Full Motion Madness!

Prompted by a passion for forumers’ personal top gaming charts storming the Arcade Zone like a nightmarish Hollywood-budget reconstruction of the Siege of Badajoz whilst the entire production team was doped up on crack cocaine ( :wink: ), I was considering how I myself would respond the the great phenomenom that is taking control of STC-O. I could resurrect my “Precious Gaming Memories” thread there for the umpteenth time (and I’ll return to it… someday), but for the time being I thought I’d present my own unique slant on the chart frenzy, and ask for your own opinions.

It’s a sad fact of life that as production costs and commitments required to generate a game have skyrocketed in recent years, more and more emphasis has been placed on graphics and presentation rather than the meat of gameplay that any veteran knows is the true standard which defines a magnificent game. I myself am a firm exponent of the Leadbetter Axiom - “graphics maketh not a game”.

However, when appropriately handled, it has to be admitted that graphics can certainly be a great augment to a definitive game - I doubt that Panzer Dragoon would have been accorded such critical acclaim and acquired a consort of passionate fans if it hadn’t been for its unique aesthetic style.

So, in this brief mediatation on the role of graphics in computer gaming, I thought I’d turn to the ultimate example of frippery and indulgence - F.M.V.

Most ‘cinematic’ sequences in computer games are the very definition of a set-piece, intended to amaze, astound, transfix and arrest with something that (usually) has only limited depth but nonetheless is mesmerising. To state the intention of this topic, then - what top-5 examples of FMV have you found the most shocking, entrancing, and/or impressive? Which have made you weep (But please, in the name of God, the whole communion of Saints and choirs of Angels, please don’t say Aeris’ funeral in Final Fantasy VII)? Which have made you scream for joy? Which have simply rendered you dumbstruck?

My own countdown begins…

5 - Infiltrating the Discovery
GAME: Metal Gear Solid: Substance (The expanded edition of Sons of Liberty)
FORMAT: Microsoft X-Box

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the pinnacle of FMV splendour that proved to be the hardest choice for me to include in the list, but this lowest constituent. I dislike writing chart tables immensely because I’m not the most proficient person at making clear, absolutist decisions on matters of taste. Any one of a dozen cinematic sequences could have been included here, so this particular selection shouldn’t be considered a final statement of my affections.

This isn’t, however, to denigrate Hideo Kojima’s extremely proficient directorial abilities (but why, Konami? Why did you have to whore yourself out to Sony? :’( ), for the opening to the Tanker Chapter to Metal Gear Solid II should be considered a milestone in the maturing of gaming into a true art form. The deft acrobatics of Solid Snake as he vaults off the George Washington bridge are standard fare for action films, but this was rendered with more subtlety, restraint, and artful expression than the efforts of a thousand such films combined. An excellently atmospheric commencement to a game with undoubted personality.

4 - Opening Cinematic
GAME: Guardian Heroes
FORMAT: Sega Saturn

Treasure are one of the select cadre of non-Sega development houses that I will readily tip my hat to - and as all of you know that I’m so much of a Sega purist that by comparison John Calvin would make a good Pope, that is high praise indeed. Treasure have produced sterling titles from the moment their founding members splintered from Konami, and Guardian Heroes was no exception. This cheerful, well-rendered, well-paced, varied and stylish anim? that heralded the game proper wasn’t just the icing on the cake, it was like a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deal at the wedding planner’s establishment. :slight_smile:

3 - The Inaugeration
GAME: Starcraft

*My fellow Terrans, I come before you in the wake of recent events to issue a call to reason. Let no man deny the signs of our time. While we battle one another - divided by the petty strife of our common history - the tides of a greater conflict are turning against us, threatening to destroy all we have accomplished. It is time for us as nations, and as individuals, to set aside our long-standing feuds, and unite! The tides of an unwinnable war are against us, and we must act quickly lest we be swept away by the flood - the Confederacy is no more! Whatever semblance of unity and protection it once provided is a phantom, a memory. The devastation wrought by the alien invaders is self-evident. We have seen our homes and colonies destroyed by the calculated blows of the Protoss. We have witnessed, firsthand, our friends and loved ones consumed by the nightmarish Zerg. With our enemies left unchecked, who will you turn to for protection?

