Here I want to discuss (not complain nor rant) about one key reason why cutscenes in story mode look awkward in my opinion. I do not want to touch the censoring issues here as they are not the actual topic. And I also don't want to see the usual "conversations" related to that topic which have caused the closing and deletion of other threads alongside many frowns. I also don't expect this thread to be too long but still wanted to leave something about it documented in these forums. So for now, if possible and I can ask this of the would be posters, I'd like this discussion to be limited to the production quality of cutscenes in general. Other than that, I welcome each and everyone to read and/or contribute.
As anecdote content, I have seen many cutscenes in many games, all with different levels of success. From setting, place, sounds and ambience, dialogue and expressions, every bit of a cutscene plays a role in the final product and how the viewer sees it. PSO2 contains many scenes, most of them scoring good grades in most of these items. But the one it drops the ball heavily in my opinion, is on character expressions.
Now, yes, it's an old game and NG will apparently fix a bunch of things (like actually moving hands), so I'll be talking here about past things that have no reason to be fixed anymore, but are still good learning material for future things (or if any of you are secretly making a game with a story and want to see what others see in those). Anyway, due to the current 3D model limitations, the characters are hardly expressive. Even the faintest smile on those faces look unsettling. Frowns may be the best emotion they seem to pull. Add an anime setting with anime voicing and dialogue lines, and you get the problem multiplied by a large amount. Why anime does this? Look at most anime. One very central key to making anime skits appeal to more emotions is how the characters express themselves through usually exaggerated facial states and loud voices. The face of a character, when they are speaking, is usually the point where the human eye will center their attention unless there's something else on screen to move the attention somewhere else. The voice of the character then sets the tempo of the emotion and it's the other part of what creates the different emotions on the viewer.
People who view anime are used to instant and extreme changes in facial expressions. And so having a mostly expressionless face coupled with the usual anime expressive voices (mostly if using actual Japanese voices), coupled sometimes with the not so well hidden lack of hand movement, we get this awkward feeling of something amiss, where we are seeing something but listening to something else almost disconnected from each other. So I feel that to get back some of that feeling, the game devs making NG should maybe put more effort on facial expressions, or if we are going full anime, use the face swap trick. You can see such face swapping in this game with the nyau character. When he's defeated or his weapon is broken, his whole face gets swapped into his surprise face, then angry face and lastly sad face. The swap is instant and gives a better anime feel than trying an actual expression through his regular face.
This wouldn't look too bad if properly made on the regular characters. For example, how much more would I have enjoyed the few comical skits within the episodes. Pati and Tia having changing faces as they do their ramble. Pietro as he goes through his comical suffering, and others. You could even go as far as adding expression symbols like the legendary sweat drop or the angry symbol. Good facial expressions immerse viewers into a story, and they may even forgive other aspects of the whole build if they enjoy at least what they see on screen.
Anyway, this one feels almost like a rant, but I'd still want to see other opinions. Maybe I'm just crazy here and I'm seeing things I don't need to see. But whatever.
Lastly remember to be respectful to each other as this shouldn't be a source of controversy.