is still great enough that Batman would offer it a seat at the Justice League table.

Injustice 2 takes place shortly after the events of the first game. The heroes from our universe have mostly returned home (Green Arrow decided to stay and help out) and those in the Injustice-verse must aid the rebuilding efforts now that Superman’s Regime has been overthrown. In its place, however, new threats have arisen. Gorilla Grodd has brought together various villains to form a group called The Society, determined to rule in the Regime’s place. Meanwhile, an interstellar threat from the stars—the world collector Brainiac—has set his sights on Earth after finding out not one, but two surviving Kryptonians reside there. The heroes of this Injustice-verse must again band together, and even forge some uneasy alliances, if they are going to survive this new conflict.

It is now official: it seems the writers of Injustice have a better grasp of how to make a compelling DC Comics universe more than anyone currently behind most of the comics and all of the movies. The overarching story of Injustice 2 is a logical continuation of the first game’s narrative, told in NetherRealm’s now signature chapter-based sequences that follow individual fighters in the universe. It continues to flesh out this Injustice-verse and find, for the most part, natural ways to integrate new and interesting characters. There’s even some chapters that you can replay with different characters, and multiple endings depending on a choice you’re forced to make—although one feels much more like it will stand as canon beyond the other.

The story isn’t without flaws, however. While many characters made sense here in Injustice 2, several seemed to be shoehorned in just to expand the roster number. Firestorm’s ability to create any element was nothing more than a plot device, and the Joker—who appears as a Harley hallucination—was completely unnecessary beyond needing to continue to push that awful Jared Leto-esque Suicide Squad design onto us yet again. The worst, though, might’ve been Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Atrocitus. They all had small—yet interesting—side stories started, but they never came to a logical and satisfying conclusion, leaving us holding onto unfinished B-story threads. That said, I’d still rather have a dozen Injustice stories for every piece of garbage that DC Comics now prints or sends to our theaters.

Where Injustice 2 really stands out from the crowd is in its gameplay. The fighting mechanics are deeper than ever, with an extended specials meter that allows for more special moves to be buffed up, new escapes from combos, or the always-entertaining supermoves that cue a cinematic should they hit. Whether it’s Batman blasting you with the Batwing, Green Lantern obliterating you with a mechsuit construct, or even the Flash literally punching you through time, they never get old to watch—except maybe if you’re always the one being hit with them instead of doing the hitting.

As well, each of the game’s arenas once again feature a plethora of objects you can interact with. From throwing alligators in Slaughter Swamp to knocking opponents into the marquee of the Empire Theater, being aware of your surroundings can be just as important as memorizing combos. The only downside I found in the arena design was that one major feature from Injustice was surprisingly watered down here in Injustice 2: the stage transitions. Whereas we used to be able to knock opponents into one or two other stages on almost every level, many levels in Injustice 2 are self-contained, or only feature one transition. I’m not sure the reason for this, but the transition threat on both sides of a stage is something I sorely missed from the first game, and—considering the roster size—made the lack of overall arenas all the more telling.

A few new characters and a continuing story are expected in a fighting game sequel, though. The biggest change that Injustice 2 introduces is the new gear system. Similar to an action-RPG, leveling up your profile, leveling up a character, or completing certain objectives across all the game’s different modes will reward you with loot, gear, or Motherboxes, which—depending on rarity—rewards two to six more pieces of gear. You can then take the items you’ve earned and equip them into one of five different gear slots on each fighter. It not only changes the cosmetics of each fighter, but also boosts their ability, attack, defense, or health. You can even find new moves for your characters that you can equip, such as a teleport for Scarecrow, or a ground pound for Superman.

The system is one of the deepest rewards systems I’ve ever tried, and saying I became hooked by it would be an understatement. After every fight, I had to compare and contrast what my fighters were wearing, and it kept me playing far longer than I might have otherwise. It basically means that mirror matches are far less predictable, and even if you don’t like the idea of gear changing your stats, you can turn off the effects before every battle if you so choose. As characters level up, new gear becomes available to them until you hit the level 20 cap per character, and even if you should find a piece of epic gear at a lower level, you can earn regeneration coins that allow you to recast those items at your current level.

