Top 10 MOST CINEMATIC Video Games
Over the course of time, video games have gone through many transformations. What started as pixelated adventures for lovable characters like Mario and Luigi have evolved into elaborate experiences that rival most Hollywood endeavors in depth and substance. For this gamer installment, we’re going to explore cinematic video games, taking a look at ten games that have a heavy focus on substance over mechanics.
The Order: 1886
The Order: 1886 received a lot of flak for taking control away from gamer’s at pivotal points throughout the game, but that also makes Ready At Dawns’ gothic shooter one of the most cinematic titles to ever exist. The flow from cutscene to gameplay and back to cutscene is so smooth that it’s extremely difficult to tell when one ends and the other begins. Ready At Dawn focused heavily on the game’s plot, so much so that it seems like gameplay was a complete afterthought. For gamers that enjoy truly immersive cut scenes and eye-popping graphics, that certainly isn’t a problem. Those that enjoy actually playing a game more than watching it, though, may want to steer clear. Regardless of one’s stance, there’s no denying that when it comes to cinematic gaming, The Order sets a whole new bar.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
With around 9 hours of cut scenes, the fourth installment of the Metal Gear Solid series already feels like a very long movie. Gameplay segments break up the mass of cut scenes, but it’s still very difficult to not feel like you’ve sat down to watch a Metal Gear Solid movie. The series has always been very heavy on cut scenes and exposition, but it all comes to a head in Guns of the Patriots. The game is designed in such a way that, even when you’re right in the middle of an intense firefight, it’s easy to forget you’re playing a game and not watching a movie. Gorgeous environments and impressive graphical design let gameplay and cut scenes flow almost seamlessly into one another.
Any Quantic Dream Title
Take a look at developer Quantic Dreams’ selection of titles and you’ll notice at least one big similarity – there is a much heavier focus on exposition than gameplay. Implementing quick-time events throughout all gameplay segments across Beyond: Two Souls, Farenheit, and Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream instead decided to focus on creating cinematic experiences with impressive set pieces and heart-pounding scenarios. It’s hard not to get sucked into the theatrical feel of these titles, especially since sporadic moments of gameplay keep the gamer invested in these cinematic moments.
The Last of Us
When a game is as beautiful as Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, it’s easy to get caught up in video game “cinematography’ and forget that it’s an interactive experience. From the lush environments that protagonists Joel and Ellie traverse, to the stellar voice acting, Naughty Dog spared absolutely no expense in delivering a great hybrid of movie and game. Naughty Dog has very rarely skimped on story with its major releases, but unfolding The Last of Us and getting to know its characters in this broken world is a slight step above some of the developers earlier endeavors.
Across three major releases, Mass Effect has delivered a cinematic experience time and time again. Dialogue-heavy and pretty to look at, Mass Effect offers up a deep narrative that is rich with characterization and beautiful camera-work. When the gamer isn’t hunting down the scourge of the universe or saving worlds, they’re engaged in rich, meaningful conversation with non-playable characters and are learning about the expanded lore of the Mass Effect universe. Mass Effect is a tightly knit package that, should the gameplay segments be removed, would fit well on the silver screen.
L. A. Noire
Rockstar is known for pushing the envelope, but L.A. Noire took things in a completely different direction. Shouldering a deep narrative and gameplay that was more about making the gamer think than just blowing up a city, L.A. Noire also introduced impressive motion capture technology that made it feel like the gamer was watching a CGI movie. The 1940’s setting of Los Angeles is so true to life that the game easily pulls it’s players in, sometimes making it easy to forget that the game isn’t a noire-style film.
Shadow of the Colossus
Team Ico hasn’t produced much, but the two games it has put out, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, are visually impressive. More-so than Ico, Shadow of the Colossus is visually stunning with a narrative that is simple yet quite engaging. From the expansive landscapes to the towering giants, Colossus makes it difficult to not feel like you’re being pulled into some big budget adventure saga. Scaling each beast, riding across the countryside, and playing out the twists and turns of the plot created on of the PlayStation 2’s most cinematic experiences.
The original Resident Evil may not have been a pretty game in any regards and it may not have been rife with cut scenes and stunning visuals, but when you look at the experience as a whole, you start to see the quirky cinematic qualities. For one, Resident Evil is the perfect example of what a quality horror movie should be. From the combined campiness of the voice acting to the successful implementation of tone and mood within the mansion, Capcom’s survival horror venture is everything that most horror movies can’t quite touch on.
Call of Duty Series
The Call of Duty series’ single-player options are often on the receiving end of much criticism and ridicule, but it’s difficult to not give credit where credit is due. Time and time again, developers Treyarch and Infinity Ward deliver on situations that would make the cast of The Expendables quiver. Impressive set pieces give way to heart pounding scenes that the gamer is easily sucked into regardless of how ridiculous it may be. These moments are the pinnacle of cinematic gaming to the extend where it’s typical to expect to hear Michael Bay hollering off-camera about needing more explosions.
Final Fantasy VII
Since their inception, the Final Fantasy games were always a handful. The stories were convoluted and the characters even more-so, but it wasn’t until Final Fantasy VII that the series received the 3D treatment. The dreary setting of Midgar came to life in beautifully rendered cutscenes that broke up gameplay and gave gamers a break from reading constant blocks of text. Most of the game’s more prominent moments, like the death of Aerith, unfolded in cutscenes that, despite a lack of dialogue, easily pulled emotion from those watching.