7 Best Video Game Intros of All Time
Any writer will tell you that a great story consists of three stages: the beginning, middle and the end.
Fail to deliver on any of those and you might find that your efforts lack consistency and the necessary oomph to sell it to an audience. Especially with the intro; fail to capture the attention within the first ten minutes and they may be lost for good.
Video games have really started to come into their own as mediums of art over the past decade or so as they leave behind the cliched tropes of storytelling and embraced personal, real tales that you can’t help but relate to. Some would say that too many video games take themselves too seriously these days, but that’s a subject for another article on another day.
Modern times have seen our attention spans dwindled and dwindle to the point where we can only consume six second videos of people falling over without getting bored. When you have this consider, captivating an audience early and holding their attention is more important than ever before, something which these classic games managed with their stunning intro scenes.
1. The Last of Us
I’m going to refrain from mentioning the final moments of Naughty Dog’s classic so as to not spoil it for the three of you not in the know still. If you haven’t picked this game up yet, you’re missing out on possibly the biggest masterpiece since Ocarina of Time.
From the moment you gain control of Sarah in search of her father, Joel, you’re thrust into a cinematic wonder that would not have looked out of place on the PS4, let alone its younger, rustier brother. Every ounce left in the old bird is squeezed out to create a truly unforgettable opening sequence that sets the tone for the rest of The Last of Us: misery. Oh, and giraffes.
2. Medal of Honor: Frontline
Sure, it might seem a bit rudimentary in the HD era, but for pure emotional impact, Frontline’s opening sequence set on the beaches of Normandy is still the standard-bearer for intros in the first-person shooter genre. You really felt like you were there.
The level of immersion can’t be matched by contemporary fare for many reasons, but mainly because there’s a sense of ad nauseum: Call of Duty has over-egged the extravagant set-piece to the point where it feels like it’s a prerequisite in modern shooters. Dig out your old Playstation 2 and find yourself lost among the chaos; it still holds up well to this day.
3. Far Cry 3
The fourth installment in Ubisoft’s nature-ruining-simulator was good, but it was missing a few key ingredients. Namely a lunatic with a mohawk stalking you everywhere you go and delivering chilling monologues about the definition of insanity.
A startling juxtaposition sets an early precedent for Far Cry 3 as the scene switches from a party atmosphere to one entirely more sinister at the flick of a switch. You and your friends have been kidnapped by Vaas: a certified crazy person who wastes no time in murdering your brother before your eyes. As you make your escape (at his behest), the game of chess begins.
4. Half-Life 2
You could make the case that the original Half-Life deserves a spot on the list over its sequel, but as someone who never played the original (properly, at least), the opening of Half-Life 2 sold me right off the bat. It might have made little sense at the time why a creepy stepdad apparition was jibbering away at me and yet, it told me all I needed to know about what was ahead.
Walking through the train station as Gordon Freeman, you’re pretty quickly clued in on the effects of the totalitarian regime of the Combine on the people of City 17. It sets up the rest of the proceedings very effectively and becomes an integral segment of one of (if not the) greatest game of all time.
5. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
It’s weird to think that a team who used to make a bandicoot jump on boxes could consistently deliver emotional and impacting games. The only emotion you can feel once you wake up as Nathan Drake aboard a descending train is that of pure excitement.
For a series all about set-pieces, Uncharted 2‘s intro could be the biggest and best of them all. An injured Drake’s attempts to clamber out of a train that is on its way off a cliff and you almost want to cover your eyes and hope for the best rather than have to make your way out of the precarious situation.
How do you sell an audience on a completely fantastical environment that couldn’t possibly exist in real life? Throw them directly into it at speed and don’t let up. Bioshock simply does not let go throughout the whole experience and the opening sequence is simply jaw-dropping for its time.
As your plane plummets from the sky, you assume control of Jack during his fight for survival after it crashes into the ocean. Noticing his lifeline in a distant lighthouse, Jack makes his way there, only to find himself descending into a new world and his own personal hell.
7. Fallout 3
This intro alone makes thousands of gamers worldwide yearn for a Fallout 4. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Bethesda revitalised an old series with a visceral, enthralling and sometimes silly outing that sold gamers with its fascinating intro.
A camera trip around a seemingly normal bus is turned on its head once we pan out to reveal a deslate wasteland and an armoured survivor. Once we get into the gameplay itself, Liam Neeson’s soothing tones confirm that this is going to be one hell of ride. Your first steps outside of the vault aren’t quickly forgotten.