Saturday, September 6, 2008

Reviewing the Trailer

((First posted as a comment on a post over at Player vs Developer))

Having not yet seen the WAR trailer, I can't really do any comparisons, but I can speak to the Wrath trailer.

The biggest issue with the trailer is that you have to have played WC3 for the real gravitas of the video to make sense. If you played through Arthas' campaign, the voice-over by his father is poignant, prescient, and chilling.

Close your eyes (or bring up another window) and listen to the trailer; it's easy to imagine this older King just beaming to his promising son. The juxtaposition with the horror of Northrend makes for good cinema.

You are left wondering if that voice is in Arthas' head, like a memory even the Crown of Nerzhul can't keep away. As the Lich King Arthas exhudes silent menace. Whereas Illidan seemed brooding and smoldering with barely controlled rage, Arthas is cold, aloof, and utterly disinterested in the 'threat' posed by the players.

I loved how the trailer drew a direct parallel with Arthas as the former human king, now ruling over a vast kingdom of undead. Though the forsaken are supposed to have the market cornered when it comes to being Undead with Feelings, those Scourge we see shouting their fealty to Arthas sure mustered up some serious GAR.

All in all, I think the trailer was amazing for a three minute story. It captured the fearful potency of the Lich King, the imminent threat of his VAST army (love the shot with all the tiny blue Scourge flames ignited in the valley below), and the reminder of all the loss that led to Arthas'
present role. I've always thought that Arthas' story was the best part of Warcraft's recent history, and the trailer doesn't disappoint.

It differs from TBC's trailer in that there isn't a direct challenge to the player (no, 'You are NOT prepared!' moment). Instead, the viewer is left with this huge sinking feeling, this sense of being utterly beneath the attention of the Lich King. This seems to contradict Blizzard's voiced intent of making Arthas a bigger part of the individual player's stories.

5 stars if you played WC3. 3 stars if you didn't. The uninitiated will be unmoved by the real driver of this trailer - the tragedy of loss.

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