For one thing, it's going to conclude thusly: I don't like Injustice 2. However, rather than lay all fault with the game, I'm going to place at least a degree of the responsibility at my own catflap.
Because here's a thing: I can't remember a beat 'em up that I loved. No, wait: that's not entirely true. I like scrolling beat 'em ups, like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. I also like boxing games, for some reason. The second I went head-on, and had to remember multiple button combinations, it started to feel like a chore.
For me, that doesn't feel like fighting; it feels more like revision. The more controls you put between me and the on-screen action, the less I engage with it. It's precisely the reason I can't get along with the Dark Souls games; just like exams, they feel as if they favour those of us who are simply really good at memorising stuff, and those who don't get bored or distracted easily.
Yes, yes... I know you're going to tell me that it all becomes second-nature, but - again - I don't want to have to put in the work. In fact, I'm simply not equipped to put in the work. Good for you if you can do it, but I'm wired in a way that is not conducive to beat 'em ups. I've spent at least 25 years trying to master combos, and they still feel more like trial-and-error.
I prefer entertainment which gives me everything I need to enjoy it, so that I can switch off. I don't watch arty foreign language films, because I don't want to have to learn French beforehand. Similarly, I don't want to embark on a rigorous training regime in order to enjoy a video game. I don't want to spend a week gitting gud before the gameplay becomes second-nature.
I'd put that down to not having the time in my life these days, but it was forever thus. Going right back to games such as Barbarian and Way of the Exploding Fist on my Speccy.
I've tried, though. At points, I even convinced myself that I do like beat 'em ups. Certainly, back in the 90s, when I was a "professional" games journalist, it wouldn't have been the done thing to admit to the world that I was forcing myself to "enjoy" Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat and Tekken.
It was almost a relief when we got dire efforts like Rise of the Robots, because I was able to unleash all the invective I'd suppressed while playing Street Fighter II.
Don't misunderstand; I wasn't lying if I ever gave a beat 'em up a decent review. I could tell the difference between a good beat 'em up and a bad beat 'em up. I got what it was that made such games good or bad. Nevertheless, in order to do this I thought I had to keep my own personal tastes out of the equation, and try be objective rather than subjective.
That's why, ultimately, reviews of anything are kind of pointless if you approach them as a definitive statement. Most reviewers rarely own up to their personal tastes and preferences. I understand that some publications or websites give certain genres of game - film, TV show, whatever - to a reviewer with a preference for that genre, but even within that we're still all different.
I know that this is, to a certain degree, stating the bleeding obvious, but when you see the fury which often greets negative reviews of games with a rabid fanbase, it can never be stated enough.
So onto Injustice 2. I never played Injustice: Gods Among Us, for two reasons. 1) I don't like beat 'em ups, and 2) I loathed the art design.
If I'm going to play a game where I get to be super-heroes and supervillains, I want them to look like the versions from the comics; the classic versions. Instead, all the characters in the Injustice games - set in a version of the DC Comics universe where Superman has turned into a fascist dictator - are trying a bit too hard to be edgy, all of them wearing what look like rubberised fetish versions of their classic gear.
Still, given the almost universal acclaim Injustice 2 was receiving, I thought I'd give it a go. And, yeah... hated it.
Normally, I'd put that down to my subjective experience - having to remember about 50 different button combinations to recall special moves, or combos, or what it is I'm meant to press in order to launch my opponent through a wall.
And yet, there is stuff about Injustice 2 which just feels kind of rotten. For example, I never felt entirely connected with the characters. Normally, if I'm punching and kicking, I want it to feel tactile - especially when we're dealing with characters with the strength and abilities of gods. Instead, the controls seemed oddly wishy-washy to me.
Part of this was down to the fact some of the characters can fly - and therefore literally float around the screen - and some of this is down to the animation. It looks great in those mid-fight cut-scenes, where a character is kicked into another location, and impressive in screenshots, but - to me - just doesn't convince in action.
Rather than feel as if I was responsible for what was happening on-screen, it was more like I was pressing different buttons to trigger animations. The characters never felt as if they were me.
There's a ton of content in Injustice 2. Aside from the basic multiplayer and story modes - DC fans will probably lap it up, but a "What If..."-type plot seems like an odd choice given that the majority buying this game won't have read the comics - the character customisation options seem limitless (although some of these options require microtransactions to, say, buy Batman a new hat).
Also, it takes a bit of a leaf out of Destiny's book, with "loot" being dropped by opponents - with varying degrees of rarity. There's also a robust online mode, set within a sprawling Multiverse of alternate worlds, and "Guilds" of up to 50 players, through which players can tackle co-operative objectives and share their gear. I didn't bother with it, of course.
I mean, frankly, I couldn't wait to be done with the game quick enough. The last thing I was going to do was head online and engage with people who were probably enjoying themselves far more than I was.
That'd be like, I dunno... going to somebody else's party. Literally any party.
And that's what Injustice 2 is for me: a party where everyone else is enjoying themselves, and I'm stood there grinning inanely while dying inside, wondering what it is about parties that people seem to like, and why don't I like them, and oh god turn the music down, and I'll just sit over here and try not to be noticed, until everyone is drunk enough that I can slip away without having to say goodbye.
SUMMARY: I don't like Injustice 2.
SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 3/10
OBJECTIVE SCORE: 7/10
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