In honor of the recent Academy Awards, we are looking at the top 5 cinematic games this week. Many of these games have rivalled the likes of cinema with Uncharted’s incredibly likable quips and explosions to Heavy Rain’s somber but impacting moments.
Co-Written by Nathan Hughes
This Naughty Dog adventure will be remembered for years to come by both gaming and movie fanatics. Back in 2009, both gamers and casual watchers were amazed by the spectacular acting by the likes of Nolan North (Nathan Drake), Emily Rose (Elena), Claudia Black (Chloe), Steve Valentine (Flynn), and Richard McGonagle (Victor “Goddamn” Sullivan), and the stand out action scenes that, over 4 years later, are still incredible. Uncharted 2 tells the thrilling worldwide gallivanting story of Nathan Drake and his crew trying to find the legendary treasure of Shambhala. This third person shooter was the perfect blend between platforming, shooting, and cut scenes as each level felt challenging and engaging with Nathan Drake’s hilarious quips about what was happening around him. As you scale the levels, Naughty Dog kept throwing new curve balls that rewarded the player with a whole section on a moving train or a falling building in Nepal, and this Uncharted game, in particular, feels memorable. If you have not played the Uncharted games and love action-adventure movies such as Indiana Jones or National Treasure, you owe it to yourself to play this perfect cinematic gem.
Say what you like about Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain but you cannot deny David Cage’s willingness to take risks with ambitious projects and his ability to blur the lines between film, games and interactivity. Heavy Rain was a Playstation 3 exclusive that told the story of the Origami Killer who drowns children using rainfall. The focus of Heavy Rain was to tell a noir story that dramatically changed based on the player’s choices. The impact of these choices could result in a main character dying, the mystery of the game left completely unsolved or the game ending with the demise of the killer. Heavy Rain’s cinematic qualities derives from the game’s strong theme of loss of life as well as the camera direction in action scenes and dynamic script changing to how you react in a scene. While Beyond: Two Souls can be regarded as the A list version of Heavy Rain, we cannot deny how fresh and unique the game was back in 2010.
No other game this generation has had such fantastic atmosphere, art, and overall voice acting. In BioShock Infinite, you play as Booker DeWitt as he is tasked to bring a girl to two people so he can wipe away a debt from years back. Without spoiling the story, this girl, Elizabeth, is no ordinary person, as she has the powers to shift time and space. Throughout the game, you get to explore wonderful (but at the same time, gruesome) landscapes, which are both thought-provoking and brimming with personality. For example, one of my most memorable moments of this past generation is when you first set foot in the world of Columbia, a city in the sky. The buildings are flying through the sky, there is a bountiful festival occurring within the city, and the area is filled with colorful propaganda and lighting.
The voice acting by Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper for Booker and Elizabeth is some of the best within the industry, with powerful emotional scenes between the two characters and such chemistry between the actors. The story written by Ken Levine rivals the likes of cinema with deep themes of racial discrimination, rebirth, and the sense of manifest destiny. BioShock Infinite brings a vibrant world with a well told story, world class acting, and plenty of memorable moments.
Much like Heavy Rain, L.A. Noire succeeded in bringing new gameplay mechanics to the cinematic experience as you play as Cole Phelps, a detective for Los Angeles Police Department in the 1940s. With state of the art motion capture technology, Team Bondi managed to bring an incredibly cinematic gameplay mechanic in which you could tell if a suspect is bluffing, lying, or telling the truth from their facial expressions when you are interrogating them. In the game, it is up to you to solve several crimes within the narrative of L.A. Noire, and you can end up being completely wrong.
L.A. Noire had AAA graphics, top notch voice acting, and a world that felt authentic to the 1940s timeline. While the development of this game took 7 years, the wait was certainly worth it for anyone who loves a great crime solving adventure.
Metal Gear Solid
The Metal Gear Solid series is the creme de la crem of cut scene direction, with Metal Gear Solid 4 receiving 2 Guinness World Records for having the longest cut scene and longest cut scene sequence in a game (Which amounts to a whopping 27 minutes and 71 minutes respectively.) The series has been defined by its long-winding story and lengthy cut scenes and it’s no surprise since the creator of the series, Hideo Kojima, is a major film buff. Certain parts of the series have been heavily inspired by classic or cult movies. For example, the Sniper Wolf fight in MGS1 was inspired by the sniper shootout in Full Metal Jacket and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was heavily inspired by The Great Escape and James Bond films. Hideo Kojima is a massive fan of cinema and his love for film is often reflected in Metal Gear Solid.
As each console generation progresses, cinematic games have grown in popularity and we have plenty to come. From the upcoming Uncharted title, to the action packed Final Fantasy XV to the jam packed story elements of Dragon Age: Inquisition and the next Mass Effect, gamers who love a cinematic experience in their favorite hobby should look forward to what’s coming up.
Thanks to Nathan Hughes for writing about Metal Gear Solid and Heavy Rain.