The time has come, my fellow Terrans, to rally to a new banner! in unity lies strength - already many of the dissident factions have joined us. Out of the many, we shall forge an indivisible whole, capitulating only to a single throne, and from that throne I shall watch over you.

From this day forward let no human make war on any other human, let no Terran agency conspire against this new beginning, and let no man consort with alien powers, and to all enemies of humanity seek not to bar our way, for we shall win through… *NO MATTER THE COST!

All the above was from memory, without prompting (although I admit there’s a couple of errors). Evidence enough, I think!

Unfortunately, I’ve run out of time - I’ll post my final two entries tomorrow - what about yours?

One of my favorite FMV’s had to be in Warcraft III, the one right after the human campaign where Arthas return to Lordearon and kills his father.

The shot of the crown falling to the grown and chipping was awesome as well a previous shot of the bells and floating flower petals.

Yeah, Blizzard sure knows its stuff when it comes to FMVs. All the ones in Starcraft and Warcraft III were excellent.

Some of my favorites are the ending to Onimusha and the intro to Resident Evil: Code Veronica (part of it even got reinacted in the RE: Apocalypse movie).

I assume we’re not including game engine cutscenes in this, correct?

The topic’s starter mentioned Metal Gear Solid so I’d say, yes, they are included :P~

Anyway, one of the most memorable cut scenes I’ve watched is Sniper Wolf’s death sequence in Metal Gear Solid. I had watched that so many times I learnt the dialogues by heart and still remember parts of it even all these years later… :anjou_love:
The “before the Metal Gear fight” cut scene was propably my 2nd favorite from the game. Grey Fox rocks :slight_smile:

PDS’ ending with the realisation I was the DV was great as well. Other PD Series FMVs rock too.

I loved a lot of cut scenes of Final Fantasy Tactics on the PSone. The story was so great that those tiny cute sprites and blocky environments looked like the best actors and set pieces to me. The in-game cut scenes had a great charm to them even looking like that (or maybe because they looked like that) and I always looked forward to seeing more tiny sprite bloody action in the next plot twist that would turn up with the next betrayal, backstab, etc.

The Intro of Shen Mue was amazing as well (some of it was because of the amazing for the time gfx I guess)

I loved most of the Diablo 2’s FMVs that involved that angel (I forget his name now, damn) character too…

Several of Nights Into Dreams’ FMVs had a great charm and dreamy feel to them as well.

Vagrant Story also has some excellent cut scenes.

Ok that’s it for now I guess lol…

-The activation of Drenholm.I won’t state more PD fmvs since the fact they belong to my favourite series can blind my judgement.This is certainly one of my very favourites.

-Soul Reaver 2 intro.Out of this world.This very scene made me be on the lookout for GlyphX’s games.That’s why I’m excited about Advent Rising.

-Before St.Francis Fall from Tomb Raider 1.Right between level 4 and 5.It conveyed the mystique of the first game pretty well.

There are so many others…

I agree!

Although it creates a real sense of tension and fear of Drenholm being this really tough enemy - then, like most of the enemies in Saga, he’s quite simple to defeat.

You gotta love the overall coolness of that guy (thing?), though. :anjou_happy:

I just have a quick question, it seems to me that the intro and ending FMV’s for PDS are more detailed in their character models and textures etc…while the rest are a step below. I noticed this while looking at Gash’s face at the end and comparing it to other FMV’s he was in. In the end his mask seems to have a better look to it, and looks mor rough and real.

Also Craymen seems to be more detailed in the intro than anywhere else in the game?

Ok, in that case I’d have to say that a lot of the MGS ones (both original and Twin Snakes) were great. I’d also agree that Vagrant Story had a ton of great cutscenes.

