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.

, .

219 Comments »

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  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

      • Awesumo says:

        It may of been cancelled, but Mechwarrior (2012) had a great intro.

    • rebb says:

      Agreed. Also the Intros of Mech 3 and 4 were amazing.

    • bad guy says:

      how dare they forget da mechwarriorz

    • Barberetti says:

      Ah yeah definitely. That and the Quake 2 intro are probably my two faves from back then. Still are now in fact.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      I came here to complain in case of a lack of the MechWarriors. I see I am not alone.

    • Vagrant says:

      Don’t forget MechCommander!

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Yeah, that’s one of the very best imo. But how can you mention the MW2 intro without giving at least a mention to the amazing MW2: Mercs intro? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at9hxU864Fg

      Ok, so it looks like it was recorded on a toaster, but it’s still amazing.

    • Paider says:

      my neighbor’s sister-in-law makes $82/hr on the computer. She has been without work for 7 months but last month her income was $19306 just working on the computer for a few hours. why not check here,,,,,,http://www.Rush64.com

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      Haha, I remember that intro. I must have watched it a few THOUSAND times.

    • TWChristine says:

      After looking through the list and not seeing MW2 I realized my mission was to post about it..and then I saw the very first post was someone doing just that! Even after all these years, it’s probably still my all-time favorite game, and when I see people mentioning Modern Warfare 2 as MW2 I always get confused.

      I had a friend tell me about the game, describing these giant machines as tall as a building. Several months later I was watching some game news show and they showed the intro movie and I just knew that was what my friend had to have been talking about. Several months after that, flipping through a magazine I saw a full page ad of a Timberwolf walking through fire and immediately ripped the page out.

      I’m babbling like usual, but like I said, this game is still my all time favorite, so chalk it up to intense fangirl-ism!

  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.

      • Premium User Badge

        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?

    • LionsPhil says:

      From the same developer, Legend of Kyrandia and Hand of Fate. (Yes, that is Joseph “Kane” Kucan narrating.) Westwood were really on top of their game in the early-mid ’90s.

      • Acronym says:

        I saw the headline for this article and immediately thought ‘Westwood’ – their cutscenes were a almost a trademark stamp for them. I reckon C&C Red Alert was probably the best choice for this list, but it could have been one of many.

    • nindustrial says:

      Yes! Fond memories of Dune II and always loved the intro.

    • Ny24 says:

      YES! Exactly this! Dune II :)

    • Convolvulus says:

      The other Dune failed to make its mark because not everyone had a CD-ROM drive when it came out, and the version on floppy disk lacked voice acting. But you can imagine how mind-blowing this might have been in 1992.

      Also, Grim Fandango.

      • nindustrial says:

        I always wanted to play the original but sadly never had the opportunity.

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        Gap Gen says:

        Huh, Cryo. John Walker’s friends.

      • mouton says:

        First Dune was an excellent hybrid of strategy and adventure with an ability to ride all across the planet on a sandworm. Wonderful game.

        I played it without voice acting and I think I prefer it this way.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      AND THE EVIL HARKONNEN

  3. Premium User Badge

    pauleyc says:

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

    • LionsPhil says:

      What if it had been the Ultima 6 intro, with that poster?

      (Nice moody twanging, though. God I love the OPL3.)

    • Premium User Badge

      welverin says:

      Yeah, Ultima 7 is the only one that matters, and if they do an endings it’s the only one they should bother including.

      • 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

  4. Dowly says:

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

    Always loved that one.

    • Monkey says:

      Alot of the warhammer related games had great intros

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      bills6693 says:

      I was going to comment that if nobody else did.

      That battle scene – the bravery of the the soldiers in the face of unbeatable odds, cut down. Its pretty great.

  5. Premium User Badge

    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:

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Don’t forget the Rise of Nations intro:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKSXWds4dB8

      Also how has nobody linked to the amazing Witcher 2 intro?

      • postrook says:

        The Witcher 2’s intro is pretty good, but I much prefer that of the first game.

    • Sic says:

      Civ3 had excellent art, in general. The intro, the box, the map art. I always liked maps, and I really enjoyed the Civ maps because they had a certain similarity to real maps. It sort of changed when they went 3D, though. Didn’t like the art of Civ4 at all (even though people say it’s the best one). Civ5 is alright, though, but I find the Paradox games has taken over the lead in terms of art. It’s an air of historicity that is dwindling in the Civ series that the Paradox games excel at.

