Besides being a whip-smart fighting game with an almost embarrassing amount of content, Injustice 2 is a high water mark for character models and animation. One of the biggest draws for fighting games are the campaign stories. (A lesson painfully learned by Capcom and Street Fighter V.) In a genre that must jump through hoops and twist logic to a painful degree to make sure each fighter battles against as many characters as possible, NetherRealm Studios leans on great facial expressions and cinematics to sell the various face-offs. Mind control! Kryptonite poison! Double-cross! Triple-cross! But how and why did the studio spend so much time and care on the faces of Injustice 2? A casual look at Injustice: Gods Among Us or Mortal Kombat X shows that while NetherRealm weren’t slouches at crafting mugs before, the work in Injustice 2 is leagues ahead of the competition.
Motherboard asked NetherRealm’s Brendan George, the Character Art Lead on Injustice 2, the very same question. According to George, fan feedback of early footage played a pivotal role in upping the studio’s face game. Rather than ignoring the criticism or becoming dispirited, the team used it as motivation for changing the lighting model, honing in on troublesome model areas, and fixing animation issues. With regards to the female characters specifically, NetherRealm made careful, minor adjustments that included the digital make-up they applied to the faces. The next time Harley snarls at you, keep in mind that there was probably a lot of discussion about exactly how much face paint and lipstick she should be wearing.