GamerSushi Asks: The Cut Scene?

mgs41A few days ago, I beat Metal Gear Solid 4, excited about having finished the game. I figured, hey, I’ll go to bed after this is over. Having heard it was long, I estimated that this would be about 20 or 30 minutes later, and I would be tucked away and dreaming after seeing Snake & Co’s fate. Boy, was I wrong. The ending was nearly an hour and a half long. Leaving me tired and disheveled at work the next day.

This got me thinking. I do that sometimes. I remember an age in gaming when cutscenes were welcome with anticipation. Hell, part of the draw of the original PSX hits like Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid were the spectacular cut scenes, because it brought gaming to a new level in that generation. But then you have a game like Portal or Left 4 Dead which uses little to no cut scenes in order to fully immerse you in the gameplay, and it works just as well.

So- what’s the perfect kind of cut scene in gaming? While we can all probably agree that an hour and a half is much too long, what’s too short? What should a cut scene accomplish? What are your thoughts about cut scenes in video games? And what are your favorite examples? Answer away!

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

7 thoughts on “GamerSushi Asks: The Cut Scene?”

  1. personally i love the cut scene. i like cut scenes to take you into a part of the story that would be hard to tell in its gameplay. games like portal have managed to steer away from the cut scene, and i do think they did a good job, but please no one else try it. i mean lets face it. no matter what valve does its gonna melt your mind. (ya, they can combine mind blowing and face melting) so when other companies try to do it, it will probley end in failure. but i also think that an hour and a half is way to fucking long. but what i like about cut scenes is that game directors have so much more to play with, it can really be an amazing thing. but at aroud 2-5 minutes tops. get what needs to be said out, make it epic, and you have yourself a blockbuster title.

  2. I like how valve makes their cut scenes. They don’t.

    I like in-gameplay story telling. Like if there’s a npc talking and jabbering something boring, you can always ignore him and stack up some junk. It rly makes you feel your a part of the game, no?

  3. MGS 4’s cut scenes were indeed drawn-out and tiring. When the ending is as long as a full-fledged movie, you’ve got problems. Striking a good balance is nice, as with most of Square’s more recent games, but personally I appreciate it much more when a game gives you the opportunity to jump right in and play, feeding you information as you go through, as with HL2.

  4. Some might argue that MGS4’s feature-length ending was a bit extreme, but others might find it a worthy end to the series. Other might like Call of Duty 4’s, etc., scripted events with, say, a helicopter crash-landing overhead. So cutscene style or length isn’t as much the main point as the meaning of the cutscene is.
    Cutscenes shouldn’t be skippable – they shouldn’t waste the player’s time. After all, it’s a game, and you want to play, not watch. If it’s dialogue, establishment of an area or boss, or whatever, cutscenes should accomplish to the best of their ability what information they’re trying to convey to the player.
    Some favorite examples are the Halo cutscenes, whether their scripted events or out-game scenes. They always tell something and move the story along. Plus, Halo blowing up was very satisfying.

  5. Eddy, you read my mind on this. I once tried to start Xenosaga for an hour or so before i left for work…mistake.

    It was an hour of cut scenes, I didn’t even get to play!

    Today, I was going to play the demo of The Darkness. The first 5 minutes was an unskippable cutscene.

    Hey Devs: I want to PLAY the demo, not watch it!

  6. I think that cut scenes, if done right, can be extremely helpful, entertaining, and provide a decent break from game play. However, if not done right, they can be frustrating, boring, and can even hurt a game.

    A cut scene that is not too long, helps move the plot along, and is entertaining is defiantly welcomed in my books. Something that gives my thumbs a rest, a chance to get a drink or a snack, or make a comment to/with my friends about is always good. I like them about 2 or 3 minutes long, 5 at most, and defiantly with the option to skip (especially if it’s my 3rd or 4th play through).

    However, openings, endings, or just ever single cut scene in the game, that requires its own DVD to watch is just too much. If I wanted to watch a movie I would just go rent one, not watch it while trying to play a game. Also I cannot stand scenes that require a few moments to load, take just a second to watch, and do not move the plot forward. They are pointless, boring, and should not be in the game to begin with. I don’t care if the animation section wants more time and money; don’t put these short clips in the game.

    Now Valve has come up with a great idea; no actual cut scenes. All dialogue takes place in real time around the player, and you get the chance to play around with your environment. I love throwing around coffee cups, flushing toilets, or breaking shit with my gravity gun. However, there are some games that have tried to copy this, and have failed miserably. Far Cry 2 is a perfect example of this. I spend 5 fucking minuets in a car, listing to the cabbie talk, and all I can do is move my head a little bit. Then I wake up and find out from some douche bag, who doesn’t seem to know how to properly pause his sentences, that I have malaria. I know if I had half a second I could have fucked him up, or at least the cabbie at the beginning.

    It doesn’t really matter to me if you have cut scenes or not, as long as the story can be moved efficiently, effectively, and as entertain as it can be.

  7. I had NO idea it was THAT long. Fitting finale. I had the same problem as you Eddy except replace Work with School.
    On this topic, I’m split down the middle. As many have mentioned, Half Life 2 yadda yadda. Yes it works, but could it work for all games? It really has to suit the game. MGS was an interactive movie so cutscenes are fine. Half Life is as much an experience as a game so its setup works too. I like the way in Fallout you choose most of your own dialogue but that only really suits the genre. Also, Cossack I feel cutscenes SHOULD be skippable. 1st time through I’ll watch, next I may only feel like watching one or two particularly cool ones but not the whole ploat again.

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