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2015-10-14

Descent vs Sub-Level Zero: Trailer Fight!

The ships of Descent 3. Hint:
They are very maneuverable.
Look folks, the truth is that videogame trailers are very delicate art, and not every company has the chops to do a good job of it. Do you want a fine example of some of the best videogame trailer action ever put to VHS?

Let's talk about Descent.



Listen to those buttery vocals. Revel in the sheer, unadulterated action being presented to your poor eye-holes. Gasp in shock at the revelation that Descent 3 is "modem compatible!"

No, seriously – this is an awesome trailer. It's got high-energy, it shows you the game, it sounds like the creators are excited about the project, there's no question about what kind of experience that it provides. It is almost impossible to beat this experience, even when you are trying to replicate this experience.



Like with, say, Sublevel Zero.



Is it a gorgeous game? Absolutely. Without question. Does the trailer present the spectacle of the game? To some degree, yes. There's no question of how the game will actually play; unlike a lot of game trailers, SLZ provides actual gameplay to showcase what they consider the absolute core of the experience – and they're not wrong.

What is the trailer as good?

I don't think so.

There is an aspect of bombast that the D3 trailer has and that the SLZ video aggressively avoids. If anything, the latter is attempting to underplay a sense of excitement and aggression. Part of that is the modern trailer tendency to avoid voiceover, which I find completely wrongheaded. It's one of the things that made the Leviathan Warships trailer so good and so viral. Observe



Perhaps that was a little unfair. It's almost impossible to compete with the awesomeness that is the Leviathan Warships jazzy trailer. Notice that it is a trailer that conveys excitement alongside all the amusement. There's no question that the company is proud of what they produced and they want to feature it in a way that makes people want to talk about and share the trailer they created. The D3 trailer does likewise (even though it existed in a time of largely before viral trailer sharing). The SLZ be trailer – not so much.

I've written about videogame trailers a a number of times before. I usually harp on the fact that trailers really do need to be saying that encourages viewers to want to talk about them. Not only to want to talk about them, but to specifically say, "did you see this thing?" The further videogame trailers get away from that, the less successful that I feel that they seem to be. I certainly tend to want to share them less with the people in the communities that care about such things as video games when the trailer is not at least somewhat engaged with being a little bombastic about the product they want to attract attention to.