: Remembering The Cut-Scene Debate

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Remembering The Cut-Scene Debate

We now exist in a time when the cut-scenes don't look much different than the gameplay (see Uncharted 2: Among Thieves). But oh, there was a time...there was a time...

Old-school role-playing fans are most familiar with this subject. During the first PlayStation era, developers finally had enough power to implement CGI or FMV into video games; initially, they held no voices and were all sorts of fuzzy and grainy but to us, they were mesmerizing. It was just such a tremendous leap from the sprite days, which at the time, were only a few years behind us. However, as amazing as the cut-scene phenomenon was, there was a very vocal contingent that said, quite simply, "the cut-scene represented the end of gaming." I distinctly remember arguing with people about this very thing when working at EB way back when, and I imagine RPG fans about my age recall similar confrontations with friends.

I say "RPG fans" because although the CGI/FMV cut-scene wasn't restricted to role-playing games, the flashy new addition to interactive entertainment was certainly most prevalent in the RPG category. The Final Fantasy franchise led the way, of course. I think we all remember Sephiroth walking through the fire and the opening intro video for FFVIII. I also remember watching that scene when Squall and Rinoa dance and just going, "Oh...my...God." But the people who hated it said it had nothing to do with video games and that in time, designers would give us half-movies, half-games, and charge us more because the technology would get more expensive. We'd also get half as much actual interaction. Well, that was their argument, anyway.

My contention always touched on two points- first, any claims that current games held "more watching than playing" were always too stupid to even consider. RPGs were always 30-50 hours in length and even the most cut-scene-intensive adventures didn't feature more than 90 minutes or so of non-interactive moments. People just thought there were more movies because they actually had to sit still for a while without pressing buttons - an alien occurrence then - and time seemed to slow down. But even MGS, which did feature some long cut-scenes, still consisted of 90% gameplay if you do the math. As for the second point, about how games would just "become movies," I just remember saying, "gamers will always want to play. That won't ever change."

And now, here we sit, and the cut-scene is just an accepted, expected part of the gaming experience. In no way do the cut-scenes exceed the gameplay length; that has never happened and never will happen. And as I said before, it's getting more and more difficult to notice the difference between gameplay and cut-scene. Oh, that was the other thing; people saying- "Yeah, like they'll ever make the gameplay look like the CGI or FMV." Well, only about 14 years later, and the gameplay now puts the CGI then to shame. My, my.

P.S. Cookie to whoever knows the game depicted in the pic. Extra cookie if you can guess my favorite character from said game.  Third cookie if you can say why the game is relevant to the article.

11/12/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (55 posts)

Kiryu
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 9:36:04 PM
Reply

Uncharted 2 Proved that Gameplay itself can be like a Cutscene while playing it!

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Scarecrow
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:31:19 PM

exactly, that game always made you feel like everything you were doing meant something, and led to something.

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Kevadu
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 12:33:15 PM

Uncharted may have done that but it was hardly the first. The original Halflife really perfected the whole gameplay-as-cutscene approach back in '99.

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eLLeJuss
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 3:49:59 PM

Or Heavy Rain. lol

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Catastrophe
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 9:37:18 PM
Reply

"I also remember watching that scene when Squall and Rinoa dance and just going, "Oh...my...God.""
Quote for truth... in fact *goes to youtube...*

putting the mouse on the "large image" link throws "legend of Dragoon" did i getz cookie? :P

Last edited by Catastrophe on 11/12/2010 9:38:11 PM

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xenris
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 9:58:00 PM
Reply

The picture is from a cut scene in The legend of Dragoon, my personal favourite RPG of the PS1 era.

There are a lot of characters in that game, if the picture is a hint you like either Rose, I cant remember the name of that old guy in the picture but I remember the last cut scene in the game with her flying with him. However I'm going to guess if its not Rose and just a character outside of the picture that you like...Lavitz? He was my favourite character then Lloyd.

Its relevant because it was the first RPG with voice in the cut scenes perhaps?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:12:20 PM

I knew it was Legend of Dragoon, after that I can't tell you much.

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chewy102
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:46:41 PM

(This may make me look like an ass. Im sorry if it does)
The man is Zieg, the father of Dart and the lover of Rose (who is the woman in the pic). That pic is from just after the party defeats Zieg moments before the whole area collapses around them killing them both.

