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 2” featuring a pair of favorites from comics and a “Mortal Kombat” legend.
The first character from “Fighter Pack 2” is arguably one of the best characters not only from the DLC thus far, but also the entire roster. Aquaman’s fearsome foe is chockfull of weapons in his arsenal made for any type of player. Like the long-range style? Use Black Manta’s harpoon for a pull-in combo, or his meter-powered eye lasers to obliterate an opponent from full screen. Against cornered or up-close opponents, Manta has the ability to poke his way into blistering combos that can see him move across the screen and catch a careening enemy to begin a whole new combo with only the usage of one Meter Burn bar. His mid-range attacks have pushback or pull-forward capabilities for (you guessed it) combos, combos, combos! Even Manta’s jetpack is functional during combat for short periods of hovering.
Really, Manta’s biggest flaw is the slow startup on his missile barrage that is usually reserved for combo pop-ups or finishers. Like The Predator’s discs from “Mortal Kombat X”, if Manta is hit at anytime mid-combo the missiles lose their focus and miss or disappear. Other than that, the sea’s most deadly creature is a force to be reckoned with on land thanks to a variety of attacks that can see him throw quick, short-range combos; full-screen harpoon grabs & teleportation uppercuts; and mid-range eye lasers that can be powered up to cover an entire battlefield. To defeat Manta is to have a player who can react quickly with someone who can out-zone him and understand just how fast Black can move across the screen (top tier characters like Batman & Superman having move-sets able to thwart Manta’s speed up close and from a distance respectively). Black Manta is a danger even in novice hands that can create whatever type of distance they want while utilizing Manta’s special moves. If you haven’t purchased either Fighter Pack, but want at least one DLC character, Black Manta is the one to choose bar none.
The second of two DLC characters from the realm of “Mortal Kombat” is none other than the god of thunder & lightning, Raiden. Similar to his MK counterpart that arrived in the previous pack – Sub-Zero – Raiden 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 body Electrocute originally seen in “MK 2”, his electrified hadouken, his flying head-butt/Electric Fly/“flying bombalayah”, and the teleport that can be used both on the ground & in midair that’ll bring Raiden right behind his opponent). Though there is definitely some “MK X” influence in Raiden’s “Injustice 2” style as he has the “Displacer” style spark trap where he’ll connect two balls of electricity anywhere on the screen to create a midair trip wire that can bounce an opponent upward (a special gear attack, mind you). Raiden’s combo set ups off simple strikes are both fast, have great range and can hit high, mid and even cancel in mid-strike to unleash a special attack such as Electrocute that can also be meter burned.
The “Mortal Kombat” legend’s greatest strengths are definitely his combos up-close and the Electrocute wakeup. “Mortal Kombat X” (and essentially all the recent “Mortal Kombat” games) is visually closer in terms of character distance even at the start of a battle than either “Injustice” game. Raiden is built specifically for those players who don’t want to be zoned and loved inflicting unbreakable corner damage as his Electric Fly can take an opponent across the screen. Raiden’s teleporting ability can turn a situation like being abused by Deadshot’s rifle into an opportunity to slip behind and break his flow. This means Raiden is good against almost style of fighter, but does have some weak points as his projectiles are only moderately fast and can easily be avoided. The teleporting, while speedy & effective, can become incredibly predictable – meaning zoners who figure out what a Raiden player is trying to set up can avoid what Raiden has to offer and keep him on the outside. Against slower and more mid-range specific characters like Gorilla Grodd and Harley Quinn respectively will have a very hard time trying to overcome Raiden without a lot of combo breaks. Long-range specific characters that can keep Raiden on the outside (Green Arrow, Deadshot, Green Arrow, and the like), and even a couple of mid-range specific fighters (Wonder Woman & Scarecrow specifically) can prove to be detrimental to a Raiden player. But if a player can get in close and stay there, Raiden’s high risk-high reward style will definitely pay off against any character/player willing to stand toe-to-toe.
Easily one of the most surprising reveals in regards to DLC characters has to go to the Mike Mignola creation known as Hellboy. The Nazi slaying, witch hunting, beast from the East (Bromwich) comes into this game featuring an animated style similar to his original comic book depiction and less like the movie adaptation – though featuring the same hard-nosed witty attitude from both media presentations. As expected, Hellboy is a brawler thanks to his oversized Doom Hand being able to not only punch an opponent from mid-range, but also pop them upwards in prime position for a special grab attack (“Hand of God”) that’ll slam the opponent and even bounce them off the ground if meter burned. A majority of Hellboy’s obvious combos are incredibly easy to pull off and prove to be incredibly effective at mid to close range – though his combos aren’t really that expansive beyond the obvious offerings. While his legs are comically short, they do have range with his low kick being a great combo starter. Similar to Jax from “Mortal Kombat”, Hellboy can air grab for the slam, as well as a shoulder block attack similar to Doomsday from “Injustice: Gods Among Us”. There’s also a leaping fist slam attack that can move him midway across the screen (“Fist of Doom”) for overhead attacks, cancel it to switch into another attack or land behind his opponent to close the distance as Hellboy has a slow walking speed (but does dash well). In reality, his strongest attribute is the ability to air dash into unleashing combos as he moves incredibly well in the air. Hellboy’s character power is very unique as the player can shuffle between buffs and restorative powers that allows for him to deliver more damage and even resurrect during the second round if his character power is activated.
Unfortunately for Hellboy he is not necessarily a finesse character for long-range players. Hellboy’s only real projectile is his “Devil’s Revolver” attack that is best used to end combos rather than keep someone at a distance as Hellboy, as expected, wants to just bash heads. One of the best ways to help Hellboy get around zones is through the aforementioned character power that also allows him to temporarily have armor. Hellboy’s character power recharge is very slow and goes down fast when activated, so planning around the character power isn’t necessarily beneficial. While Hellboy does have special gear attacks that allow for low special attacks, a majority of Hellboy’s standard attacks are high & mid; meaning some beneficial attacks can be ducked or avoided when the large demon gets airborne. Against long-range characters, Hellboy will surely struggle if the player can’t get around the more directionally driven projectile users like Green Arrow. More fisticuff specific characters (The Flash, Gorilla Grodd, Bane and even Poison Ivy) will struggle against Hellboy. Similar to Raiden, trying to brawl with Hellboy is a death sentence that will leave an opponent wallowing in a stream of bodily fluids.
“Injustice 2’s” “Fighter Pack 2” is available for Playstation 4 & Xbox One