Behold, the newly-released trailer for zombie FPS DEAD ISLAND:
As is the case for 95% of All-That’s-Good-In-The-World, the first I heard of this was from Sizemore, who’s apparently done some deal with the devil entitling him to first dibs on anything set to whet the appetite and wet the pants of the Internet proper.
For any game trailer making Slashfilm seems to signify that you’re well on the way to being embraced by the movie mainstream – part-timers like me who only buy one or two games a year. The reality though, as more than the occasional tweeter was quick to point out, is that the DEAD ISLAND trailer feels more original, more attention-grabbing and – for those of us given to tangling with the dead-undead at least – more enticing than the vast majority of movie trailers.
If we want to make any sort of useful comparison with the movie equivalent, it’s worth pointing out that this is the equivalent of a ‘teaser trailer’ – a shorter, typically more abstract and intriguing trailer that breaks ahead of what we would term the ‘feature trailer’ (or, if you’re Skinnertron – and be glad you’re not – the ‘regular trailer’).
Just as the
feature regular trailer for any movie lays on the major plot points and key sequences somewhat thicker than your average teaser, it seems fair to assume that at some point somebody will feel the need to show us what DEAD ISLAND game-play actually looks like. That said, a good teaser is a great way to give yourself the early initiative. Or, as Londonfilmgeek put it:
Probably the best zombie movie of recent years is Zack Snyder’s 2004 Romero remake DAWN OF THE DEAD. (It’s an unfortunate detail of cinematic history that Romero himself, father of the genre, has released three of his own Zombie movies since then.) I couldn’t find a teaser but if you take the
feature regular trailer (below) and stop it at the 1’20” mark that makes for a pretty good equivalent:
It might just be me, but suddenly that DEAD ISLAND trailer doesn’t feel quite so ground-breaking any more, borrowing as it does from Snyder’s harrowing homage to the 1978 classic. It’s a low blow, the zombie kid, and a brutally effective one, sending parents like me scampering to our little ones’ bedrooms just to check they haven’t started chewing the stuffing out of Paddington Bear. Parents like me, and BookPirate.
It doesn’t stop there mind. This isn’t the first game trailer to take gory ultra-violence and juxtapose it against a haunting aural backdrop. And maybe GEARS OF WAR’s wasn’t either, but their 2006 trailer (below) feels like a landmark moment in terms of challenging assumptions about how to sell computer games. At least, I and 8,624,457 other people seem to think so:
Even so, take out the zombie whipper-snapper and the unlikely soundtrack and you still have the challenging structure of the trailer, playing with the time-line to describe a relatively simple (and predictable) series of events in an engaging way. Here, surely, is where the makers of DEAD ISLAND are making a bold statement about their inventiveness, originality and preparedness to take creative risks. Well, kind of:
Put the pieces together and you have what’s perhaps not such an original trailer after all, albeit still a highly effective one. Maybe what’s most creative here is their choice of influences, and how they’ve combined them to break out of their core audience, challenging the perceptions of we part-timers in terms of what computer games are, and how to sell them.
It seems to me that what we’re really seeing here is the games industry still playing catch-up, growing to meet its expanding audience, learning from the experiences of other sectors even as it wheedles market-share from their tightening pockets. Part movie trailer, part music video, somewhere in there perhaps even a computer game. Let’s hope it’s a good one.