Trying to Pick Up the Trail

Today I watched a couple of trailers for the new Deus Ex game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. One was the cinematic teaser trailer shown at E3, the other is what I take to be the most recent gameplay trailer. If you’re not someone who has watched many (or any) trailers for video games, they’re both worth looking at to get a sense of just how epic video games seem to feel these days. Given that they’re advertising something you’re eventually going to “live,” these trailers out-do Hollywood in some ways.

The cinematic trailer is pretty well done, spectacular, and obviously filled with plenty of clichés. The biggest surprise for me was how it occasionally screamed “Bladerunner!” in my face – the grabs of the Bladerunner aesthetic were so evident that I guess it was meant to be homage, but it felt too close and too constant to be that for me.

The gameplay trailer is the weird one of the two, though. My understanding of a gameplay trailer is that you’d get a picture of what the game is like to play. Yet in watching the trailer I think I saw what looked realistically like a screen I might see while in control only a couple of times. There were brief flashes of a gun pointing out of the bottom of the screen and I thought, “yep, I understand – I shoot things. I’m down.” The rest of the time, though, I was kind of lost.

The trouble stems, I suppose, from my assumption that Deus Ex will be a first-person game (I haven’t read enough media to know the truth about this). The gameplay trailer is mostly third-person, meaning that it ultimately looks more like the cinematic trailer than anything I might be in control of. It has fancy camera angles, and moves being pulled off that I have a hard time imagining myself pressing the buttons to achieve. Possibly the game simply contains certain third-person passages, and some hard-coded “Do Awesome Thing!” moves that you can trigger where appropriate. Like punching through a wall and breaking a dude’s neck. All in one, smooth button-press.

Because of the simultaneous slickness and cliché of the cinematic trailer, and the feeling obfuscation in the gameplay trailer, I feel as though I have no grasp on what the game will actually be like, just a sense of its aesthetics and allegiances in terms of genre and so forth.

But hey… wait… that’s exactly what Hollywood trailers are like too.

17 August 2010
← next words previous words →