If you went to the cinema and the first 15 minutes of the movie consisted of little more than a man running through thick fog, you'd think it was a bit dull. Because no matter which way you look at it, a man running through thick fog *is* dull. Unless, of course, you're taking film studies. In which case you'd probably have a wank about it and then write a 10,000 word thesis.
Fog is formed as water vapor condenses. The atmospheric conditions in Silent Hill must be perfect for creating dense, low lying cloud as it's a common occurrence in the town. Which is handy, because fog also makes a great backdrop for evoking a sense of ominous foreboding. If we were going to make a game as tense and as psychologically unsettling as Silent Hill, then we would definitely set the weather to 'really, really foggy'.
What we wouldn't do, though, is force the player to run a half-marathon through the fog at the beginning of the game when they don't have a bloody clue where they are or where they're supposed to be going. It's great for disorientation. Not so good for getting on with the real business of smashing up faceless abominations with a heavy piece of timber.
4. Fallout 3
In a real-life post-apocalypse scenario, where would you rather be: A) In a well-equipped anti-radiation bunker, or B) Eating your own hair on the fallout contaminated wastelands? Unless you like the taste of hair, then the answer is A. But in a game, where common sense is routinely subverted for the purposes of entertainment, being holed up in a shelter is about as thrilling as a mandatory install.
Fallout 3's Vault 101 was tedious. It was tedious because we all knew that the real game would only get started once its depressing confines had been escaped. No amount of aptitude tests or parties with moronic NPCs or talking to Liam Neeson could make it an absolute rip snorter.
Every second in the vault was another second spent not killing mutants. And doing things like killing mutants is the whole reason we play games. We don't play games to ponce about in safe, underground shelters for the best part of an hour when there are mutants to be killed and nuclear warheads waiting to be detonated.
Note: You may remember that Fallout 3 also appeared in our 'Top 7... Best beginnings' last year. So, like, WTF!? Charlie wrote that list. And I'm writing this one. Different opinions are healthy. The hive mind has collapsed.
3. Heavy Rain
The introduction to Quantic Dream's interactive drama does an excellent job of capturing some of the inescapable banality of everyday life. Get out of bed. Take a piss. Have a shower. Get dry. Brush teeth. Shave face. Take a piss. Get dressed. And that's just the first 10 heart-stopping minutes. There's still plenty more to come before the opening credits even think about putting in an appearance.
Check this shit out: there's juggling, getting something out of the fridge, carrying shopping bags and a totally insane bit where you actually get to set the table. But be careful - the dinnerware's a present from the mother-in-law. Better not drop it Mr Butter Fingers!
We can appreciate that Quantic were setting the scene and providing some context in order to wring a little emotion from our dry, shriveled hearts when whatever inevitable disaster finally struck, but it was crushingly dull. It was Mundane: The Video Game. When the kid got run over because he didn't do what the fuck he was told, we didn't feel sad. We felt relieved that something interesting had happened.