Video game teasers tend to stick to a certain formula: dazzle the viewer with awesome graphics, show off some of the games’ abilities and maybe dribble a little story out to tantalize would-be players. But every so often, one piece of video-centric marketing will float above the rest or sink to join the sludge.
In Clip Analysis, I’ll be looking at trailers, teasers and just about any game-related video in an effort to call out what works and what doesn’t in terms of communicating a particular game’s coolness.
This time, I’ll be taking a look at the Kick in the Head trailer for “Mafia II”.
Summer tends to be slow when it comes to big-deal game releases, so 2K Games’ Mafia II already stands be one of the more anticipated games when it comes out. They don’t have to do a lot of selling here. But they do a good job of keeping it film-like: no quick cuts, no text overlays, no ominous third-person narrator intoning the seriousness of the business. All you need is presented in the trailer.
• The music is the first thing that hits you. Dean Martin’s swinging big-band rendition of “Ain’t That A Kick in The Head?” immediately establishes an aura of Rat Pack-era cool as we meet the game’s lead character Vito Scarletta. Not only will you be this guy in the game but with those horns blaring behind him, you wanna be this guy.
• This trailer is all cinematics, with no gameplay footage here. But we still do get a sense of the things that we’ll be doing in the game–bribing officers, drive-by shootings, forceful extortions of money. It’s more engrossing than watching someone off-screen steer characters through sequences of the game.
• Mafia II’s clearly trying to channel the vibe of a “Goodfellas” in its gangster gameplay. But the trailer also effectively apes Scorcese’s hallowed dollycam shots, like the one long one when Henry Hill’s taking his future wife through the restaurant. This trailer does that one better, swooping in and out of various locales around the fictional city of Empire Bay. And that final shot is, literally, killer.
If you weren’t excited already, then this trailer should have fixed that problem. Mafia II will be out for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on August 24th