Ah, cut scenes… the lovely little cinematic morsels that attempt to drive forward the plot of even those games that don’t have plots. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, most cut scene work was pretty atrocious, to say the least, but there were some gems that really stood out, not necessarily for their amazing story telling, but because they left a (usually positive) impact on the player that was memorable for years to come.
Duke Nukem 3D
Duke Nukem spits out obscene one liner’s left right and center, all generally aimed at the grotesque monstrosities he fights. This cut-scene and the line before it, however, are special because he actually follows through with the threat. The particular threat in question is also something no other hero in gaming history has ever uttered – let alone did to someone.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic started out like any old RPG; you wake up and don’t remember who you are, why you are where you are (let alone where you are at all), but are none the less expected to be able to beat the crap out of anything that so much as looks at you or your supposed friends in a wrong way. Despite this, the games story did have a lot of surprises in store, and the biggest was in this particular scene. All this time, who you were chasing and why suddenly made complete sense, and yet you were taken completely off guard. It even made you seriously question whose side you even wanted to be on any more. The impact of this scene is similar to the one in Empire Strikes Back, when Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father (that is not a spoiler at this point, so don’t bother writing hate mail).
Grim Fandango ending
Grim Fandango was an adventure that took place over a time period of four years, something that was evident during the games progression. In it, Manny Calivera overcame all sorts of struggles – professional, (un) life threatening and even personal. Yet at the end of it all, he gets his pay off; the love of his (un) life, and a ticket to the afterlife. Yet despite that, one can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness, since he has to leave behind his best friend, Glottis. It really impresses upon you that things have truly come to an end. A nice touch; you get a nice scene of the meriachi’s playing around a fountain, all of which looks identical to the figurines of the same musicians near an ash tray you see in the game.
Icewind Dale ending
Icewind Dale had a pretty interesting (for its time) take on cut-scenes; instead of an elaborate CGI scene or in-game text scroll, the game was told by a narrator reading from what looked to be a massive story book. His voice is almost fatherly as he narrates the tale of heroic adventurers (your party) in their quest to vanquish a great evil that threatens the lands (shocking, isn’t it?). And then, at the end, when he finishes the story, his voice suddenly… changes. It’s no longer the friendly man who recounted a time when good triumphed over evil, and is happy to speak of the day. No… it’s the demon you just smote! This scene left the game off on a slightly ominous note, promising a sequel. Although Icewind Dale 2 was made, it did not continue Belhifet’s tale, or that of your party beyond the timeframe of the original game, and with the closure of Black Isle, were unlikely to ever learn if the demon had his revenge or not, leaving the matter open for debate…
Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction intro
Blizzard has always been one of the best companies in the industry when it comes to cinematics. Seriously, they could release nothing but a string of Warcraft or Diablo cut scenes, and it would qualify as a feature film, and still be well worth the admission ticket. My personal favorite, however, has to be from Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. It isn’t the most in your face of them all, nor is it the one featuring the most effects or anything, but the scene was epic, and clearly established the big bad as someone you did NOT want to cross (even if he looked a wee bit goofy in the scene). The music at the end was the icing on the cake.
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About Kshitiz Sharma
Kshitij writes on gaming and automobile technology. Deceptively calm with measured tread, Kshitj’s a drag. We mean drag race driver, rally driver and speed junkie who has written love songs to automobiles in a previous avatar. He’s currently in a love hate relationship with his Wii.