I love that cinematic sequence. I especially loved the part where Arthas is being showered with rose pettles by jeering crowds of people. When he catches a rose pettle in his hand and caresses it before throwing it away, I genuinely thought that a part of him was still struggling against the lich king’s control over him.

The Frozen Throne ending cinematic was so damn tragic, because when Arthas finally confronts the lich king – the entity that had enslaved his soul and forced him to wipe out his own homeland – it would have been so much more fitting if Arthas had killed the lich king then and there. When Arthas swings his sword at the lich king’s prison of ice with all of his might and with the angriest of warcries, for a brief moment I thought that was exactly what he planned to do. However, it seems that Blizzard was setting the stage for the next part in the Warcraft saga from the very beginning. Hearing the voices of his dead friends echo in his mind while Arthas was traversing the Frozen Throne itself was a nice touch.

I also loved the introduction sequence for Starcraft: Brood War. Watching the UED flagship take off into space while the Dominion base was being overrun by the Zerg was almost too much to bear.

“Dissecting a dead Zerg in a lab is one thing. Unleashing them on men is another”.


Apologies for the delay in finishing off my list, everyone, but regrettably a faulty router has relegated me back to public library PCs again. :anjou_disappointment:

Anyway, on with the show!

2 - Escape from the Big Table
GAME: Deep Fear
SYSTEM: Sega Saturn

Whilst it did have some flaws (a low enemy count, poor sound and utterly abominable voice acting), Deep Fear was a decent game and a worthy challenge to Resident Evil’s dominance of the survival-horror genre. Whilst the in-game character models were rather grainy, the environment backgrounds and FMVs were highly detailed, and this climatic moment of drama in the alien-infested submarine refuelling depot is a testament to that.

This FMV is a truly awesome and disarming feat of spectacle. As the last two survivors of the Big Table attempt to escape on the detachable rail-driven Navy Area, the parent facility behind them collapses in a marvellously detailed fashion accompanied by some perfectly dramatic music. The corridors are flooded - first a trickle seeping along to coat the floor in a film of moisture, then after one awful pause exploding into a frothing, foaming, torrent that smashes everything aside; destabilised windows ominously cracking under the pressure of the ocean; The lift shafts that transported you about the facility now swimming in water; lights and hope alike dimming and fading before ceilings are torn open by teh relentless fury of the deep; Clancy’s stolen DSRV resisting the massive weight crushing on it for one utterly awful moment of desperate, hopeless defiance before being crushed to tin foil; and to show that there’s no escape from the wrath of the insisious menace that infected the Big Table’s crew, the cloud of debris and seabed sand rush out to smash the Navy Area off its rails, pluck it up and throw it upside-down…

There could be no better introduction to the final level of a game.

2 - The Soul-Binding
GAME: Panzer Dragoon Saga
SYSTEM: Sega Saturn.

Well, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a self-respecting Panzerian without a dedication to at least one title in the series, could I? :anjou_happy:

Speaking seriously, however, I haven’t included it (only :stuck_out_tongue: ) for the sake of burnishing my credentials on a PD fansite. This scene in the abyss of Excavation Site #4 where Lagi rescues Edge from an untimely end is a marvellously evocative piece of Full-Motion Video. There is only one line of speech, but this is no handicap or impediment - as art, this FMV is transcendental, communicating to us sophisticatedly in manners other than speech. It remains a marvellously emotive piece that succeeds wonderfully in conveying storyline and a handsome amount of atmosphere.

The sequence is bedecked with all manner of impressive points. The unsettling suddenness with which the lift activated and the disquieting, echoing grinds as it ascends; Edge’s frantic, hopeless panic when shaking his weapon; how the dragon descends as an iridescent and magnesium-white bolt slicing through the painful darkness; the declicate upturn of Lagi’s mouth, eager to have a new rider; the hopeful, proud, brilliant orchestration that strikes up as you ascend; and the enigmatic “…you’ve chosen me?” - this game shall be finding out the true fate demanded for Edge.

I do have a number of alternative number-fives to post, but I’ll let you mull over this for now. What did you think?