Set your mind back to the mid 90s and early 2000s. It was a very different time in gaming. The three dimensional worlds made up of polygons still had most game developers finding their feet. Thanks to the learning curve and hardware that was nowhere near capable of doing what current hardware can, we depended on some stunning CG intros to get us excited for what was to come.
Though most older gamers will agree that it was a joy playing the game to unlock those beautiful CG cutscenes (like those in a Final Fantasy game), it’s the intro that set the tone. Here are seven games with CG cutscenes that aged very well.
Please note: games like Metal Gear Solid, GTA or Resident Evil 4 are excluded as an in-game engine was used to create those cutscenes.
Final Fantasy VIII
After the might that is Final Fantasy VII it was going to be a tough task for the sequel to somehow top it and quite remarkably the intro told us all we needed to know – Final Fantasy VIII was going to be yet another classic. Combined with a fantastic score the graphics seem nearly life-like and at the time, back in 1998, it was as close to real life images we ever got to see. As the camera pans over the ocean and desert it leads to Rinoa standing in a meadow. It’s just made up of complete beauty that ultimately leads to the scuffle between Seifer and Squall. Once this intro is done you’re ready to slay all that stands before you.
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Over the years publishers have loved throwing around the words ‘movie-quality animation in games’. Even in the PS1 era was it something that developers were striving for, but it’s the group of developers behind Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssee who made it a reality. Abe was originally going to receive his own animated movie, as the developers had come from that business. Instead Abe’s fortunes changed and the studio decided to move it into game format and what you get is one of the best animation CG intros of our time. There was nothing quite like it 1997 and there’s been nothing like it since. It tells the story right up to the beginning of what would be Abe’s stunning adventure.
The PlayStation 2 came with more muscle than the PS1 and the CG intros made sure to show that off. Capcom, who found success with Onimusha early on in the PS2’s life, launched what I personally consider the best CG intro that’s ever graced any console. It’s only in very recent times that I think we’re starting to match in-game, these days, what you see in this intro. The lighting, realistic movement animation and facial detail is incredibly well detailed, but it’s the surrounding effects and sense of scale that drives home the beauty of it all. It was a grand return for Samanosuke, and in my opinion it’s a CG sequence that is yet to be topped.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Something tells me there are many of you who watched this intro and are all crying out for the game to make a return in this generation. It’s been a long wait for any news, but something that has not vanished is the intro of the original game. We learn how Raziel had his wings demolished and sent into the Lake of the Dead he finds himself in. It’s a tale of jealousy, betrayal and revenge where the world of Nosgoth is centre stage and tells a story unlike any other. This intro did a grand job of setting you in the right mood to reap souls.
There have been several other Tekken titles starting off with CG cutscenes, but when this launched in 1998 it had surpassed the original sequel by a huge margin. It tells a brief story of each character since the ending of Tekken 2, introduces new characters and the fate of the twisted Mishima family. It’s easily one of the top intros (next to Soul Blade) that Namco ever worked on and is a CG intro that looks as impressive today as it was back then, even if Forest Law does look a little plasticky when compared to the rest of the roster.
It’s 2057 and earth has completely depleted its resources. In its effort to find new minerals and resources humans explore space. Ultimately it ends up in a power struggle that involves war and the G-Police (Government Police) are born. You’re introduced to the hero of the game, Slater, who is out to avenge the death of his sister who worked in the G-Police. This is all told in the CG sequence and could possibly be the most informative CG intro to any PS1 game. When you consider that it came from Psygnosis it’s understandable why it was regarded so highly by those who played it. If you liked Blade Runner then this is an intro you will enjoy.
Resident Evil 2
The hype leading up to the launch of this game’s release was something else. People had anxiously been waiting for the sequel from Capcom and this time it was heading to Raccoon city. What we ended up getting was an intro that told two different stories, depending on who you play the game as – Leon or Claire. It’s hard to think that back in 1998 we had that kind of choice, but that was the reality of it all. Leon and Claire both had to face different obstacles in their way as they entered their new nightmare and should it be the B intro it would be different too. It’s a classic that might not touch Resident Evil: Code Veronica’s graphical quality on the Dreamcast a few years later, it’s still an intro (or two) that left a bigger impact.