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Game Trailers That Lied To Your Face

Salivating over trailers for upcoming titles is half the fun of being a gamer: you get to mentally visualise all the fun you'll have with this brand new experience that's probably "coming soon." And if the trailer has done its job correctly, you'll want — no, you MUST HAVE the game.


These new graphics are face-meltingly good, that new storyline looks intriguing, this new gameplay looks exhilarating — and the whole emotional raft of the experience has been conveniently boiled down to three minutes on the screen, just for you. You might even put in a pre-order for it. After all, you've seen a few seconds of highly scripted and tightly edited footage of it, what more do you need? How different can it be to the finished product?

The answer, of course, is "very." There are any number of perfectly innocent reasons why that might be the case — budgetary issues, developer constraints, deadline changes — but it could also be something slightly more sinister than that. It could be that you're being straight up lied to.


Games are now more popular than ever, but with all that competition to face, a new title really needs to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few times when "standing out" meant stretching the truth just a little bit too far.

No Man's Sky was the shallow end of the interstellar pool

When the trailer dropped at E3 2014, No Man's Sky seemed like a gift from sci-fi heaven. The trailer promised near-infinite new worlds to conquer, dynamically interacting alien wildlife, epic space battles, friendly ships fighting alongside you, and a rich and colorful graphical fidelity.


Two years later, and what we eventually got was ... not quite the same. Hello Games certainly kept their promise on the size of the experience; but what good are 18 quintillion planets when there's only about five different variations of them? The graphics suffered also, with a chugging framerate and various parts of terrain suddenly popping up like they'd just been in a toaster. The wildlife too, due to the random nature of the system that generated them, was nothing like what we saw in the trailer. The creatures where instead replaced by hideous abominations that were more akin to farmyard animals from Chernobyl than the spectacular, hulking space dinosaurs of the trailer.

Meanwhile, multiplayer ... wasn't there.


It left a sour taste in the mouths of many gamers, and in Britain even led to an investigation from the Advertising Standards Authority. However, despite an initial long period of silence, Hello Games re-emerged promising new updates that would get the game closer to their original vision. Several large updates have since been released, and Sean Murray and the gang continue to work on the game to this day.

Killzone 2's trailer made the developers switch console generations

Could this be the true power of the PlayStation 3? That was the thought on everyone's mind when Sony announced the Killzone 2 trailer at E3 2005. It was gameplay footage, the Sony rep on stage said. That was a pretty concerning thing for the developers Guerrilla Games to hear, however, as they knew very well that it wasn't. In fact, the game they were making wasn't even supposed to be on the PlayStation 3.


The trailer in question defined the look of many modern FPS games as we know them today, with large, grizzled men fighting it out in a near-future apocalypse against a palette of sepia tones. It was groundbreakingly large in scale for its time, and had audiences raptured at the prospect of getting to play it for themselves.

The problem was, it didn't exist. Guerrilla Games later admitted that it was just a pre-render made to help them visualise the game they wanted to create. Incredibly, however, due to the frenzied attention the game received, they bravely decided to switch development to the PS3 and try and meet the expectations of the public.

But do Guerrilla blame that Sony rep for their initial troubles? No. He was probably just "blitzed out of his mind on fatigue, jet-lag and the madness that is E3," as they put it.


Aliens: Colonial Marines was horrifying(ly bad)

The deception to end all deceptions, Aliens: Colonial Marines was so far removed from what was initially promised by Randy Pitchford in the trailer that it spawned a lawsuit against both developer Gearbox and publisher SEGA, a first for the medium of gaming. So just how did it happen?


It all began when Pitchford, Gearbox's President, unveiled what he called "actual gameplay" at 2011's E3, showing of a faithfully recreated Aliens universe positively oozing with fan service. Considering the prevalence of the franchise, a good Alien game is a rare thing to come across, so fans were predictably excited. But by the time the game's release rolled around, what those fans were faced with was a game so bad it made Alien: Resurrection look like a masterpiece.

Visually, it looked nothing like the preview, completely devoid of any creepy atmosphere, while the aliens themselves weren't the fearsome predators people were so excited to face off against, but instead bumbling simpletons, comically glitching their way around the dull environments like they'd misplaced their car keys.


Soon, reports began to surface about Gearbox's questionable treatment of the game, eventually coming to a boil when two players filed a lawsuit for false advertising. An elaborate drama far more exciting than the game itself followed on for months afterwards, with Pitchford later claiming that he estimates losing between "$10 to $15 million of his own money on the project," and refuting any claims of wrongdoing to this day.

Watch_Dogs needed to be watched over

It was the eve of a brand new console generation, and the hype surrounding 2012's E3 was palpable. Ubisoft hit the stage, announcing a brand new IP, and stood back while the footage for something called Watch_Dogs rolled. It looked incredible. This had to be running on 8th generation hardware. There's no way a game on the current gen consoles could look this good.


The lighting, crowd AI, physics: it was all breathtaking to behold. The windswept streets of Chicago looked as good as real, and at one point during a section where time slows down, you can even see individual, independently lit raindrops gliding to the ground. "RIP GTA" people began tweeting.

Cut forward two years, and what gamers were actually presented with was mish-mash of half-baked ideas, dull "hacking", cardboard characters, and a visibly downgraded set of graphics. Several people even pointed out that not only did it look downgraded, in parts it even looked unfinished, with numerous little details such as railway tracks that stopped dead and didn't lead anywhere, to water not splashing when firing a gun into it.


