Ever since Halo 3 did it back in our salad years, live-action game trailers have been... Well, they haven't been a big deal, certainly, but if you're like me you're always intrigued by a live-action trailer for an upcoming game. There's something fascinating about taking the virtual world of a video game and making it just a bit more tangible with actors and sets. But let me tell you something right off the bat: I'm bending the rules a little on this one. One of them isn't even technically for a game! I restricted it to one trailer per series, first off, and there weren't many trailers I could use, second.
Please, don't throw rocks at me.
5. BioShock Mock-up
All right, this one is cheating, but you can’t deny that the fan-made “film” trailer looks great. It captures the turmoil, horror and former exuberance of Rapture better than any film adaptation could. Really, now, there are no good video game movies. An argument can be made for the least-awful film adaptation of a video game—or maybe one that’s so bad it’s good—but this is probably the best video game film that’ll never be made. It keeps it short and sweet, focusing on a man washed up from Rapture before cutting to a montage of demented characters and familiar scenery, set to the tune of Bobby Darin’s hit, “Mack the Knife.”
4. Prototype 2
Two words, people: Johnny Friggin' Cash. Using one of The Man In Black’s best songs (cover or not) is a great way to get your trailer noticed, although making a decent trailer doesn’t hurt. The live-action Prototype 2 trailer has just the right mix of sadness and silliness, taking us from Heller’s despair at the loss of his wife and daughter to his rage at Alex Mercer for turning him into a monster. It’s got a kind of appealing low-budget vibe, which is great, but the real reason this trailer is so good is its use of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.”
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
A lone warrior wanders the streets of a city under siege in Tamriel, brushing past fleeing crowds of terrified citizens. He draws his sword and faces down his foe: A huge-ass dragon. Dragons are awesome, so it made sense for Skyrim to finally include them as a major enemy, and it’s nice to see one looking so “real” in this trailer. What I’m saying is that this is a good trailer because it has a dragon in it. Shut up.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Is it just me, or does this seem like it’d make a great buddy comedy? I don’t even play Call of Duty and I enjoy the hell out of this trailer. Sam Worthington and Jonah Hill are great as the Veteran and the Noob. The Noob starts as a gung-ho rookie, getting comically blown up and becoming increasingly exasperated until something happens: He learns from the Vet, his new Modern Warfare mentor, and becomes his own Vet in the end. Also, come on, it has “Shoot to Thrill” in it.
1. Halo: Reach
We pretty much have Halo to thank for live-action video game trailers. No, the absurdly popular shooter didn’t invent the idea, but it certainly popularized them. It had kind of a false start with the Halo 3 trailer, but once the Reach trailer hit? “Damn,” is an appropriate observation. The trailer takes us through the augmentation process of the UNSC’s SPARTAN-III program, showing us what Carter-A259 went through in order to become a supersoldier. It’s more subdued than Deliver Hope, another memorable Reach short, but Birth of a Spartan’s lonely atmosphere is its strongest aspect.