Imagine that you pick up a sexy stranger at the bar, or the mall, or theÖ..farmerís market (I donít know, wherever people hang out these days). Anyways, youíre pretty pumped. You take them home, and you eagerly jump into some canoodling, which is all well and good. Imagine then, however, that your prospective partner stops and says to you, ďHang on there, sugar. Before we move ahead I want you to listen to me talk for three hours about why I donít get along with my coworkers.Ē Essentially, thatís exactly what a long, drawn out game tutorial/introduction can feel like. Itís not what you are there for, but you have to bear with it before you can get to the main event. The best game introductions throw you right into the action and hook you right away. God of War 2 and the Colossus of Rhodes comes to mind. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eaterís Virtuous Mission. The dragon attack on Helgen in Skyrim. The worst game introductions leave you wondering when the hell the fun is going to start. Here, I am going to count down the worst intros I have ever played, rant about them, and mock them as much as I can.
I suppose there are some minor SPOILERS here, so be warned.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Letís get this one out of the way first, since it is probably the most contentious and debatable of my picks. Let me start by saying that the tanker mission is actually my favorite part of the game. And thatís the problem. The introduction to Metal Gear Solid 2 writes a big, fat Solid Snake-filled check that the rest of the game fails to cash. The problem isnít the introduction itself, but the contrast with the rest of the game that the introduction creates. Itís probably more accurate to say the worst part is immediately AFTER the introduction, when you start to realize that instead of Solid Snake, (who I will posit is of the coolest video game protagonists ever) you will be playing as some whiny-blonde-pussy-fartdick named Raiden. If theyíre gonna pull that kind of baloney, then I would rather just have them put Raiden in the entire game, as weird as that is to say. On a side note, itís been like ten years and I still have no idea what was going on in that ending. Like, literally no idea.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
KotOR 2 opens with your character trapped on a giant empty space station. Your first party member is a nagging old lady. Your second party member is seemingly the result of a writerís room brainstorm session where the question was asked, ďHey what if we made a guy who acted kinda like Han Solo, but was also a huge douche?Ē After a few slow-moving hours, you do make it off the space station that you are trapped on, and you are able to finally move on toÖÖ.a different space stationÖÖ.that you are also trapped on. You then travel down to the planet Telos, to do some general gallivanting and hoop-jumping before finally being given control of your ship and allowed to begin your adventure. What makes all of this so much worse, however, is that your character (who is a Jedi, kind of) doesnít even get a lightsaber until about the 6 hour mark. Six hours!? You could play through the entire campaign of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 during that time (although Iím not sure why you would want to).
Kingdom Hearts 2
I was one of those people that could never get on board with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. I just could not appreciate the weird card-based combat, or the amnesia-based story. So when Kingdom Hearts 2 came out, I was excited to resume the story and kick some Heartless butt with my bros Donald and Goofy. Instead of that, for the first three hours I got four kids eating sea salt flavored ice cream (Seriously? Sea salt flavor? Do they not have chocolate?) and talking about how they are all such great friends, and how theyíll always be friends, and how friendship is the best. Ad nauseum. That terrible, boring introduction is the main reason why I have only played through this otherwise awesome game once.
Assassinís Creed 3
I seriously have no idea why Ubisoft thought it would be a good idea to make you wait 4 hours before you get to play as adult Connor and give you your assassin gear. I did not buy this game to play virtual hide-and-seek in the woods with a bunch of kids. I bought it to explore virtual revolution-era Boston and feel like a badass. Hey Ubisoft, you know whatís cool? Hooded assassins stabbing templars with hidden blades. You know what ISN'T cool? Old men with ponytails and triangle hatsÖ..named Haytham.
Final Fantasy XIII
If a good game with a bad intro is like a hot chick that makes you work for her affection, then Final Fantasy XIII is like the most freaking gorgeous chick youíve ever seen. She makes you work for about 20 or so hours, and even then she doesnít give you much. If youíre looking for exploration, towns, or a coherent narrative, you will not find them. What you will find are the whiniest characters in video game history, and gameplay that basically amounts to running down one very long hallway, with frequent stops for battles. I believe it was around 25 or so hours in when you finally get to Gran Pulse, and the game opens up and lets you do things like pick your party members, grind out items and experience, and do some exploring. Some may argue that whole period of time can hardly be considered an introduction, but in my opinion it certainly feels like it when that entire first section of the game is so much more restricting than what follows. Even granting that, Iím pretty sure the game had a few solid hours of traditional tutorials at the beginning anyways. And while I donít remember it being especially terrible, when you look at the overall flow from beginning to end, you cannot say this game didnít take forever to get going.
So there you have it. What do you guys think? Are there any games out there with worse introductions than these? Did anyone actually like any of these introductions? If soÖ.youíre wrong (just kidding). I encourage you to comment.