As for how TLOD is relevant. The gameplay looks absolutely horrid next to the videos. Im not hating the game (my top 10 easy), that's just how it looks.

And my guess to your favorite character. Id say Haschel. Something about a dirty old man seems to fit. Don't know why

(edit- crap to late)

Last edited by chewy102 on 11/12/2010 11:48:08 PM

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Riku994
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:08:24 PM
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"Sephiroth walking through the fire and the opening intro video for FFVIII"
Wrong title Ben, I'm surprised I'm the first to catch it.
Second: THANK YOU for using a Legend of Dragoon image for this article. Such an amazing game...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:13:14 PM

How is it wrong?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:46:47 PM

...not wrong.

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Riku994
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:49:01 PM

That reads FFVIII, FF8.

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Riku994
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:50:17 PM

..Or am I just reading your writing wrong?

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GuernicaReborn
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:04:28 PM

I think your reading the sentence wrong, Ben is siting two different cutscenes, Sepiroth walking through fire and the opening cutscene from FFVIII.

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Riku994
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:06:22 PM

That makes so much more sense. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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to_far_apart
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 8:00:53 AM

nothing's wrong here.. lol

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Teddie9
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 2:46:35 PM

I made the same mistake...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:18:17 PM
Reply

I hated this debate. (Great idea for an editorial btw.) The cut scenes were "teh" shiznit and always highlighted the gameplay. In the old days it allowed us to see the characters and places in even more awesome detail. And I still think it's good to have them because even though it can be slightly difficult to tell between the CGI and in-game in FFXIII, I still think it adds a little something to the experience that makes you go "Fu** yeah!"

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 11/12/2010 10:47:41 PM

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Furrymann
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:18:19 PM
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Legend of dragoon: and if the pic is a hint then either rose or if i have this right Zeik or zeek or how ever you spell his name! Darts dad how about that?

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xenris
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:23:54 PM

Yeah I knew it was his dad but I forgot to mention that!! Darn it, oh well I was the first to take a stab at everything so :P there should be a favourite LoD character poll and discussion ^_^

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Highlander
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:37:40 PM
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Ah the great cutscene debate. I remember seeing games that were actually reviewed more harshly because they included cutscenes of any length. That was back in the early 2000's and usually in reference to Xenosaga games.

Xenosaga episode 1 featured hours of cutscenes, many of which were a blend of game-engine animation and pre-rendered CGI. I remember one cut scene that went for something like 40 minutes. Seriously, I played it through on my PS3 and the wireless controller had to be awoken twice during the cutscene because it timed out.

The thing was, the cutscene kept you watching, you didn't want to miss a moment.

Cut scenes the death of gaming!? HA!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:41:42 PM

And you're controller gets a nice break on its battery :)

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piratedrunk
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:33:42 PM

Oh man that makes me want to go through Episodes I and II again.. unfortunately I still haven't been able to find episode III for a reasonable price.

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GuernicaReborn
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:47:20 PM
Reply

The first cutscene I remember being hypnotized by was when the wave of water hit Chrono in Chrono Cross.

I've always thought people who didn't like cutscenes in videogames were looney, since they add to the storyline and experience. And they're pretty. Whats not to like?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:48:41 PM
Reply

Yes, it was LoD and my favorite character was Rose. It's significant because the game was 4 discs long and everyone - EVERYONE - was thinking it'd be "more watching than playing" when the hype was going around before the game released.

...morons. Game ruled.

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Riku994
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:49:25 PM

Completely agree.

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to_far_apart
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 8:01:30 AM

uhhh, yeah. I loved that game.

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xenris
Sunday, November 14, 2010 @ 8:37:03 AM

Yeah I thought it was Rose. She had a bad ass story in that game for sure. The black monster and everything. What I really like about that game is everyone had a really unique and cool story that fit in with the game world.

I honestly cant remember an RPG where not one of the characters didnt slighty bother me but this one I even enjoyed Meru and her story.

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SolidFantasy
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:53:23 PM
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Disclaimer: Though not the 1st, I did guess "Legend of Dragoon" Assuming that's the correct answer? Before I read anyone else's comments.

Can I get a cookie fragment?

I will always support cut scenes. I love every second of them and can recall so many wonder moments waiting for the next FMV (as we used to call them) on FF7/8/9 or MGS with anticipation. With out YouTube FMVs added to the replay value. B/c I just wanted to watch all of the FMVs all over again.

