Total Nerd The Best Video Game Cutscenes Ever  

Adam Dorsey
722 votes 207 voters 14.5k views 21 items Embed

This is a list of the best cutscenes in the history of video games. Great cutscenes don't just interrupt the gameplay. They deliver truly cinematic storytelling, helping create immersive and complex narratives unique to gaming. These scenes don't just move the plot along; they can take throwaway characters and turn them into the target of a thousand cosplayers.

There's always a plenty of dissent amongst gamers about the real purpose of a cutscene. Naysayers will argue that bad video game cutscenes just make the player jam buttons until they skip them and get back to the gameplay. Ideally, a video game intro video should introduce the player to the world of the game and cutscenes should even out the pacing of a game, strengthening the player's connection to the narrative, as well as their enjoyment of the gameplay. A rad final cinematic is always nice too.

In the future, video game developers may make cutscenes so good that they won't even have to be skippable, because no one would ever want to skip them. But they'd still be skippable because everyone hates unskippable cutscenes.

Until then, we have this list of the finest cutscenes in video game history, from Pac-Man's main squeeze to Mass Effect mega-controversy. Vote up your favorites, the ones that truly elevated their games and proved what cutscenes can really do.
1 87 VOTES

Fallout


Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
Ron Perlman's unmistakably gravelly voice immediately puts you in the world of Fallout with the first two sentences: "War. War never changes." And thus was one of the greatest game series in history born. Here are cutscenes from the first three games, which lay out the entire world before sending you on your way. 

Also Ranked

#48 on The Greatest RPG Video Games Ever Made

#43 on The Best Survival Games of All Time

#28 on The Best Science Fiction Franchises of All Time

62 25
Agree or disagree?
see more on Fallout
2 48 VOTES

Final Fantasy VII


Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
Before Sony started putting numbers on Playstations, back when the Squares were Soft and not Enix, Final Fantasy wowed the world with its three-disc seventh entry. That opening cinematic starts with Aerith before pulling out to reveal the city of Midgar before pulling back in on a train, causing fits of, "OH WOW IS THIS THE GAME? AM I PLAYING A MOVIE?!" among players everywhere. The graphics may have aged, but this intro still holds a special place in the heart of every RPG gamer.

Also Ranked

#20 on The Most Addictive Video Games of All Time

#1 on The Greatest RPG Video Games Ever Made

#10 on The Best Video Game Soundtracks of All Time

#8 on The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans

32 16
Agree or disagree?
see more on Final Fantasy VII
3 45 VOTES

Mass Effect 3


Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
Why was the debate about ending options to Mass Effect 3 so fierce? Opinions ran so deep because everything that lead up to the ending hit so hard. This moment early in the game, for example, where Commander Shepard witnesses the devastation of planet Earth, seeing images that burn into her brain forever - all set to the haunting sounds of Clint Mansell's beautiful score (related: FemShep for life).

Also Ranked

#23 on The Greatest RPG Video Games Ever Made

#33 on The Best Video Game Soundtracks of All Time

#66 on The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans

#15 on The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever

30 15
Agree or disagree?
see more on Mass Effect 3
4 43 VOTES

Mass Effect 2


Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
Mass Effect 2 may go down as one of the greatest RPGs ever designed, and it certainly has an epic story that's excellently helped along by slick cutscenes. Commander Shepard (you) dies, is brought back to life with some upgrades, and is tasked with building a team who will go on a literal suicide mission on the other side of a relay where no one has ever returned. Now watch them return (FemShep for life, by the way).

Also Ranked

#69 on The Best Online Multiplayer Shooters

#3 on The Greatest RPG Video Games Ever Made

#79 on The Best Video Game Soundtracks of All Time

#12 on The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans

28 15
Agree or disagree?
see more on Mass Effect 2