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I’m boycotting DEAD ISLAND, and you should too. I’m serious. Never in my life have I seen such a blatant use
of false advertising to gain buzz for a product that is literally nothing like
what was originally promised.
Confused? Four years ago, DEAD ISLAND was announced as a
zombie game where you are trapped on an island overrun with the undead and must
escape. All was quiet until about two months ago when the trailer for DEAD
ISLAND was released, (you can view
the trailer here),
and excitement for the title went through the roof, with some calling it the
best game trailer ever made. Why? Because it showed a dark, serious, somber and
emotional take on the zombie genre, showing a family trying (in vain) to
protect their daughter from a ravenous pack of the undead. It focused on their
relationships and the horror of trying to save someone dear to you. In short,
it was a breathtaking trailer that got people excited for a zombie game that
took the subject seriously, focusing on the difficulty of surviving an outbreak
with one’s family intact.
Since this initial trailer, every piece of information
released about the game not only undermines what seemed to be the tone of the
advertisement, but also makes it seem like the trailer was a blatant
bait-and-switch on the part of the game makers. Now granted, I know that the
trailer was composed of pre-rendered footage (i.e. not actual gameplay), but
the expectation was that it was at least showing the tone and themes of the
Unfortunately, it seems like that was a crock. A serious
take on the genre? Well, one of the characters you play as is a wisecracking
up-and-coming rapper named Sam B, who walks around spouting funny one-liners
with his name tattooed to his chest. Serious. Pictures have been released
showing big boss zombies in straightjackets that are the size of three story
buildings. Serious! You use weapons like an electrified machete, and can
upgrade your character with super moves such as the ability to punch the heads
clean off the undead in a bloody frenzy. So serious!
What the hell is this? What could have been a great step
forward for the zombie genre in the gaming market has fallen flat on its face
into what other developers have already done. Sorry guys, but DEAD RISING has
already been made, so if you were looking at making another tongue-in-cheek
zombie game, they’ve got the market corned. LEFT 4 DEAD’S team-based mechanics
and “boss” zombies have also been done. The only thing left (and the thing
originally promised) was a completely serious look at the undead—no jokes, no
laughs, and no goddamn head-punching super moves.
Of course, this is not the first time a game has used a
misleading advertisement to sell itself—promising emotional content not
contained within the actual game. While I do enjoy the GEARS OF WAR series,
everyone remembers the “Mad World” trailer that seemed to imply a much deeper
emotional core to a standard (if particularly well-made) 3rd person shooter.
Wrong—you kill aliens. The end.
Yes, they did put effort into the narrative with the sequel, but the
fact remains that the original didn’t make good on the trailer’s promises. But
even with that taken into account, GEARS OF WAR was still a dark and dreary
game, which is something that DEAD ISLAND doesn’t seem to be. It’s the
equivalent of advertising NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and then selling people
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: RAVE TO THE GRAVE—it’s outright dishonest.
Now while I could rant about the issues of game advertising
for days, the reason I bring up DEAD ISLAND is because it’s a horror game, and
the fact that horror, in any form, tends be the most falsely advertised and
misrepresented of any genre out there.
Lets talk movie ads. Horror films are especially notorious
for having trailers that don’t accurately portray what the film will be about.
AMERICAN PSYCHO was advertised as a regular slasher film. BLACK CHRISTMAS,
quite possibly one of the most refined slasher movies ever made, was originally
advertised like a grindhouse flick. Scores of more intellectual (for lack of a
better term) horror films have been advertised much differently in order to
sell them better. Not only that, many horror trailers contain scenes not in the
actual film—images literally put in only to tantalize people into going to the
theater. A recent example (although a terrible film) was THE ROOMATE, and the
fact that a scene in the trailer where the roommate is lying in bed next to the
main character, stroking her in her sleep, isn’t actually in the film. That’s
merely the tip of the iceberg though—hell, in the 70’s and 80’s, horror
trailers were famous for containing gore that didn’t wind up in the actual
movie due to censorship.
And now this problem has come to games. DEAD ISLAND’S
trailer is, quite frankly, a fraud—an imposter for the real thing. Now I’m not
saying that DEAD ISLAND will be a bad game, what I’m saying is that it’s not
what it was advertised to be, to the point of seeming purposefully, deceptively
different. And I’m pissed, wondering exactly who was responsible for this
falsely advertised mess.
Horror fans, I don’t actually believe you should boycott
this game—you’re all capable of making your own decisions. What I do want you
to do is be mindful of what exactly it is that you’re buying, and to ask where
you draw the line on false advertisement.
I hope I’m wrong about DEAD ISLAND. Maybe I’m overeating
about the information pouring out. Maybe they’ll go the emotional route now
that many game journalists are finding issue with how different the actual
But who knows? I have been misled before…
Bloody Blogs -
Raving Mad Masercola
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