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Greatest Opening Scenes in Gaming History

by: kendo1234 ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Counting down the greatest opening moments in gaming history. From Half Life to Call of Duty to Bioshock, Brighthub looks at those moments that make an immpression early on and keep you playing.

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    Everyone loves a good scene setter. Something to get you hooked, something to open your eyes to a new experience and most importantly, to make you give a damn.

    This last part is especially important for games. The opening moments can make or break the success of a game, thats why we have demos. The modern gamer has a try before you buy mentality and this has led to developers constructing ever more lavish opening acts in the hope of garnering the favour of the masses. This has produced some of gamings most cherished moments Shock and awe is a marketable commodity and the games presented here are the absolute epitome of scene setters.

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    10. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

    BANG! You're dead   Ok, so this isn't technically at the beggining of the game, but it does set up the story and kickstart the events of COD4's awesome single player campaign. Borrowing wholesale an Idea from a certain high ranking game in this list (clue: its at number one), this scene puts you in the body of a Middle Eastern official as he is driven to his own execution. As the car slowly approaches its destination, the player is allowed to observe the events of a bloody coup de tat. Vicious dogs scuttle through alleyways and terrified bystanders hide from the site of your captors. Then things get darker as we witness beatings and firing squads before the scenes shocking conclusion. Its a perfect example of COD4's action movie narrative mechanics and a brave choice for developers Infinity Ward, who prove they are as confident telling a story as they are at constructing a good shooter.

    BEST BIT: That ending. Al Fulani is dragged from the car and tied to a pole in the middle of a courtyard. One of his captors bellows a speech into a camera then casually approaches Fulani/you, points the gun in his/your face and pulls the trigger.

    Click here for to view scene

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    9. Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey

    The hapless Abe   A grand opening FMV for one of the most undervalued series in gaming. This haunting sequence introduces us to the plight of the Mudokons, a slave race forced to process meat in Rupture Farms. Narrated by the titular hero, this scene presents a dark dystopia populated by a myriad of strange species.It possesses quite beauty and a vein of dark comedy the Oddworld series is famous for. Such a shame this wonderful franchise is now deceased.

    BEST BIT: The characteristically whiny voice of Abe, which would narrate to us through the course of two brilliant games. "This is Rupture Farms..."

    Click here to view the scene.

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    8. Resident Evil

    ALBERT WESKER!   Now let's get one thing straight, this scene is bad. Bad acting, bad directing, bad sound, just plain bad. So why is it in this list? Because A: it marks the beginning of one of the greatest franchises in the history of gaming and B: it signalled the true mainstream arrival of adult videogames. We all know it, Remnants of S.T.A.R.S discover the remains of their squad in the Arklay mountains and are promptly chased into a big scary mansion by a pack of ravenous hounds. Cue ridiculously OTT introduction of characters amidst a sea of flames- CHRIS REDFIELD! JILL VALENTINE! BARRY BURTON! ALBERT WESKER! REBECCA CHAMBERS! Its stupid, its crass, its corny, its utterly brilliant.

    BEST BIT: Uber villain Albert Wesker straightens out his platinum (and thereby evil) blond hair. A gaming love affair begins.

    Click Here to view the scene.

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    7. Final Fantasy VII

    Midgar in all its glory   You can spend over a hundred hours playing FFVII but its the opening moments that matter the most. An indelible combination of images; swirling darkness, the flower girl walks out of the alley, then that wonderful pan out to reveal the gigantic steampunk metropolis of Midgar. A landmark for console gaming, FFVII has a spot in the top ten of many gamers and its mainly because of scenes like this, made all the poignant later on as the flower girl is skewered by lead baddie Sephiroth.

    BEST BIT: Nobuo Uematsu's magesterial score, setting a standard for videogame music that has never been beaten.

    Click here to view the scene.

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    6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

    He's back!   A series infamous for its labourious, self indulgent cut scenes, it's easy to forget that Metal Gear also has some of the best. The final battle in MGS1, Snake's torture in MGS3 and the fight between Raiden and Vamp in MGS4 are all killers but this particular scene stands tall. Played dozens of times before the game even came out thanks to a pre-release demo, the opening Tanker level of MGS2 is the glorious return of Solid Snake. We first see him wandering over a rain slicked bridge tugging on his trademark cigarette, then he starts to run, then he tosses his raincoat aside, then he jumps...

