The Top 7... Best Beginnings

What happens?

Solid Snake kicks a load of ass, that’s what. Solid Snake free falls off a city bridge in the dead of night. Solid Snake infiltrates a naval carrier with nothing but a tranquilizer gun. Solid Snake battles a pregnant Russian terrorist with an abundance of armpit hair and emerges victorious. Solid Snake braves rain, lightning and cold to locate and document the new Metal Gear. Oh yeah, and did we mention that Solid Snake was in this?

What makes it special?

While the other opening levels on this list are unique, memorable and even groundbreaking, none had the power of Metal Gear Solid 2’s. This thing made money. This thing sold consoles. This thing may very well have cemented the PlayStation 2’s success and ensured the Dreamcast’s failure. When gamers first experienced the beginning of this game, as a demo in early 2001, they knew which system to bet on.

The graphics were gorgeous. The atmosphere was amazing. The extra gadgets and improved aiming were incredible. “If this is just the start,” we thought, “What will the rest of the adventure be like?” You probably know the answer to that question...

Raiden, and with his reveal as the actual protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2, the cruelest twist in gaming history. Fans would have to wait another seven years to play Solid Snake, which made them appreciate this short intro sequence that much more.

What happens?

You crash. With no explanation, and almost no dialogue, you find yourself floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s dark, it’s cold and it’s lonely. Nobody’s going to rescue you and only two options for escape exist – a burning plane that could sink or explode at any second and a mysterious lighthouse beckoning in the distance. Huh... what are the chances of crashing so close to something like that?

What makes it special?

BioShock doesn’t force you into its underwater house of horrors. You choose to enter. You choose to swim to that lighthouse. You choose to walk through the pitch black doorway. You choose to activate the elevator, having absolutely no idea where the contraption might take you. While you obviously can’t go anywhere else, the game never pushes or prompts you. Quietly, patiently and sadistically, it waits for you to make those fateful and final decisions on your own.

What follows – the rollercoaster ride through Rapture and the first close encounter with an angry Splicer – are incredibly memorable. The true brilliance of BioShock’s beginning, however, is revealed in a twist much later. (spoiler!) You chose that beginning path because you were programmed to do so. You are essentially a slave, manufactured in this hell and doomed to return. The plane crash? Not an accident. The other passengers? Your victims. The lighthouse? The first subconscious step towards home.


Top 7

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  • Superchops - July 28, 2011 2:27 p.m.

    I'm going to be honest, if I could spend my life like the beginning of KH1 I would.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - December 3, 2010 11:21 p.m.

    I love Medal of Honor Frontline! I have so many memories, and that poem at the beginning is my favorite quote ever: "And when he gets to Heaven, to St. Peter he will tell,'One more soldier reporting sir,I've served my time in Hell.'" I don't know where it's from, though.
  • lukel127 - April 27, 2010 10:33 p.m.

    I ALWAYS do that thing in contra where you hold out the guns and fire shoots over you!!! I thought i was the only one. Also, the second level sucks. Just sayin..
  • narutofreak1 - December 13, 2009 2:09 a.m.

    totally true
  • random0midget - October 3, 2009 11:48 a.m.

    what about medal of honour rising sun. you wake up in the middle of the pearl harbour bombings
  • bonerachieved - August 20, 2009 4:43 p.m.

    You guys should've mentioned Indigo Prophecy, that had an amazing beginning
  • Ragingbull45 - August 18, 2009 7:56 p.m.

    whres GTA 4? it had a funny beginning
  • dreamgor - August 18, 2009 8:20 a.m.

    good list but what about kingdom hearts sure it pushed my mind over the edge but the kickass intro is epic an awesome song after you start the game and you get totally excited about the things to come ... that was mildly put sometimes i wish that i would have got ps2 but nintendo suits me better recaptcha: outdone mos- ... O_o
  • Shift - May 21, 2009 10:43 a.m.

    If anyone's reading my comment, don't tell anyone, but I think that Charlie Barratt is THE best writer of all articles
  • chuck17j17j - March 24, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    Bioshock Yes Completey true. U arent forced but u are how sweet is that. Btw one of teh BEst games ever
  • neoandreu - March 19, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    fallout was one of the most impressive intros ive ever seen
  • soren7550 - February 4, 2009 10:59 p.m.

    Isn't this pretty much the same thing Game Informer did a few months back? Pretty good anyway.
  • dynomit272 - February 3, 2009 8:19 p.m.

    sorry, was Solid Snake in one of them? :P
  • sharker - February 2, 2009 8:05 p.m.

    Frontline is one of my favorite medal of honor games, that first part is epic
  • jered1222 - February 1, 2009 5:10 p.m.

    every body says good artical but why not say ass kicking artical or something cool and does not make you sound like u r 3 years old it's like come on!!!
  • superduper93 - February 1, 2009 4:49 p.m.

    WTF where is the FFX intro
  • RedOutlive10 - January 31, 2009 7:32 a.m.

    The first two chapters of Half-Life really shocked me in terms of immersion. Looking at piles of scientist's corpses, everything destroyed, malfunctioning lasers ripping the entrails of bodies around, guards struggling to survive with their 9mm pistols, and having seen the places completely okay before, it just gave me the thought "hey it was way more than a flashy explosion, now I messed up big time!". Epic feeling.
  • blocpartier - January 31, 2009 5:11 a.m.

    Arrggh I want to play MGS again now!!11!!1 And I can't play Bioshock cuz my 360 is broken!
  • dahudge8 - January 30, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    oh man, contra 3 brings back so many memories. thanks for adding it charlie!!
  • noofer7 - January 29, 2009 9:42 p.m.


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