But they also do this: raise expectations that your game then has to live up to.
The first time we saw the Sunset Overdrive trailer - the one that starts out like a Call of Duty game, before turning into a garish, excitable mess, like a glittered puppy thrashing around in a trough of spaghetti bolognese - we were genuinely enthused.
So enthused, in fact, that we removed our trousers and went out in the street to engage with people about it. That didn't work out so well, so we came back inside. In short: it was a game we really wanted to play.
Perhaps we were expecting too much, but - and this give us paining in the coccyx to say - but Sunset Overdrive fails to be the really good thing we were hoping for.
Frankly, that's a bigger shame than a couple of dead opticians, because the time feels overripe for a game that goes out of its way to slice into the endless parade of overly macho, sepia-hued, knucklehead, military shooters and sub-Tolkein whimsy that makes up so much of the gaming landscape.
Somehow, while well-intentioned, Sunset Overdrive misses its mark in terms of humour and attitude.
JET SET WILLY
If you ever played Sega's sublime Jet Set Radio, this is Jet Set Radio, only not as successful. If you’ve not played Jet Set Radio, this is a weird hybrid of shoot ‘em up and skating – your city has been overrun with dayglo, fizzy drink-fuelled zombies, and you must bring them down using a mix of ludicrous guns, traps, and skating around on the scenery.
En route, you’ll encounter a succession of broadly-drawn characters, who you’ll either find absolutely hilarious or utterly grating, depending on whether or not you're a drunk fratboy at his first sorority hazing.
It’s busy, relatively unique, and never takes itself too seriously, but it’s just trying too hard. It's imbued with a sort of cod-early MTV ethic, that just comes across as a bit too desperate to please air-headed surfies or skaterboiz. Imagine your dad doing a jive to Skrillex at a family wedding, while whooping "Yeah, kids!". Now imagine that in game form. References to Reddit, or whatever, seem like a failed an attempt at relevance.
Normally we wouldn't spend so much time whinging about the script, but Sunset Radio - or whatever it's called - set itself up for that by saying it was a funny game. More problematically, when you strip away all the attempts to poke fun at other games and genres, you’re left with a game that’s never quite as playable as we wished it would’ve been.
SKATE AND CHIPS
The skating – leaping from rail to rail, and running along the sides of buildings - is somehow just that little bit too clunky to be entirely instinctive. Like someone with a urinary tract infection, it just doesn't flow. Likewise, the shooting never feels as satisfying as it could. And god forbid you ever accidentally fall off a rail and have to run around - the gameplay practically collapses in on itself.
There's little denying that plenty is on offer here. The missions deliver a fair breadth of variety, and your character is eminently customisable and upgradable in the way that games characters are (you can probably fill in the blanks yourself - we can't be bothered).
Graphically, we like the general aesthetic, but – yet again – the main concession to this being a next gen game is the sheer number of enemies on screen at any one time. The city setting is hollow and lacking life, and the character design is shockingly rough for what should’ve been a graphical showcase for the Xbox One. It’s barely one step up from Saints Row (at least Saints Row makes a virtue of it).
No - there we go. Sorry to be the bringing of yet further disappointed tidings, but what can you do?
Sunset Overdrive isn't a disaster, and it had the best of intentions, but fails to achieve its objectives.
If you're after something that steps outside of the (X)box a bit, this might light up your fancy. Just don't expect the system-shifter that Microsoft was obviously aiming for this to be. Stupid Microsoft.
SUMMARY: Frat-set Radio.
Don't tell anyone this, but I just ate a seagull. I didn't even chew it.
I'm off my head (on drugs) I am.