Midway through May, NetherRealm Studio’s second full-blown DC Comics fighting game hit store shelves and rightfully was praised for improving on nearly every front compared to the original iteration known as “Injustice”. With a promised nine DLC characters across three packs (and potentially more), NetherRealm looks to give gamers something to keep them coming back for more. Today I review “Fighter Pack 1” featuring DC Comics favorites and a “Mortal Kombat” legend.
Easily the trickiest & deceiving of the DLC released thus far, Red Hood is proof of not judging a book by its cover off initial impressions. The vindictive Jason Todd comes in with a style based around planning & enemy luring. When Red Hood dropped a lot of players safely assumed he was a zoner thanks to his projectiles including a landmine. But spending time with Hood it becomes obvious he’s made to be played both up close and from a distance with the latter being used to get him in for damaging combos including one special counter move (“Spin Parry”) that can lead into an air combo off a well-placed mine behind the adversary character if thrown at the right moment when the enemy hits the apex of an air juggle before starting their descent. Understanding how to properly pace a fight while using Hood can be a steep learning curve, but incredibly satisfying against up-close fighters like The Flash and Black Canary. More powerful zoners & teleporters (Superman, Super Girl, Darkseid) or characters with fast or varied projectiles (Green Arrow, Black Adam, Darkseid) can easily prevent Hood from doing what he does best in the heat of battle by forcing him to come into a dangerous range before he can punish.
The first of two (maybe more) DLC characters from the realm of “Mortal Kombat” is none other than the Lin Kuei grand master, Sub-Zero. While his rival Scorpion appeared in the original “Injustice” with a somewhat dumbed down version of his “Mortal Kombat (2011) self, Sub-Zero here is nearly a perfect representation of what he would be like if “Mortal Kombat X” didn’t give each fighter three different styles by having all of his patented moves in his arsenal (the freeze ball, ice clone, sliding kick & ice hammer) available at the same time as well as the combo every Sub-Zero player used online in “MK X” that ended with the ninja stabbing an opponent like it was an episode of “Mad Real World”.
The “Mortal Kombat” legend’s greatest strengths are definitely his combos up-close and the sliding kick wakeup. “Mortal Kombat X” (and essentially all the recent “Mortal Kombat” games) are visually closer in terms of character distance even at the start of a battle than either “Injustice” game – giving Sub-Zero a great edge in “Mortal Kombat” due to his mid-range nature being an obvious asset all around. Sub-Zero’s strengths in “Mortal Kombat X” aren’t as profound in “Injustice 2” due to the distance difference that can make handling the ice cold ninja a lot tougher in his latest video game appearance in comparison to his home franchise. Sub-Zero is also a slower than his main roster counterparts (something that definitely stems from him being an “MK” character); meaning against the likes of Flash, Batman & even Cheetah Sub-Zero will struggle, as well against most long-range based characters (Green Arrow, Deadshot, Green Arrow & Darkseid), and even a couple of mid-range specific fighters (Wonder Woman & Harley Quinn specifically). But if a player can get in close and stay there (ice clone-throw-slide into another ice clone-triple kick into the knife stab for example) it’s hard to overcome a decent Sub-Zero.
The final offering from “Fighter Pack #1” proves to be similar to her counterparts by focusing utilizing mid-range attacks to set up up-close combos is none other than Starfire. The red-haired heroine who has associations with several characters on the “Injustice 2” roster blends together the tactics of main roster standouts Black Adam, Superman & Fire Storm with an array of maneuvers including her “Starblast” projectiles and “Shooting Star” that proves to be a wonderful combo-ender (as well as a visual spectacle). Starfire’s also incredibly fast thanks to her Air Dash. Like Super Girl, Starfire’s character power is a laser beam that can be meter burned into a powerful pushback. Starfire has great mix-ups when it comes to her special attacks & projectiles, but a majority of those are easily avoidable due to their high to mid-range nature horizontally and short-range nature vertically (specifically her “Starblast”), slow (EX-powered “Stardust”), or lacking distance (“Burning Desire”).
Starfire has a lot of tools when aiming low, but a majority of what players will get used to are her attacks aimed at the torso & head (especially the head when using her varied jumping cross-ups). Against good to great Green Arrow, Darkseid, Super Girl, Fire Storm, Green Lantern and Batman players (characters that have fantastic low-high mix-ups, faster teleportation abilities & can keep her at a great distance), Starfire is easily flustered and hindered. Players experienced with the likes of Firestorm, Black Adam & Superman will really enjoy how Starfire handles and can most likely avoid falling into the special move spamming traps that most novice Starfire players will succumb to when testing her out for the first time. And even half-decent Starfire users will have a good chance of winning competitively because of her special attack variety usually being perfectly in line (from a hit-box perspective) when taking on more aggressive players/AI.
Overall for an initial offering, NetherRealm Studios provided three very strong, varied characters that don’t simply feel like cheap cash-ins or poorly thought-out entries to an already strong roster. “Fighter Pack 2” is already shaping up to be fantastic.
“Injustice 2’s” “Fighter Pack 1” is available for Playstation 4 & Xbox One