Are cinematic game trailers today too deceiving or are they a necessary evil for marketing video games?

List of best cinematic game trailers

BY ARNAV NAG   |   To arouse expectations and hype among fans, game developers have hired top notch dedicated animation studios in order to bring in buyers. Hence more often than not video game titles are being revealed through cinematic game trailers with messages like "Not actual gameplay footage". Although with the advent of next-gen graphics more and more devs are trying to showcase in-game footage in trailers, there are still many title that have too be marketed with the over-the-top cinematic glory.

These trailers are meant to be an insight of what is to come next and what players can expect from an upcoming release in a vague and overly exaggerated teaser that marketing people think are necessary for attracting more and more players to buy their game. This is, in a way, very similar to what movie trailers often try to achieve by showing all the best scenes from the movie in a trailer, leaving the audience thinking that the final movie would offer far more whereas the truth is usually the complete opposite. Video game trailers are an important part of their advertisement campaign and a lot of money is put into it. Don’t forget that these funds don’t go into making the game better but merely increasing sales and reach to customers.

Many a times the trailers do succeed in conveying the message that the game would blow minds but most of the time they are just pumped up action packed sequences of the favourite heroes fighting bad guys that have no relation to what the final game would look like and feel. This combined with eye popping visual effects and physics that are only possible in a real-time rendered video game on any commercially available gaming set up due to hardware as well as software limitations. Games have to be more dynamic and responsive to be enjoyable as a game and hence the technical brilliance in visual effects of today’s trailers may still take a couple of years to reflect in-game.

This doesn’t mean that great cinematics would necessarily mean that the actual game would be significantly overshadowed. There are great games that used cinematics only as a front to present their story to the audience in a more enjoyable way but still get immense gameplay value. For example MMOs such as StarCraft II are fun to play but the cinematics do a great job at attracting audience to a franchise that doesn’t disappoint them.

Then there came some live-action game trailers that used photorealistic CGI along with over the top acting from real life actors. For example this awesome Destiny “Become Legend” trailer. Destiny had a recent trailer to The Taken King DLC, also live action.

Time to time in-game trailers have shown us that great trailer art work doesn’t require external CGI effort. More recent titles have tried to have trailers that are mostly in-game footage with talented camera work and composing a solid score that fits best.

Here are some of our favourite cinematic trailers. Be sure to watch them in high definition :P :-

1. Assassin’s Creed Unity:

Revealed during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014, the stunning visual, more importantly the idea of Co-op gameplay in an AC game, a new kind of hidden blade called the Phantom blade and a huge city with lifelike crowd that this trailer promised kept the fans hungry for the actual game release.

But what happened at launch day? Insanely unstable launch with graphics bugs such as the infamous no-face bug killed the fun (not that there was any in the first place) followed by broken DLCs.

No Face Bug

Pretty scary, Ain't it?

Coming back to the trailer itself, I think the French revolution was better depicted in this 3 minute trailer and that combined with Lorde’s “Everybody wants to rule the world” raised the bars for future game cinematics.

2. Star Wars : The Old Republic:

This 2011 story-driven MMO game faired very well with great gameplay value. The cinematic trailers are an absolute pleasure to watch. Developers BioWare and LucasArts released a series of those videos. The upcoming expansion pack “Knights of the Fallen Empire” has such an amazing cinematic trailer released in E3 2015:

There are some of the previously released trailers or intros here. Be sure to watch all of them.

3. Angel Stone (iOS & Facebook) :

Fincoin have topped any other mobile platform game trailer with this. A trailer like this would require a state-of-the-art video production team and a lot of funding. All this for a facebook game? That doesn’t feel right because a Facebook game would have huge limitations. I can’t even start to think of what the final game would be like. Even if there are great mobile (iOS & Android) action games such as Infinity Blade, Deus Ex: The Fall, Modern Combat 4, etc but its really hard to believe how Angel Stone would look in the end given that the trailer looks amazing with a beautifully designed female character.

4. Deus Ex Mankind Divided:

Including this trailer in this list can be considered as a little off topic since the actual game is not out yet. So the final game may prove better than what awe-struck fans are looking for. (God forbid that this game fails to meet the expectations of fans such as myself looking forward to it since its reveal in April). Released on April 8, 2015 this trailer revealed the sequel to the 2011 Human Revolution game. Adam Jensen looks remarkable with a host of new gadgets and weapons that would drive any franchise-fan crazy. The trailer tries to bring forth the common dilemma that the world is facing against augmentation of natural human form, which some people have embraced while others disgrace. The mixture of action packed stand off where Jensen beats the shit out of a merc group and the hint of Michael McCann's award winning soundtrack “Icarus” from the last game steals the show. (Goosebumps :P) Don’t forget to read our full analysis of what to expect from the game here as it arrives on February 23,2016.

5. StarCraft II : Legacy of the Void :

This is an upcoming expansion to StarCraft II by Blizzard. Evident by the pure magnificence of the CGI in this video, Blizzard has always delivered high quality cinematics to its line of MMOs, MMORPGs, MOBAs. While its games are loved by most of its fans and hated by some, there wont be a single human on this planet who would not enjoy seeing these meticulously crafted work of arts. I would really like to see a full-length CGI movie developed by blizzard. Take my money! Top that Pixar :P

Since we are talking about StarCraft II cinematics here’s the trailer of the Heart of the Swarm expansion:

6. Castlevania Lords Of Shadows 2:

This game had mixed reactions from players where series fans were more biased that the game did stand up to the expectations from the classic title Castlevania whose origin dates back to the 1986 2D-home-arcade-platform era. The trailer looks impressive and seeks to depicting the first few minutes of the game.

Although the musical score could have been better composed which falls to capture the gravity of the Dracula fighting hordes of hundreds of mortals. The game according to me had its highs and lows. The combat system was a hack-and-slash DmC style sword-and-melee fighting with brilliant boss fights and combo and ultra attacks. The game occasionally tried a stealth type gameplay but failed to keep interests of players like the boss fight sequences did. There's this boss fight with a character called the “Toy Maker” that could easily be the best boss fight I have ever played in any game.

7. Cyberpunk 2077:

The game being developed by CD Projekt Red, same guys responsible for the Witcher. This trailer came out back in January 2013 and had the mere motive of keeping the fans teased and hungry for this. Then the devs went into the development cycle for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Recently, they said that Cyberpunk 2077 will be “far, far bigger than The Witcher 3”. The best feature about this trailer would obviously be its soundtrack Bullets by Archive that is magically interweaved with visuals such as the bullets fired from their futuristic gun barrels in bullet time.

8. League Of Legends:

I personally enjoy playing MOBAs like League Of Legends but man does this trailer look amazing. Is it remotely close to representing the actual game? Naah. Does that stop Riot Games from releasing more Hero Cinematic Trailers every year. Nope. Maybe they could spend more time refining the could-be perfect MOBA by moderating feeding-on-other-people’s-lane and AFK players.

This list consists of what I feel are the best trailers ever and even then is far from being exhaustive. If you think some other trailer deservers to be on this do let us know in the comment section below and if you like our article follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more. Cheers!

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