Games Meet Metal: Game demos: the LIARS!!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Game demos: the LIARS!!

Hello, one and all. As you may have noticed, activity on the site has cooled down for the past week. Well, things weren't going right in Riff-land, and I needed to take some time off from the site as well as from my day job to get my head straight. I also had to be like Warren G and regulate some asses who were causing me way too much grief. Well, times are better now, and I've been able to get a good 4-5 days of awesome sleep in. Finally! So now, it's time to get back on the horse and get shit rocking.

So, yeah, game demos.

At their heart, demos are just advertising. A publisher releases a sample of a game to the masses, in the attempt to get them to purchase the whole copy. Demos were actually quite a grand thing to get ahold of at one time. I still remember going through the God of War II demo for the PS2 many times before I had the full copy in my hands. That was when all demos were still on disc. Then, the only ways to get them were either inside magazines or signing up for promotions. One console generation later, and now demos are available at the click of a button. They've lost a lot of that special appeal and exclusiveness. Sometimes, they also tend to be absolute crap.



Case in point, Dead Space. I had downloaded the demo for Dead Space when it first launched. there was mega hype for the game, and I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. One playthrough later, I was totally convinced that all the hype mongers were taking large doses of meth. This was what everyone was waxing awesome about? Unknown goals, way too many enemies, way too cheap deaths. For those who don't remember said demo, it takes place in episode 3's engine room, where our protagonist gets ass raped by an ambush. Yeah, show the player how awesome the game is by getting his hoo-ha punctured several times over.

Fast forward a couple years, and Dead Space is getting praised to me by co-workers. They were also bad mouthing it's Wii prequel, but that's for another time. based on the store hype, I decided to give the proper game a try sans bum-raping ambush. Damned of they weren't right! Dead Space is a great space horror game that feels like a sci-fi version of Resident Evil 4. I even got to the engine room that was featured in the demo and got my way through the enemy horde. So, what was so different this time around? Well, I was prepared to fight, as I was armed to the teeth. Plus, I had played enough to learn the control scheme enough to lay some waste.

The main point I'm stressing here is that some demos just don't give the right impression of the game they're supposed to be hyping. The single-player demo for Uncharted 2 also falls victim to this, as it starts you several levels in and expects you to roll with it. Others demos can nail a preview perfectly. The Dante's Inferno demo, for example, let you play the game's entire first level. Perfect for everyone as it teaches you the moves in an earlier, easier level, and also makes you wanting more. Perfect advertising.

I doubt that other publishers would follow Dante's example and preview games earlier in their levels, rather than dumping the player head-first into combat without any idea on how to do anything. It may give the game a feeling of being "extreme", but it's just not a proper showing of the final product.

However, a crappy basketball demo for an old PS1 game just sold for over $700 on ebay, so maybe I'm just missing something.

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