This has been an amazing year for fighting games. New challengers have entered the arena, existing games have been progressing at a steady pace, and new and exciting fighters are set to arrive next year. But there's one game that stood out above the pack in as the Best Fighting Game of 2017. It was the game that stood as a great fighting game, but also set out to be something more. That was Injustice 2.
One of the areas where NetherRealm has outclassed the competition in recent years is in providing a single-player experience that's well above its peers. Injustice 2 not only provides a hard-hitting Story Mode, but it further builds on the complexities of the original game and gives players even more ways to view the heroes they've grown up with. Is Batman the paragon that he believes himself to be? Is Superman truly so far gone as a single-minded dictator? And have our heroes become so bitterly divided that they can't come together when an even more powerful force from the outer reaches of space invades our world? And while one of the ultimate goals is to experience all sides of the story, NetherRealm strikes a chord with its dual endings, showing that while justice can prevail, the definition of what "justice" even is in the modern day has changed wildly from person to person.
For those not interested in the story, the other standout from Injustice 2 is the classic Arcade Mode. But NetherRealm has made the Arcade ladder into an expanded world, one that changes on a daily and weekly basis. New ladders are introduced, fights are mixed up with new rules and themes, and there are even ladders that coincide with DLC releases and movie tie-ins. For the solo player, there's always something worthwhile to do.
That's because part of the joy of Injustice 2 is earning gear for your favorite character. It's dressing up Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman in cool armor pieces or classic outfit pieces. It's in finding new ways to buff your character for the single-player experience or it's in finding ways to look sleek against online opponents. This is a system that could have easily been abused or broken in a different developer's hands, but NetherRealm knew how to strike the balance between earning an edge in single-player fights and evening the playing field against humans.
Speaking of that even playing field, that allows me to get into Injustice 2's merits as a fighter. It further builds on the foundation set in Injustice: Gods Among Us, building on the combo system and refining elements from the first game like the combo breakers and the Clash system. But the game also feels more accessible than ever, with an intuitive tutorial system that teaches not only the basics of Injustice 2, but the fundamentals of fighting games as a whole. And while the tutorial does start out with Batman, there are customized tutorials for each of the game's characters, all of which are thorough and easy to follow.
For pure accessibility, a phenomenally satisfying single-player story, and for grasping what it means to be a fighting game in the modern day, Shacknews proudly names Injustice 2 our Best Fighting Game of 2017.
Be sure to keep up with the rest of The Shacknews Awards as we celebrate the Year of the Games: 2017.