The Top 10 Video Game Openings

Posted on January 1, 2011

In November of 2008 we ran our top 10 list of best intro sequences in the biz. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a movie must be worth a million. Check out our original list below, and feel free to add your top contenders in the comments.

The beginning of a game can set the tone for the entire experience. Whether it’s an opening cinematic, the first level, or just the first bit of gameplay, a good intro should grab your attention. Some even tat it to the next level, getting you invested in the action, characters, or story in mere minutes. While there have been dozens of great video game openings throughout the years, these are our picks for the best of the best.

1: BioShock

“All good things of this Earth flow into the city” are the words emblazoned above the entrance to Rapture, but the crumbling paradise tells a different story. After surviving a plane crash and listening to an inspiring speech about the underwater city’s creation, you quickly realize that the situation is not as advertised. We wish we could play BioShock again for the first time just to experience the terror, confusion, and dawning comprehension that accompanies your initial descent, introduction to Andrew Ryan, and first encounter with a Big Daddy.

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2: Final Fantasy VIII

Back before every RPG had a music video before the title screen, Final Fantasy VIII set the standard with this amazing cinematic. Haunting choral music and a shot of a serene beach starts things off slowly, but it develops into a barrage of images full of foreshadowing and glimpses of future events, culminating in a wicked fight (with gunblades!) between Squall and Seifer. Say what you want to about the rest of this game, but the intro was awesome.

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3: Prey

Some dude named Tommy sitting around in a crummy bar may not sound cool at first, but things get crazy when “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” kicks in on the jukebox. As Blue Öyster Cult rocks out, the entire bar is sucked into an alien spaceship. Players watch in horror as Tommy’s friends and family are systematically (and brutally) processed, and that’s when Prey really begins – with Tommy alone on the labyrinthine craft armed with only a wrench.

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4: Half-Life 2

City 17 is not a happy place. From the second Gordon Freeman steps off the train and sees the Combine-controlled capital, things look bleak. The opening minutes of Half-Life 2 perfectly convey the oppressed desperation of City 17’s denizens, the suffocating power of Dr. Breen’s regime, and how badly the world needs a crowbar-wielding hero.

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5: Mega Man 2

Not every game needs an elaborate backstory. Even with a set-up as simple as “Dr. Wily made some robots, and you need to kill them,” the intro to Mega Man 2 gets you ridiculously psyched. Some text appears under a static shot of a building in a city, but once the “plot” is explained, the camera sweeps up the tallest building. As the pump-up music swells and you see the top of the building, who’s standing there in all his majesty? Hell yeah! It’s Mega Man!

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets

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