For All The Single Players Out There

My copy of Injustice 2 arrived on Thursday and was waiting on my mat behind my front door when I got in from work. I’ve spent the last few nights getting the hang of it and beating up the DC roster as best I can. The Flash is an early stand out, being able to punch somebody so fast it looks like you’re standing still is a certain bonus. I’m never going to be in a position of being anywhere near good enough for the online multiplayer though. Because of the forward thinking of NetherRealm Studio though, this really doesn’t matter.

Opening up the menu of Injustice 2 sees a great amount of things to choose from away from the online, ranked multiplayer. Much like its stablemate Mortal Kombat X, Injustice 2 has a sizable story mode. Carrying on from the first game in which Superman turned into a dictator and Batman tried to stop him, the second game sees Brainiac come down to Earth in search of the Man of Steel. It’s essentially a DC collective movie in which you play the fight scenes. Each member of the playable cast gets a look in from Batman and Superman all the way to Scarecrow and Captain Cold.

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Then there’s Multiverse Mode which comes across as the Injustice equivalent of Mortal Kombat X’s Towers Mode. It’s a single player campaign based on a vast variety of differing dimensions monitored by the Batcave’s computer. Some can be around three matches, others can be ten or twelve. Sometimes there are also different match stipulations to contend with. As a result of being connected online each of these dimensions changes at regular intervals be it each hour, day or week. Multiverse Mode never runs out of challenges for you to tackle.

The tagline of Injustice 2 in the run up to release was ‘Every Battle Defines You’ and this is quite true. The Gear system drops random loot after each fight. Upon decoding the boxes you gain various new armour or abilities for each character. Every item can change the appearance of your chosen character and it’s great fun to change around known and established fighters by discovering cool new items. It also enabled you to perhaps boost a part of your game plan you’re weaker on.

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I’m tempted to compare this to Capcom’s often derided launch of Street Fighter V last year. Out of the box, without the updates that followed SFV had nothing for the single player at all. There was a training mode and either online ranked or casual matches. Capcom put so much into the idea that every single person buying the game would be up for ploughing hours into playing other people they totally forgot anything else. Recent updates have improved the experience since but it took Capcom more than a year to get anything resembling the package that Injustice 2 puts together right at the start.

NetherRealm have gone to town in keeping those players who haven’t quite got the time to spend in order to get good at Injustice 2. Obviously there are people who are comfortable with the eSports idea, who want to go to The Evo Fighting Games Championship and that’s great. People like myself however, who just enjoy the idea of playing as Superman and punching Gorilla Grodd upwards into space, can also get plenty of enjoyment out of the game.

 

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Stick Shift

I’m not good at fighting games. I had a period of time in the 90’s when I was at school and could easily find the time to get good at games like Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Mortal Kombat 2. These days I’m too busy to put the practice in but I still enjoy dipping my toes in the genre. I bought Street Fighter V the day it came out, Mortal Kombat X got the same treatment. I also have both Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 on preorder. Maybe it’s fighting games linking to my youth as to why I enjoy playing them so much.

From throwing my first Hadouken on the SNES I’ve been using a pad. Nintendo’s controller for the 16 bit era was one of the best as far as comfort goes (to be honest anything was an improvement over the brick like NES one). Those shoulder buttons were just lovely for getting easy access to the hard kicks and punches. When Street Fighter 4 came out on 2009 I actually decided to check out the professional choice and get an arcade stick. I cannot remember how much I paid for this exactly but it must have been around £70.

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It looked something like this.

It was horrible.

I’m going to get really nerdy here and say my main complaint was the shape that the joystick sat in (or ‘the gate’ as it’s known). As any seasoned Street Fighter player will know there are many moves in the game that require either quarter circles or semi circles to perform. Whilst trying to move around in a square I found myself just hitting corners and ruining any movement. Try as I might I could do any of the special moves so critical for success in Capcom’s fighting franchise. I actually took the stick with me to a games convention in Glasgow, found myself getting royally kicked in and traded the damned thing in against a £15 fight pad which remained my weapon of choice ever since.

For the last few weeks I had been thinking about possibly getting another stick but certainly not in the previous price bracket that I shelled out for years ago. With two massive new fighting games on the horizon it felt like something I should get involved in. I was frantically Googling joystick gates and trying to find circular ones when a small piece of advice was thrown my way.

‘Just don’t ride the gate’.

Or, to put it in simple terms, don’t follow the edge of the joystick base.

So I’ve ended up with the square gated Hori Fighting Stick Mini.

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I had a chance to have a blast of it last night with Street Fighter 4 (as that game is on my PS4 hard drive) and it felt really good. It’s a little bit of a change from using a pad, almost like when you’re wearing a new pair of boots for football. I found myself just going into training mode and trying out Ryu as he’s my old Street Fighter staple. Sometimes I was pressing punch to early in the move and ending up doing an uppercut for as I went on I improved the timing.

Also, it feel pretty much ‘right’ having a stick for what started life as an arcade fighter. I’ll see if I can adapt it to Injustice 2 when that arrives in two weeks time.

It probably still won’t make me any better at fighting games though.