It seems that people just can't get enough of comic book superheroes. The Marvel Studios movies just keep on coming and the DC Extended Universe is expanding rapidly with the 'Wonder Woman' and 'Justice League' films being released this year, and of course there have been lots and lots of games putting you in control of these super-powered guys.
Beat 'em up 'Injustice: Gods Among Us', released in 2013, allowed players to fight away in the DC Comics Universe and was praised for its mechanics, storyline and attention to detail.
Developer NetherRealm Studios and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have now brought us the sequel 'Injustice 2' but can it live up to the super gameplay of the first game?
The answer is simply yes! 'Injustice 2' is as powerful as Superman, as slick as The Flash and as smart as Batman.
In recent years various great beat 'em up games have been criticised for lacking worthwhile single-player modes, but that all changes with 'Injustice 2'. NetherRealm have created a must-play mode with the ensemble of characters voiced by the cast of the 'Justice League Unlimited' cartoon with humour, heart, hate and heroism. In fact it could be said that this game is a better representation of the DC Universe than Zack Snyder's very serious films or the various sombre TV shows as it has the right balance of darkness and wackiness.
The opening to 'Injustice 2' borrows very heavily from the opening of animated movie 'Superman: Unbound' - which itself brings to life on screen the comic book story arc 'Superman: Brainiac' - and shows a young Supergirl escaping the destruction of Krypton by Brainiac, and arriving on Earth after Superman. The plot follows on directly from the first game with Superman becoming an authoritarian dictator in an alternative, dystopian universe hence the need for all the fighting.
Of course a great story in a beat 'em up would count for nothing if the fighting was not up to scratch, but the gameplay on offer here is outstanding. The battles are fast, challenging and most of all fun and although it could take you a long time to master the moveset of each character on the roster anyone can pick it up and immediately play it and enjoy the action. There is an in-depth tutorial to help you get started and start bashing your opponents with your fists, kicks, weapons, special powers and even the surrounding objects and scenery.
Each hero or villain has their own impressive array of super moves, charged by a separate power meter, that will bring a smile to the face of any DC aficionado.
The Flash races through space and time to beat down his opponents, Batman throws his foes high into the sky and then snares them with his Batwing so he can shoot them with the plane's guns, Aquaman takes his opponent down to Atlantis and calls on a deep sea monster to add to the attack, whilst Harley Quinn has dynamite and her loyal hyenas to lay the smack down.
You also have a burn meter which is used to power up and extend the size of a combo but it will cost you a chunk of your super meter.
The roster of playable characters is extensive with 29 good and evil meta-humans ready to rumble with. All the comic book favourites are included such as every member of the Justice League - and thankfully a comic book accurate Aquaman with shocking blonde hair, green tights and a trident - and villainous picks such as Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bane and Brainiac.
There is also room for some DC cast members who might be less known to film-only fans, such as The Flash's enemies Gorilla Grodd and Captain Cold, Justice League Dark member Swamp Thing and Superman's space-dwelling nemesis Darkseid. NetherRealm Studios also couldn't resist including 'Mortal Kombat' legend Sub-Zero in the first DLC pack which will also let you download extra fighters Red Hood and Starfire.
Like most modern titles players earn in-game money after each battle which can be used to customise your character with armour and weapons, with each giving you stats boosts for unranked fights. Of course comic book experts might wonder why Superman would ever need armour but he does look cool in it.
As well as the fantastic single-player campaign there's also the usual online and arcade modes and also the new 'Multiverse' mode which allows players to travel through series of parallel worlds within the DC Universe and battle against opponents with various handicaps, stipulations and different set goals all of which add to the experience.
Quite simply 'Injustice 2' is one of the best beat 'em up games around and the fact that the fighters are some of the greatest DC superheroes and supervillains simply adds to this exceptional title. If you're a fan of DC Comics and fighting games then it's a must-buy, if you're not you should still get this game and then you will be!
'Injustice 2' is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (tested) and also as a mobile game for Android and iOS.
'Injustice 2' rating: 4.5/5
By Philip Hamilton.