It Started With A Kiss Cutscene: Our Favourite Game Intros

By Alec Meer on December 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

like a pork sausage

Intros: such an important part of all the games which made us. First impressions count. First impressions can be indelible, even if what follows is eminently forgettable. Here, then, are just a few of the PC game introductions – be they CGI, FMV or in-game – which we just can’t seem to forget. What, delightful readers, are your favourites?

Be warned: all the videos follow. Your browser may have a little cry.

Fallout:

X-COM:

Ultima VII: Black Gate

Day of the Tentacle:

Sam & Max Hit The Road:

Full Throttle:

Bioshock:

System Shock 2:

Quake III: Arena:

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Another World:

Chaos Engine:

Syndicate Wars:

Limbo of the Lost:

Homeworld:

Moonstone:

Stunt Island:

Command & Conquer: Red Alert:

The Stanley Parable:

Portal 2:

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War:

Prey:

Empire Earth:

Dungeon Keeper:

Half-Life:

And the worst…

Cool Spot!

I really fancy some 7-Up.

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219 Comments »

  1. et1337 says:

    The intro to MechWarrior 2 blew me away as a 90s kid. Still does it for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X3GD0UnBCk

  2. LionsPhil says:

    I see Another World in there, but not The Killing Game Show (known as Fatal Rewind in some places, I believe).

    (I was an Atari kid, but that version’s been dubbed on the tubes. They look the same.)

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ooh, and also from the 16-bit full-screen-ish video era, a Quavers advert that was a surprisingly good puzzle game.

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      But the Killing Game Show intro is so bad. So bad. I loved it and the game when I was a kid, but what is this intro even about?

      Robot crouches. Later, robot stands up. Robot fires! Hooray!

      It captures nothing of the “hey you’re a criminal but how about we pull your body apart and make you into some crazy death machine so you can win your freedom” theme, or anything about the frantic shooty, key-grabby, water-avoiding gameplay … and now I want a HD Killing Game Show remake. Get on that, people.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, but as a lad it had a ROBOT in it, and it was a vaguely ED-209-form-factor chicken-walker, the best kind of ROBOT.

        I’m not sure I ever actually paid attention to the Running Man-ish dystopian backstory until years later.

      • Hodge says:

        Because it was Psygnosis and all of their games had crazy impressive intros which had sod-all to do with the actual plot. Hopefully this link will work and take you to a bunch of them.

        The intro from Shadow Of The Beast 2 is still pretty messed-up now. The graphics might have aged but the sound sure hasn’t. That kid screaming…

        EDIT: Just saw that Jams mentioned SOTB further down. Ah well.

    • smeghamr says:

      Where’s the Cannon Fodder? Project X? Also, Streets of Rage 2 intro?

  3. pauleyc says:

    The inclusion of the Ultima 7 intro elevates the selection status from “great” to “excellent”.

  4. Dowly says:

    Warhammer – Mark of Chaos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_jI8lmQivA

    Always loved that one.

  5. SuddenSight says:

    I loved the Age of Mythology intro as a kid myself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A17oUv0E-N4

    Also, why no love for the excellent civilization intros? I like all of them, though Civ III is still my favorite:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr1aFFmPqmY

  6. Monkey says:

    I remember seeing the Syndicate Wars Intro in a HMV games area, i must of stood there and watched it for about an hour. The original System Shock intro was good too, and quake 2, and Flashback. Also flipping Frontier Elite 2

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjoMq-H3b8o

  7. hfhsfghsfh says:

    Speedball 2 and Gods.

    Awesome beats.

    Into the wonderful.

  8. Anthile says:

    Man, you got everything there. Great selection. Personally I would add Thief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppV2EMfbk0w

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      The intros to Thief and Thief 2 were perfect for selling the setting of the games. I love the art style and the music.

  9. Jeremy says:

    Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos was a big one for me. It’s a “gaming made me” intro for my life.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdszdjxGBJc

  10. dE says:

    /edit: Sorry for bringing console land into this… I’ll make it up by adding a PC specific intro as soon as I can think of one, promise.

    I could mention a couple of Intros I liked but the one that instantly jumped my mind was the opening to Nier. Let’s just say… be aware of volume before you click play. I wasn’t and it made my girlfriend give me a really long and weird look.
    It’s essentially a demo-reel of the game with some (to me) interesting music on top of it. But it’s the beginning that sticks. The Intro shows the curious absurdity of their nice little fantasy world, the absurdity of anime costumes and symbolism that can’t even be attributed to symbolism anymore. Also some spoilers about the plot for some reason, but the game is constructed in a way that not everything you see is what is happening, you’ll see if you ever get around to play it.

    Here it is. Seriously though, MIND THE VOLUME. Headphones advised.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlSqVFWVpSA

    A promise is a promise, I finally thought of one: The intro to Master of Orion 2.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnoKw0PxugQ

    Set the mood perfectly, even though looking at it today, it’s cheesy as hell.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Okay, loved the unexpected opening of the Nier one, during the publisher/developer screens no less!

