Top 10 Best In-Game Cutscenes
Cutscenes and movie cinematics have come a long way. Whether it's Old Snake crawling through the 'microwave chamber' in MGS4, Dom finding out the fate of his wife in Gears of War 2, or almost any of the dialogue scenes in the Uncharted and Dragon Age series, in-game cutscenes have become so good, they've mostly replaced prerendered movies.
Last week, I did a list of the top 10 prerendered and animated cutscenes throughout gaming history. Here's a look at my top 10 in-game cutscenes, that is, cinematics using the in-game assets rendered in the game engine. My only rule is one cutscene per console so I can cover the entire gamut of different systems. Also, this time I went backward rather than forward so the retro titles are further back on the list.
1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
The fight between Vamp and Raiden is the best combat scene I've ever seen in a video game. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the best fight in any medium. If only Raiden had been this amazing in Metal Gear Solid 2, there would have been no controversy to the hero-switch halfway through the game! (you MGS2 players know what I'm talking about) In MGS4, Old Snake struggles with the Gekko's and the first time I confronted the mass-produced Metal Gears, I ran away as they were very powerful. Raiden tackles a battalion of them while fending off Vamp with the grace of a streaming ballet. Knives, swords, lethal martial arts, all culminate in a sword impalement that goes through both Raiden and Vamp. The only thing more shocking was that Vamp survived, licking Raiden's white blood while Raiden lay in the netherworld between life and death.
2. Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
What can I say about Gears of War 2 that hasn't already been said? The game simply looks stunning. The characters have a gritty vitality about them with their normal maps and geometry that’s incredibly detailed. The world, destroyed by the Locust Horde, is a visceral barrage of debris and destruction. Dominic Santiago is looking for his wife throughout the entire game. Unfortunately, when he finds her... Well I won't spoil it for those who haven't played it yet, but it doesn't end well. I'd say this was one of the most tragic moments in this generation of games and a cutscene that tugged at the emotional strings.
3. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GameCube)
Regardless of what you think about the cell-shaded art style of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, no one can deny it has one of the best endings. The Triforce fetch quest right before the end of the game was a bit disappointing, especially as it involved purchasing a bunch of maps to track the pieces instead of gaining them in the traditional temples. The climactic fight between eternal foes Link and Gannon against a watery backdrop erased all discontent. The finishing move, the Master Sword plunged into Gannon's forehead, was a painfully satisfying blow to complete the game. Disturbingly, Gannon chuckled his way to death. Maybe it was because he knew he would be back again, and again, and again, and again.
4. Jade Empire (Xbox)
Almost every BioWare game has amazing cutscenes from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to Dragon Age: Origins. Sharp with witty scripts and dramatic storylines filled with betrayal and politics, it's the best of Shakespeare mixed with the best of fantasy and sci-fi. Jade Empire was a special game on so many levels. Inspired by the Wuxia genre (Chinese literature and movies revolving around martial arts), it involved an intricate plot that struck a chord with gamers who are still clamoring for a sequel. This cutscene takes place in chapter 1 where the protagonist fends off 'bandits' who turn out to be members of the Lotus Assassins. When the mysterious opponent summons undead spirits in the fight, Master Li, the hero’s teacher, comes to the rescue. He runs on water, leaps into the air, and destroys the ship with his fist. This was one of many great scenes in the game. If you haven't played it, you should do so right now.
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He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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