Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Your favourite video game cut scene
GameCentral readers discuss the most memorable in-game cinematics, from Final Fantasy VII to Dark Souls.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Crinkles, who asked what’s the most impressed you’ve been in terms of a video game cut scenes, including intros? How important do you think cut scenes are to a video game and do you have a limit on what you think is too long or too frequent (or too short?).
A lot of people went for intros rather that cut scenes within the game, including some of the greats from previous generations, such as Resident Evil and Soul Blade. Metal Gear Solid also got lots of mentions, although most of them negative…
A history of everything
Perhaps it’s just because it was relatively recently but the one that came to mind for me was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. All the Smash Bros. games are great though because they’re a little mini history of Nintendo games and, increasingly, other games as well. The CGI is really good too, and some of the little mini-movies they did for the Nintendo Direct reveals were amazing. The one for Castlevania was the best that series has ever looked!
I also like that it’s a mix of CGI and in-game graphics as well, so it’s not like they’re trying to hide anything. It happens less nowadays, for obvious reasons, but I used to hate it when games would have amazing pre-rendered graphics and then the graphics in the game would just be meh.
As for Smash though I hope that when all the new DLC characters are added, and perhaps we get some kind of Game of the Year Edition, they update the intro to include everyone. If the rumours about lots more third party games are true then it really could be a history of everything. Imagine Mario and Master Chief rendered together!
You always remember your first
When I think about cut scenes my mind goes to Final Fantasy VIII, which was the first game I played which heavily used cut scenes. There is the iconic ballroom scene that was heavily used in the marketing and also the parade at the midpoint of the game.
I can still remember both of these despite forgetting almost every cut scene in gaming since. My favourite cut scene however is neither of these but is that game’s intro sequence where Squall and Seifer duel.
Too many to name
I’m not sure which specific cut scene is my favourite, but I know that the game with my favourite cut scenes in general is Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
That game as a whole suits my juvenile sense of humour and there are so many bits that make me laugh, from the evil scientist tossing chocolate out the window in a ranting rage, becoming your health pick-up thereafter, to the big brass balls, polished to the nth degree.
Actually, I think Greg the Grim Reaper’s intro might be my favourite… I dunno, maybe not.
They are all done using the in-game engine too, so no jarring change from in game assets to polished pre-rendered ones like there were on my PS1 games, and their adverts, at the time.
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Just playing a game
The Uncharted games are filled with amazing cut scenes, it’s arguably what they do best, and it’s all thanks to not just the great graphics but amazing voice actors and a good script. There’s lots of great action ones and dramatic ones – the ending (both of them) of Uncharted 4 is fantastic. But my favourite is from earlier in that game where Nate and Elena are just having dinner and playing a video game (Crash Bandicoot, rather unbelievably, as if they’ve never seen a video game before in their lives – the joke being that Naughty Dog also made that game).
Choice of game aside it’s a really nice little scene where nothing happens but character development and that’s very rare in a video game. It takes its time but never feels slow or boring, or like it’s trying to hard.
Compare that to something like The Order: 1886, where everything is so plodding and dull (including scenes were you purposefully can’t move quickly) and you see the difference between a developer that understands both games and cinematography and one that only knows how to do good graphics.
One cut scene instantly popped into my mind upon reading this week’s Hot Topic subject. I vividly remember being gobsmacked by it at the time, even to this day the thought of it gives me a chill.
It’s the opening sequence of Parasite Eve, in the theatre. I had zero knowledge of the game when I booted it up. I’d just been loaned it by a friend whom, like myself, was a big fan of Squaresoft games and had imported it from the States, so I wasn’t expecting it at all. The game itself is still one of my favourites to this day and I’d really love to see the series return in some capacity. I’ll never ever forget that intro though as long as I live.
Honourable mention to one in the original NieR, where on one of the New Game+ playthroughs you witness the relationship between a child and his robot protector you previously thought were the ‘baddies’.
Had me in tears and I almost stopped playing the game there and then, it’s rarely any entertainment medium can have that effect on me. It’s such a shame that game was buggy and ugly therefore didn’t sell/review well as the story had some fantastic, shocking, and truly touching moments; plus it had an amazing soundtrack.
There’s one in Spec Ops: The Line too, which will always stay with me. Players of that game will no doubt know exactly which one. I tried to keep all I mentioned fairly spoiler free, so not to ruin them for people yet to play them.
Transcending history and the world
I think the art of the intro has been lost a lot in modern times, probably because they’re no longer needed to set the tone because the in-game graphics are so good on their own. But for certain games, particularly fighters, I think they really help to set the scene because there’s usually not much actual story or context in them.
There’s actually a few contenders here, but what I would say is the all-time best intro is for Soul Blade. The perfect mix of music and video and it still gets me pumped today, even though the graphics are so basic. I think 90% of the reason for SoulCalibur VI’s lukewarm reaction is that it didn’t have a modern equivalent.
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My first experience in full motion video or computer-generated imagery (if you discount the original PS1 Resident Evil intro, which was a B-movie acted film) was probably the second Resident Evil as everything else just fades away from my mind. Every cut scene from the opening scene to the end just made the game a more atmospheric experience and pretty much hits all the bases.
Of course, I can’t forget all the Metal Gear Solids I have played and to me these are some of the best cut scenes I have ever seen and the storyline is pretty much all told in them. But the gameplay is put to the side a lot which did annoy a lot of players! Possibly cut scene overkill and the balance needed to be looked at, which Metal Gear V kind of does. A lot of gameplay goes by and the cut scenes are pretty spaced apart and the game appears to have got the right balance.
But to me my ultimate cut scene starts as a mysterious tune plays out and we seem to be in outer space, until some green firefly type lights appear and we see a girl in a backstreet alley somewhere. We hear footsteps and the mystical music turns into a more grand and epic affair, as the camera speeds back from the alley scene and starts to rise and we see other citizens doing their own activities which make a city tick.
From passing transport, businesses, and franchises we zoom way back until we see the city blocks, glowing turquoise smog with the chimney of an industrial works on the edge of what looks like dividing sections. All this coalesces in the centre, to a huge headquarters type tower with some Blade Runner type influences. And we just look, mesmerised by this spectacular looking cityscape.
Thank you Final Fantasy VII for the memories and the fact that every one of the many cut scenes did the job intended. Storyline, emotion, landscapes, twists and turns with the ultimate, epic cut scene and the best ending sequence ever. It will take possibly The Last Of Us to really do something which I consider quite something, which is to just make me sit back and smile and get absorbed by these amazing cut scenes.
The above might be cliched but seriously, they are winners and despite the other Final Fantasies that came after they just don’t beat the seventh game and I really was in Seventh Heaven watching these epics. Thanks Tifa, Aerith, Cloud and gang, I’ll always remember you.
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