Top 10 Best Video Game Openings
First impressions matter. Many video games get themselves bogged down in tutorials or long cinematics without any interaction from the player to really grab a new player. Those designers should take the time to consider why these games were so successful in this area.
10 – Final Fantasy VII
This is one of the first games we’d played on a console that could be considered epic, and it sets itself up the right way. Panning down from a swirling star system we get our first look at the sci-fi city of Midgard before dissolving to a mysterious woman bathed in green light. We don’t learn anything about flower girl Aeries/th at this point, we just see how much she stands out against the smoggy slums before cutting away to a train barrelling into a station and initiating the first action sequence of the game.
9 – Silent Hill 2
The first Silent Hill could have made the list but the second one managed to scare the crap out of us without a single monster or jump scare. After glooming around a dingy restroom James Sutherland makes his way to the titular town via a woodland path. The sound of his steps crunching on the rocks is plenty haunting, especially that sense that there’s another pair of footsteps following just off screen. Perfect set up.
8 – Full Throttle
Lucasarts was one of the first companies to add a touch of cinema to their games, setting up their oddball stories with strong characters and film inspired openings. There was plenty to choose from, such as the dancing monkey’s of Monkey Island 2, the kookiness of Day of the Tentacle or the brilliant set-up of sci-fi thriller The Dig. Instead we go for the classic road movie intro of forgotten classic Full Throttle, barely edging out Noir inspired Sam and Max Hit the Road. By the way, that is Mark Hamill voicing the bad guy.
7 – Batman: Arkham Asylum
Speaking of bad guys voiced by Mark Hamill…having him, Kevin Conrad and Tara Strong voicing Joker, Batman and Harley Quinn certainly helped elevate the quality of this intro. We join Batman transporting the Joker to Arkham (must be a Tuesday), but something feels off. Almost like Joker wanted to be caught. So we steer the caped crusader through the halls of Arkham as he escorts Joker through processing. It brilliantly sets up the tone of the game, the basics of the story, the key players and some upcoming threats. It’s a perfect way to get players into the role.
6 – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Why not start on a cliffhanger? I may not be the biggest fan of the Uncharted series, but they have their moments and this is among the best of them. Main character Nathan Drake wakes up feeling lousy…in part due to him trapped inside a train carriage dangling off a cliff. One of the best examples to hook in the player, the sequence climbing up the wreckage is perfect.
5 – Fallout 3
Also serving as the initial promotional material for the game, this is world class world building. We start of some old bulbs coming to life, accompanied by some classic tunes, and slowly following the camera back to see what kind of place we’re in. Packed with small details, an amazing reveal of Washington DC and the classic line of “war…war never changes” and we’re all ready to be born into a new, bleak life. Literally born.
4. God of War 3
That first glimpse of Ares in God of War was an awesome moment but for pure spectacle we can’t go past the third part of the series. We pick up where the last game left off – pissed off Spartan Kratos leading the Titans in an epic attack on Mount Olympus. Standing in defence are Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hermes and Helios…a to-do list for the blood thirsty maniac turned God of War Kartos.
3 – Super Metroid
This one gets a boost up the list for what it accomplished with such limited technology back on the SNES. A simple black and white recap starts us of, explaining that Samus Aran has captured the Metroids. Then she gets word that a space colony is under attack and jets off. The first playable level of the game involves finding your way through the deserted colony, only finding dead bodies and a greater risk to the galaxy. It’s a fantastic way to set up the story for newcomers and veteran alike.
2 – The Last of Us
This action-adventure-horror game starts out slow, allowing the player to become immersed in the nightmare as it unfolds rather than play catch-up with heavy exposition. It looks like a normal day as you take control of a young girl wandering the house at night trying to get a handle on what’s happening outside. Clues in newspaper headlines and on TV start to paint a horrifying picture that only gets more and more intense as it plays out. Just don’t expect a happy ending.
1 – Bioshock
Well, it was going to be this one or that one. Bioshock is one of the best put together games we’ve ever seen. The gameplay, the story and the design all work perfectly together to craft one of the most original and memorable interactive experiences available. And it starts out wonderfully. You’re sitting on a plane, you have a weird tattoo, you have a gift for someone…then the plane crashes into the Atlantic. As the only survivor you make your way to an isolated lighthouse, which is turns takes you to the underwater city of Rapture, a fallen utopia now home to all manner of horrors. The sense of foreboding and wonder we all felt during this sequence has been unmatched to this day.