Video game teasers tend to stick to a certain formula: dazzle the viewer with awesome graphics, show off some of the game’s best features 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 launch trailer for “Top Gun: The Video Game”:
There was a time when the chance to play virtual pilot sold a fair chunk of personal computing machines. People custom-built rigs just so they could run the newest editions of “Microsoft Flight Simulator,” and games like it were part of the bedrock of PC gaming landscape. Flight sims aren’t the obsession they once were, but less rigid arcade variants have kept the thrill of shooting down enemy aircraft going strong. The trailer for the new “Top Gun” game looks to capitalize on the fascination with dogfights.
– Paramount’s only dipped its toe into the game-making waters, with recent generic tie-ins to “Star Trek” and “The Warriors” and some Flash-based browser games and iPhone cash-ins for some feature films, too. Honestly, “Top Gun” looks like some Paramount exec looked at the success of “Tom Clancy’s HAWX” and Namco Bandai’s “Ace Combat” games and said, “Hey, do we have one of those?”
– This trailer comes across as disappointingly sincere. If anyone these days talks about the movie that made Tom Cruise a star, it’s with heaping amounts of sarcasm. There’s a real missed opportunity for some winking meta-commentary that spoofs the 1980s tight-assedness of the movie. And the vanilla voice-over doesn’t exactly get you itching to play. It’s all too safe by half, failing to really differentiate “Top Gun” from other air combat games.
– Why is the opening half of the trailer footage from the movie? This choice is a big mistake for two reasons. First, there’s a marked absence of Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer or any of the stars. Not getting their likenesses is understandable, but why choose to use the same codenames? Second, the film’s aerial shots haven’t aged well and set a very low bar as to expectations for the game. It’s from the movie. We get it.
“Top Gun” is probably one of the prized gems of Paramount’s home video catalog and it’s certainly overdue for a new playable version. But this trailer makes the game look like a warmed-over retread of mechanics from other aerial dogfight franchises. Mostly, the trailer makes you want to get a bunch of friends together to play a “Top Gun” drinking game. It’s hard to tell who the game’s aimed at. Here’s the text announcing the game:
Based on the iconic film, Top Gun is a free-flying air combat shooter where, as Maverick, players will go up against the best of the best at Top Gun Academy with their Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), Goose. Following graduation, players will take on the Soviets over the Indian Ocean. While shooting down enemy fighter jets, defending and attacking bases, and engaging in large-scale dogfight battles, Maverick will test the limits of his plane, his new RIO and his wingman, Iceman. Top Gun also features five multiplayer modes, allowing up to sixteen players to battle it out online. The soundtrack includes both “Danger Zone” and “Top Gun Anthem.”
So, are they looking to hook thirtysomething gamers who have fond, cheesy memories of the film? Or is it teenagers who know nothing of the volleyball-playing fighter jocks? Either way, this trailer probably won’t rope in either group. If you’re curious, then “Top Gun” is available this week for Mac, PC and PlayStation 3.