Sure, there are microtransactions that can speed up this entire process—including leveling up all your characters to max if you so choose. Honestly, though, I am having way too much fun fighting for every piece to make me potentially more powerful. I’ve never felt this direct connection between my hard work and the loot I earn so strongly before, even if the numbers are all randomly generated. My only complaint would be how I wish there was an easier way to earn epic loot for characters you don’t play with in the story. For beating a respective character’s story chapter, you’re rewarded with a piece of level 20 epic loot; it then made me really sad that half the roster was one piece of loot behind everyone else, even though there’s still the process of getting everyone to level 20.

Still, you can earn gear in every mode. Whether you’re trying to climb the online leaderboards (which are all operating smoothly at last check now a week after the game’s launch) or watching your characters duke it out in the new AI mode (where you pick three of your custom fighters to fight other custom teams and let the computer decide the winners as you watch), the gear and loot is always coming. My personal favorite way to get new gear, especially of the epic variety, is the new Multiverse mode.

The next step in MKX’s Living Towers system, these time-based events are portrayed as Batman keeping an eye on all the different worlds he learned about after the first game. Picking a planet affords players the opportunity to tackle special challenges against the AI; should you complete all the objectives on each one of these Elseworlds, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best gear in the game. Each planet, though, has a variety of stipulations. Some might help you, like having characters from the last game—such as Ares or Raven—offer their assistance as an AI ally that you can call on with a button press. Others will hinder you, as maybe you take damage every time you do a special move, or your opponent will have armor on, allowing them to absorb a certain number of hits before you can actually chip away at their lifebars. Either way, these challenges are constantly cycling in and out every few hours, and will keep you on your toes while keeping your coffers stuffed with loot and gear. The only one not set to a schedule is the “Multiverse Battle Simulator,” which is the well-hidden equivalent to Injustice 2’s arcade mode.

Injustice 2 is everything fans of DC Comics would want from a game like this, and then some. The gear system is surprisingly balanced and delightfully addictive in a way that will keep you coming back to this game long after you’ve seen every arcade ending and both endings in story mode. The story itself is very good, and even with a few holes and cheap gimmick characters thrown in for the sake of expanding the roster, is easily the best writing any DC property has seen since the first Injustice came out. And, most importantly, the gameplay remains top-notch, and is deeper than ever with new escapes, meter burns, and those fantastic supermoves. Even in a year that seems to be full of fighting games, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than Injustice 2.

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment • Developer: NetherRealm Studios • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 05.16.17
9.0
Injustice 2 is one of the most complete fighting games you’ll ever play. From the story to the Multiverse Mode, there is something for everyone here to enjoy. And with how addictive the gear system is, you’ll be hard-pressed to put it down.
The Good The gear system is as addictive as advertised, and the Multiverse concept only feeds into this.
The Bad Story tries too hard to shoehorn some characters in. Less stage transitions than previous game.
The Ugly The new Joker design. Stop trying to push the Suicide Squad movie on us Warner Bros.!
Injustice 2 is available on PS4 and Xbox One. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Sometimes, when time is tight, or the event is a bit larger than life, you can’t always get that important one-on-one time you need with a developer to really take a deep dive into their game. Under these circumstances, journalists are bunched together, and several of us at a time have to machine gun fire questions. That happened this past weekend at San Diego ComicCon, when just a couple hours before Friday’s Injustice 2 panel, a couple dozen other journalists and I met with some of the voice cast and NetherRealm Studios’ creative director Ed Boon to chat about the game. Here are the choicest things each person had to say.

Superman1160

George, can you tell us a little bit about Superman in Injustice 2?

George Newbern, voice of Superman
Well, the first game ended with him in that [red light prison]. In terms of where Superman is in this story, there’s a lot more shades of gray going on this time around. Superman’s not in charge, and it’s not as simple as Superman is good and Batman is bad or vice versa. Depending on what is going on, you’ll side with one or the other and there’s a lot more gray this time, I think.

