15 Best Video Game Cinematic Trailers

The 15 best PC Video Game cinematic trailers.
The 15 best Video Game Cinematic Trailers
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15 Video Game cinematic trailers that WOW'ed gamers worldwide.

Game companies spend millions every year marketing their games to the likes of you and me. It’s not enough to just make a good game anymore and hope word of mouth will make it sell. We’re at the stage where a game's franchise can make or break a studio. Video game trailers are designed to hype us up as much as possible, but they are not without their disappointments, especially when the game ends up being a total bag of s****.

But this article isn’t about how good the final game is or was, this is about how good the trailer was. So come join me as I wander down memory lane and get all nostalgic about the best cinematic trailers from long ago and those from more recent times. There’s no criteria to think about here, the trailer just has to be movie-worthy in its efforts. And that’s it. To prove this point, let’s start with no 15 on the list.

15. Stone Keep

Old School FMV. Back in the 90's, this was mind blowing stuff. Not so much now.

No don’t worry, not many people remember this game, it’s not just you. Those that do, remember that back in 1995, the only way to watch this was by watching the videos on the demo discs given away with PC Games magazines.

Stone Keep was a revolution. It was the equivalent of seeing the new Star Wars trailer. Yes, it looks awful now. In fact, it’s so dire it’s not even laughable. But back then, gamers thought there was a new Messiah. Tragically, the game looked like the entire production budget had gone into the trailer and the game itself was terrible. Anyway, number 14.

14. Red Dead Redemption

 “It’s GTA, but with cowboys.”

Imagine the pitch when they came up with this game:  "GTA Cowboys..." Who could turn that down? The video game trailer didn’t disappoint, and neither did the game. In hindsight making a GTA style game set in the Wild West may have seemed pretty obvious, but it wasn’t until after the trailers were released that gamers realised this was the game they had been waiting their entire life for.

13. Fallout 3

 “I’m just looking for someone to love me, for me.”

I wasn’t so sure about Fallout 3 the first time I heard about it. I mean, how could they ever better Fallout 2? But then I saw the trailer below and my wariness was replaced with anticipation. There’s something just truly unsettling about the 1930’s song playing quietly in the background and that desolate view of the wasteland giving way at the end to that ominous storm trooper like manifestation glaring back coldly at you. It was the best kind of trailer, the type that left you wanting more. It didn't matter that you had absolutely no idea what the game was about, you just wanted to play it. 

Somewhere in the distance, the marketing execs high fived each other…

12. Fallout 2

I

Contrary to popular belief, there were no armoured goats in Fallout 2

Yes, the video says it’s the intro but it’s another one of those ones that most people only got to watch on the back of a demo disc. Try to imagine a simpler time: A time when amazing graphics just meant visuals that looked ok, and graphics were considered HD at 800 x600 resolutions. Then try to imagine in those dark days suddenly seeing a game trailer of this quality. It didn’t matter that it made no apparent sense or that you learned virtually nothing about the actual game; this was game history in the making, and you wanted to own a piece of it.  

11.  Fallout, the original.

Just kidding.

Enough with the Fallout.

11: GTA V

 “Not having a good day.”

The GTA V trailer is beautiful to watch. It’s literally art in motion. I don’t know of any other video game trailer that manages to give gamers such a feel for the absolute scale of a game as this one does. The moment the first few seconds of video flicker into the trailer you know instantly it’s a GTA game, and you know it’s going to be great. What’s more is that it looks more like GTA San Andreas and less GTA IV, and you know, you just know this is the game you’ve been waiting for your entire life. 

10. Mass Effect 2

You would so do the one on the left.

All you know is that Shepard is literally collecting the deadliest scum in the universe for something big. That’s it. But after the original Mass Effect, the developers knew they had to come up with something epic and justify the weight of expectation that everyone had for the sequel. Fortunately, this video game trailer did an awful lot to assuage any issues anyone might have had about the follow up. Some games follow trends; the Mass Effect series creates them. And in case you’re wondering, I know that this is the best Mass Effect trailer because I just spent the last 40 minutes watching all of them back to back and this is the one that stands out. I love this trailer.

 

9. GTA San Andreas

Now this is how it should be done. If you haven’t ever seen the seminal Boyz N’ The Hood movie then go watch it. Then watch this trailer again to see just how well RockStar North managed to capture just what made the early 90’s such an iconic time to live through. San Andreas had a world of expectation riding on its shoulders, and when I first saw this, I couldn't believe how immense it all looked. You shouldn't either.

8. Assassins Creed III

Freedom isn’t free. In Star Trek, it was the Red Shirts who always died. In Creed, it's the Red Coats.

