The Importance of First Impressions

One of the most important parts of any video game is the first impression the game gives, and this is often given through menus, introductory cutscenes, or first levels. The initial experience can often make or break a game for me; games are inherently a large time investment and the game has to convince me that I should invest the necessary time into it. Here are some of the best first impressions that I’ve ever gotten from video games.

Wipeout HD
I haven’t played that much Wipeout HD, but the only reason that I even tried it was the incredibly slick presentation. The menus, music, and voice-overs combine to create a really cool, futuristic look to the game. I often fire up Wipeout just to show friends to cool menus. Of course, the actual game has great presentation too, especially the trippy Zone mode.

Civilization IV
I can’t remember a game that I was more excited for than Civilization IV, and the opening cutscene confirmed my excitement. The epic music combined with epic visuals on a large scale set the scene for a game that allows for total control over a civilization. The cutscene deftly zooms in from space down eventually to the individual people on Earth, showing how the scale of the game ranges from simply establishing a thriving settlement to winning the space race.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The first level of Uncharted 2 is the perfect way to establish the level of quality that the player will experience. The moment Drake was hanging from a train, which itself was hanging off a cliff, I realized that this game would be operating on a totally different scale than its predecessor. While the first Uncharted was often a little campy and hard to take seriously, Uncharted 2 quickly established that this game was much more serious, by telling the story in medias res, beginning the game with Drake at his lowest point.

There are certainly many other great first impressions in video games, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.

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