Monday, April 20, 2009

AdVantage Point: Halo Wars (2009)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games.
This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations.

If memory serves me, on the 04/17 episode of ListenUp [aka; 4 guys 1up] the lads turned their attentions to promotion of Halo Wars with the inference being, unwitting consumers might be lured in by the ambiguity of reference to the game's RTS format. I found this particularly interesting because, as you might have noticed, these types of games have very little to do with me.
I'm the type of "gamer" nobody seems to be talking about in the battle of casual VS hardcore. The one who still doesn't know which console is for him. The one who got left behind.

I don't really see the attraction in the endless line-up of shooting games that seem to typify the modern gamer and the Xbox 360. If everyone were like me, the PS3 would probably have found it's market place with another round of tried and true exclusives, and the Xbox would be sold almost exclusively to rednecks enthused by a newly designed union flag motif.

I'm going to be honest -- I don't really know what Halo is.
I mean, sure, I get the gist of it. There are marine looking blokes, some of whom apparently have names and bad ass machismo, and they use their 'tude to fight aliens in a sci-fi setting. I know there are guns involved, I know multi-player is embarrassingly popular, I know it can be played alone, I know Brian Bendis can be a mediocre writer, and I know some of my friends keep insisting it's the greatest game in the universe.

Rather than expand my basic knowledge with a few clicks toward YouTube, I thought I'd maintain my ignorance long enough to share it with you in this contrived manner. Why? Because there can be no better acid test than a man who knows very little.

Like most shooting franchises these days, the aesthetics of Halo appear pretty standard.
I don't doubt that the specifics of every corner and bulge communicate something thrilling and familiar to the seasoned Halo fan, but for me, it's enough to indicate the basic premise of the series.
I believe the artwork featured is also the cover of the game, which is important to note, because it's the final piece of information offered to any casual acquaintance picking it up off the shelf.

Something that strikes me immediately about this advert is the multiplication of "units."
The depth of the image and the alignment of the hero characters communicates something very specific. It isn't artful enough to be set dressing. This is an image immediately alluding to the fact that this isn't a one-man quest in a larger world, but rather, a game of many. If I didn't know an RTS, I might not be immediately receptive to that, but the allusion is there, none the less.

In terms of marketing, the text in the advert also helps communicate the significance of various types of soldiers, which, I assume, do not have such vital distinction in the FPS instalments.

Listening to the quotes on ListenUp while I'm writing this, I have to at least acknowledge that the reference seems more to be tilted toward a deliberate ambiguity in the promotion. In that respect, it's also worth acknowledging the potential ambiguity of the information communicated. At the end of the day, websites like this, and the promotion of popular series, usually provide enthusiasts with enough information to make informed decisions.

Me? I couldn't give a crap about Halo. Wars, or otherwise.
However, if someone possessing my level of disinterest and ignorance can know what to expect from Halo Wars, I think it's safe to say most purchases listed were well informed.

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