TA Top Five: Game Trailers

By Jonathan Barnes,
If our "Game of the Generation" voting and the rundown of some of the top games of each year has taught us anything, it's that video game trailers have become the primary way that games are marketed. Depending on where it's being shown, developers publishers marketing teams have anywhere between thirty seconds and three or four minutes to convince gamers to give their newest gem an ounce or two of their brain space. Taking a variety of forms, trailers can show anything from actual gameplay to pre-rendered movies to conceptual ideas. They all do have one thing in common, though, their goal is to make you sit up and say, "I want to know more."

Here is our TA Top Five Game Trailers that reflect that feeling.

Honorable Mentions

Dead Island (Xbox 360) Achievements - Official Announcement

The only reason that this trailer isn't rated higher is that it doesn't represent its game very well. A highly-emotional opus that goes backwards, this trailer delivers on the emotion as you watch a family fight for its life in a tropical paradise. While Dead Island did feature zombies in the tropics, it didn't deliver on this emotional promise. In hindsight, this trailer might have set the bar too high for the team at Techland. On its own, however, this trailer is a masterpiece.

Bulletstorm Achievements - Last Call

If there's one thing I love, it's a fine bourbon. If there's two things I love, it's fine bourbon and satire. As a clear parody of Halo 3 Achievements's "Believe" trailer, "Last Call" does an incredible job of honoring its source material while also giving the clear impression that this game will have a good dose of adult humor layered in. Finally, and most-importantly, it closes with the all-important gameplay montage.

LIMBO Achievements - In-Game Teaser

Much like a trailer that you'll find later in the Top Five, Limbo's in-game teaser trailer eschews loud music and bright visuals. Made purely from in-game footage, this trailer simply says, "This is the game." When it comes to building hype and then delivering on expectations, you can't do better than this one.

BioShock Infinite (Xbox 360) Achievements - Premier Trailer

Start with a tease of the game's bloodlines, give a glimpse of a mysterious bad guy, add in the patented BioShock flair of, "What is going on here?", and then finish it with breathtaking visuals, and you've got a recipe for delight. While this trailer banks heavily on the reputation of the developer and the lineage of the series, on a sheer artistic level, it delivers excitement and hype.

TA's Top Five Game Trailers

#5 - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Achievements - The Vet & The n00b

Like it or not, we've reached a point where Call of Duty pretty much sells itself. While this might sound good in theory, in practice the marketing team still has to do some work. While this trailer shows off exactly zero gameplay footage, or even pre-rendered visuals, it took the (already great) There's A Soldier In All Of Us trailer from Call of Duty: Black Ops Achievements and kicked it up a notch. By playing on the feeling that gamers have by playing CoD with friends and the gradual learning curve that newcomers experience, the marketing team sold the "experience" without even showing the game.

#4 - Red Dead Redemption Achievements - My Name is John Marston

Westerns are thought to be a dying breed, so when Rockstar bet big on Red Dead Redemption, many gamers initially scoffed. This trailer, made completely from in-game footage, channeled Ennio Morricone for music and let the game's amazing visuals and ambiance do the rest. While it might have taken sterling reviews for gamers to jump into John Marston's boots, this trailer made the gaming world tip its hat and tighten its gun belt.

#3 - Borderlands 2 Achievements - Wimoweh

Leave it to the twisted minds at Gearbox to create the single most hilarious, irreverent, and violent representation of their hilarious, irreverent, and violent creation, Borderlands 2. By utilizing a combination of pre-rendered visuals and in-game action, Gearbox gave gamers a glimpse of the highly-anticipated sequel while setting it to some of the most hilarious, discordant music. When it was released, I simply said it was "the most joyful, glee-inducing trailer you will see in... forever."

#2 - Fallout 3 Achievements - Teaser Trailer

With Bethesda at the helm, gamers everywhere lost their collective minds when the developers dropped this trailer that payed homage to its PC game predecessors, while also spinning in the look and feel of the Capital Wasteland. While the trailer (like BioShock Infinite's) didn't show any gameplay, it thrust Fallout 3 into the gamersphere and became THE game to talk about.

#1 - Gears of War Achievements - Mad World

As if there was any doubt. With haunting music and visuals, this trailer stuck with gamers well beyond its viewing. Unlike other trailers promoting hyper-violent shooters, the "Mad World" trailer for the original Gears of War brought things down a notch, pulled viewers in, and raised tons of questions: Who is this guy? What happened here? Why is he running? What are those things? When can I have this game!? As one of the best games of the early generation, this trailer (and game) signified to many gamers that the "next gen" was indeed here, and that Gears of War was the game you needed to buy to experience it.

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.