I guess it was always a stretch, turning an ultra-violent alien gorefest into a tearjerker, but somehow David Fincher’s Gears of War trailer achieved it a few years ago.
However the new trailer for GoW3 has attempted to do the same and is receiving something of a backlash. Certainly Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera isn’t impressed.
Of course it wasn’t made by Fincher. This new trailer bears none of the visual fluency of the first: the broken doll face, the hesitant marine, the long slow buildup, the rain like tears…
Also Mad World’s lyrics seem so pointedly about computer games – “the dreams in which I’m dying / are the best I’ve ever had” – that it’s surprising no one did it before.
The new one has none of this. It’s explosive throughout, counterpointed by music that bears little relation to the picture, and the ending is somehow both cheesy and an anticlimax.
There is an underlying truism of filmmaking here: you can’t create emotion with music, but music can bolster what emotion is already there.
The shallow, hollow, clones that most first-person shooters are today clearly don’t justify this. But is this a sign of a yearning that they should move us? I think so.
It’s hard to imagine how monolithic AAA game series like GoW can accomodate any emotional undertow, but there are many games out there which have managed it successfully – Craig Keeble’s blog has a good list.
I still believe it’s possible for a game to be dramatic and narrative and it’s up to game makers to learn the best way to do this, not just by copying how movies do it, but by finding the medium’s own unique lexicon.