Video games are much like books and movies—the very beginning has a big impact on the audience. The opening scene sets the feel and pacing of the quest, and is that split second after the intro movie (if there is one) is done when players are first given control of their character. They have that one moment to locate themselves on screen and take in their surroundings. They take a breath, and then take their first step on the adventure ahead of them. They don’t know what to expect, what kind of baddies and bosses await, but they’re eager and ready. Although there are many video games that have a forgettable or perhaps generic beginning, some titles stand out from the crowd. These games have unique and distinguished opening scenes, so much so that the initial frame has been embedded into gamers heads and have become instantly recognizable. Here are some of the most memorable opening scenes in gaming.
Legend of Zelda
The original Zelda is a very classic title in video game history. Countless gamers have experienced Link’s first steps; the interesting thing being that they found themselves in the middle of nowhere. The player is given no items, weapons, abilities, or even a sense of which way to go; the last especially confusing due to three different paths that were before the hero. However everyone would always see a door way, and although nothing told you to go in there, many people went through the door way with the hopes of some sort of help. Gamers already knew this wasn’t going to be a straight forward adventure.
Metal Gear Solid 2
/What made MGS2 stand out was its very cinematic presentation— this fact is clear as soon as the player starts the game. /As the game begins, Snake is seen walking across the Washington Bridge in the rain. All of a sudden he breaks out to a run, turns on his stealth camouflage, and jumps to a tanker passing by below. Snake lands on the boat, breaking his stealth mechanism, and the title comes on screen. The hero runs to a corner before being seen by the boat’s crew, and receives a mission briefing from Otacon. After Snake’s conversation is done, the camera fixes on the character. Many players just stood there admiring the weather effects—the rain and wind seemed much more realistic than in any game anyone had seen up until that point in gaming history, gamers didn’t realize that they had taken control of Snake, but when they were done gawking at the graphics, they took their first step into Snake’s quest.
Final Fantasy VII
FF VII has one of the most memorable openings, not only in the Final Fantasy series, but in RPGs in general. Where most Role-Playing games opened up in a quite town, castle, or house, FF VII started you right off in the beginning of an assault. The opening cinematic started with Aeris, of one the main characters of the game, in an alley. The camera zooms away from the girl to reveal an industrial city, and the title then comes on screen for a moment. The attention is then focused on a speeding train. The train stops at a station where two guards are on patrol. Several rebel fighters jump off the train and knock out the guards. One of the rebels look back at the train and signals to the main character. A spiky haired character is then seen jumping off the train. He’s told by the rebel: “Come on newcomer, follow me”. The player takes control of the main character and follows the rebel’s orders.
Resident Evil 2
RE2 was the sequel to the popular Resident Evil, the original had brought survival horror to main stream gaming, so there was plenty of hype surrounding RE2. The intro of the two games are very different—where the first game started you off in a quiet dining room of a creepy mansion, RE2 started you off right after a truck collision. The main characters, both being newcomers to the infested city, find out that Raccoon City had been overrun by zombies. They decide to make a break for it in a truck, and of course, they get attacked by a zombie inside the vehicle and collide with a brick wall. The truck catches on fire and splits the two main characters up, and it’s at this point where the player take control. The player sees that the streets are on fire, and that several zombies are already making there way to them. The player is forced to start the game with a hand gun, some ammo, and a will to survive. RE2 really gave gamers an intense intro, and it is still memorable.
Another intense opening, only added upon by the fact that the camera is through the main character’s eyes. It’s 1960, and you’re on a small plane smoking a cigarette, and looking at a mysterious picture. A loud explosion booms from the plane, and you fall out of the sky, plunging into the icy waters below. The title briefly appears, and you find yourself struggling in the water. You see luggage and other items floating around you, and then a portion of the plane which you were just in sinks past you, into the darkness of the ocean beneath you. The player struggles up to the surface taking his first breath, only to see that he’s surrounded by fire and that he’s the only survivor. The player takes control and swims away from the burning wreckage in silence, and heads into an underwater city.
Super Mario Bros.
If you call yourself a gamer then you’ve experienced this opening scene. No opening movie is needed, no back story is ever delivered, and no options are given. You find yourself as a pint sized plumber on the left side of the screen, a row of bushes are before you and a single cloud is in the sky. The floor beneath is a red brick pattern, and the sky above is a very light blue. The unmistakable melody is playing in the background, you press the right direction on your d-pad and take your first steps, not only into Super Mario Bros., but into modern gaming history.
I find that opening scenes decide whether I play the game or not a lot of times. I like scenes that are meaningful and give the gamer an insight of what’s going to happen sometime in game. I remember the opening scene of Call of Duty: Finest Hour. The speech that the Russian Officer gave was very memorable and the scenes of destructions, sinking boats, cowards being shot and many dying to the machine guns of aircraft all told you that you were about to be ‘Taking part in the greatest moment of your life.’ That’s a quote from the officer.
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