A great opening can make a world of difference for engaging the player and sucking them into the story, whether it’s purely cinematic, or a combination of cinematics and gameplay. The main criteria for this list is intros that immediately grabbed me and pulled me into the game world. With that, here are my 5 personal favorite gaming intros.
5. Gex: Enter The Gecko – At the risk of making my fellow writers feel old, I was only 8 years of age when this game came out. I can still remember falling out on the floor laughing when Gex passed gas in front of the agents. “They play rough, start giving me the business. I give em a little back.” It set the tone for what was to come. Gex was the first game I played that “broke the fourth wall” and made me laugh at the different references to movies and cartoons I saw as a kid. Granted now, the whole opening comes off as corny, but this was more of a nostalgic pick for me.
4. WCW/NWO Revenge – Ok confession time, I love pro wrestling. Always have, always will. This game released in 1998, again, when I was 8 years old. At this time, the NWO story was winding down and a lot of kids my age who weren’t already watching what was then WWF (now WWE) started moving in that direction. This game however, kept us checking back with WCW a little longer. I love everything about this intro, even Sting inexplicably appearing in the middle of the road with flaming tombstones. In the words of the truck driver in the intro, “WHAT?!” It embodied everything exciting to me about wrestling at the time. The moves, the characters, everything felt like what I watched on TV. To see the NWO version of the World Heavyweight Championship around the waist of Hollywood Hulk Hogan was amazing. I never skipped this opening growing up.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – This remains, in my opinion, the most underrated Zelda game ever. Honestly, I prefer it to Ocarina of Time and for a while I didn’t understand why. I realized after some time that it was the first time a Zelda game felt like a sequel (The Zelda Timeline is convoluted, but Zelda II technically is the first and only sequel in the series). The game picks up where OoT left off, explaining that Link is looking for a lost friend, who we know to be Navi the fairy from the previous game. We then see young Link riding his horse, Epona, through the forest. He gets ambushed by the Skull Kid and his two fairies and an epic chase ensues. I’ll never forget seeing Link do a flip while jumping between logs. The intro was so fast paced and well done, making you feel like a Link that had learned from his last adventure. Then the game brings you down quite a few pegs…best Zelda intro ever.
2. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – Mortal Kombat games to me have always been the simplest of the major fighting games in terms of mechanics. In contrast, the stories for the characters and the games themselves have always been detailed. This is easily the most epic of Kombat intros. Seeing every MK character fight it out was awesome and the chase up the pyramid was beautifully animated and well-paced. Now I had not played MK: Deadly Alliance or MK: Deception before this, but I knew Liu Kang had been killed prior to Armageddon. As such, I didn’t expect to see him, but when Shang Tsung turned around and a zombified Liu Kang emerged from the fog, it was awesome. To paraphrase wrestling announcer Jim Ross, “BAH GAWD, LIU KANG!! LIU KANG!!!” It was creepy, it fit the MK universe perfectly and made that intro that much better.
1. Bioshock Infinite – The most recent of the games on this list and still my favorite of this year. First off, the degradation of the Bioshock logo never gets old to me. Such a beautiful, yet unsettling effect. The very next thing you see is a quote that, having played the game, is probably the most important piece of information you will get throughout your experience. I can’t say more without spoiling it but it’s great in that regard. Next, we see two people in raincoats rowing your character to an unknown destination, speaking to each other as if you aren’t there. You’re given a gun, a vague clue involving numbers and a picture of a girl. Upon reaching your destination (a lighthouse), you’re faced with a door and a piece of paper that says “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” Eventually, you work your way up to the top. You solve a quick puzzle, and a rocket blast through the clouds later, you’re in Columbia and your adventure begins. Irrational Games gives you so little and yet gives you just enough to want to keep going. It set the tone for the entire game and pulled me in so deep, I didn’t want to stop playing.
So that’s my top 5. Have favorites of your own? Let me know in the comments.