      I’m going to unapologetically maintain the console hijacking (and most of the notable PC intros I can think of have been mentioned already), with two of my musically favourite ones.
      The first Wild ARMs’ intro has that aged animation going on but it’s just the usual dsiconnected montage thing, it’s all about the music really.
      The third game in its series keeps up the good work though, and the game actually has five different intros so it avoids spoilers throughout the game. Still the same song though. This is not a bad thing.

  11. Bull0 says:

    SO glad to see the UFO and original Dawn of War intros up here. I think the Theme Hospital intro is also worthy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wguJKz2md3Y

    • Acronym says:

      I’d second that Theme Hospital plug – although Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper is arguably as good. Such a great company, another EA disaster!

  12. Andy_Panthro says:

    I’ve always liked the Daggerfall intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niU1bRqxrIU

    I’d also include Ultima VIII, and the Ultima Underworld intros.

  13. Lambchops says:

    I used to love the random intro videos at the start of the Worms games, Worms 2 being the best.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV5AFxEnuBo

    Psychonauts is good too

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPUZIagbl94

  14. Vratik says:

    I’m so glad you included Moonstone and Chaos Engine. I loved those intros when I was a kid…

  15. Jams O'Donnell says:

    “Friends? FRRRIENDS!?”
    “Avatar!”
    And the UFO music still gives me the tingles.

    Oh, so good, all of these.

    I think Shadow of the Beast 2 deserves a mention, maybe. If only the game had lived up to the moodiness of the intro. As it is, my strongest memory of the game is being stuck in a pit with an invincible monster while having an infinite health cheat on (because playing it without that was madness): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcOkQKeDigs

    • Werthead says:

      Yeah, from the period when Psygnosis were better-known for graphics and intros than actual gameplay, which arguably persisted until LEMMINGS came out. The SotB2 intro was jaw-dropping for the time of its release.

      FLASHBACK and of course the MONKEY ISLAND games had amazing intros for their time as well.

  16. Barberetti says:

    Ha ha Limbo of the Lost. I actually own a pristine copy of that trainwreck. One day it will be worth millions!

  17. Vegard Pompey says:

    “Stand up. There you go. You were dreaming.”

    “I will be the last… and you will go first.”

    “C’mon newcomer. Follow me.”

    • JFS says:

      I’m also missing Baldur’s Gate on the list. So good, so much better than the other Infinity Engine intros (did BG2 even have one at all?).

    • Coon1946 says:

      my classmate’s aunt makes $70/hour on the internet. She has been out of work for five months but last month her paycheck was $14408 just working on the internet for a few hours. see post…….. http://www.Bay95.com

  18. GROM says:

    full throttle, moonstone and stunt island, damn I suddenly feel old, but such good memories.

  19. FurryLippedSquid says:

    The original Command & Conquer.

    Such a dystopian Robocop vibe.

  20. Laurentius says:

    Another World has the best intro ever.
    I would also mention X-Wing, Syndicate, Quarantine, Lands of Lore.

    • jrodman says:

      I decided my answer fo thits topic was “Another World” just reading the lead-in; but it was already in the full article! (Or as we yanks got it sold to us, “Out of This World”).

      Star Control 2 was pretty good in another way, also.

  21. abigbat says:

    Great selection, but where is Realms of the Haunting??

  22. Drake Sigar says:

    Great choices there, a lot of Adventure games had lovely intros.

    Here’s my entry – Stonekeep! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0VSop8sJr4

  23. Emohawk says:

    Where is Total Annihilation? I used to boot the game up on the odd occasion just to watch the introduction.

    I think the initial voice over and music is what gets me most..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6mZZiI4ShQ

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh, yes, good call!

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Funny you should mention the music (not really). Jeremy Soule made a wager that if a full orchestra score wouldn’t be profitable for the game, he’d work a year (i think) for free. The game ended up having one of the best music ever made for a game. Needless to say, he won the bet. I’m sure the internets can tell the story way better than I can though.

      • Quiffle says:

        It’s a shame that was used to be a revitalizing trend in game music is now merely uninspired white noise for a lot of epic/fantasy games.

  24. Lobotomist says:

    Great work Alec. Think you really covered them all. Another World , Moonstone , HL1 , Chaos Engine … what more can one ask

  25. bad guy says:

    moar Amiga:
    BLOOD MONEY !!
    Lotus Turbo Challenge 2
    X-out

  26. almostDead says:

    The dawn of war one shown and the intro to RAGE. Because of the music nicely mixed with armageddon.

  27. bear912 says:

    I like Half-Life 2′s intro, too. Sticking with the classic Half-Life intro was probably just as well, though.

  28. Sucram says:

    The intro to Freespace was a great way to introduce the Shivans as a real threat. Am waiting for a sci-fi film to do a rip-off.

  29. captain nemo says:

    So much awesomeness.

    Lest we forget :
    Sacrifice : https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sacrifice+intro&sm=3
    Giants Citizen Kabuto : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCDTrog_Ges

  30. Shadowcat says:

    System Shock’s perfectly executed combination of narration & exposition.
    Thief’s masterful blend of lore, intrigue, and sheer style.
    MechWarrior 2′s hugely-influential all-action game-changer.
    God-damned I-War’s brain-exploding 14 minute CGI epic that hardly puts a foot wrong the whole way through.

