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…
For me the greatest cutscene of all time has to be the opening of Devil May Cry 3 on the PlayStation 2.
A great cut scene not only has to be relevant but also not out stay its welcome (Metal Gear Solid).
After the disappointment of Devil May Cry 2 I was reluctant to pick up the third instalment but the opening cut scene washed away all of my fears.
Presented before me was an altogether more stylish Dante casually going about his business when he is attacked by demons, smashing his jukebox and holding his pizza in his mouth whilst dealing with the enemy.
I think it was the first cut scene I watched in which I actually thought about the choreography and how it was put together, so stylish it was that it got me so pumped for the opening level, and really that’s what cut scenes are all about.
If you are sitting there twiddling your thumbs (Devil May Cry 5) or wondering when it will end (Devil May Cry 5) then for me I would rather read a static screen of writing. Oh they were the days…
It may be simple by today’s standards but the opening scene to Another World on my humble Atari ST was fabulous and cinematic.
Back in the day, doing a cut scene was difficult due to the limitations of the hardware but this one was jaw dropping. It set the scene and really made you excited for the game to come. The fact that Delphine Software managed to make all the short cut scenes throughout the game look so good was amazing.
Current game developers would do well to take note that the fact that they had to be relatively short (as storage was limited) made them better.
The best cut scene of all time, and I say this as an incontrovertible fact, is the original Resident Evil 1 live action intro. At the time it was an amazing thing because it was obviously cheesy and dumb and yet also kind of awesome because nothing like that had been before – plus the game itself was really good. Watching it now it’s somehow even more amazing.
If you want another answer though I’d say that I’ve always been very impressed by Blizzard’s cut scenes and short movies. The quality of the CGI always seems far better than anyone else and yet I find that strangely annoying because I’ve never liked any of their games, except for the odd bit of Overwatch. Those movies always make me want to try them though and even if I give up later I guess that’s job done.
Put a ring on it
The most memorable cut scene for me is in Halo, in the mission 343 Guilty Spark. The previous mission ended with Cortana finally realising what the Halo ring was for and shouting to the Chief in a panic to find Keyes without explaining what she had learned.
The mission then starts with a foreboding atmosphere, with crashed dropships and strange moving figures in the midst of a jungle. When you finally get inside a bunker the cut scene starts with the Chief catching a body as it falls through an opening door. The dead soldier’s head cam footage then shows what happened as the Flood attacks and kills the Marines.
It’s memorable as I had no idea this was coming and the scene introduces the new Flood enemy to the game (although I’d later hate fighting them). Great atmosphere and genuinely creepy.
Setting the scene
It’s not a game you usually associate with cut scenes but one of my favourites has always been the first Dark Souls. It has quite a bit of exposition for a game you associate with obscure storytelling and the visuals and music are great. Because it’s pre-rendered it also shows off From’s art design to it’s very best, as it doesn’t have to worry about frame rate or anything. The dragons in particular look amazing and how I hope a future game will look next gen.
Yakuza is also filled with great cut scenes, some of them funny and some of them surprisingly serious and dramatic. The whole game has a lot of comedy in it but I think some people forget it’s primarily a crime thriller. Kingdom Hearts can be very good too. I know it’s a bit of a Marmite game though and I wouldn’t say anyone was wrong if they just said it should be turned into an ordinary movie.
Better than the films
This may seem a bit odd, because I don’t even particularly like the game, but Star Wars: The Old Republic has some amazing cut scenes and CGI trailers. I’d say a good few of them were better than half the actual movies, and the graphics are really stunning – they obviously spared no expense (which is odd because the game always looked kind of meh).
As a big Star Wars fan I always look to new games for a fix of movie-quality cut scenes and remember being amazed by the ones in TIE Fighter, especially as they referenced the then expanded universe. Jedi Knight was great too and probably the only good thing about The Force Awakens was the cut scenes.
Another thing we don’t really get from the new EA games, although there were a few good ones in the story campaign for Battlefront II. Pity was so short though.
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Last gen scenes
Most of the cut scenes I remember are from the current or previous generation. As someone who skipped the console generation after the SNES/Mega Drive era I must have missed a tsunami of mind-blowing and category-defining cut scene goodness.
True, not every game needs them, but if a game has a plot, a good cut scene really helps me get behind the stories or characters of the games I’m playing. I always liked the story and cinematics in Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time. There’s a moment when you’re climbing the citadel tower towards the end and you pause to take in the view that seems like such a lush spectacle I genuinely wanted to be there myself, not just watching it on a screen.
The GameCube Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil 4’s cut scenes did very good jobs of making me want to shoot the faces off Mr Wesker, Salazaar, and Lord Sadler, as well as making that hulking sub boss with the beard in Resident Evil 4 seem a lot more sinister and imposing (the bit with the exploding barrel where he gets up and reveals his true form somehow sticks in my mind).
As a primarily PlayStation 3 and 4 gamer I have to give a mention to the Uncharted series and The Last Of Us as having some truly epic and beautiful cut scene sequences, which I can honestly say I’ve never felt were intrusive into my enjoyment of the games. I know they have their detractors, and none of them are flawless, but in terms of being stylish and well-constructed bits of entertainment I think they’re pretty great and certainly the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing being in a summer blockbuster action adventure movie.
Even if when I played The Last Of Us, the epic ‘zoo escape’ near the end had a glitch where one of the creature’s ears looked like it had a big hole in it, through which you could see the sky behind its head. Slightly ruined the emotional impact of the scene by making me laugh out loud, but it was still a beautiful moment on such an emotional rollercoaster of a journey.
Probably my favourite cinematic cut sequences come from the Mass Effect series though. I loved some of the wisecracking team status update chats from storming the Collector base in Mass Effect 2 and found the ‘Leaving Earth’ sequence and the united fleet turning up for the final space battle in Mass Effect 3 were both properly stirring stuff.
However, it was the Citadel expansion that clinches it for me, especially the breaking-and-entering-with-a-toothbrush sequence and the epic everyone-and-their-guns mass shootout bit that gave me the biggest grins, thanks mostly to the great dialogue and well turned in performances from the voice cast.
I think my least enjoyable cut scene experiences were with my one and only attempt to play a Metal Gear Solid game. It was 4. While it looked incredible, I found the near constant stream of cut scene interruptions totally destroyed my ability to get into the actual gameplay. I remember one sub-30 second sequence of gameplay, crawling around a single corner under cover, was bookended by two cut scenes of at least five minutes apiece.
Sometime later, after one particularly lengthy (and to me, virtually unintelligible) encounter with what I think was a flamboyant arms dealer, I got so disillusioned I returned the game to the friend I’d borrowed it from, never to want to try another one again. I know Hideo Kojima is supposed to be a genius and I’m sure he knows what he’s doing… but I’m just not sure I’d like it, even if I could keep up.
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