Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.
Bayonetta doesn't mess around. It opens on you, a witch librarian dominatrix, perched on a ruined clocktower as it falls off a cliff. Also, angels are attacking you and your witch friend. Before you've even been shown what to press for punch and kick, you have to jump around booting servants of the Lord to death with high heels that have guns in them. Then the ruined tower explodes and you fight a flying wyrm-thing while standing on the clock face. It's ludicrous, a real statement of intent. It says, "This game is going to be over-the-top all the way through, so we may as well start as we mean to go on."
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine pulls a similar trick, opening on three manly men of the Imperial Space Marines deciding how to get their spaceship past ork artillery to the planet below. Captain Titus, voiced by Mark Strong in the role he was born to play, orders the ship to retreat so he can deal with this personally. Then he pulls on a jetpack, and jumps out.
The tutorial for Space Marine is a fight across the deck of a flying ork pirate vessel, stabbing goblinoids to get to the main cannon so you can turn it around and blow up the ship you're standing on. After it crashes you dust yourself off, walk out of the rubble, and get on with the rest of the game. It's a perfect way of getting you into the role of a superhuman who believes cover is for other people.
What these games have in common is a confidence that you're going to get it. They're not openings designed to be a challenge—you don't have a health bar in Bayonetta's intro and I'm not sure it's even possible to die—but they are designed to blow your hair back and shock you into paying attention. These aren't games where you're going to spend the first half-hour learning which button to press for crouch when you get to the bit where some pipes block the top half of a tunnel. You're going in at the deep end, from a great height.
And for my money no game does this better than Saints Row: The Third.
After a bank-robbery tutorial you're stuck on a plane full of international gangsters. The only way off is to open the cargo hold and parachute out while the plane's cargo of very explosive cars falls past and a bunch of machinegun-toting goons follow. Shaundi, your partner in crime, doesn't have a parachute. You have to kill a bunch of falling bad dudes then Point Break your way through the exploding cargo to grab her before you can pull your chute.
Then the plane you just jumped out of finishes turning around and tries to ram you. To Shaundi's disappointment your solution to this is to drop her, shoot the cockpit glass, zip through the plane grabbing a fresh parachute as you go, then whip out the back and repeat the whole dive-through-the-sky-shooting-dudes bit until you catch Shaundi a second time.
These games are writing their manifesto across the sky in letters made of explosions. It promises they won't waste your time, that they'll keep the pace up. There will be midair boss fights and exploding helicarriers and more spectacle than you can shake a gunheel at.