The lights are on
Video game commercials are sometimes the most exciting part of watching TV. They are a brief reminder during the breaks of terrible shows that there is another far more interesting and engaging type of entertainment only a few remote clicks away. They’re also handy reminders that the games you are looking forward to are nearing release.Some are great 30 second sizzle reels effective at hyping your favorite games, while others can be ambiguous head-scratching short films that represent very little of what make your favorite games exciting.The Legend of Zelda: Skyward SwordZelda is one of those franchises that don’t need a whole lot of explanation or background. It’s pretty clear what the commercial is for once you see the iconic sword and shield falling to the ground. People seem pretty calm about the odd hail falling from the sky, and some even pick up the weapons and start flailing them around, despite a ruined ceiling. I’m glad they opted to show someone actually playing the game too, as opposed to just showing gameplay. It lets people know what kind of physical activity they’re in for.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I like Skyrim, but I don’t like this commercial. Anytime gameplay footage isn't shown, I feel like there has been a disservice to the game. You don’t see commercials for films that don’t show footage from the movie, why should games be any different? If you’re familiar with Elder Scrolls, maybe this commercial gets you excited, but you probably were already, so there was really no need to make a commercial for you. The people who aren’t familiar with Elder Scrolls may think this looks interesting, but are they aware that this is actually a video game, and not a mediocre medieval fantasy film? Of course, the game has already sold 3.5 million copies so clearly, it really doesn’t matter what I think.Portal 2I don’t like that this commercial doesn’t show any gameplay from the actual game, but as a way to quickly establish what exactly Portal is, I think the commercial is effective. Watching the robots quickly discover how the portals work, and then showing them use them for traversal is outlined well. The music is also pretty amazing which certainly doesn’t hurt.Super Mario 3D LandTheses augmented reality Nintendo commercials always struck me as sort of odd, high concept short films designed to give you an idea of what it’s like to play a Nintendo game. I think, especially in the case of Super Mario 3D Land, it would have been better to just show 30 seconds of the game being played. Not even a montage of levels or anything, just 30 seconds of uninterrupted gameplay.Uncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionUncharted smartly went for a montage, which is perfect. Show some of the game, show some of the performances, and ruin that one really amazing part of the game that takes place on the airplane. The less said about Drake’s involvement with Subway, the better.
[PageBreak]Battlefield 3It’s a bold move to try and mix footage of your game with actual real world (albeit staged) military combat, but in this case I think it worked pretty well. No one is getting confused about what is real and what is gameplay, but they are close enough to make you take notice. It did a good job emphasizing one of the easiest selling points of the game: its graphics.Forza Motorsport 4I’ve never been a fan of hyper realistic racing games, but something about this commercial makes me want to jump in my very real car and drive to the store to pick up Forza 4, so that I can simulate driving in a car from the comfort of my couch. I think it’s the Kanye West soundtrack and the words at the bottom of the screen proclaiming “Actual Gameplay Footage.” It says to the watcher, seriously dude, this is what the game looks like. Why are you still sitting there?
[PageBreak]Saints Row: The ThirdSaint’s Row: The Third is ridiculous, and despite having a cheerleader punching cars with gigantic fists, I still feel like the commercial didn’t quite go far enough. It spends most of its time highlighting character creation, which is neat, but ultimately a very small part of the game. I love the quick joke at the end with Professor Genki, though. It’s weird and easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.Dead Space 2For my money, which in full disclosure I did willingly offer to EA when I purchased this game, this is the worst campaign for a video game in years. There are so many problems with this commercial, but I think the biggest is that the audience for Dead Space 2, gamers over the age of 18, do not give a single passing thought toward what their mothers think of their video games. They are well beyond the age of teenage rebellion. Also, Dead Space 2 is about terrifying encounters with monsters in outer space. The violence certainly plays a large role in that scare factor, but it’s not the main incentive to play the game. These commercials seem intent on convincing you that the violence is so offensive, that you simply must play it.
[PageBreak]RageRage is a pretty game, and this basically shows off that aspect of the game. It's all in-game footage, which is appreciated, and it has a soundtrack that definitely appeals to the target audience. There's not much else to say really. It's a totally fine commercial.
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