If you play video games a lot you know that graphics are indeed important. Graphics over the past 20 years have changed for the better, significantly. Hell, even within the past 4 years of Xbox One and 3 years of PlayStation 4 – graphics have changed immensely. Its no wonder with the technology we have today and the creative people behind the scenes making these video games. Even taking a look at a game from 360 versus Xbox One shows a significant improvement. Not only in the simple things like the scenery but the more complex things like facial expressions. As a gamer, it seems like facial expressions and the MOUTH of the character moving in proper sync with the voice coming from the character has always been the most difficult part of a video game. I think most people would agree with this. Taking a look, for example, at games like Witcher 3. Its a fantastic game, its fun, its replay value is high, there’s tons to do, etc. But, when you actually pay attention to the characters faces when they are talking, its off quite a bit. It almost reminds you of those Japanese sword fighting movies where the dub is in English but the person is actually speaking Japanese – the alignment of the entire mouth, the lips are stiff, the corners of the mouth are off, etc.
Recently, Injustice 2 was released and (surprisingly to me!) a lot of people are having mixed feelings about the game. The in-game faces move exactly how they should be as the voice actors say their lines. Some say that its so exact that its almost scary how perfect it is. Personally, I think its awesome. I mean, people play games not only because they are fun, but because they want to be scooped up and placed in a fantasy land where you can BE Aquaman or you can fight like Catwoman. To me, that includes having proper animation with the facial expressions and the way the mouth moves when the character is saying their lines. Otherwise, it just becomes… a joke. The game could be awesome, but when you mess up that bad in terms of facial expressions or how the mouth moves (or doesn’t move) when the character is saying something, it just ruins the game.
Nonetheless, people are upset about Injustice 2 because its “all too perfect.” To that I say: You obviously cannot make everyone happy! A lot of people really loved the realistic look on the Injustice Characters. While others found it to be off-putting and weird. Off-putting and weird? HOW?! That makes no sense to me!
Another factor in Injustice 2 that people were having a difficult time with besides the facial animation, was the fact that at first glance, it seemed like this game was going in a very different direction than the first game. What I mean by that is… well, how about I show you two images instead….
As you can see from the first image, Harley Quinn is sexy, but she’s still pretty much covered up and has an almost innocent look to her. On the other hand with the other image, we see Harleen – who is quite sexy, barely covered up, and has a very naughty look to her. I think a lot of people thought that instead of being a cool action style fighting game, this was going to turn out to be some sexy, bare it all, slug fest. Or should I say.. slut fest. But, like your mom always told you; never judge a book by its cover. This was just ONE of a few characters that have changed in terms of sensuality – more so than the first game anyway. The entire game is not like this.
In fact, I think Injustice 2 it really holds up its true nature – Injustice, the action fighting game, packed with cool moves and specials depending on which characters you are using in-game. .. And honestly? I don’t mind a little skin. In fact, I think Harleen looks perfect. She looks sexy, yes. But, she still looks like she could kick your ass, all the while, laughing about it maniacally.
Back to facial expressions, this is a video I love. This is a scene between Batman, Wonder Woman and of course Robin. Look at Robin and WWs facial features – you can tell exactly what they are thinking or feeling in that exact moment. Even if they spoke no words, you can still tell by looking at their faces that Robin has a smirk as he leaves his sarcastic comment to Batman before walking away. You can tell that Wonder Woman is worried, sad, even a little vengeful – all by looking at her face, eyes, eyelids, mouth, etc. (video by Kotaku)
The great thing about these facial expressions is that they aren’t just in cut scenes – where it happens to be that most of the facial expressions ARE spot on. No. These perfect facial expressions are also in the actual game. The cut scenes can also carry over from the cut scene to the actual gameplay.
Proper animation in a video game allows the player to be drawn in not only by the game, or the surroundings but the actual characters. Who wants to play with a block face with no emotions? Not me! If you remember when Mass Effect Andromeda was released everyone had a cow over how bad the facial expressions were. But, now with Injustice 2, people are complaining about how PERFECT it is. Ha! Well, make up your mind! I love it. I would love it if more games were like Injustice 2, and not just AAA games, but all games. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen because as you probably know those AAA games are the ones that have the highest developmental budgets and the most money to play around with. AAA games are games that have A lot of time, A lot of resources and A lot of money to spend! The little guys, like Indie Games or games with a much lower budget or less people working for them that have experience in this type of graphics, simply cannot afford to create games like this.
So what do you think? Are Injustice 2’s facial expressions a good thing or a bad thing in your eyes?