Friday, April 11, 2008

The best cinematics ever

Well, okay, not the best cinematics ever -- just some of my favorites. I'm sure I'm missing tons of great ones. But this is the kind of thing you post on a Friday, right?

Chronologically (These are spoiler-heavy, so beware):

Ninja Gaiden (NES, 1989)

This is the first memory I have of the honest-to-goodness cinematic opening to a game. I love everything about it: the close-ups, the extreme widescreen, and especially the music. This kind of thing wasn't common when Ninja Gaiden came out. It was mind-blowing.

MechWarrior 2 (PC, 1995)

This played right as you booted up MechWarrior 2. I liked the game all right, but I must have watched this sequence -- estimating conservatively -- a hundred million times.

Resident Evil (PlayStation, 1996)


Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation, 1997)

This is the most famous sequence in the game, although another great choice would have been Sephiroth vanishing into the flames of Nibelheim. I knew this moment was coming when I finally played Final Fantasy VII in 2003, but it was no less powerful for that. It's so strange to watch this now: I remember seeing commercials for this game and thinking that the FMV looked real.

Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation, 1998)

Metal Gear Solid is essentially one long cutscene punctuated with bursts of gameplay, but when they're done this well, who cares? Each foe Snake vanquishes gets a big, dramatic death scene, but Sniper Wolf's was always my favorite. I think I like the contrast between Snake's reaction and Otacon's. "I don't have any more tears to shed" is such a good line.

Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2, 2005)

Watching this now, the moment doesn't seem so dramatic, but at the time I actually yelled, "No!" Shadow of the Colossus does such a wonderful job creating an atmosphere of loneliness and desolation. Agro is your only companion -- almost the only sign of life in the whole world -- for 90% of the game. And then this happens, like a punch in the stomach.

The Darkness (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, 2007)

This may not technically count as a cinematic, because it happens in-game, but considering that you don't control your character I think it passes the test. This is just one of the bleakest and most horrifying scenes I've ever encountered in a game, completely unleavened by irony or comic relief. Its impact is heightened by the scene earlier where you and Jenny sit on the couch together watching To Kill a Mockingbird. I wanted to kill the hell out of Uncle Paulie after this.

Post links to your favorite cinematics in the comments!


Tyler said...

Your refusal to acknowledge Blizzard as a game company really ruins posts like this for me.

Mitch Krpata said...

"Post links to your favorite cinematics in the comments!"

Daniel Purvis said...

Medievil's ending sequence.

so totally capped off the whole game, especially with the hall of heroes ending.

You didn't link to a Resident Evil video clip with terrible voice acting, like this one.

Ohhh, yeah. "Oh, that's why have STARS sneaking around is SO inconvenient."

Monkey Island 2's closing sequence

Absolutely screwed up. He's your BROTHER!?! I think I'll go play outside now.


The first time I saw the brain sneezing, I flipped out.
"You, have the insanity of the manitee!"

Mitch Krpata said...

Speaking of terrible Resident Evil voice acting, the definitive collection can be found at Audio Atrocities.

Be sure to check out the page for the game "Last Alert," as well.

Daniel Purvis said...

Oh, I know that website! Hehe. "Jill sandwich!"

R. J. O. Stewart said...

I will be Captain Obligatory and post the opera scene:

Tyler said...

Brad said...

Maybe its just because the first video was Mechwarrior 2, but I remember watching the MW2: Mercenaries intro again and again--partly because I loved the game, but it was hard and I was no good at it!

Looking back at it now, the dialogue and set up are pretty cliche and the voice overs are just plain bad. But I still like the dropship pilot's final line: "Look at the bright side, kid: You get to keep all the money."

L.B. Jeffries said...

THIS is the Mechwarrior cutscene to end all cutscenes.

lemmer eighteen hundred octillion said...

Glad to see The Darkness get some love. It's not high art by any means, but it's an underrated game and Starbreeze truly took some care in crafting some cutscenes that utilized established visual storytelling techniques and a genuine eye for composition. Note that I'm hesitant to say that its cutscenes had sweeping cinematic qualities or what have you, because by most games' standards that means merely adding a couple of false letterbox bars and plopping characters onto the screen in the most artless fashion imaginable.

The ending stands out as a decent example.

Johnson said...

It's funny how the MechWarrior 2 intro still gives me the chills. I loved the crap out of that game.

Also, I'll be 2nd Lieutenant Obligatory.

Mitch Krpata said...

Lemmer, I really loved the Darkness. Every bit of it. I thought it was one of the best conceived and executed narrative experiences to come down the pike in quite awhile. Good to hear somebody's with me on it.

Daniel Purvis said...

God, seeing as we're all professing our love.

I've completed The Darkness three times through. And on one occassion, in a single sitting, in a darkened room, with the volume loud enough to block out all external noise.

It's rare I bother playing a game through from start to finish once, it's even rare that I should (now a days) go back to that game, but The Darkness, now that was an experience worth re-living (there's a pun there somewhere).

Coleman said...

Ditto about The Darkness. The lack of respect for the story and gameplay of the Darkness is completely upsetting to me. I'm glad to see someone else was affected by that scene as much as I was. I've never been so angry at a video game character before (at least, not because of part of the story). I wanted to destroy Paulie, the police chief, AND the damn Darkness tentacles for holding me back...

gamer said...

Final Fantasy series have really good cinematics. But Blizzard also have some. And Lineage2 has some very good. My favorite is the Anime one.

Adriaan said...

That clip from The Darkness was one of the most incredibly executed (no pun intended) cinematics I have ever seen in a video game.

I agree. Watching Paulie kill my Jenny like that made my blood boil.