Video games are frequently a violent medium. Their stories often rely on conflict and challenge, and combat is an excellent way to simulate those things. Their stories can become bloody affairs, their gameplay full of epic battles. Sometimes the two merge, with a fight taking place partially or wholly within a cutscene.
This is an unorthodox and controversial approach, because it takes control away from the player and potentially risks overshadowing similar fights in gameplay with feats characters can only achieve in cutscenes. On some occasions, however, the fights prove cinematic, thrilling, and a joy to watch.
10 Senator Armstrong And Raiden Discuss Politics
Although he only makes a substantial appearance in the final two boss fights of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Senator Armstrong makes an immense impression on fans. This impression comes from his excellent boss fight and the brawl he has with Raiden long before the player gets control.
After Metal Gear EXCELSIUS’ defeat, Armstrong steps out of its wreckage and begins fighting Raiden while discussing his philosophy. Between his brutal fighting style, his charismatic speech style, and the many, many memes contained within the cutscene, it’s become a fan-favorite. It ends with Raiden abandoning his principles and taking up Jetstream Sam’s sword, finally presenting a fight the player can win.
9 Noble Six’s Last Stand
The central theme of Halo: Reach is defeat, but defiance in defeat. Going in, players know the story isn’t a happy one, having heard of Reach throughout the series, and having never run into other characters in several other games. Most of Noble Team display their skill and honor in their last moments, but none do it better than Noble Six.
Taking place at the very end of the campaign, the cutscene plays after the player takes severe damage in “Lone Wolf,” the campaign’s bonus mission. Six, hopelessly outgunned, continues to fight against the tide of Covenant Elites sent after them, finally having to be held down and stabbed to death in the perfect send-off for Reach‘s player character.
8 Devil May Cry 5’s Opening Cutscene
A commonly accepted time for a game to show a dramatic and non-interactive fight scene is in the game’s opening, setting up the game’s characters and style while hinting what players can expect of the gameplay. Devil May Cry 5 does this and far more, with an opening scene showing Nero jumping out of his car to fight a horde of demons.
The scene is stylish, over-the-top, and flat-out cool — everything a player expects from a Devil May Cry game. More than just an excellent visual spectacle, however, its dark, fun, and melodramatic tone lets a player know they’re back to the series’ traditional fare, after the more controversial DmC: Devil May Cry.
7 The Intro To Call Of Duty: Zombies’ Origins Map
Call of Duty: Zombies made use of introductory cutscenes since its very beginning, but over time, these expanded. As the game mode focused more on its own story and became a bigger part of the franchise, its openings went from minor, ominous scenes to extensive and elaborate sequences showcasing nearly the entire map.
Plenty of them are excellent, but the most explosive is for the “Origins” map. Showing three characters slaughtering their way through a World War I trench overrun with zombies, it features enough cool moments and melodramatic action to feel like a throwback eighties movie. It also signifies the return of the original four characters after being absent for much of Black Ops II.
6 The Alliance Battle The Geth And Sovereign
Mass Effect is deliberately designed as a throwback to the Space Opera genre of science fiction, with mass armies and fleets fighting to decide the fate of the galaxy. As the gameplay itself is third-person shooter combat, the epic space battles need to be relegated to cutscenes, but they do a good job of keeping the player engaged and excited.
The best comes at the end of the original Mass Effect, when the Alliance Fleet jumps to the Citadel to protect it from Sovereign. If the player makes the right choices, it gives the Alliance a truly heroic moment, and creates a resounding victory for the galaxy while showcasing just how powerful a single Reaper can be.
5 Andrew Ryan’s Final Speech And Death
The encounter with final villain Andrew Ryan in Bioshock barely counts as a fight, but it ends with him dead on the ground, his head caved in with a golf club. It isn’t an epic encounter between good and evil, instead it’s a short and brutal affair that ties in perfectly with the game’s themes.
The fact it’s a cutscene is exploited by the game’s story, making a point about the player having control taken away from them. Ryan talks briefly about his Objectivist principles, saying a man chooses his own actions while a slave obeys others. He then uses Jack’s trigger word to make Jack beat him to death, sending him out on a high note and leaving a distinct impression on fans.
4 Kratos’ First Encounter With Baldur
Throughout God of War (2018), Baldur serves as the biggest single threat to Kratos and Atreus, harassing them on Odin’s orders as they attempt to scatter Faye’s ashes. There are three main encounters with him throughout the game, and the first provides a series of truly epic cutscenes, interspersed through sections of boss battle.
With Baldur’s belligerence, Kratos’ initial reluctance to fight, and the brutality both display in the bout, the game communicates several things to the player. It shows the depths of Kratos’ development while also setting up Baldur’s threat, setting the tone of the game while kicking off its main plot.
3 Solid Snake Fighting Liquid Ocelot Atop Outer Haven
The final fight of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots takes place after the day should be won. Solid Snake has defeated the Patriots, at great cost to himself, without fully giving into Liquid Ocelot’s plan. However, Ocelot drags him away, to the top of Outer Haven, so the two can settle things between them once and for all.
Before the final close combat fight of Snake’s career, the game shows the two fighting in a cutscene. There’s plenty of excellent action throughout, but the highlight is a sequence of them matching each other move for move. Few fight scenes show just how important two characters are to each other in as few words as Guns of the Patriots does.
2 Leon Kennedy And Krauser Engage In A Knife Fight
Early games in the Resident Evil franchise are sparse on epic cutscene battles, preferring to focus on a tense atmosphere and their gameplay. However, Resident Evil 4 marks the point when the series becomes more action-packed and cinematic. Consequently, it contains several cutscenes where characters fight it out.
The best is Leon’s duel with Krauser, where the two trade blows with knives. The scene reveals key things about the game’s plot, sets up Krauser as a threat to be fought later in the game, and showcases Leon Kennedy’s vastly improved skills. The downside is that it’s a fight riddled with Quick-Time Events, something many players are now sick of.
1 The Sinister Six Defeat Spider-Man
The third act of Spider-Man for the PS4 begins with the formation of one of Spider-Man’s most iconic villain teams: the Sinister Six. Responding to a riot at the raft, Peter Parker finds himself attacked by several of his worst enemies, who display new gear and skills. When Spidey reaches the top, five surround him and overpower him before Doctor Octopus appears to threaten him.
The fight is one of the first times that Peter finds himself completely outmatched, and showcases just how dangerous the Sinister Six are. By giving Peter a few moments of fighting back, only to be completely overwhelmed, it creates the perfect feeling of hopelessness to signify the game’s darkest hour.
NEXT: The 10 Most Iconic Opening Cutscenes In Video Games, Ranked