Injustice 2's story mode features a strong script voiced by top voice talent, but the real stunner is the way the in-game faces move when acting out the dialogue. Can you make out what Harley Quinn is saying in the animated GIF above? Hint: she’s talking about Gorilla Grodd.
Each new snippet of video shown during Injustice 2's relentless media barrage leading up to today’s launch was accompanied by people arguing over the character’s faces. Some loved the more realistic look the sequel was going for. Others found it off-putting or weird. Comparing shots of Injustice: Gods Among Us Harley Quinn . . .
. . . to Harleen from Injustice 2 . . .
. . . I can see where some might be worried about the new direction. I was a little concerned myself, but those concerns quickly faded as I played, replaced with a deep admiration for what the animators accomplished.
Here’s a scene between Batman, Robin (Damien Wayne) and Wonder Woman from early on in story mode.
See Robin’s smirk? The hint of sadness and concern in Wonder Woman’s eyes? It’s not just animation, it’s acting.
And these aren’t just the cutscenes, either. Though the lighting changes between scripted scene and battle can be a little jarring, the same facial animations present in the cinematics carry over to gameplay. Check out this clip of Catwoman, taken from the customization screen.
Just as bad animation can severely cripple a video game’s ability to tell a compelling story, good animation draws the viewer into the narrative, adding emotion and nuance. Injustice 2 has very, very good animation.
Now about that hair . . .