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Allow me to indulge in wearing my cynical hat for a second here. Game trailers are without a doubt the most important and key factor in any upcoming game’s marketing strategy. It’s the litmus test on whether you think a game is worth forking out the dough for so you can get your hands on the action, adventure or awesome that publishers dangle in front of you.

Look at Halo, if you’re at all interested in the franchise or even just own an Xbox, you’ve probably crossed paths with a Halo trailer at one time or another. I actually really enjoyed the short films put together for the ‘Believe’ campaign shown in the run up to the release of Halo 3 and the game did immensely well, for a number of reasons of course, but it had a huge marketing budget, the Believe stuff alone is rumoured to have cost somewhere in the vicinity of $10 million, so you’d hope it have made some impact. Anyhow, I digress.

The trailer is important and as well as potentially showing you an epic game just around the corner, it can just as easily be used to hoodwink you. Being blinded by a mix of professional editing and a good musical score is enough to make you think you’re going to be buying the game of the year, when actually you’re laying down some bones for dud of the century.

All of this stems from two sets of trailers I have recently come across and they made me think how impressive a feat it is to either completely 180 someones opinion of a game based on a trailer or conversely lull them into a false sense of security. I come at the two sets of trailers in question with a different approach for each, the first, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Some of the early trailer work back around E3 did seriously peak my interest, having never played the original, which from what I’ve heard, in its day was a thing of beauty (not specifically visually you understand) I was up for at least having a go, whether I rent it or buy it, I’m still undecided, but what the early trailers did was set the scene really well, the world had a strong Ghost In The Shell feel and I assume this is what they were going for. These two more recent trailers however, don’t instill me with as much confidence and are both very different in their approach, one using rendered footage and the other with live-action. Anyway I have seriously rambled long enough and now I feel I should just show you.

Firstly the rendered trailer, (cant find the original so this one has some British guys chatting over the top, sorry).

And the live action – which I prefer.

I commend them for scope of their campaign, but at the same time the first trailer especially (arguably the one that counts for more as it contains in-game footage and character-centric cut scene footage) just comes across as poorly voice acted, poorly animated and the gameplay looks choppy, for a title like Deus Ex, I just feel like this is in unacceptable level of output from a franchise that so many have already made their minds up about. Although this is all the rantings of a crazed student, but based on what I’ve said this is an example of the 180.

The second title is Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, I had an early introduction to the AC franchise when I found AC2 on a hotel TV (with a built in PSOne, how awesome it that!), and that was fun, for about 5 minutes, what I am amazed by is the longevity that the brand has endured, I’ve seen reviews on more recent incarnations and there doesn’t seem to be anything that I can see as a hook, there’s just a particular fan base who eats this s*** up, if you’ll pardon the expression, and so they keep pumping it out. What I find interesting is how little flight you actually see in the trailer especially when compared to previous titles in the series, it’s a change of tact that might pay off with respect to bringing in new gamers to the series, by focusing the trailer on the ‘story’ and the human element, they almost side-step the fact that it’s just a prettier version of what they’ve given us already time and again, that being said, the game does look pretty but most likely it suffers the same drawbacks all fighter jet style sims seem to, pretty from a distance but unacceptably fugly close-up. Let’s hope they prove me wrong, but in the meantime, the trailer.

This is the an example of the hoodwink.

Don’t agree with me, or totally relate, share your thoughts in the comments.

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