The best and worst of live-action game trailers

It's rare that a game's early trailers feature any actual game footage. For the initial flash-bang-wow eyeball grab, CGI is usually the order of the day. But increasingly these days, we don't even get any of that. Publishers are swinging over to the idea that real actors and live-action approximations of their games are the way to go, presumably in an effort to hook mainstream audiences more comfortable with movies than games.

In a way, they're just big-budget cosplay, and like all cosplay, they can go very wrong or very right. So I've collected together a whole bunch of them from both ends of the scale, for your perusal and comparison. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and occasionally you might just cringe yourself into a coma.

F.E.A.R. 3

More like H.I.L.A.R.I.T.Y. Or C.H.E.E.S.E. For some reason Point Man has turned into a greasy Hobo and Paxton Fettel is now played by Cinder out of Killer Instinct.

The Saboteur

These two are great. Witty, classily shot, and perfect evokations of the key draw of the game. ie. Grossly amusing dicking about, to the great and painful detriment of the Reich.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Happy thing: This one looks amazing, is moody as hell, and does a great job of getting us pumped to see more of the game. Sad thing: It also shows us exactly what Terminator: Salvation could and should have been.

Assassin's Creed 2

Ubisoft went one step further than most with Assassin's Creed 2, creating a series of three short film prequels. They were made to both promote the game and provide Ubi with a stepping-stone into the film business. Given the quality of this and the Ghost Recon ad, we demand Splinter Cell next. NOW!

Bass Pro Shops: The Hunt

This one is weird for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, it features a guy wearing camoflage gear and a bright orange jacket and cap. Let's think about that for a second. And secondly, it revels in the father/son bonding of a good dose of animal murderising with such hilariously grim relish that we swore there had to be a punchline coming. Turns out there wasn't. It just wanted to be disturbing at us.

Halo 3

Two Halo 3 clips, one a traditional game ad, and one from Neil Blomkamp's fantastic short films (which in turn led to the even better District 9). The museum ad is pretty divisive. People either find it stirringly emotional or mortifyingly pretentious. Meiks and I are definitely in the latter camp, and much prefer this version, from the comedy legends at Consolevania.

Halo 3: ODST

More from Halo, and that means more grim and gritty, pseudo-heartstring-yanking manly tragedy. Which just doesn't sit right with me when we're talking about a game full of purple explosions and squeaky-voiced battle-Jawas.

Halo: Reach

Yet more Halo, yet more of the kind of moody, stylised bleakness that you'll very rarely find in the games. Still, the production design on this one is fantastic.

Dead Rising

Okay, so we're sort of cheating with this one, as it isn't actually a live-action trailer for the game. It's a live-action trailer for the live-action movie Capcom is making to tie into the game. It looks like a no-budget carnival of gleeful Japanese zombie excess, and thus is the kind of stuff my dreams are made out of.

But what do you reckon? Disagree with me on the quality of any of these? And do you think live-action trailers are the way of the future, or just a tacky fancy-dress-style way to appeal to mainstream audiences? As ever, let us know in the comments, or on our really rather excellent community areas on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Skykid - August 2, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    'Squeaky-voiced battle Jawas.' couldn't have put Grunts better myself.
  • philipshaw - May 25, 2010 12:10 p.m.

    Yeah these are all good, is that Dead Rising film coming out in the UK
  • DeadGirls - May 25, 2010 4:07 a.m.

    WTF! The poorly dubbed German in the first Saboteur video -- the lines that don't seem to be coming from any of the Nazis as they run up the stairs -- are ripped straight from Day of Defeat: Source. The first line is "come here and help me" and the second is "enemy position knocked out, move up". You hear them 10X a game. I wonder if they stole them or just somehow licensed them from the same place??
  • american101 - May 24, 2010 9 p.m.

    Assasin Creed II, and the Halo Vids were awesome by my opinion. but i just wanna say that producing theses by showing them as movie can give a person more perspective on the natural enviroment of a game, becuase your mimicing how it would be portrayed in real life instead of 3D. when your able to actually feel the life-likeness of games from movies or movies from games, hell I'd pay $15 bucks to see any game based off one or the other.
  • OD-Apache - May 24, 2010 8:30 p.m.