Laura, you’re playing Supergirl in Injustice 2, but you’re also Catwoman in Telltale’s Batman. What’s it like to hop between these two DC characters in these two very different games?

Laura Bailey, voice of Supergirl
They are such completely different characters. Supergirl is pure. She’s young and impressionable, and when she comes into this story, she’s learning about everything that is happening and has happened. Selina is old hat—she’s been doing this for years. She’s playing everyone, and is always in charge of the situation she’s in. So yeah, the [vocal] range might be similar, but the approach to all the dialogue is very different.

Aquaman1160

Phil, Aquaman has for a long time never been taken very seriously in the DC Universe, but the first Injustice game and your portrayal helped the character turn a corner, lending him some credibility. How was it to be part of that, and what was your inspiration?

Phil LaMarr, voice of Aquaman
For me, it’s about the writing. [NetherRealm] has come up with a really cool take on the character—that’s the thing. For so many years, you had this character that is ostensibly one of the most powerful heroes, but who just wasn’t cool. And they finally figured it out. He’s the ocean personified, but he is also a man. And also, I think, for me, the hook is the kingliness. He is a ruler. He has power, but he also has responsibility, and for him it’s always about that. Either personal responsibility, or to the people of Atlantis, and I think the battle stuff of Injustice is what really put him over the top. Because you had the character conception, but then you have the trident, and the power of Poseidon, and the baddest kill move ever. And if you have great writing, it almost acts itself really. I just have to make sure I get all the words right.

Ed, what was the inspiration for the armor system in Injustice 2 and how will that change gameplay?

Ed Boon, creative director of NetherRealm Studios
If you look back at Mortal Kombat X, we had three variations of every character, and that’s for players to choose what’s their favorite version of Raiden, their favorite version of Scorpion. It’s a little more personalization in it for each player, and we wanted to take that even further. So, in Injustice 2, here are a bunch of different costume pieces. You arrange them as you want, and they power up your characters in different ways. Some might increase offense, or defense, or special abilities, the damage they do with interactive objects, etc. And you piece together a costume to make your custom version of Batman, Superman, Aquaman, whoever. And you’re in a constant process of rearranging those pieces, finding better boots that increase your damage even more for example. So that continued customization and personalization of characters really kind of separates this one from our previous games.

Atrocitus1160

George, Superman is traditionally the All-American Boy Scout and we only see deviation from that in these Elseworld-like takes. Do you enjoy these alternate Superman roles a bit more because they allow for more nuances?

George Newbern, voice of Superman
Yeah, I think so, and I love that. I’m working on a TV show right now called Scandel on ABC where I play an assassin. Just a normal guy doing these terrible things, and you don’t suspect it. In the same way, Superman is most fun when you get to go a little bit outside of the cut, square corners. It’s more fun.

Laura, you’re also in Gears of War 4 this fall, and mentioned during that panel how you and the cast recorded together for some scenes, which is more of an animation style. You also recorded with the cast for Telltale’s Batman. However, you recorded solo for Injustice 2. Do you think video games will start moving more towards that animation style or that it just depends on the project?

Laura Bailey, voice of Supergirl
It’ll depend on the project. Video games by nature are very different from animation because of the option of dialogue there. So, the recording process can be strange, and even harder with other people because for so long it revolves around what one player is doing. So, it would probably be a waste of money for companies to bring in multiple people for a session. So, it’s never completely inclusive. Even for Gears of War 4, when I did my battle dialogue that was a solo session because Liam [McIntyre] or Eugene [Byrd] didn’t need to sit there while I screamed for a couple hours at a time. But definitely for the cinematics, I think a lot of games will start doing groups, and so many projects I’m doing now have motion capture and I feel like more and more projects will start going towards that because what you can do with that is so epic.

Supergirl1160

Phil, how hard is it to jump into the middle of a fight, but not have anyone actually there to play off of?

Phil LaMarr, voice of Aquaman
It helps to be a video game player, because you understand, for example, when your line might be right before you attack, to give it that oomph. But yeah, it’s tough sometimes, because you don’t know exactly what the context is. The other side of it is, though, if you do enough different lines, enough different versions of it, then they can fix it in editing. I’ll give you everything I got, and you put it in the right place…so we don’t end up with Resident Evil 2.

