There's no argument that many games rival big-budget movies now in terms of production, and just like the movies, they know that you've got to use a little sizzle to sell the steak. The art of the game trailer has progressed in ways we never could have imagined, and today we celebrate the best of the best.
10. BioShock 2: The debate is over whether BioShock Infinite is better or worse than BioShock, but pretty much everyone agrees that the entry between them is inferior to both. That may be true, but there's one area where it's clearly the winner, and that's in its trailer. Less modern and "edgy" than Infinite, and better graphically and atmospherically than BioShock, it's a real stunner. Shame about the game itself.
9. Star Wars: The Old Republic: Though it's never been said for sure, the cost of developing The Old Republic is rumored to be as high as $200 million...the most expensive game ever made. It certainly shows in the trio of cinematic videos that were used to tease it. I can name at least two theatrical releases of actual Star Wars movies I would put below them in terms of watchability and awesomeness.
8. Gears of War: When I saw the Gears of War trailer in the AMC 30 on Dunvale, I thought it was for an upcoming movie. It's not just the incredible graphics, but the sheer art of combining such a dark shooter and alien mayhem with something as soft and haunting as Gary Jules's cover of "Mad World." It's the sort of move David Lynch would pull.7: Halo Reach:
I have actually never played a single game of Halo, but the trailer for Halo Reach makes me want to. The hopelessness and the bravery of the whole thing is like a Robert A. Heinlein short story come to life.
6. Leviathan: Warships: Sometimes you've got to think outside the box, and having a smooth jazz narration over a soft, sexy beat definitely counts as that. Leviathan can't compete in big-budget production, so they didn't even try. You've got to love the way they remind you that this was not only a brilliant way to sell a tactical, turn-based naval war game, but that they spent the money on the gameplay instead of flashy voice-overs. There's a lesson in that somewhere.
5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS Trailer): Nintendo knew just what they were doing when they hired Zelda fan Robin Williams to star in a commercial tribute to the amazing series, an advertisement to the game itself, and a nod to the desire of every father to protect his little princess. What in Ocarina of Time are you going to show us that we haven't seen before? No, this incredibly sweet trailer just appeals to those of us who remember being kids on grand adventures, and calls to our desire to share those adventures with the next generation.
4. American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns: Though I wouldn't call either Alice game terribly frightening, the trailer for the second installment just creeps me the hell out more than anything I have ever seen. It accomplishes in 30 seconds what Dead Space 3 takes hours to not accomplish with just the right amount of jump scare and chilling, unstoppable weirdness. Ugh, I have nightmares every time I see it.
3. DC Universe Online: I simply refuse to believe that any Justice League movie they'll attempt will be better than the 2010 Comic-Con trailer for DC Universe Online. Deathstroke's fight against Wonder Woman alone is worth it and the sad monologue of Lex Luthor as he shows the heroes the future that lies in wait for them is equal to some of his finest comic work. Plus, Superman just straight-up burns Black Adam's face off.
2. Dead Island: Dead Island's trailer lacked a little in the graphics department compared to other entries on this list, but it made up for it with fantastic storytelling. In three minutes, you come to a creeping, gut-twisting conclusion as a family fights their final battle against an unstoppable zombie horde. It will break your heart in a way you probably never thought anything with zombies ever could again, and honestly could have been submitted as an animated short for the Academy Awards as far as I'm concerned.
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1. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Capcom managed to produce a quartet of cinematic trailers for their latest game in the crossover fighting franchise so incredibly good that honestly you wondered why they didn't just produce a movie instead. The almost 12 minutes' worth of footage is far better than even the actual gameplay, not to mention that it set an unbeatable bar when it came to the title's utterly lackluster endings. You could show this to any single person, comic fan or gamer or neither, and he or she would be interested. Just pure genius.
Back when we were obsessed with that Marvel Vs. Capcom trailer, we were hoping for five unlikely Marvel characters and five even more unlikely Capcom characters to be included. Amazingly, one of them did!