(This intro would have been much better if it had one of these loading screens to fill it)
7) Plants vs Zombies
While this is undoubtedly the most traditional loading screen on this list, there's a lot to be said for a loading screen that we actually look forward to seeing. Perhaps it's the brevity of the whole thing (it's over in a few seconds) or just the fact that it gets us in the mood for this fantastic game. Either way, while it's the most traditional loading screen you'll find on this entire list, it's a favourite.
A roll of turf starts on the left-hand side of the screen and unravels as the game loads up. As it unfurls, flowers pop up in a line behind it. But then, instead of the last one… it's a zombie head!
In fairness, I admit, that sounds crap. But look at the cute little fella:
Above: Pop, pop, pop, pop, "uuuurrgh!" Classic
The cartoon style takes all of the horror away, but preserves some B-movie atmosphere with its music. It would probably be childish to sing 'Plantses versus Zombies / Plantses / Zombies' to the tune. I mean, 'Plantses' isn't even a word, no matter how nicely it fits the tune. So we definitely don't do that. No, sir.
The intellectual analysis: The literal interpretation of the term 'pushing up daisies' makes light of the undeniably morbid subject matter. You're seeing the emergence of the undead menace and laying down the premise for the game. For example, the roll of turf represents the track every zombie is stuck to, the flowers lie its path and the zombie is facing left. It's symbolic of the entire experience you're about to have, while drawing attention away from the necessary load time with humour and charm.
The layman's analysis: A zombie poked his head up. Lolz.
Our next example can sadly be completely spoiled by using Xbox 360's 'install' option. Why? It run its course in seconds, meaning the game's loaded before you can really get to grips with just how awesome this loading screen really is. How's that for a sign of a quality loading screen? It's so good, you're annoyed when it's over. Curse you, optimisation! On the PS3 version, however, it's a totally different story.
Those loooong load times translate into the perfect opportunity to learn the Wicked Weave moves or to perfect combos, displaying command strings for every move available to you.
The intellectual analysis:
This loading screen effectively acts as gaming purgatory, preparing you for the heavenly delights of the main gameplay, which cleverly complements the game's underlying subtext while offering practical and consequence-free use of the multi-faceted combat system.
The layman's analysis: Look - I made her nekkid!
5) DiRT 2
One of the most inexplicable omissions from the otherwise exemplary DiRT 3 was Codemasters' fantastic load screens, first introduced in Race Driver GRID. They're all rendered in proper 3D, which you can view from slightly different angles by moving the stick and using the triggers to zoom in and out. But DiRT 3 does that bit. What it doesn't do is stats.
The loading screens tell you how well you're progressing through the game. How close you are to getting a certain achievement or trophy. How far you've driven. The number of flashbacks used… even your average finishing position (which, for us is always 1st, naturally).
The intellectual analysis:
The barrage of statistics offer validation, not only as subtle encouragement that you're making progress towards clearly-defined goals, but suggesting that the game is watching and indeed applauding everything you do, elevating the individual's sense of self-worth as a result.
The layman's analysis: Is there really an achievement called 'two cups one girl'?
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