Is it just me, or are trailers for video games nowadays getting a bit heavy on the music? I don’t know what first brought this to mind, but when I looked back at the trailer videos for a few games that had caught my eye recently I noticed that they all followed a similar pattern: lots of frenetic action, overlaid with a song. No (or very little) sound from the game, nothing to really set the mood, get interest in the story…just visuals and an (occasionally piss-poor) track playing along.
Take, for example, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations:
Or, the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines game, which I keep trying to tell my inner eight-year old self will be alright to play (he doesn’t believe me):
Gears of War 3 even managed two! First one:
Even giant robots get into the swing of things, with the recent Fall of Cybertron trailer giving it the full “Merriman Weir” treatment:
All of which isn’t a massive problem – game makers can, of course, present their games however they like without referring them to a balding misanthrope in central Scotland for final approval on the marketing front. What strikes me as odd about the whole thing, though, is the fact that almost all games nowadays are far more involved than the relatively simple things that I believe most people think of when you say the words “video games”, where one pushes buttons to make a rotund Italian plumber jump up and down. They are stories, they build up narratives, they let the player make choices, become immersed in the world, familiar with the characters and, I would argue, the end result is that the player cares about the characters and situations they are playing through on screen. I can’t help but think that this process might be helped if the trailers let some of that come across, instead of bludgeoning us with some fairly intrusive music while allowing tiny little bits of sound from the game peep through in the background occasionally.
To defend my point, compare the Fall of Cybertron trailer above with the trailer for the first game – War for Cybertron – below:
Look at that. More importantly, listen to that. The two main characters in the game get dialogue. They set out, very quickly, the differences between the good guys and the bad guys. They set a tone, you get an interesting hook into the story, you see that underneath the whole giant-robots-fighting malarkey there might be the core of a decent sci-fi story in there, one that you might get to take part in if you hand over the ready cash*. It gives the voice artists a chance to shine, and builds a far more complete picture of what sort of game you might be buying in a few weeks / months. Compare that to the trailer for the second game – what do you get from that? The yellow thing looks hurt because its eyes look a bit flickery, and the sudden urge to buy some real ale. That’s about it.
I’m not saying that music shouldn’t play a part in game trailers – it should – but to me the trailer for a game should make me want to buy the game instead of making me want to nip onto Google and find out what was the name of that track playing all through the bloody thing.
* Plus, one of the characters BACKHANDS A MISSILE. Even for a giant robot, that’s fucking hardcore and should function as a selling point for anyone.