    • Acronym says:

      Totally agree, the absence of any Civ intro is a definite oversight. To be honest, though, I think I would pick Alpha Centauri’s intro out of all of them (if you’ll count it as a Civ game) – perfect set-up to a game absolutely soaked in atmosphere.

  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

  7. hfhsfghsfh says:

    Speedball 2 and Gods.

    Awesome beats.

    Into the wonderful.

  8. Premium User Badge

    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.

  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.

    A promise is a promise, I finally thought of one: The intro to Master of Orion 2.

    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

    • 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. Premium User Badge

    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.

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    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

    • Jigowatt says:

      Ah, I was about to post Psychonauts’ intro! One of the best!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yes! Worms 2’s clips!

      Losing those was one of Armageddon’s many weird regressions (along with a full-featured weapon editor that could do things like turn bazookas into terrain-clearing no-damage bombs).

  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.

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      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..

    • 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

    • vivlo says:

      this, a blazillion times this

      also, curse you RPS, cause that overwhelming quantity of YouTube integration make my poor Firefox lag like there is no tomorrow. Is it because i’m on Macintosh though, i wonder.

      • GardenOfSun says:

        I’ve seen it already commented upon, but since I basically registered only to add this (hello kids, I’ve been reading you for a while and I love you all!) I’ll reiterate. THE FRIGGIN INTRO TO SC BROOD WAR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GMOTrIjVao

        Also, since we’re here, the oh-so-bittersweet and masterpiecey intro to what’s probably my fondest game ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DV_26f7-4E

        (Oh my, how many shivers I just got, watching this again, after so many years…)

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      Gap Gen says:

      Brood War yes.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Descent 1 for that matter. Not a cutscene, just a series of still images with text over the top, but the writing together with that oh-so-memorable music made it excellent at establishing the setting and building tension. Your character was also a grade A snarker.

  26. almostDead says:

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

  27. Premium User Badge

    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.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Man, that’s a good-un.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        That beam gun, though. Even now, Freespace 2 and Homeworld 2 share the throne for Best Stupidly Gigantic Capital Ship Lasers Of All Time.

    • SuicideKing says:

      My god, watch this. Trailer for FS Open. Completely in game, they’ve mixed the Descent: FreeSpace intro with some of their own creativity.

      • dE says:

        The dreaded Two Steps from Hell strikes again. It’s like the Sail Song that’s used in all those GoPro Videos.

      • kert says:

        Uhoh .. original graphics actually managed to look better. Overuse of particles and lighning, bad plasticky looking bumpmapping that has no place in space .. everything looks like under spandex coating.

        High res, upgraded shaders, moar textures and moar polygons dont necessarily make things better – there needs to be an artists eye on things. The entire thing comes off looking like Acura Integra with a borrowed bodykit and chicken wire.

  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. Jakkar says:

    Earth 2140!

  32. 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.

  33. Hartford688 says:

    Fun! But I’d add Mass Effect 2…

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      Totally agree! The opening for that game blew me away, visuals wise. I got chills when Shepard walks into the exposed space with the planet above, and the sound suddenly became muffled – simply beautiful.

  34. Aaarrrggghhh says:

    Seriously, how can X-Wing be missing in this list?

  35. 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

    • Brigand says:

      I was going to post that too. Such a great game and the music as well!

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      Mungrul says:

      You can’t mention Soulblighter and not The Fallen Lords!

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

    • 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.

  38. serioussgtstu says:

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

  39. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Final Fantasy 7 blew me away at the time.

    And Convolvulus above is correct. Grim Fandango.

  40. Premium User Badge

    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.”

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    bills6693 says:

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

  42. 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…

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

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

      • Premium User Badge

        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.

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          Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          GLORY TO THE RAUGHAARR CLAN!

          • Premium User Badge

            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.

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            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.

          • Premium User Badge

            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.

  43. servercat says:

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

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      And everybody’s memories of MoO3 would have been better ones if it just had ended after the intro.

  44. 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

  45. lavaisreallyhot says:

    Not a PC game, but Onimusha 3 had an incredible intro. Blew my mind away when I played it as a kid.