The Top 7... Best Beginnings

What happens?

At first, nothing at all. A title card, possibly the most understated in gaming history, flashes on screen. The darkness fades and we open on, of all things, an employee commuter tram. You’re now in control, but not of a soldier or superhero – merely a scientist, heading into work. Chatting with colleagues. Waving to security personnel. Listening to company announcements. Riding elevators. Visiting lockers. Just another, ordinary day at the office.

What makes it special?

Gordon Freeman may start Half-Life as just another, ordinary scientist on just another, ordinary day, but that normalcy is deceptive and doesn’t last long. While you guide him through his daily and relatively dull routine, you discover that Gordon is actually a “theoretical physicist” researching in the field of “anomalous materials.” And as you might guess, such occupational pursuits can only lead to total, unmitigated disaster.

Sure enough - and before long - a strange laboratory specimen opens a rift in the time-space continuum. Aliens arrive, of course, slaughtering every scientist and security guard in their path. Gordon, naturally, must become the hero, stop the invasion and save humanity. In other words, exactly what one expects out of a videogame. Masterfully executed, but predictable nonetheless.

That first hour of gameplay, however, has a powerful and lasting effect. Because you experienced the hero’s life before he transformed into the hero, he always seems real. Because you received a lengthy and immersive tour of his office before the extraterrestrial shit hit the interdimensional fan, the crazy stuff that occurs there seems real, too. Because of that groundbreaking opening, still copied by competitors to this day, Half-Life seems real.

Hear more about this article in TalkRadar.

Jan 26, 2009

The Top 7... Toughest Opening Levels
Uncompromisingly and unapologetically hard from the get go

10 Worst Game Intros of All Time
Watch the most awful openings ever without having to play the games

The Top 7... WTF?! Endings
When cursing and confusion are your only reward


Top 7


  • 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.


Showing 1-20 of 105 comments

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