Don’t argue with me on this one. I just spent the last 20 minutes re-watching every one of the Assassin's Creed video game trailers from start to finish. This is the best trailer for the series, trust me. For sheer scope and coolness, AC3 is the game you’d want to play if you only had the trailers to go on. This game was something of a departure after the previous Creed games, but it stands out by setting the game during the American Revolution. It was a masterstroke. There’s something all very Last of the Mohicans about it all, and that works for me because I think that film is brilliant, and so is this trailer.

7. World of Warcraft

If only WOW had actually looked like this, imagine what a game it would be. Blizzard have a reputation for their in game cutscenes and movies and this one hit the mark again, and then some. You have to remember what the World of Warcraft video game trailers heralded when this trailer was released. It was everything gamers wanted. There was a world of expectation on Blizzard’s shoulders. They had to deliver. And they did. Of course, the game looked nothing like the cinematic trailer shown here, but I do remember spitting out my drink when I saw this for the first time.

6. DC Universe Online

 “Featuring your favourite characters as NPCs you can’t play although all the marketing hype suggested you could -What?

Surely one the best video game trailers for superheroes ever made. It is a veritable treasure map of ideas for a proper Justice League movie that does DC proud. It is one of those trailers that scorched a trail around the Net for weeks after it was released.

Is that really Arrow’s body? Is that Batman getting pulped to death by the Joker? Yes, yes it is. Seriously, you’ve got to love the idea of a game trailer that dares to show legendary heroes getting killed left, right, and centre. It literally has nothing to do with the game, but it’s one of those trailers you just have to watch again, and again, and again.

5. Left for Dead

“That’s gonna need stitches.”

Maybe it’s my love of anything and everything zombie related. I play DAYZ for instance. Anyway, as trailers go this is one of those ones you could honestly believe was for a proper Hollywood movie. From the eerie background music to that freak encounter with the witch to Bill’s magnificent throwaway line at the end, the whole trailer oozes action, tension and quality throughout. The travesty of justice is that they only ever made two of these games.  

4. Dying Light

 Deep.

The free running one. Yes without even the hint of a break it’s another zombie game trailer straight away. There’s something almost Hunger Games about it in its bleakness and casual end twist that just sets the heart racing. It sucks to be the guy in the yellow shirt in this trailer. Gamers were left with very little to know about what Dying Light was actually about other than that there were zombies everywhere; but I don’t suppose it mattered very much. The way I see it, if a game has zombies in it, it’s already halfway to being a success.    

3.  Halo 3: Believe

This guy is not the Master Chief. Believe that,

You know if you’re going to shoot video game trailers and do it live action instead of using CGI like everyone else, then it had better be f***** good. If you’ve ever seen the FEAR 3:Point Man trailer, you will know what I am talking about. Fortunately, Believe, is better than good. It’s amazing. It’s actually hard to believe that they shot this, that they spent the millions they did making this, just to promote a game. The acting is good, the action is believable and within just a few short minutes, you feel for the overwhelmed, outgunned noble earthling soldiers as they battle and sacrifice for the better good.  

2:  Star Wars: The Old Republic

Is there a Sith in the house?

It’s Star Wars and it wasn’t done by George Lucas. That is all I need to say about this one. It’s amazing. Shame about the actual game though, because it’s not very good.

1:  Dead Island

Haunting.

You know the Dead Island video game trailers were done by the same people who did Dying Light? Just saying. It’s worth noting that this is one of those games where almost everyone has seen the trailer, but far fewer have played the game. The trailer went viral when it was released and who can say it shouldn’t have. The whole thing from start to finish is epic in the way it’s all done backwards, in slow motion, and for the sheer horror of the reality of the zombie apocalypse.  

This trailer will leave you breathless. That poor girl. The ultimate futility of the fight.

It is the quintessential example of a game that did not live anywhere up to expectation. Nether the less, it is the best cinematic game trailer ever produced. It’s most interesting for the fact that it shows the power of how a really good trailer can build up enough hype for a game that not much else needs to be done.  

Well that’s it.  

As usual, there’s more on the clipboard then managed to get into the article. You’re free to disagree, either in what I’ve written, or the order I’ve placed them in. It differs quite a bit from a lot of other lists out there on the internet but that’s because I’ve not just copied and pasted the whole thing from other sites and changed a few words here and there with a thesaurus. I’m not scared to go against the Gods of the Internet. Screw them.  

But I would really like to know what you think. What games would you have up there instead? What order would you put them? Log in and let me know.

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Chilled, Calm, writer, lover, fighter
Gamer Since: 1994
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: World Of Tanks, Skyrim, GTA5, Dying Light
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Borderlands 2, Grand Theft Auto V
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