Intern Arena: Is the Dead Island trailer overrated?
Sometimes our interns get into heated debates about the latest PC gaming news. But heated debates never solved anything, which is why sacred PC Gamer law requires that when interns fight in the office, they must fight to the death! And they will do so for your entertainment in our new column: Intern Arena! Two interns will enter... only one will leave. Tell us who you think won the debate and who should be put to death in the post's comments!
The biggest news this week was easily Techland's trailer for their upcoming game, Dead Island. We don’t have a lot of actual details on the game itself at this point, but that didn't stop the internet from exploding in a massive geekgasm over the trailer.
Does the Dead Island trailer deserve all of this attention?
Anthony: NO. There isn't anything here we haven't seen before. Its just slowed down.
Lucas: YES. This trailer has done the impossible: made zombie-horror feel fresh.
Anthony: Trailers are supposed to convey some key idea about the game that the developers want you to know. What we know from this trailer is that Dead Island has something to do with an island and somehow involves zombies. But the hype this game is receiving is outrageous. There's nothing in this trailer that we haven’t seen hundreds of times over. The only difference is that they slowed it down and added piano music. Essentially they took the “serious Halo trailer” approach and applied it to a generic zombie scene. Nothing in this trailer evokes any emotion in me because I’ve seen all of it before. I mean, come on--they didn’t even bother to use a unique weapon. He could have used a desk lamp and that would have been more original than what this trailer presents.
Lucas:This is as good as teaser trailers get. It does everything it sets out to do: hooks me within seconds so I continue watching and by the end, has convinced me to be interested in a game I previously didn’t care about. The piano music fits perfectly, unless you were hoping for another Dragon Age/Marilyn Manson fiasco, Anthony--the unfolding scene is tragic and somber, even with the sweet undead-beheading action. We’re convinced to focus on the people, not the zombies, and that alone is a risky move that paid big dividends.
"Just slow-mo?" I have never seen a trailer attempt a Memento-style past-and-future tense plot style before, and I don’t think I’ll ever see it done so well again.
Anthony: I’d never compare the beauty that is Memento to this trailer. Just because they played events backwards does not place Dead Island on that high of a platform. Slow-mo and pianos should not convey feelings by themselves. You need drama and emotion--this is just another generic zombie attack. Slowing the attacks does not create emotion. Having a small girl does not create emotions. Just look at Dead Space. They used babies and I felt nothing: when I killed one of them, I wasn't thinking, "Oh, it's a baby." I was thinking, "That thing was gonna eat my face. I should shoot it." Same with zombies.
Deus Ex has beautiful, emotional and moving trailers because even in its shortest, simplest teasers they showed us something that we’d never seen before. You know a genre is going stale when we think a trailer is beautiful just because it added some Mozart. I for one am tired of the zombie genre. Left 4 Dead is the peak and just like World War II, its run its course.
Lucas: You have no soul. I felt more drama and emotion watching this little girl’s heart-wrenching death than I felt throughout entire plotlines of some games. I’d put this trailer on the same level as the ending to HL2: Episode 2--after both I felt depressed, fearful and curious to find out what could possibly happen next. The little girl isn’t a space-mutation-baby, or even a recently-converted-zombie child. She’s just an innocent protagonist doomed to a grisly death, and the ending video-clip of the family vacation really drives that home.
I’ve never resented zombies before watching this trailer, but it felt so unfair that this family was caught in the undead’s brain-devouring wake. Francis, Zoey, Bill and Louis? Whatever--they can handle their own with some machine guns and pills. But watching an essentially helpless father try to barricade a door against a hallway of zombies, while his wife watches on in horror with only a knife to defend her family, is so much more engaging.
Anthony: While the family dying is tragic, its not like we’ve never seen innocent people killed by zombies before. Where you do think the zombies came from? While we do get to see this family killed slowly, it doesn’t make it any more powerful than if it was in real time. The zombie genre as a whole has been inflated so much that now it's just hot air. No innovation, no divergence, its all the same. Its either a survival horror or a co-op frantic run and gun. Because that is all you can do in a zombie game.
As I said before, like the WWII genre, you can only have so many Zombie games before ideas run dry. Left 4 Dead has its own niche with custom maps and campaigns. Resident Evil has the survival horror. Now Dead Island might be bringing a new idea to the table, but in the end it's still just gonna be zombies. And I for one am tired of them. Put 'em back on the shelf and let them ferment for a few years before bringing 'em out again.
Lucas: I agree that the zombie-game genre is getting too crowded at the moment. But Techland was developing Dead Island way back in 2008, before the “zombie craze” took the nation by storm. When the rest of the market gives you zombies, you’ve gotta make zombie-ade. Techland made the absolute best with what they had: a unique perspective on zombies taking over paradise.
Sure, I know next to nothing about Dead Island’s gameplay, but this trailer got me pondering all of the possibilities and innovations that the gameplay could bring. It’s open world, right? What if you play as a normal human for much of the game, and if you weren’t prepared for the zombie outbreak, you permanently turn into a member of the unliving? I haven’t felt this excited for a zombie game since the original Left 4 Dead, and that alone proves that this trailer is worth the hype.
You tell us! Vote for which intern you think won this round of debate in the Intern Arena. We'll tally the votes on Monday and declare an official winner and an official loser. There will be dire consequences for the loser, but they're just interns, so don't feel bad if you vote flippantly and randomly :)