For the majority of the games I own and have played, I was interested or even tangentially interested in them for one reason or another from the get-go. Many times it starts with an interesting article, press release, or debut trailer. However, there are some games I love, now, that I frankly wasn’t into from the start. Either they had bad trailers (or worse, CGI trailers) or the actual concepts didn’t take hold for a long time, or they just sounded mundane to me. Some games, though, made me eat my hat. I’m running out of hats as a result.
The first time I remember hearing about Dishonored was when its first trailer premiered at the Video Game Awards in 2012. First, the trailer was all pre-rendered CGI, which I think is outdated by now. Seriously, in-game engines have been capable of showing exciting footage for two generations now, but you still find developers relying on “cinematic” trailers to announce their games. Initial sin acknowledged, I just wasn’t into what I was watching. OK, he’s some guy in prison, but he gets powers from a Satan-like trickster (think Old Testament, Book of Job) and then runs amuck. It had no personality, no panache. Then came this trailer.
Boy, did this make me change my mind. This was the first trailer to actually feature what gamers would be seeing in the game, and the visuals appeared stunning — the exaggerated figures and the water color cel-shading. Just beautiful. Then, over all the calamity going on in those few minutes is this haunted, macabre version of “Drunken Sailor,” warped into a sadistic reverie sung by schoolchildren. I’ve watched the trailer a thousand times to listen to this amazing song that is oddly not featured in the game. After viewing all the crazy scenes Corvo sees and the moves Corvo makes, I suddenly couldn’t get enough information about this game that I once completely dismissed. Shame on me because it was awesome.
Red Dead Redemption
I actually ignored trailers for this Rockstar classic. I am inherently uninterested in western motifs. I’m not moved by them alone, and it usually takes something significantly special to even make me see a movie set out in the frontier during that period of American history. So the day before the game, Rockstar released the launch trailer, which I finally did give a few minutes of my time to.
Holy hell, why did I pass over this game? Was I crazy? Forgetting my western genre aversion, there was just so much for me to love. First, I was not prepared for “Triggernometry,” the background track featured on the game’s official soundtrack by Billy Elm and Woody Jackson. I was expecting pure western, and I was being fed a theatrical drum-and-bass track with an amazing brass riff. Then, the characters! There are so many unique and interesting characters on display here, each saying amusing or profound lines. It was all captured so cinematically, too. So I quietly entered into the fandom and hoped no one would notice my previous nose-thumbing.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
OK, you might drop your jaw at this, but I am also thoroughly uninterested in medieval fantasy. I love fantasy, but mostly urban (contemporary) or science fiction. I mostly hated the Lord of the Rings movies, and I never had any interest in the books, and it’s hard to cajole me to feign interest in most things with dragons. I don’t find dragons to be automatically super cool like others. So The Witcher passed me by without a glancing thought, and so did mostly everything about the second game. Like Red Dead Redemption, I just ignored everything about it. Again, right before the game’s release, I was slapped with humility.
We can move on from how beautifully implemented Chopin’s “Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1″ is here. That is undeniable. But if I thought the previous launch trailer was cinematic, this was just showing off. Aside from how beautifully everything was rendered, it took a moment for me to realize that it was all in-engine footage – these are smooth-as-silk cutscenes from the game. Then, aside from the fantastically directed tale of intrigue and war and romance told in these few minutes, the amount of expression on all the characters’ faces really sold the game to me. There are no impressive voiceovers to hear (or ruin the music). Instead, all the acting is done through these people who aren’t even real. It’s so compelling, and it made me feel so ashamed. I could talk for hours about The Witcher 2 and how amazing a game it is.
You know, if it will forgive me for turning down its advances.