Many action titles throughout gaming history follow a fairly simple formula - the gamer learns the controls, their hero gradually earns experience/items/abilities by defeating foes, and the action builds to a giant climax in the final third of the game. However, other titles (especially in the last five years or so) opt to throw the gamer and protagonist head-first into an insane, potentially pants-soiling situation. Here are a dozen games that waste no time in kick-starting the action.


While the game eventually turns you into a crazy-powerful lightning man, you start out as courier (and parkour dabbler) Cole MacGrath. Like on most days, he's tasked with delivering a package to a location in his hometown of Empire City. However, most of the packages that he carries don't cause six blocks of the Historical District to explode. Your first steps in Cole's shoes take place after he awakens on the pavement, scarred and thoroughly confused. A lot of games place their tutorials in a training camp environment, but Cole's training camp is the fire and wreckage of the ground zero he unwittingly created.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Like Cole, Nathan Drake slowly wakes up to a confusing and instantly terrible situation. At least Cole had the privilege of knowing which way was up, however. Learning that he's bleeding profusely turns out to be the least of Drake's worries, as he quickly discovers that he's precariously dangling off of a mountain in a derailed boxcar.


Finishing this trilogy of dudes that wake up with no idea of what's going on, Monkey escapes his pod to discover he's bee-lining towards a crash landing into the New York City skyline. Utilizing the skills that earned him his nickname, he flips around poles, climbs support structures, and basically does everything he can to prevent slamming through a 56th-story office. If that's not enough of a rude awakening, he's enslaved by Trip's headband by the time he comes to on the ground.


For at least the first few minutes of Prey, all is well. You can hang out at the bar, take a leak, pick some Ted Nugent and Heart songs on the jukebox, play arcade games, and hit on your bartender girlfriend. Sounds like a pretty fun Saturday night...until aliens destroy/abduct the entire bar and everyone in it. Soon after, you're watching your grandpa get murdered and following spirit hawks. I've had some Saturday nights lead to some scary and weird places, but Tommy from Prey has me beat.