I loved Dishonored. The stealth mechanics, supernatural elements, fluid combat, and the beautiful Victorian steampunk setting made Dishonored one of my all time favorites. But before I even heard of the game, I randomly stumbled across this trailer and was blown away. The trailer does everything a proper trailer should. It introduces the protagonist and clearly establishes the game’s setting. It manages to combine the gameplay with a cinematic flair. All of Corvo’s abilities, from his supernatural powers to his skill in combat are on full display. What’s most impressive is everything you see in the trailer you can actually do in the game.
4. Star Wars: The Old Republic
I just rewatched this trailer for the twelfth or so time before writing this quick blurb and still found myself sitting on the edge of my seat and actually holding out hope that the Light side prevails over the Dark side. “Maybe this time the trailer will have a different outcome,” I thought. Alas, no such thing happened, because that’s unfortunately not how trailers work … yet. For a game with as polarizing reviews as The Old Republic, I think everyone can agree that their cinematic trailers are immaculately crafted and completely riveting. I remember when I first saw the “Deceived” trailer, it captured my imagination and it also tells a quick, important story to the plot of the game. It is an effective trailer that is also masterfully designed.
3. Gears of War
Gears of War is one gaming’s most influential series. It introduced the gaming world to a gritty cover-based shooting mechanic that can still be seen in games today. The first Gears of War introduces players to the locust-infested world of Sera and Marcus Fenix himself. Aside from Kratos and Master Chief, Marcus Fenix stands as one of gaming’s greatest heroes. While the trailer doesn’t show any gameplay or reveal any story elements, it’s incredibly beautiful. The crumbling city behind left behind Marcus as he sprints forward shows how much of humanity is at stake. Gary Jules’ song “Mad World” highlights Marcus’ loneliness in the trailer and echoes how kind of threat humanity is up against. It’s a beautiful and haunting trailer for the beginning of Marcus Fenix’s saga.
2. Dead Island
Every once in awhile, a video game trailer comes along that takes our gaming community by storm. Dead Island was absolutely that trailer when it was first released. It tells a heartbreaking story of a little girl who becomes infected in part of a zombie infestation on a remote tropical island. The trailer does an interesting thing by presenting the plot in reverse order. It starts with a morbid shot of a dead child and then rewinds back to her going through a window several floors up and then attacking the man who threw her out the window. By the end of the trailer, we have learned the story of this little girl and what appears to be her family. It’s a wildly emotional trailer that yanks on your heartstrings, and almost simultaneously makes your skin crawl. Dead Island unfortunately ended up having a somewhat mixed reception, but this trailer will stay in the gaming community’s collective conscious for a long time.
1. God of War: Ascension
This is easily the most powerful video game trailer I’ve ever seen. I’ve always loved the God of War series and the first God of War is arguably the greatest game on the PS2. Kratos’ quest for revenge against the gods who destroyed his family was awesome and fun to play. But by the third game, Kratos had devolved into a caricature of himself. His only emotion was rage and his obsession with murdering the gods began to make him the villain. In the third game, he kills gods that are helping him for no reason. By the end, the plot’s attempt at humanizing Kratos with the young girl and the message of hope just fell flat.When God of War: Ascension was announced, I was intrigued by the prequel. The tag line read “Before he was a god, he was a human.” I thought it’d be really interesting to see Kratos before all the tragedy. To see him actually be a real human with actual emotions other than rage, would make Kratos much more interesting. The trailer only heightened my expectations. The beautiful music accompanied with the sheer joy on Kratos’ face as he holds his daughter showed a side of him that has not been seen before. As a father, the elation on his face resonated deeply. Then suddenly, it’s gone. As the environment changed from lush fields to a desolate rain-filled desert, his daugther turns to ash in his hands. Kratos’ mix of shock and loss is heartbreaking, especially because the camera zooms in on his face. Finally, his loss turns to cold-hearted rage and the loving father has been transformed into the bitter Kratos we all know. Even though the game was underwhelming, the trailer is amazing. It does something that four games couldn’t do, make Kratos a relatable and likeable human being.