It was later discovered that there was a hidden graphics file in the game's code called "E3_Theatre", which bumped up the graphics considerably. Naughty Ubisoft. But by then of course, the damage was done. Watch_Dogs went on to receive Giant Bomb's award for Most Disappointing Game of 2014.

Brink was on on the brink of something good

During the initial decade of the 21st century, French movement art "parkour" was undergoing something of a boom in popular culture. James Bond was chasing a practitioner in Casino Royale, MTV debuted reality show Ultimate Parkour Challenge, and video games offered us the chance to freerun across either the Holy Land in Assassin's Creed, or some futuristic white boxes in Mirror's Edge.


It was only a matter of time before the feature made its way into an FPS, and Brink was the game to do it. The trailer sold us on the premise of an in-depth and highly stylistic parkour system across vast, intricate maps, which also appeared to offer some special environmental abilities at certain points.

Unfortunately, while the world itself did turn out to be as cool as it looked, it certainly wasn't interactive — and the gameplay contained within it was nothing if not generic. Could you wallrun and backflip over rockets? No. Could you flip onto your back in mid air to fire behind you, a lá Max Payne? Nah. Could you dual wield weapons? Nope. Could you manipulate the scenery to block and create new paths? Take a guess. (No.)


So what did the bold new innovations in Brink actually let you do? Umm ... well you could sort of jump around in corridors. Like every other shooter on the market at the time. A shame, as Brink seems like such squandered potential.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play was not fair play

Back when Tiger Woods was the greatest sportsman ever to walk the earth, and Nintendo's Wii was one of the biggest selling consoles ever (also on the earth), it seems like it would have been a match made in heaven for EA to sync up their juggernaut golf franchise to Nintendo's innovative motion controls.


Predictably, the game received plenty of good reviews. But that wasn't the problem. The problem was the way EA chose to market the Wii version of PGA 09, which is to say they released a trailer showing HD Xbox 360 gameplay while using the Wii remote.

In terms of raw computing power, the Xbox 360 was capable of something around 240 GFLOPS (or 240 billion operations per second, if you prefer). And how many GFLOPS was the Wii rocking? 12. Now whether or not you know much about computer science, it's plain to see that these two numbers are very far apart. There was no way the Wii could run the footage seen in the trailer, and shockingly, this was actually part of EA's defense.

In a statement made to the Advertising Standards Authority, EA said that Wii footage of the game was "not of broadcast quality." That's right. By 2009, EA considered Standard Definition footage of games to be too hideous to be shown on television. In some ways they might have had a point, but the ad was pulled for misleading consumers.


Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was liberal with the truth

Hideo Kojima makes trailers featuring flaming sky-whales swallowing helicopters, plasters on quotes from Roman philosophers, and brands them with fake game studio logos. He's certainly known for his out-there ideas, and he absolutely loves to keep his fans guessing.


Never was this more notable than when, in May 2000 at a small press gathering at Universal Studios, Kojima unveiled the nine-minute trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2, the sequel to Konami's most successful game ever.

It displayed absurdly impressive graphics, sound, and enemy AI, and the attendees could scarcely believe that this was gameplay from a PlayStation 2. But Kojima insisted it was, and he was absolutely telling the truth. The actual misleading part of the trailer? Snake being the main character.

The beloved, grizzled hero from the first game had quickly become an espionage icon, and fans couldn't wait to play as him again, with Kojima happy to let them believe that that's exactly what they would be doing. In actual fact, however, once players had made it through the intro shown in the trailer, they ended up taking the reigns of unknown pretty-boy Raiden: the antithesis of Snake in almost every way. Gamers couldn't believe what Kojima had pulled.


The gamble paid off though, with initial sales exceeding expectations, and critics hailing it as a masterpiece.

Dead Island's disputable drama

Dead Island's promotional teaser was a victim of its own success. Produced by Axis Animation, a Scottish studio responsible for plenty of other amazing trailers for games such as Halo 5 and Alien: Isolation, the CGI trailer dropped on February 16, 2011. Developer Techland had hoped the promo would garner around 100,000 views, but within a week of its release it had surpassed 1 million. It became the most searched for video on YouTube for days, and it's easy to see why.


From the moment it begins to play you're immediately greeted with the shocking and somewhat controversial image of a young girl lying dead, gradually finding out her fate — and that of her family's — as the events slowly begin to play out in reverse. Coupled with the haunting and beautiful piano piece by composer Giles Lamb, it was a gripping and original way to show the zombie genre still had life in it yet.

The problem with all this? It had nothing to do with anything about the actual game. When Dead Island finally hit stores, players were bemused to find a game that seemed to basically be Saints Row with sandcastles, with not so much as a hint of the presupposed intimacy or emotion of the teaser. And there's no way a game of that original trailer's caliber would ever have contained a character skill called something as dire as this ... Very disappointing.


The Division left gamers divided

Between Watch_Dogs, Rainbow Six: Siege, and The Division, Ubisoft had begun to garner something of a reputation for misleading people with games that appeared severely downgraded when compared to their early trailers. The near photo-realistic detail of the first showing had many people begging for more, but the flat and lifeless feel of the full release left a lot to be desired.


What's particularly notable for The Division however, is that the final game didn't just take a visual battering, but entire swathes of content seemed to be absent from the teaser. The "online, open-world RPG" we were promised was but a shell of its former promo upon release.

The indoor environments seen in the trailer can't be visited in the final product, blocked off by various bit of detritus, and your game certainly can't be raided by other players. Happening across some other people in the quarantined New York City streets would have provided incredible tension as you initially try to work out if they're friend or foe; but the entirety on PvP interactions in the finished game take place in the "Dark Zone," an area of pre-agreed battling that you have to leave the open world for.