Last week the guys debated which game has the best cutscenes, and this week they continue that debate in print for your pleasure.
Chris: It's been a long time since a game came along that had cutscenes good enough to just sit back and watch them straight through without even thinking about playing the game proper. Usually this would come down to an ending here or there or a good title sequence, but rarely do I enjoy having to set my controller down and watch things happen at me rather than play through the experience myself. That's why I loved Brawl so much, since you could very well have Brawl and play it all the time and just now hear from our current No Right Answer episode that it has cutscenes somewhere in its depths of content.
But I don't really want to talk about why Brawl is awesome since I've already done that and there's no point. Nor do I really want to talk about what Kyle could have said regarding Max Payne - since he already won and that means he said quite enough - but also because I haven't played any of the Max Payne games and have no interest (seeing the movie doesn't count, even as a movie).
Instead, I'm just very curious how we've come so far with videogames while still being so blissfully clueless so often to what makes a cutscene really good anymore. Showing us cool things without any connection to what's happening in the game isn't cool (Dirge of Cerberus is entirely guilty of this). Inversely, making a cutscene an exposition dump is nearly as bad (Mass Effect, Fable 2, Fallout 3, these are your crimes). And then there's the complete and utter puzzling nature of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, both praised for when they do a cutscene right and lambasted for when they bore me to tears.
Now, if we were doing a debate of the single best cutscene ever, I wouldn't settle on Brawl. I'm pleased with Brawl as a whole since it includes quick jokes, small skirmishes, and excellent introductions to the characters, all without needless dialogue or exposition. But as one, singular, shining example of a cutscene done right, I'd point to Final Fantasy VI's ending. Those who haven't played the game or haven't decided to slog to the end, are missing out on utter greatness. Frustrated that Mass Effect 3's original ending was a bit vague and "quick"? FF6 had an ending that was nearly a half-hour long, and it was a Super Nintendo game. Super Nintendo. It resolved the plot, let you say goodbye to the characters, and then slammed you with the Final Fantasy Prelude, which should rip tears from your eye sockets unless you're a soulless monster or Dan.
There's, of course, something to be said for cheesy moments of clever humor, though. Resident Evil 4 was fantastic for giving you a slight break to breathe while exposition took place or characters sent verbal jabs back and forth, plus they added Quick-Time Events properly. Uncharted is pretty good at making cutscenes fun and enjoyable, though that's partly because of the dialogue in general. And Sly Cooper, at least the first one (as that's the only one I've played thus far), has wonderful cutscenes that function perfectly, and make you sort of wish it'd get an animated series already.
I suppose my point is that games with good cutscenes aren't in short supply. It's just that the ones that do have cutscenes that drag on without any significance and have such exorbitant lengths are just easier punching bags, and as gamers, we just love a good sandbag to smash around once in a while. Oh, and Brawl has a sandbag, funny how things relate like that.
P.S. To those fans of our show who just plain get it, you guys rock and we sincerely love you. Just wanted to say that.