Bronze: Antichamber by Alexander Bruce
Antichamber is hella weird, and it's honest about that right from the get go. It prominently displays its abstract in-game map and settings menus. After figuring your way around those, it then launches you into a series of esoteric levels which slowly introduces you to Antichamber's now well-known insane and fascinating non-Euclidean geometries that played with my mind in some truly compelling ways. Indeed, the opening moments of Antichamber are much more interesting and entertaining than the rest of it when it quickly becomes a block-based puzzle game which I don't believe fits in very well with what Antichamber promised to be early on. And what a promise it was!
- Isaac Wagner
Silver: BioShock Infinite by Irrational Games
The first hour or so of BioShock Infinite are some of my favorite time spent with any video game. Funnily enough, it's basically everything up to the point where you get a gun and start shooting people that I loved. From suddenly awaking in a rowboat rocking in the middle of a storm with a couple of seemingly insane people arguing back and forth about various philosophical concepts, to being launched into the sky and being baptized, BioShock Infinite does an excellent job in not only referencing the first BioShock, but also making the beginning feel important to the story by referencing some seriously important story elements in those opening minutes. BioShock Infinite is at its most imaginative at both the beginning and end of its particular kind of sky roller-coaster ride, both of which still excite my mind whenever I think about them.
- Isaac Wagner
Gold: Grand Theft Auto V by Rockstar North
As a massive fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, it shouldn't take much to impress me in the opening minutes of GTA V. Even if all three of the characters were all in a public toilet, using their own cubical and then everyone finishes up at the same time, then all three of the cubical doors slam open and Trevor shouts, "Let's fuckin' do this!" Cue Grand Theft Auto V title card...
To be clear, this doesn't happen but I would be pumped regardless. That's how excited I was for this game. Typically though, Grand Theft Auto games are something of a slow burn. The overall pacing in the first couple of hours is usually slow as the game gently introduces its many mechanics.
Grand Theft Auto V gives a middle finger to all of that. For the first time in the series, the game starts off with an explosive heist job, which has the player doing some driving, shooting and even the brand new character switching thing. It's a fantastic mission, made even better by the fact it is a prologue mission which plays a big role in the game's story and it also takes place in North Yankton, a snowy location that looks very different compared to the Los Santos and Blaine County areas you will explore the rest of the time in GTA V.
Most of us knew that GTA V was going to be excellent but that intro level really took us by surprise!
- Ross Hartley