Soak in the Audiovisual Bliss of These Three Video Game Demos
If games aren’t a part of your showroom demo repertoire, they need to be. And I know some of you read that and said, “Well, duh!” But I still talk to installers from time to time who view video games as something to be relegated to the kids’ bedrooms. With worldwide video game sales surpassing movie and music revenues, though–and with individual game budgets hitting the nine- and 10-figure mark of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters more and more frequently these days–it’s time to embrace games as a legitimate form of media on par with any other, if you haven’t already. And talk about the ultimate in control! Touchscreen remotes are wonderful, to be sure, but nothing quite rivals the experience of having full, real-time command over some of the most blistering high-definition visuals and raucous 7.1-channel sounds you’ll ever experience pouring out of your high-end home cinema. So fire up the projectors, crank the amps, charge the controllers, and give your customers a taste of interactive home entertainment at its best.
Gran Turismo 5 (PlayStation 3)
Strap in, load up one of the Gran Turismo 5’s 200 ultra-high-resolution premium cars, switch to the in-car camera, and get a drool cup ready.
I’ve been known to park in front of Gran Turismo 5 for eight or nine hours at a stretch, giddily soaking in the audiovisual bliss of slinging a few tons of screeching steel through some of the most lusciously recreated raceways from around the globe. Strap in, load up one of the game’s 200 ultra-high-resolution premium cars, switch to the in-car camera, and get a drool cup ready. There just aren’t many home theater experiences that can compete with GT5’s graphics, especially when you’re whipping around the track in inclement weather–alternating patterns of shadows and sunlight streaking across your dashboard; individually rendered droplets of rain sliding across your windshield as they lose the battle against the g-forces you’re generating; little pitter-pats of precipitation bouncing off the gleaming blacktop. It all looks so deliciously real that you’ll swear you can almost smell the strips of burning rubber you’re laying down on the asphalt. What’s more, Gran Turismo 5 offers one of the few truly compelling 3D experiences outside of Avatar, with separate controls for parallax and convergence so you can dial in the perfect stereoscopic effect for whatever size screen you’re using. The audio experience is just as customizable, with support for your own music playlists and three separate audio mixes for living rooms and small and large home theaters.
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PlayStation 3)
The graphics in LittleBigPlanet 2 are a real treat, especially in the way the 3D world is crafted out of little toys and scraps of corrugated cardboard.
The giggle-inducing sequel to the PS3’s 2008 Game of the Year takes the whacky dream-world antics of the original and turns them up a notch. The graphics here are a real treat, especially in the way the 3D world is crafted out of little toys and scraps of cardboard. And all of it is rendered in such startling detail that you can even see (and control!) the facial expressions on the textured little sack puppet you guide through the game’s gigantic miniature environments. As good as LittleBigPlanet’s pre-crafted levels are, though, the real fun is in creating your own. Imagine concocting your own interactive adventure–perhaps a kooky video game version of your own shop. It’s easy to upload your own photos and integrate them into the game however you wish. Put your electrician’s face on a baddie that zaps players as they run by. Heck, make the owner of the shop (or you, if that’s you) into a giant fire-breathing boss at the end of the level that can only be sated by firing wads of $100 bills into his pants pocket.
Braid (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3)
For 15 bucks, Braid delivers a rich “platform game” experience like no other.
For all the talk of big budgets, even today’s smaller, cheaper games boast graphics and sound unlike anything dreamt of even a few years ago. Braid is a perfect example. For 15 bucks, this wonderful little title delivers a rich “platform game” experience like no other. Think of it like Super Mario Bros. if Mario had complete control over the space-time continuum and hopped around, tinkering with the flow of time, in a world hallucinated by Monet on acid and scored by a jazz combo on Quaaludes. The story–with its heady philosophical themes about actions and consequences–is great, but it’s the rich, hand-painted look of the backdrops and the luscious, hypnotic bass of the strings and horns of the score that will have you coming back for more.