    BEST BIT: After landing on the tanker and with his stealth camo malfunctioning, Snake stands tall amidst a lighting storm of his own doing.

    Click here to view the scene.

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    5. Fallout 3

    Happy Birthday!   Many games begin with you birthing a character into an elaborate fantasy world, Fallout 3 begins with your actual birth. With a wet splat and an infant scream your character enters post apocalyptic DC in the most natural way. The beauty is in the stages, first you listen to the discussions of your mother and father as they/you chooses your name and then a neat genetic prediction device (read: character creator) determines how you will age. We then flash forward a couple of years so you can experience your first steps, then on to an early birthday party as your dad teaches you how to shoot. Finally you are thrown violently into the turmoil of the games main narrative. Its a brilliant idea, executed perfectly.

    BEST BIT: Liam Neeson, assaying the role of your dear old dad. It makes the early stages of the game so much easier when you are guided by the soothing voice of this one-time Jedi.

    Click here to view the scene.

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    4. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

    So it begins   Widely regarded as a true masterpiece of the medium, there are few games that can convey a sense of majesty like Ocarina Of Time. Its also the best version of a classic tale as Link traverses Hyrule in his quest to defeat Ganondorf. The intro offers a haunting introduction to this grand tale.

    BEST BIT: The atmosphere of the sequence is palpable, the editing perfect, abstact images convey the confusion in Link's nightmare.

    Click here to view the scene.

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    3. Half Life 2

    Rise and shine Mr. Freeman   A grander experience than its ominous predecessor, the opening sequence of Half Life 2 re-introduces to everyones faveourite mute physicist Gordon Freeman in his new role as freedom fighter. Tricking us into thinking were in for another long train ride, Valve proceeds to lead us into City 17, the central hub for the combine as they go about enslaving humanity. Ushered through an oppressive world, Gordon encounters frightened citizans, creepy propoganda and litterbug guards before taking place in another failed experiment and forced to go on the run. Its a brilliant start to a true masterpiece.

    BEST BIT: Gordon leaves the train station and the player is blinded by City 17 daylight and the intimidating sight of the citadel tower.

    Click here to view the scene.

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    2. Bioshock

    Welcome...   One of the best examples of complex, adult narrative in a videogame. Bioshock combines the industrialist philosophy of Ayn Rand with a propaganda aesthetic. The opening is simply great storytelling, as our hero crash lands in the sea and swims towards the shore. Bobby Darin's Beyond The Sea plays faintly in the background as we descend the stairs and enter the Bathysphere. We enter the underwater world of Rapture guided by the passionate voice of Andrew Ryan and as the window opens to reveal the doomed metropolis, we know we are in for something special.

    BEST BIT: " I am Andrew Ryan, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture"

    Click here to view the scene.

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    1. Half life

    Mr Freeman I presume   Valve are masters at crafting immersive narratives within their many excellent games. Left 4 Dead and its sequel mine an infinite amount of untold and implied story from the central zombie apocalypse. Even Team Fortress 2, an online only multiplayer shooter, has hundreds of little tales that unfold every day on its servers thanks to its quirky character design and community structure. Yet Valve's crowning achievement is their single player opus Half Life, a game from which almost their entire output since, has emerged from.

    The Half Life series is the measuring stick for story driven gameplay. As well as being a representation of the player within the game (itself a great storytelling mechanic), protagonist Gordon Freeman is a fully rounded character in his own right, and he never even speaks. His silence is never more apparent than in this, the greatest opening sequence in the history of gaming.

    Its a train ride, plain and simple. Physicist Freeman has procured a job at the clandestine Black Mesa facility and this is his first day. The player is placed on a monorail slowly passing through Black Mesa, transporting Gordon to a botched experiment and an alien invasion. The concept is simple yet its bravery cannot be ignored, a five minute sequence that features little player interaction other than observation and absolutely no story development. The genius of this sequence is creating an incredible sense of foreboding, we have no idea what's going to happen to this faceless scientist but we know its going to involve this gigantic facility and it aint gonna be pretty.

    BEST BIT: Noticing things. Guards standing resolute at their post, scientists going about their daily business, giant mechanical power lifter's hauling non-descript crates. And of course the G-Man, the shadowy figure who does little else throughout the series but straighten his tie and silently observe Freeman.

    Click here to view the scene.