I love video game trailers. Like their cousins in the television and film worlds, trailers in video games help generate interest in and build hype behind the game they are promoting. There are many different types/categories of video game trailers, but today I just want to focus on one in particular: the high-quality cinematic CG trailer. Because of the requirements needed to produce these trailers, not many of them come out. Normally only the larger game franchises have the budgets needed to produce them, though once in awhile a smaller game will get one made. These trailers are effectively short movies that dazzle us with their visuals and keep their respective games at the forefront of our minds and conversations. At the same time, these trailers are not particularly informative, as they generally only give you small bits of the game’s storyline and characters, along with a few hints of game mechanics. That said, because these sorts of trailers are often among the last ones to come out before a game launches, you could argue that they are effectively the dessert of games media – a sweet meal that’s not meant to be nutritious but rather an enjoyable end to a long dinner party. I always appreciate it when a game gets one of these trailers, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ones from over the years. For this post I’ve restricted the trailers to games I’ve actually played. Because Blogger automatically shrinks the size of the videos, it may also be worthwhile to either watch the trailer full-screen, or click the Youtube button to take you to the Youtube page where the trailer is originally from.

Mass Effect 3 – Take Earth Back Trailer

Much like a trailer for a disaster movie, Mass Effect 3’s Take Earth Back trailer starts with everything being pleasant, before all hell breaking loose. Things are looking pretty good in the future, but then a massive invasion of sentient machines sets the whole world on fire. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve gone so far as to turn much of humanity into zombie-like shock troops. Earth has fallen, and its up to you to take it back.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 – E3 Trailer

Clocking in at almost four and a half minutes, the E3 trailer for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is the longest of the trailers highlighted in this post. It continues the (surprisingly good but now non-canon) story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice that was established in the first The Force Unleashed game. I had big hopes for The Force Unleashed 2, however the final game proved to be a disappointment. This unfortunately means that this trailer is another example of the fact that a really cool trailer doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a really cool game.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – TGS Trailer

Whereas the other three trailers in this list show at least a somewhat continuous series of events, the TGS Trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution jumps all over the place, with fast cuts galore. On one hand this gives the viewer lots of small fragments of the narrative, but on the other hand it can be a little disorienting. Still, the editing and narration keep the trailer coherent enough for the viewer to get the general gist of what’s going on. Conspiracy, transhumanism, and a dark, technological future all come together to make a very intriguing trailer.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – E3 Trailer [North America]

The release of nearly every single Assassin’s Creed game has been accompanied by a cinematic trailer, and this particular one is my personal favorite. Even if you have no clue what the Assassin’s Creed games are about, it’s an undeniably beautiful trailer. I love the color, the lighting, the detail of the outfits, and just about everything else in this trailer has to offer. Any of the other Assassin’s Creed cinematic trailers could have been featured on this list, but in my opinion this one is a true masterpiece.

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