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


  • Fishow753 - January 27, 2009 12:52 a.m.

    A Charlie Barratt article with no mention of Gabriel Knights, gasp. Great article by the way.
  • hass100 - January 27, 2009 12:56 a.m.

    room for riddick maybe?
  • thunderrjatyahoocom - January 27, 2009 1 a.m.

    Call me a scaredy cat but the part in the Half Life intro where you visit another dimension scared me crapless, so much so that I shut down the game application.
  • Jbo87 - January 27, 2009 1:18 a.m.

    Preys beggining was actually quite amusing. Just running around in the bar. Then you twat some drunks. Then aliens arrive and you twat them as well. Ahhhh memories.
  • HEYpoleposition - January 27, 2009 1:32 a.m.

    Great top 7. Love Half life openings, even blue shift, opposing forces, 2... absolutely extraordinary. (+ agree w/ Jbo, Prey's whole first few intro levels pretty great, Don't Fear the Reaper)
  • SuperScuttles - January 27, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    Great article Resistance 2 opening was sweet even though the rest felt so linear. Oh yeah. Theres a fly in the ointment. Shit has hit the fan. The lion will speak
  • HEYpoleposition - January 27, 2009 1:38 a.m.

    (srry for double post *embarrassed*)
  • sl33pythyme - January 27, 2009 1:41 a.m.

    this has a great opening
  • bron1417 - January 27, 2009 1:48 a.m.

    man bioshock,fallout 3 and MoH:Frontline are the best 3 in my mind i will never forget these beginnings truly epic.
  • revrock - January 27, 2009 2 a.m.

    hows 'bout Final Fantasy 3? That long slow march and the soundtrack were pretty sweet.
  • Gourdmaster - January 27, 2009 2:17 a.m.

    This article is 100% correct. i believe in every single game on this list couldnt have written it better
  • ManBearPig - January 27, 2009 2:25 a.m.

    Awesome list. Though I prefer Half-Life 2's intro much better. "Wake up and... Smell... The ashes..." Such a great opening monologue. Not to mention the initial of realizing how screwed up this world became in the time you've been gone. Still haven't played Bioshock yet (shame on me!) but that one's coming soon. But yeah, agree with everything on that list.
  • sourpunch - January 27, 2009 2:51 a.m.

    My favorite opening is still final fantasy VIII. It sets up the storyline amazing.
  • nicksayswatzup - January 27, 2009 3:22 a.m.

    kinda sad about no SSB but i understand :)
  • game-thugsta - January 27, 2009 3:42 a.m.

    I thought doom 3's somber intro before hell was quite the memorable one... or niko comin off the boat in gta, seeing what it's like to be an imigrant and such
  • bioshocker - January 27, 2009 4 a.m.

    I agree with manbearpig (one of my favorite episodes) I played hl2 before hl1 but still it kept me in the game and I beat it in a couple days I feverishly await for episode 3. I can't agree more with your decision of fallout 3 on the list either. Is it just me or do most of these games have you start out as "just another guy"? reCAPTCHA: khaki day
  • magicwalnuts0 - January 27, 2009 4:03 a.m.

    I would contest the Bioshock one, but otherwise this is a good one. Although I don't know why you guys put MGS2 instead of MGS cause Metal Gear Solid's beginning was mega awesome.
  • Revanofsith - January 27, 2009 4:06 a.m.

    Shoulda showed Devil May Cry 4 some love. No game before has, in the beginning, made me feel like a badass. And watching Dante and Nero, it was without a doubt, my favorite game intro. Even the singing goes well.
  • alexg223 - January 27, 2009 4:43 a.m.

    "Because you received a lengthy and immersive tour of his office before the extraterrestrial shit hit the interdimensional fan..." Priceless!
  • netlatnu - January 27, 2009 4:46 a.m.

    The intro to FF8 was amazing at the time. I hope it was at least considered.

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