R13: Contains violence
This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this game.
Date registered: 16/04/2017
Injustice 2 is a multiplatform fighting game by the American developer NetherRealm Studios.
It faithfully recreates the heroes and villains of DC comic books, featuring frenetic one-on-one fights between characters such as Batman, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, and Black Canary. The cinematic story mode allows players to control a number of characters as they try and stop an alien supervillain from taking over the Earth, all the while navigating the internal ideological schism between Superman and Batman.
Other modes such as Multiverse mode provide a more traditional arcade experience with the ability for players to complete additional challenges while fighting against various opponents. Players are also able to unlock variant costumes, movesets, and gameplay tweaks for the characters.
As a fighting game, violence is dealt with extensively in the game. Characters fight each other using a variety of attacks (including punching and kicking, stabbing with swords, and even summoning magic) which often result in small sprays of blood. Combatants reel from each hit, and thudding sound effects highlight their impact. Despite this, the combat remains entirely unrealistic – not only can all of the characters perform impossible acts (such as air juggling, in which repeated blows on an airborne opponent knocks them upward with a repetitive animation), characters also never sustain any visible injury in the course of these fights.
The strongest instances of violence in normal gameplay are the cinematic super attacks, which can be performed when characters have dealt or taken a set amount of damage. In one of the stronger examples, Harley Quinn commands two dogs to maul her opponent’s torso before bludgeoning them with a baseball bat – this is mostly seen from the opponent’s perspective. However, these attacks are clearly over-the-top and unrealistic, and, if performed in the middle of a round, the victim simply gets back up and continues fighting, greatly diminishing their impact. The effect of these one-on-one fights are not dissimilar to action sequences in mainstream superhero movies, such as in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or The Avengers (both cross-rated M).
While the game takes a lot from its movie counterparts, there are three factors that raise it above the unrestricted M classification. First of all, violence is a core gameplay mechanic which means that the player is not only controlling but constantly immersed in violent acts; the higher extent has to be contrasted to the film. Secondly, the levels of cruelty in the game are simply stronger than that seen in the movies (such as when Harley Quinn is impaled with a sword by Wonder Woman. Blood spills from the wound and Quinn groans in pain as Wonder Woman kicks her off the blade). Lastly, the graphics were of such a high quality (quite exciting, to be honest) that it further increases the impact of the first two points. And while research has shown that potential harms from videogames are mitigated when they have prosocial elements – that is, when co-op play is available – these collaborative methods of play were not present in this game.
Therefore, despite the superhero setting, the office found the game likely to inure children to depictions of violence in general. Spikes of violence, such as in the scene in which Robin slits the throat of an unarmed Arkham Asylum inmate, are likely to shock and disturb children, and raise it above an unrestricted M rating. Teenagers and adults are likely to possess the maturity and experience to contextualise the violence within the fighting game genre and process the over-the-top nature of the violence.
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