To clarify, this isn’t about dialog captions, which are also referred to as “subtitles.” This is about the wastes of ink which game publishers love printing after game names. Take “Halo 3: ODST,” for example. “ODST.” What is that? It’s some letters that provide no information other than, “Hey, this isn’t the original Halo 3, it’s actually something a bit different.” And that’s all most of them are.
To fully understand the effect of crappy subtitles on games, consider how easily a few well-named games can be ruined: “Mirror’s Edge: A Runner’s Tale,” “Fallout 3: Capitol Punishment,” “Left 4 Dead: The Will 2 Survive,” “Killzone 2: Back in the Zone,” and so on. And these aren’t particularly exaggerated.
They aren’t always bad - take “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” for example. It’s a Zelda game, and it involves a magic ocarina. There’s information, it makes sense, it has a damn reason to exist. But usually they’re completely superfluous or bafflingly stupid, like the ones below.
I don’t know German. It’s not that I don’t like the language, I just don’t know it. So what the hell happened here? Did they do this just because German looks cooler than English? Were they translating the game for the German release when some suit walked up and said, “Shit, look those guttural sounds! Leave the title like that for ALL the releases!” Well guess what, I don’t know German, I don’t know what the hell your game is about, and I’m not going to look it up on Wikipedia. Well… okay, I am, but only for this article.
It means “The Will to Power,” a Nietzsche reference. That’s great and all, but I still don’t know German. What’s worse is that the subtitle for the Japanese release is written in… Japanese. Because PEOPLE IN JAPAN SPEAK JAPANESE. This isn’t rocket surgery.
What exactly does the U.S. Army mean by “true soldier?” Are they suggesting that only American soldiers are real soldiers, or are they just unsure of the meaning of “true?” When “true” is placed before a noun, the goal is generally to emphasize the genuine meaning of that noun (especially when its meaning has been diluted through overuse). Here are some examples: “true hero,” “true genius,” and “true friend.” I’m fairly sure that the word “soldier” still means what it always has. There’s no need to enhance it with truthiness. Oh, and by the way, using videogames as recruiting tools is weird and creepy. Just so you know.
What league? The fake league that you made up after you lost your NFL license? So, with this subtitle, you’re emphasizing that your game is about a fake football league. That’s some really important information that I definitely needed to know. Good stuff. I’m going to go play Midnight Club: The Loosely Organized Racing Association now.
The world is at war, you say? Why, isn’t that just a different way of saying “World War?” Like maybe “World War II?”
…What’s that? Really? Congratulations, World at War! You’ve just been the 1000th game to get blasted by one of GamesRadar’s signature “triple question” quips! Pick up your prize at the concession stand at the end of the article!