The art of bullshotting

01:41, Feb 15 2013

The latest Edge magazine has a story headlined: "The good, the bad and the bullshot" and it's about how often promotional screen shots and trailers for video games have very little in common with the final product.

According to Edge, the bullshot is identifiable by "their lighting, with a higher dynamic range than you'd ever see in-game. Also, details tend to be emphasised, and the camera angles exotic. The biggest telltale, however, is depicting an activity that it's unlikely devs would ever let you experience yourself".

We've all seen it: screenshots that just look a little too sharp or detailed or  trailers that showcase these fantastical things that you'll supposedly be able to do in the game but it seems the art of bullshotting has stepped up a notch with the release of Gearbox's Aliens Colonial Marines, with both critics and players confused as to how the final game looks so much worse than a demo posted last year.

The chaps at posted this comparison video between a supposed "gameplay" demo from last year and the same locations in the final game released this week and ask  "What the hell happened?"

What indeed?

If you watch the video, it is clear that there have been some major changes between the early game play footage and the final game: In the opening moments, when the game's main character Winter walks through the gantry towards the USS Sullaco, an explosion tosses a body onto a glass panel of the walkway, shattering it; in the final version the body just hits the glass, leaving a blood stain. The supposed game play footage of the demo shows dynamic lighting thanks to a swinging light, making things all moody and shadowy; in the final version that's gone.


So, is what we're seeing in the supposed game play demo from last year and the final product simply a case of Gearbox realising it was too ambitious in what it was trying to achieve and toned things down a bit or is it a major case of bullshotting, where the game play demo was used to hype massive interest in the game that it just couldn't possibly meet? Frankly, I'm thinking it was the latter.

Usually, you'd expect a game to look better the longer a developer works on it but it doesn't seem to be the case for Aliens Colonial Marines: judging by the game play demo things went downhill as development progressed. I've only played the first hour or so and I can't comment on how things are later in the game but so far for me, Aliens Colonial Marines is a strictly by-the-numbers first-person-shooter that doesn't do anything special. It's not even scary, to be honest.

But things have gone from bad to worse with supposed developers who worked on the game posting on forums about the numerous problems that plagued the game during its six year development. Yes. Six years. And this is what the end result is?

If you've played ACM, I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on the game and this fascinating debacle? What's the best case of bullshotting you've come across?

Other stuff you might be interested in: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. He'll even answer your emails, not get some smart robot to do it. He also has another gaming blog here, which was actually updated recently. You should check it out.