Ed, how will the armor and customization affect balancing for competitive play and tournaments in the game?

Ed Boon, creative director of NetherRealm Studios
Well, it makes our balancing task way bigger. Also, there’s the possibility of a player who has been leveling up a character since day one, and then another who picks the game up three months later, and how does the newcomer compete with the day one purchaser? So, our matchmaking is also going to be critical to make sure people who are in the same range are matched. And then, just our job of balancing is going to be a huge challenge. But the experience of constantly changing and molding your personal character, the novelty of playing with your character will always make it feel new as opposed to playing with the same character over and over again eight months after buying the game.

At SDCC 2012, EGM Reviews Editor Ray Carsillo had a chance to catch up with Mortal Kombat co-creator and creative director for the upcoming Warner Bros. game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ed Boon.

Get Over Here!!

Something that has littered much of the Vita’s launch has been ports of popular games from last year that could easily make the transition. And fighting and racing games are typically the easiest of the easy for the bunch. So, I admit, when I heard Mortal Kombat was coming to the Vita, I just shook my head and figured “here we go again”.

But Ed Boon didn’t want that. And seeing an opportunity to play around with some new technology, wanted to make sure that there was something that made this version of Mortal Kombat a little special and differentiated it from it’s console brethren from a year ago. So at GDC, we were able to go hands on with Mortal Kombat for the Vita and the handful of new features were just enough to actually make the short list of Vita titles I’ve been excited for.

A lot of what made last year’s console Mortal Kombat great in the first place remains like the tight combat and story mode. But now there are special Vita-centric challenge towers that utilize the touch screen, like a fight where blood splatters on the screen with each hit and you have to wipe it away to see, and special new mini-games modes to go along with classics like Test Your Might. We were also told of an expanded ‘Krypt’ to show off some behind the scenes of the development of the Vita version.

The challenge tower was the first thing we looked at and to go along with the blood splatter mission, there was also a mission where you had to catch falling ‘koins’ by tapping them before they hit the ground and a juggling contest where you would tap missile launchers to bounce a falling ‘kombatant’ around and keep them from hitting the ground. The promise of even more missions and another challenge tower promises a lot more longevity to this new game. Not to mention one mission where you can play as Shao Khan…

The next thing we looked at were the two new mini-games: Test Your Slice and Test Your Balance. Test Your Balance takes advantage of the Vita’s built-in gyroscope and has a character balancing over a pit filled with blades, acid, or some other instant kill trap. Not only must you balance your character for a certain amount of time, but random body parts from previous balancers who failed will be thrown at you, trying to knock you into the pit below and adding an interesting challenge to this game that was a lot of fun.

But what was most surprising was Test Your Slice, which is basically Fruit Ninja, but with a Mortal Kombat flair. Instead of cutting fruit, you’ll be slicing apart brains, hearts, and skulls just to name a few body parts. There are also a few characters’ heads with special abilities, like Sub-Zero’s freezes the stage, thrown in as well. Just make sure to avoid the bombs. This, too, was a lot of fun and made great use of the Vita’s touch screen.

The most impressive part of the game though may have been the local connection we ended up trying out. Not a hint of lag with the inputs impressed me more than any other multiplayer feature for a Vita game to date as I used my preferred Sub-Zero to best my opponent’s Noob Saibot in three rounds. And what was really phenomenal was I then pulled off Sub-Zero’s classic beheading/de-spining Fatality by using the touch screen. Yes, Fatalities are easier than ever now as with a quick simple rubbing of the screen back and forth over my opponent and his head was my latest trophy for my wall.

All in all, this was easily the most impressed I’ve been with a Vita title to date, as even though it’s a port, it offers enough new features to keep old fans happy and hopefully brings in even more newcomers with its portability. And we can’t forget that it also features PS3 exclusive roster character Kratos and all the DLC characters as part of the package so I can’t wait to really put this fully through its paces when it releases sometime this Spring.

And if you want, the reveal trailer is embedded below for your convenience. FIGHT!