Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Color me disappointed

If you're reading my blog, odds are you've already seen the Cataclysm cinematic. Blizz officially released it on Sunday.

Just in case you haven't, though, here it is:

Visually, the trailer is stunning. Possibly their best yet. And I love catching glimpses of very familiar places rendered in a way I sometimes wish more of the game was. And seeing the steel plates being bolted onto Deathwing's body with battering rams is definitely cool.

But overall...I'm not impressed by this trailer. The writing killed it.

This is the third trailer to focus on the boss of the expansion, and the second to do so almost exclusively. But it failed in places where the last two succeeded.

Like the intro for BC, it's voiced in the first person by the boss. And, more than that, it's meant to encompass said boss' displeasure with the world at large.

But take a look at Illidan's words. They're tight, concise, and to the point.
Imprisoned for ten thousand years. Banished from my own homeland. And now you dare enter my realm? You are not prepared.
(Add to that the fact that despite being deep and growly, Illidan's voice still has a silky smooth undertone. Okay, I'll say it...it's hot.)

Now Deathwing's opening lines:
Pain. Agony. My hatred burns through the cavernous deeps.
It's trite and cliché. "Cavernous deeps" sounds like the type of thing people say when they're making fun fantasy writing. And I literally cringe at the way he says "agony." It's just...no.

And the rest of it is just as bad, honestly.

Compare it to the Wrath cinematic, with King Terenas speaking on how great a king Arthas will eventually be. It's beautiful and haunting. The pacing and delivery is just right. And when juxtaposed against the actions Arthas is taking during the trailer, it's chilling.

Plus, after 2 years of hearing Arthas deliver long speech after long speech, I'm tired of hearing over-processed, too-deep voice acting. I understand we're dealing with a large, molten dragon here. There's not much else you can do to make it sound "right." But that doesn't mean it doesn't grate.

Another thing the Wrath trailer had over this one is that one "oh shit" moment where you get a real sense of how much of a badass this guy is. The scene with Arthas standing there, unflinching as Sindragosa rises out of the ice behind him...in that moment you know this guy is serious business. And you don't have to know a thing about Arthas to understand that.

Yes, Deathwing is getting steel plates bolted onto his body. But unless you follow the lore and know about Deathwing, I don't feel it's really obvious that's what's going on in those scenes.

Illidan's final, growly "You are not prepared!" and pretty much the whole of the Wrath cinematic give me chills. Literally. Goosebumps up my arms and all. And the music for the Wrath trailer, especially, tugs on the heartstrings a little when I hear it by itself.

I don't get any of that from this trailer. Mostly I just want to kill Deathwing because he's already managing to annoy the crap out of me.

I never, ever thought I'd be in a position where I was accusing Blizz of having written something badly, especially something on the scale of a cinematic intro. But this time, they've managed to do exactly that.

Kind of a bummer.


  1. I guess I would have to agree with you when viewed from the perspective of someone who is not big on the lore and understands all that is not overtly stated or written in this cinematic. My wife (who has played as long as I have) and I viewed it together and while I was hyped she looked at me and said "your excited about that?".

    The difference I surmise is that she is not or has ever been in to the intricacies of the Lore of WoW. I on the other hand love/crave all the intimate details. I agree with you that the writing/voice acting was not inspiring at all and LOL'd when he said " cavernous deeps" . Come on! Really?

    IMO this cinematic is best viewed with the sound muted. That way we are not exposed to Blizzard's hugely uninspired writing but get to enjoy their spot on visual depictions.

  2. Got to agree with you, Saniel.

    The CG is fantastic.

    The content is only ok.

    Mostly I kept noticing that Deathwing was ravaging an apparently totally deserted planet. It was neat to see places I've seen in-game a million times being destroyed, but every one of them was empty of people, animals, anything.

    Personally, I'm still a sucker for seeing the various races and classes in action. I wish we saw that in this cinematic, somehow tied into the larger Deathwing story.

    Or, at least some way of showing the boss as part of some much larger, living world. I thought they did a good job with that at end of the WOTLK cinematic when the dragon swoops out over a ocean of undead soldiers who all look up and scream. Much more compelling that Deathwing perched on two towers in an uninhabited Stormwind.

  3. That's a subtle detail that's easy to overlook, but you're right. All the places being wiped out looked completely uninhabited. It definitely lessened the impact.

  4. Whenever I see a movie trailer that posts quotes from movie reviewers, I know what kind of movie it will be when I see quotes such as:

    "Visually stunning"..."Breathtaking scenery"..."Sights and Sounds that will blow you away"

    These simply mean 'no plot', 'poor writing', 'bad characters', 'bad movie, except the costumes were fantastic.'

    This cinematic really was visually stunning, had breathtaking scenery, but was void of any story which would draw any visceral reaction from me. I too asked, where are all the people? All in all, it had 'sights and sounds that blew me away'...but the voice was not one of those sounds.