The other shoe has dropped, and so has the trailer for Injustice 2. Coming in 2017 from NetherRealm Studios for the PS4 is the sequel to the 2013 beat-em-up Injustice: Gods Among Us. The first Injustice game came out in 2013 and sold over 400,000 copies, so a sequel was inevitable, really.
The visuals are slick, compelling, and feature so much realism that you have to look really closely to figure out if the characters are actually human actors or not. The design is gorgeous, impeccable and enticing.
What can we tell about the game from this trailer? To be honest, not awfully much. We can tell that the cut scenes will be astonishing, but there’s frankly little chance that this represents actual game play. That aspect of the game will likely be an enhancement of the original from 2013, but not a major overhaul or a total redesign of the game mechanics.
We see nothing of what the game is actually like, though the quality of the cinematics implies an awful lot of attention to detail and just plain good art, design and animation. From a visual design standpoint it seems to lean very heavily on the dark style established in Batman v Superman — which worked really well for Batman, but which didn’t work for any of the other superheroes who made their appearances in that movie. The dark, dark battle pit depicted in this trailer suggests that the developers thought that Batman v Superman would be a huge stride forward for the franchise, and you can see the Warner Bros. logo on the trailer, so they were apparently working with Warner on this. Taking this approach was calculated risk, and Warner/DC had apparently invested quite a lot of their vision for the future in this poisonously dark interpretation of the DC Universe.
While it does serve the fanboi and fangrrl curiosity about who would trash whom in a fight, it also grabs what is usually an idle curiosity and turns it into an unrelenting obsession with the darkest impulses a human being can have. What happens to a hero when you put them through this sort of meat grinder? Are you really reborn as something new and better after each battle, or have you simply lost some of what makes you a hero in the first place? How many battles do you have to fight before all of that is stripped away?
Maybe we’re overthinking this. We probably are. This, however, seems to be as cynical and low concept a superhero game can be, and haven’t we seen enough of that cynicism in Zack Snyder’s approaches to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman?
The game will probably make its public debut next week at E3, though whether playable demos will be ready or not is anybody’s guess. Considering that they don’t even have a solid release date yet, we’re guessing they’ll have trailers, but demos may or may not happen so soon in the development cycle.