A reader looks at the much praised single-player options in Injustice 2, and asks whether fighting games can still do better.
Fighting games are not usually known for fun single-player that can match the best games purpose-built for it. Virtua Fighter 5 may be quite compelling, in having you hunt down all those accessories for your favourite characters – but actual fun? That’s going a bit far.
In their review, GC said of Injustice 2 that you may never have to even touch the multiplayer to get your money’s worth. Given my own particularly fussy criteria for fighters, I believe this to be only half true. The story mode is genuinely great, with some nice touches and an enviably fantastic pace. But it’s over before you know it. And while there are two endings, the real game is supposed to lie in the Multiverse.
Yet, as is so frustratingly often the case with NetherRealm’s work, they are once again so close to greatness but not quite there. Sigh. The Multiverse was supposed to add modifiers to the gameplay in the same vein as early SoulCalibur, but I have played very few good ones. There was a Halloween event where you would occasionally turn into a tiny frog by a bolt of lightning. Seeing the Princess of Themascyra be turned into a helpless amphibian that can only go ‘ribbit’ is obviously hilarious.
But it is mostly assists from other characters, in the form of special moves you’ve already seen. There are also too many of them and too much. Once you log into Multiverse you are presented with about half a dozen ‘planets’ that adhere to one theme or another, that are then split into between three to five objectives. These planets aren’t permanent and are updated regularly – some hourly, daily, weekly and so on. Each objective, however, has at least three opponents to beat, sometimes as many eight. That is far too many. And like I say, perhaps it was just my own personal misfortune, but the modifiers I got were never all that fun or whacky.
I will admit to not having played any of the ‘Legendary’ Multiverses, which are character-specific as you need to have said character reach level 20, the maximum level, at the very least to begin unlocking them. Wherein lies another problem. Too much grinding. Even in the random Multiverse events you’ll need to have one maxed out character to play it. Which vaguely reminds me of Power Stone 2 way back on the Dreamcast. That game asked you to play through it multiple times to acquire items, weapons, and other resources. Which could then be taken to the item shop to buy or synthesise even better goodies. The ACME-style black hole was one of my favourites. As was the Lance of Lava. I won’t spoil what it does.
But chasing after new weapons and items was more interesting than a cowl for Batman that has pointier ears or new boots for Wonder Woman that now have wing decorations on them. Oh wow! Thanks NetherRealm! It’s too much tiresome busywork for not enough gain. We can call it a WB-ism.
The solution is once again as simple as it is Rayman Legends. Rayman Legends gave you two daily challenges and two weekly challenges – one regular, the other much tougher. A fighter could branch out into a monthly challenge too – but that would be it. No more than three opponents to face in any objective at the very most but more frequently just single battles. With more exotic modifiers. If you want to be more like SoulCalibur, NetherRealm then start being more like SoulCalibur! Have fights in quicksand, with invisible enemies, low gravity and getting more in-game currency if you score a lot of fast hits.
Encourage leaderboard competitions. But be creative with that. That could quickly become tedious otherwise. And keeping them bite-sized is the most important aspect, there. Even if you have a fixed Multiverse campaign – fighting five or so opponents should be rare. When SoulCalibur did that, you usually had to do it on one health bar or against the clock or you were poisoned. I’m sure there are other things to try, too.
And there you have it, NetherRealm. Be more like Rayman. Unless SoulCalibur VI restores the series to its former glory in which case I’ll be saying you should be more like that. Which I guess I have already.
By reader DMR
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