The video game - from its humble beginnings as a niche medium originating from a coin operated table tennis simulator that left pretty much everything to the imagination, it has now evolved into a multi-million dollar a year industry that is regularly seen pointing and laughing at a movie industry which has been crippled by a combination of pressure from the prowess of video games and its own mediocrity.
The video game industry has managed to keep the monotony that has dragged down the movie industry at bay through evolving to adapt and incorporate advancements in technology; these advancements in technology have allowed a progression in every facet of the medium, everything from the visual quality to the sound is given a yearly overhaul, as well as the audio visual evolutions gaming has now begun to encroach on
territory that has previously been the differentiating factor between games and other mediums such as movies, books and TV - Narrative. Constant changes in these fields keep the medium fresh and allow developers to explore new territory.
One of the biggest changes in games was the use of cut-scenes and introduction sequences; the quality of cut-scenes has increased in order to accommodate advancements in narrative, as well as this they are also frequently used as tools to establish setting or an atmosphere.
So for your entertainment I have compiled my personal favourite video game intros from over the past few years, enjoy;
10. At number 10 is the classic Street Fighter 2 intro, on the surface it's a very simple opening, two guys are having a fight in the street surrounded by a group of cheering people engaging in some good old mob mentality. However, on closer inspection this opening has some troubling racial undertones, the two fighters are clearly of different races, one is a white man (who goes on to deliver a one hit KO punch to the face) and the other is black or at the very least Hispanic (who uses his face to block the aforementioned right hand straight), as well as this the audience is comprised almost entirely of white people who cheer as the white guy knocks the black guy out, there are a couple of colored people in the audience but they look less enthused. Maybe I'm just reading into it to much - whatever.
9. Next up is the second and final fighting game to be included in this list, Soul Calibur. The intro is a typical fighting game intro, a short simple cut scene introducing the player to the various characters in the game, the reason I enjoyed this opening so much was the visuals, the FMV shows off the characters and a few stages in a beautifully rendered sequence. The orchestral music adds a sense of epic scale, something that isn't usually found in fighting games.
8. Final Fantasy VII was the one of the earliest games feature full motion videos, the opening cut scene starts off by focusing on a flower girl but later pulls back to reveal arguably the most important aspect of the game in terms of narrative, the city of Midgar. The introduction to the steam punk inspired city has now become iconic amongst Final Fantasy fans and gamers alike.
7. God of War is one of the few action games that has a story I actually care about and this opening has a large part to do with why. The God of War games are a no nonsense approach to story telling, although there is constant double crossing and backstabbing it doesn't attempt to weave these into a long winded philosophical tale of treachery and deceit, it gets straight to the point and the intro reflects that. The introduction draws people in by instantly immersing the player in the story, after selecting the difficulty it transitions seamlessly into the first cut-scene which is short and sweet, the excellent voice acting and great writing certainly help things along.
6. Traditionally Nintendo games haven't featured large FMV sequences, they instead focus on shorter introductory cut-scenes, however what I admire Nintendo for is their ability to instantly convey the appropriate theme and atmosphere using only the title screen, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the perfect example of this. The somber mood conveyed by the Ocarina led music compliments the images of Link traversing Hyrule while occasionally stopping to show off the scale of the land. After a simple 1 minute introduction the player knows that this game is going to be epic.
5. The Half-Life tram sequence is basically legendary at this point, Half Life was one of the first example of good narrative in games and the opening sequence serves to further that cause, this is something that was intentionally put in to enhance the experience. The beauty of this intro sequence is that it is interactive, players are given the ability to move around as they please, however by restricting the movements to within the moving tram it essentially forces the player to look around the environment, which ultimately helps set the scene and establish an atmosphere - Genius
4. Chrono Trigger is the most epic game ever and is probably the best RPG ever. The opening sequence features the art stylings of Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball Z and music composed by Nobou Uematsu. The game was created by what is referred to as the 'Dream Team' which consists Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Aoki, and composer Nobuo Uematsu. Although I liked the opening from the original game I have to admit I prefer the remade version included in the Playstation release of the title, it's great seeing the amazing character roster animated in high resolution.
3. I could go on for pages about why this is a great opening sequence and babble on about cinematics and music but I'll keep it simple - Big Boss is BAD ASS!
2. Super Metroid is another shining testament to Nintendo's ability to instantly set an atmosphere, even today Super Metroid remains the most atmospheric video game ever, in my eyes even Bioshock doesn't come close. The first time I played this game I remember watching the title screen, it wasn't because i was enthralled by the colors and mesmerized by the music, but because the the combination of the atmospheric music and the creepy screeches of the Metroid scared the life out of me, I was hesitant in pressing the start button for fear of soiling myself.
1. At number one and in my opinion the greatest opening to a video game is Soul Reaver, not only were the visuals extremely pretty but the writing was extremely engaging and the music made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. To this day I still find myself listening to soundtrack, it just doesn't get old.
Metal Gear Solid 2
Final Fantasy 8