One of the most enduring parts of the My Hero Academia anime series, beyond its outstanding characters and heartbreaking storylines, is its insistence that behind the awesome veneer of superheroes is a commitment to rigorous self-improvement. My Hero One’s Justice 2 takes some inspiration from that mantra, honing the foundation built by its 2018 predecessor in subtle but meaningful ways while making fights even more fun to watch. But it still can’t crack the shallowness and imprecision that limited the first game, making for a fighter that, while more robust, isn’t going to convince any naysayers of its greatness.
As a 3D arena fighter, One’s Justice 2’s balance is based on a simple rock-paper-scissors triangle in which normal and special attacks beat unblockable attacks, counterattacks beat attacks, and unblockable attacks beat counters and blocking. Fights can rely on this triangle a little too much, though, and some matches become a matter of guessing which of those three attack types your opponent will fire off next. Predicting that my opponent is going to throw out a counter and stuffing it with an unblockable did make me feel smart a fair number of times, but after a few matches it got a little stale.
My Hero One’s Justice 2 Screenshots
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The giant roster helps stave off that boredom, however. It’s nearly twice what it was in the original, adding 18 new characters, most of whom are welcome additions that add a few wrinkles to fights. It’s cool to see Mirio Togata phase through the floor then come back up to deliver an uppercut, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around Mr. Compress’ host of long-range moves and setup maneuvers that make him tricky to play as and against.
You can certainly put together your own flashy combos to make things more technical, which is fun to do. And whether you stick to mashing or want to build them yourself, it’s easy to at least make each fight look bombastic; even auto-combos look cool and have a weight behind them, and super moves look amazing when you manage to land them. That’s a large part of the appeal of a licensed game, and some of the new Team Plus Ultra moves are highlights.
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The over-the-shoulder perspective, however, can make it hard to keep up with the action. Moves and projectiles might be obscured by obstacles or camera pans, making it hard to keep track of what’s going or execute combos, especially as the action moves to corners and up the side of buildings. That, along with some imprecise movement, make judging the radius and range of attacks more difficult than it should be. How far do I need to be to avoid Bakugo’s streak of explosions? And if I can dodge it, will my basic attack reach far enough to properly counter before he recovers? I’ve had some tense fights and some close encounters online, but many others were clumsy, so I wasn’t all that invested in them.
One’s Justice 2 does make some notable improvements to combat over the first game, though. You can now use your assist characters’ super abilities instead of your main character’s in combat, which is a nice touch. The rest of the combat changes, like dodges and a new stamina system that controls how often you can extend combos with dash cancels and wall-running, are more quality-of-life stuff than anything groundbreaking, but they do make combat a bit more strategic. A new team battle mode lets you put a friend on assist duty in local multiplayer, though we weren’t able to test it out for this review (blame the current coronavirus pandemic!).
One’s Justice 2 also has an extended single-player mode, but it doesn’t do a great job of igniting or stoking a love of the source material across its eight hours. Picking up near the end of season 2 and covering most of season 3 of the anime, the storyboarded scenes flow together well enough to let you know what the plot is. But the season’s best moments aren’t delivered with the vigor they deserve, since you’re mostly stuck with stills of the characters. Playing out iconic fights doesn’t make them more compelling, either, as I was able to get by most fights just by spamming attacks or special moves, save for a handful of fights near the end. You’re better off watching the show or reading a plot synopsis if you just want to know what all your friends are talking about.
Otherwise, there’s a new arcade mode that’s a decent way to practice up against CPUs. Mission mode, which has you recruiting heroes and fighting through gauntlets on simple maps, is a bit of a drag. It starts strong, as it does test your ability to manage your health across multiple battles. But its 36 gauntlets are too long-winded and repetitive to be fun for long. That’s especially true as the missions get harder, since if you lose even one fight out of several you’ll have to start that entire mission over again.
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Online, most of my matches had decent connections, though I did see my share of stuttering. I’m more disappointed by the lack of some standard features: neither ranked or unranked matches have a rematch option, so you can’t play longer sets against someone who puts up a good fight. You can message them and invite them to a lobby to rematch, but these rooms are limited to two people, which is a bummer. An icon in the online menu also promises themed online events, but it’s not active yet, so I can’t say for sure if they’ll build on the events in One’s Justice.