The opening moments of a video game have the amazing power of being able to absorb and engross the player in a way like no other medium can. For as long as video game technology has allowed for it, brilliant cinematics and opening scenes have set the tone for the game to follow.
Many game’s opening scenes are masterfully created in such a way that even the most devout film scholar would be hard pressed to find something wrong with them. From nailing down atmosphere, to introducing characters and setting the scene, the best opening scenes in video game history have the power to stay with you long after the game has been turned off.
10 – Demon’s Souls
Demon’s Souls opening cutscene sets the tone for what players should expect the rest of the game. A visually stunning cutscene, filled with danger, combat and a gigantic demon lets players know that Demon’s Souls is going to be a game quite unlike any others.
Following the cutscene, starting the game proper throws the players into a world where death is just the beginning of their troubles. Echoing the cutscene in many ways, the first minutes of Demon’s Souls serve as a harsh awakening into one of gaming’s most dangerous – and rewarding – video game experiences
9 – Resident Evil: Code Veronica X
The Resident Evil franchise has always been known for their brilliant opening scenes and Code Veronica X is certainly no different.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica X opens decidedly different from other titles in the series, throwing protagonist Claire Redfield into an island stronghold while being pursued by numerous armed guards and a helicopter. Visually impressive for the time it was released, the opening moments of Code Veronica X and its opening scene involve scenes that almost feel more at home in The Matrix than within an early Resident Evil title.
8 – Final Fantasty VII
Similar to the Resident Evil series, the Final Fantasy games are no strangers to epic openings. Final Fantasy VII was the first in the series to take the cinematic aspect that the games are now known for to a whole new level.
The game’s opening blends tremendous FMV work almost seamlessly into gameplay and serves to introduce players to the world of Final Fantasy VII. In the first scene in the game, players are introduced to Cloud Strife, members of the terrorist group Avalanche and thrown into a story of a planetary struggle.
7 – Deadly Premonition
The introductory scene of Deadly Premonition is the greatest example of camp storytelling in video game history. Players are treated to a dialogue on interdependence between Tom and Jerry served up by none other than the strangely charming Special Agent Francis York Morgan.
Inner monologues, cigarette smoking, and bizarre dialogue are just the start of Deadly Premonition’s downright unforgettable ride.
6 – Wild Arms
The Wild Arms series won JRPG fans over with their unique mix of Wild Western, steampunk, and magical themes to create some of the most interesting games of their generation. The opening of Wild Arms captures the spirit of adventure, raw emotion, and introduces the game’s protagonists in a great way – all while being accompanied by a foot-tapping tune.
Following the opening cinematic, Wild Arms further sets the tone for one of the PlayStation’s best RPGS with a haunting scene featuring a horrible demon running rampant. Wild Arms’ opening cutscne and first moments prepare the player for the beautiful, yet equally sad world the game takes place in perfectly.
5 – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
No discussion of video game opening scenes would be complete without touching on Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series. While each game in the series could easily make it onto a list such as this, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty takes the cake as the best of the franchise.
Opening with Snake’s voiceover, the man himself is seen walking slowly and determinedly walking along a bridge in the rain, cigarette in his mouth. Suddenly, he drops his raincoat and breaks into a dead spring, becoming invisible in the process. Snake leaps downward, landing on a tanker ship and begins doing what he does best.
Metal Gear Solid 2’s opening feels very much like an action movie. It engrosses, thrills, and excites all while carrying itself with the signature Metal Gear flair Kojima’s works are loved for.
4 – Batman: Arkham Asylum
The three most recent Batman entries have been showered with praise upon each subsequent release for being tremendous games in their own right. Batman: Arkham Asylum was the first trip back into the Batsuit and the game set the ball rolling in a downright unforgettable way.
Starting with The Joker’s capture and return to the Arkham Asylum, players guide Batman as he escorts the insane clown back to his holding cell. The Joker’s dialogue is downright haunting and perfectly sets the tone for the game that follows. Cameos by various super villains and a sense of serious unease keeps the player on their toes – preparing them for the trouble that is awaiting
3 – The Last of Us
The Last of Us did just about everything right. No other game in recent memory has been met with such unanimous praise. Naughty Dog’s thrilling tale of hard-fought survival packs a bigger punch than any movie or book and plays out in a way that holds up with even the best written narrative.
The Last of Us’ opening scene does numerous things perfectly. The opening moments illustrate the world as it once was and throws players right into the moment things start to go poorly. As players step into the shoes of Joel, they are seen just how hard surviving really is as he, his daughter and brother struggle to escape what feels everything like the end of the world.
This opening scene will forever be etched into gamers’ hearts.
2 – Half-life 2
Valve’s Half-Life 2 blends opening cinematics with perfect pacing and a seamless integration into gameplay. Starting with the haunting speech by the mysterious G-man that echoes both Twin Peaks and the stuff of nightmares, Half-life 2 throws players into the silent shoes of Gordon Freeman and paints its dystopic vision of the future perfectly.
It is interesting to note how Half-life 2’s opening scene seems to become ever closer to reality as security become more paramount in the eyes of the world.
1 – BioShock
BioShock’s opening scene changed forever the way modern games tell stories. The opening minutes of BioShock are some of the most amazing and memorable moments in video game history.
Starting with a plane crash seemingly out of nowhere, players are thrown right into the action as they must, quite literally, sink or swim. As they arise from the ocean and take stock of the wreckage around them, a hulking tower looms in the distance. BioShock’s blend of cinematic storytelling eases the player into control as they move ever closer and ultimately enter the tower that almost seems to be waiting for them.
Upon entering, the neo-futuristic vision of BioShock is on full display as players become privy to Andrew Ryan’s view of the world. Entering the tower has sealed the player’s fate and the descent into Rapture is perhaps the most immersive openings to a video game ever created.
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