    Your list is not complete.

  31. jalf says:

    The Civ 4 title screen, probably. Yes, I know it’s not a real intro, and so what? It is awesome.

    I also have a soft spot for Alpha Centauri’s intro.

  32. Hartford688 says:

    Fun! But I’d add Mass Effect 2…

  33. Aaarrrggghhh says:

    Seriously, how can X-Wing be missing in this list?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FTmPTip0lI

  34. acoff001 says:

    I’ve always liked the intro for Myth 2: Soulblighter, I think it sets the tone for the game well and has some nods for people who played the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_eDwEfus28

  35. Hakkesshu says:

    One of my recent favourites is Silent Hunter 4, which is just a Milton poem being read over footage of awesome submarine shit. This intro alone made me buy the game.

    http://youtu.be/ffe1exg-WNs

  36. lordfrikk says:

    Even if you don’t care about Warcraft or World thereof, you owe it to yourself to watch the intro cinematic to the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Blizzard really did a good job at combining amazing soundtrack with mind-blowing visuals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCr7y4SLhck

    • Davie says:

      Much as I’ve come to dislike Blizzard as a company, I can’t deny that their CG cinematics are pretty much the best out there (Blur gives them some stiff competition, but they’re the only ones). Even back in the days of Warcraft III they were gorgeous and well-shot. Thrall’s dream at the beginning will always be one of my favorites.

  37. serioussgtstu says:

    The Rome Total War intro melted my brain back in the day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvZWOG8QkOg

  38. Lars Westergren says:

    Final Fantasy 7 blew me away at the time.

    And Convolvulus above is correct. Grim Fandango.

  39. FriendGaru says:

    The Fallout 1 intro is great, but I always preferred the opening lines of the Fallout 2 intro more.

    “War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted. Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless. The reasons, as always, purely human ones.”

  40. bills6693 says:

    Freelancer hasn’t been mentioned in the comments either which makes me sad!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHAPSs5XrSQ

  41. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    I loved the one from Nexus: The Jupiter Incident

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlHashKnCLM

    The whole game just breathes atmosphere and story, all the other cutscenes are great as well. It’s very difficult though and I never got around to finish it. Should try again some day…

    It really is one of the best games I’ve ever played! Too bad it’s so unknown…

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Nexus: The Jupiter Incident really is one of the underappreciated flawed gems of PC gaming*.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I love the tactical space fighting mechanic; it feels a lot smarter than just piling in ships and hoping for the best. It was flawed, I agree – the shield-breaking mechanic was horrible if you didn’t have enough energy bubbles, and all the narrative elements were horrible, but the core game was red hot like pizza supper.

        Edit: oh, I forgot that horrible crapshoot mission where your base is under attack from the siege laser, and it was luck as to whether you broke their formation or not.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          GLORY TO THE RAUGHAARR CLAN!

          • Gap Gen says:

            The worst thing was that sometimes mission-critical information was in those inane dialogues, so you had to listen through the characters arguing over nothing rather than skipping.

            Actually Nexus was intended to be Imperium Galactica 3 before they ran out of money, and it’s a shame to think what could have been had that tactical engine been married to a 4X game.

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            The briefing section had the most beautiful clicky-zoomy-spinny system maps that were completely and utterly pointless. It is easy to see the skeleton of What Should Have Been.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Actually, looking at what the OP said, the end game is slightly better than the early game – it gives you more tools to play with, and more flexibility, although controlling more than a handful of ships is a bit of a mess. Bombers are actually effective at destroying subsystems (and lasers become marginally more effective than the not-at-all in the early game), while you get more shieldbreaking firepower that stops the annoying cycle of waiting for a ship to lose its shields before pounding it before it recharges.

            My main hope is that someone else takes the tactical elements and runs with them. I loved the concept of having many ways to take down an enemy ship, and it was quite satisfying to leave a fleet stranded and subsystemless without actually blowing them all to pieces.

  42. servercat says:

    One of best, mood setting intro is that of Master of Orion 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpeBD86U8dk

  43. Headless Monkey Boy says:

    I always likes the intro for creature shock,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=wEZHsdtaTKc

    not that much to the game though :(

    also being a zork fan the RTZ intro gave me shivers

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=F4IvapXtvyk

  44. lavaisreallyhot says:

    Not a PC game, but Onimusha 3 had an incredible intro. Blew my mind away when I played it as a kid.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNNqHxiEuTQ

  45. USER47 says:

    No love for electronic old men?:)

    And you forgot Outcast! It’s post-intro credits scene, but still:).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orY376uYGCY

    • Lambchops says:

      The voxels popping up, the pointless dip into the water to show off the (for the time) pretty water effects; ah the nostalgia.

      The music is still stirring and wonderful though and the game is still amazing.

      It may officially be the 57th best PC game of all time but it’s in the top 10 in me heart.

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