Ah, video games intros — the real moment of truth for any gamer. Developers have around a 5 minute window to give gamers the chance to decide whether or not they’re really going to dive head-first into a game. Introductions are so important, not only for narrative development, but for an all-around feel: mechanics, music, graphics, and characters. Some introductions ‘wow’ us with explosions and violence, while others hit hard on the emotional factor. Whatever the feel, I’ve put together a top ten list of some of my favorite video game intros. Let’s goooo!
10. Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
This little number is on the list simply out of nostalgia. Ocarina of Time is hands down my favorite game of all time, and its opening is so serene. It doesn’t give you any real hints as to what the gameplay will be like, or any story foreshadowing, but it’s almost magical to watch Link and Epona gallop through Hyrule Field. The music accompanied with the rising sun over Hyrule is so… majestic, and then the title screen shows up, and you just know you’re in for one hell of an adventure. Water Temple aside, this game was the bees knees.
9. Tomb Raider
I’ll be the first person to say that I absolutely loved the Tomb Raider reboot, and not just because Crystal Dynamics swagged me out with all the gaming gear I could ever need. The game’s graphics and voice acting really blew me away, and this opening is just a little snippet of the adventure you endure during gameplay. I also should mention that I love the fact that Lara isn’t just a pair of intelligent boobs with a gun. The intro to this game was so inspiring, catching the gamer with an emotional hook, and served as a great start to Lara’s origin story. Now go, my pretties — raid all ze tombs!
8. Medal of Honor Frontline
Oh! Here’s a throwback. Surprisingly, I also find this game on a few top lists as well. If you’ve never played Frontline, you’ve seriously been missing out. The Medal of Honor franchise was truly something special back in the day, and they really let out all the stops for this game. What starts out as an inspiring black and white video montage turns into your first mission, and you find yourself on a LCVP with other frightened members of your platoon. Suddenly, the doors open and you’re forced to storm a blood soaked Omaha Beach. Depending on what difficulty you played on, this level took a lot of patience and skill. It was also completely heart wrenching, forcing you to run past your fallen comrades as you evade heavy turret fire. No matter what method up the beach you choose, this will be your finest hour.
7. Mass Effect 2
Let’s face it: there’s no better time for your hero to die than right in the beginning of the game. I think out of all the possible deaths, being sucked out of the Normandy and suffocating alone in space may be one of the worst. Mass Effect 2’s intro is a favorite among gamers, and I can definitely see why. The fast-paced action paired with stunning visual effects and a shot right to the heart make it a staple on any top-whatever list. Hell, it’s at least three times better than the trilogy’s ending, right? RIGHT?!
6. Portal 2
Apart from Borderlands, Portal is one of the funniest game series I have ever played; within the first minute, I knew that I would never again play a game as entertaining. The interactive opening drops you in an abandoned and dilapidated Aperture Laboratory, allowing the player an introduction on gameplay and portal work, and the hilarious dialogue exchanges with Wheatley really show the depth of comedic writing. Now go, play on! And remember: you are a horrible person.
5. The Witcher 2
The Witcher 2’s intro blew my mind when I first watched it. The graphics are beyond stunning, and the way it carries the game’s narrative is exceptional. Slow motion action paired with blood and magic is definitely a great way to wow me, and I hope everyone can agree. The game itself boasts a stunning array of violent action, steamy romance, and even a mother freaking dragon. If you haven’t played the series yet, what are you waiting for? In the mean time, let’s all drool over those particle physics.
4. Kingdom Hearts II
Yep, you knew it was coming. Well deserved, may I add. This intro gives you all new feels as we once again join our heroes on their never-ending dark quest. The fact that we see some reenactments of the first game’s intro overwhelms the viewer with a sense of nostalgia, and Utada’s vocal work once again brings us close to tears. We’re also introduced to two new characters in a unique and familiar way. Kingdom Hearts II’s intro takes all the power of the first game and extends on its trademark Disney magic to once again create something beautiful for gamers of all ages. Heartless or not, this video is gonna get you. There’s a bowl of onions in here, right?
I personally like to think of Bioshock as one of the greatest games of this generation. What starts out as a simple cross-Atlantic flight ends in a fiery crash, and you’re left to fend for yourself until you happen upon the fated lighthouse. The interactive nature of the opening helps players get a feel for some mechanics while expressing one of the most unique narratives and surreal landscapes in gaming. Welcome to Rapture, everyone. Would you kindly direct me to the bathysphere?
2. Fallout 3
Ah, Fallout. For many gamers, this series holds a dear place in our hearts. It starts perfectly with an old radio cranking on, and you’re drifting through an old city bus to “I don’t want to set the world of fire” by the Ink Spots. As you continue to pan out, you quickly realize that not everything is as it seems. Suddenly, you find yourself smack-dab in middle of post-apocalyptic Washington DC. The dark, war-torn monuments contrast well with the up-beat song as it slowly echoes throughout the terrain, until finally fading out, leaving us left face-to-face with a Brotherhood of Steel Paladin and the eerie history of the apocalypse. At just over 4 minutes, this intro effectively sets the pace of the entire game in such a simple and classy manner. War never changes, and we can only hope that Fallout doesn’t either.
1. Kingdom Hearts
I really feel like this needs no explanation. Let’s act like we’re not surprised that I put this at number one. The first time I inserted this game into the tray and began my journey, I was overwhelmed with so much emotion. Kingdom Hearts reigns as one of the best and most imaginative games of all time, and the intro says just that. When you think of Disney, it’s hard to imagine that there’s any trace of darkness, but KH delivers. It mixes childhood fantasy with dark, heavy adult themes to create a world fit for any gamer. Utada Hikaru’s “Simple and Clean” guides us through what is immortalized as one of the most emotional, touching, and slightly confusing intros of all time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some gaming to do.
Well, that’s about all I have to say about that. Remember, this is just my list! Now that I’ve put mine out there, I want to know: what’s your top ten? It can be anything from the retro days to new gen — it doesn’t matter! Comment below with your list!
And, as always — thanks for reading, nerds.