    I just went through and played every video with an advertisement at the same time. Suddenly, I wasn't annoyed at the advertisements anymore. Oh yeah, good stuff.
  • bluscorp - May 24, 2010 7:55 p.m.

    How could you not include the crap ones for Resi5?
  • Samael - May 24, 2010 7:53 p.m.

    I love all the Halo ads, even the museum ones (though out of all of them, those are my least favorite). If you know the backstory of Halo/read the books, you'll see a much bleaker, more frightening world and I think the ODST ad reflects that quite well. But since everyone on this site seems unable to resist mentioning again and again how much they hate the Halo storyline, I'm not suprised.
  • JohnyApplesperm - May 24, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    I fell so damn redneck for knowing this but the bright orange is so that other hunters can see you so you don't get shot. Fuck rednecks...
  • crumbdunky - May 24, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    Nah. I love you David(probably more than I love my own mother but that's another sad and unseemly story)but I'm too long in the tooth for any game trailers that resort to live action. I'm past being "wowed" by target renders and CGI as well. I propose we all cry, moan and whinge until the cows come home and begin burgerising themselves for our pleasure and delectation that game trailers contain ONLY actual gameplay. Not gameplay by some hero, uber gamer either but by people at OUR level to give us some idea of how annoying and, sometimes, a bit shit the game will actually be when WE get our sweaty paws on it. If a game can impress through that it gets my cash EVERY time. What do CGI and live action tall us anyway? No, like bloody "food stylists" it's all bollox except actual gameplay done in an average manner by a normal, cack handed gaming pleb such as myself. It's all about what's in the box for me-and things like the NGS2 tit wall can eff off as well(although there ARE tits in the game I guess but you know what I mean). If they need CGI to sell it I get sus and if they resort to live action I start thinking they've started to think too closely about the "are games art?" BS AND a bit sus. Yes, it might be funny, I suppose, if it didn't show just how thick they think we all are.
  • bluscorp - May 24, 2010 5:48 p.m.

    I loved the AC2 ones, they where that good it made me wish all game companies would make there OWN game movies.
  • Gahmah - May 24, 2010 3:07 p.m.

    Just finshed buffering the cabela's video, watched it... They're playing the pretty xbox 360 version with the wii exlcusive controller.... that's false advertising isn't it?
  • Gahmah - May 24, 2010 3:02 p.m.

    Remember when the original fear was one of those games people relished for it's graphical finesse? What the hell happened to that, each game just seems uglier than the last, and less over the top violence too, I recall turning a corner and getting suprised by a guy, letting loose with the shotgun and watching as his head fell off his shoulders..and landed behind his crumpled body, it was sick and crazy to see, but interesting to experience rather than just a floppy ragdoll flipping through the air or sliding along the ground.
  • FreekinIdiot - May 24, 2010 1:49 p.m.

    Point Man looks like a GI Jesus...
  • vinicusg.t.guedes - May 24, 2010 12:09 p.m.

    UBISOFT's videos are amazing. The coolest thing about Assassin's Creed 2 videos is that they are tailored around true facts that happened in Italia (the murder of the Duke of Milan) wich resulted in the Pazzi conspiracy.
  • speno93 - May 24, 2010 10:44 a.m.

    i saw the Assassins creed lineage video and was really impressed, almost like an Assasin's creed movie, and i thought the GRFS was fricking awesome as well, Ubisoft are really good at making these. And yes, District 9 was fantastic
  • Cyberninja - May 24, 2010 10:44 a.m.

    when is the dead rising movie coming to the states?
  • ChuckB - May 24, 2010 9:37 a.m.

    To be fair about ODST, it does depict how a Helljumper's life is like, not foreshadowing or "alternating" the actual event that takes place in said game. Pretty sure they described it as a noir sand-box expansion pack long before that commercial even came to light.
  • drewbian - May 24, 2010 9:33 a.m.

    i personally love the halo ODST vid, it just is what the halo movie should be liek if they ever make one. wasn't a fan of the reach one however it was jus a bit cliche and boring. definitely loved the dead rising one haha didnt even know that was a thing. nice article once again

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