What’s in a cinematic?
A cinematic packages the persona of a game, its idea, into a visual presentation. It establishes its world and characters, and hopefully gives us a glimpse of what is to come, or what might be.
Video game cinematics are often used to build hype surrounding a release or an announcement, they sell it.
But best of all, a great cinematic is a source of entertainment unto itself, and they very rarely age.
These are a collection of our favourites, or some of the best cinematics to date.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Three Fates
Prior to the release of the original Elder Scrolls Online, before it went free-to-play, Bethesda released a series of spectacular CG clips.
Altogether, these clips span around 23 minutes, showcase the game’s rich lore and demonstrate the strife currently taking place, and all for a shot at the Imperial Throne.
Granted, this is not what we experienced while playing the game, but it gives us an insight into the magnitude of the war and something pretty to watch.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Opening Cinematic
Even if you’ve never played The Witcher 2, although you really should, I’m pretty sure you’ve watched the opening cinematic.
In my opinion, it’s a heck of a lot better than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s; it’s that good.
During the cinematic we see Letho, a fellow Witcher from the School of Viper, climb on board a king’s ship. He’s got something mischievous in mind.
He casts a protection sign on himself and tosses a very cool looking Northern Wind bomb which freezes the entire ship, and queue scene:
As the ship crumbles and those frozen fall apart, he makes his dash to the king, avoiding arrows and slashing up a few people along the way.
The cinematic would not be the same without the great cinematography during the clip. It’s epic.
World of Warcraft – Collection
To list one World of Warcraft cinematic would be a terrible mistake as they all have their own unique Blizzard flair going on.
Every time a large update rolls out or an expansion is revealed, Blizzard celebrates with a 3-4 minutes video that just knocks our socks off.
These cinematics often depict scenes that never take place in the game, nor do they correctly represent the visuals of the game, but they are still pretty epic to watch.
Dead Island – Announcement Trailer
Every now and then a trailer comes along that basically rips out your heart, throws it to the ground and stamps on it.
The Dead Island announcement trailer was that trailer for me. Even while typing this, I get chills just thinking about it.
The trailer showcases a family tragedy while on holiday in Banoi.
Playing in reverse, it shows the daughter falling to the ground as she tears her father’s neck asunder. Yes, we used asunder.
And to be serenaded by a beautiful piano melody as it all takes place, priceless.
The Walking Dead has nothing on this.
DC Universe Online – Cinematic Trailer
What do you get when you take a bunch of DC characters, throw in as much cinematic flair as possible and toss in a couple epic explosions for good measure?
You get a DC Universe Online trailer.
Joker fights Batman; Lex Luther throws down with Superman; it had it all.
I think you’ll agree, it’s six minutes of superhero bashing bliss.
Gears of War – Mad World
Gears of War could not have been introduced in a more beautiful, surreal way.
Backed by Gary Jules’ Mad World, the trailer showcased the end of the world and a single soldier’s desperate fight, even in the face of immeasurable odds.
There were no sound effects, just a single melody and a decidedly grim future.
The trailer ends just as a Corpser is about to slam down, another example of perfect cinematography.
It has us wanting to play Gears of War all over again, and all because it did its job and sold the game.
What are your favourite video game cinematics? Let us know in the comments and forum!