The lights are on
There are a number of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles that I love, but the games that endear themselves to me hook me immediately. I’m not opposed to giving a game some time to get going, but I’ll always prefer those that are ready to entertain right away.
I’ve picked five games on last-generation systems that I think have particularly engaging starts. In order to narrow things down, I set some ground rules. These must be interactive and can’t be purely tutorial driven. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got favorites.
Saints Row: The ThirdThe Saints have gotten bold. The boss, Shaundi, and Johnny Gat rob a bank wearing Johnny Gat masks, before realizing that the institution is run by The Syndicate. Oops.
They’re captured and held prisoner aboard a Syndicate jet before making an escape and skydiving to safety in Steelport below. Humor, action, and a strong narrative beginning put Saints Row: The Third firmly on this list.
BioShockThe original BioShock was full of mystery and intrigue from the moment the curtain rose. Why did the plane crash? What is that lighthouse doing out in the middle of nowhere? And who is Andrew Ryan?
After exploring the lighthouse and descending in the first bathysphere, players are confronted with splicers, a faceless ally, and their first plasmid. Though the game is filled with twists, turns, and betrayal, it’s how BioShock begins that stands out in my mind.
Infamous 2As much as I loved the first Infamous game, the darker tone set by the sequel’s introduction gave weight to the entire plot. After the early cutscenes, Cole is thrust into battle.
He’s not just up against foe, though. He’s forced to fight The Beast and, after the battle, must flee Empire City. The rest of the game takes place in New Marais, where Cole will choose between light and dark.
Mass Effect 2Poor Commander Shepard. First, the Council doesn’t believe him when he warns about the return of the Reapers. Then the Normandy gets blown to bits.
BioWare could have simply shown us the destruction of the original Normandy in a cutscene, but giving players control over their hero made the opening sequence that much more emotional. Mass Effect 2 had its hooks in me immediately because it gave me agency, setting the stage for one of my favorite gameplay experiences of all time.
The Last of UsNaughty Dog’s farewell to the PlayStation 3 (and our Game of the Year for 2013) was filled with emotional moments and fantastic character development. It all begins with understanding why Joel is who he is.
The introduction to The Last of Us’ disease-ridden world takes us to the collapse of society as we know it. Tragedy rips Joel’s family apart, setting the stage for every interaction with Ellie from the moment he meets her through the end of the game.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.