With any time frame I think they are justified due to the extra action (FFXIII) they provide or addition to storyline (MGS4).

If you don't like cut scenes than you can almost always skip right to the gameplay.

And on top of that we have games like Heavy rain bridging the gap between gameplay and cut scenes.

rant out

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Mystearica
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:56:04 PM

Yeah I liked my cut scene reward for beating up bosses... among other situations. And I'm guilty of loving Xenosaga's cutscenes - yes they were long but you can pause and skip parts. Actually I just love the game so I'm just making up excuses

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Mystearica
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:53:35 PM
Reply

Oh geez... this is bringing back so many memories... can't believe so much time has passed >....<

Yeah it's from Legend of the Dragoon - but that wasn't the first game to have talking in CG... I know Xenogears did (came first).... and I'm pretty sure there are. But I'm not a PS1 know it all 'cause I could only buy the games I could afford from my odd jobs back then

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 12:10:46 AM

No, LoD wasn't the first to have voices in the cut-scenes but then again, I didn't say it was. ;)

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Temjin001
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:19:04 PM
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Oh, gaming philosophy, my favorite.
It depends on the format of the game, really.
Cutscenes help define the virtual world in which you engage. In the past, they exposed us to a vivid presentation of characters and events for what was otherwise a crude display of imagery--chunky pixels, low-res, box-like characters etc.

In the Atari 2600 days, most games were devoid of story or realized worlds. But for some reason, developers, even then, couldn't help but characterize the imagery of their games after the manner of sci-fi, fantasy or fictional orientation. Games like Berserk, Moon Sweeper, Pac Man, Venture and Adventure, and the first real survival horror I know of, The Haunted House, added an identity to the game environment. The games could've functioned perfectly without viewing any icons that represented spiders, ghosts, and robots, but the designers saw fit to create worlds for the game play. This was more entertaining than to just have non-representationl shapes--well there was Tetris =p

Today we have fully realized worlds unfolding in realtime where epics like Uncharted seamlessly integrate a full-on Hollywood presentation, story and characters into an interactive entertainment action experience. Now we get to smirk at statements by Nathan Drake who tries to makeshift the old adage "desperate times...." into his nomenclature, despite not fully understanding the meaning of such an expression read from his facial gesture and posture alone that accompanied the statement. The processing of today's technology helps to add even comedic based entertainment to the experiences we engage through capturing the subtleties of human expression and emotion, something near impossible on lesser hardware....

anyhow, I gotta stop here. I could literally go on all night waxing philosophically about this stuff.. but I got some Black Ops to be playing ;)


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Scarecrow
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:37:02 PM
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It's all 'bout Meru you n00bs!

Meru was such a cool character!
They were all cool

Shana.....god what an original female lead. She was neither weak nor strong, but always there.

I miss jrpgs, it really is a travesty was has happened to this genre.

Oh and I agree on the whole cutscenes deal. Though in my group of friends that was never a problem... Nor did I notice it as being a problem in gaming mags: EGM, Gamepro, GameInformer. Probably gamers where I live are just different.
---

Gotta say cutscenes back then were a treat, always a surprise.

Nowadays it's always expected...

Last edited by Scarecrow on 11/12/2010 11:39:22 PM

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___________
Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 11:44:27 PM
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its amazing how quickly gameplay has caught up to cut scenes, even in some games gameplay actually looks better!
SW TFU2 i noticed the facial animation did not look as good in cut scenes as it did in game which was really weird.
gone are the days where games are shown as gameplay when there pure CGI.
cough KZ2, cough mostorstorm, cough more or less the whole ps3 launch lineup!

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Dante399
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 12:17:02 AM
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Is there a sequel for LoD??

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Riku994
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 12:45:45 AM

I wish, but I'd prefer a remake or prequel. In my opinion, there's much more they could do with a prequel, and they already have the characters and plot.

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Temjin001
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 1:46:14 AM
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I actually always wanted to play LoD back when it released but I never did. I thought the art design was awesome back then. I'd even try to draw the characters hehe.
Anyway, maybe it'll come to PSN someday.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 1:54:45 AM
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For me, cut-scenes were never a bad thing.

But I guess we even had the twitcher crowd that far back.

I just called them "Spazmatic's" back then.

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Neurotoxiny
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 1:55:27 AM
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Legend of Dragoon! Plus Dart's Dad and Rose in the very last cutscene and it's relevant because that game had the pimpest looking cutscenes for a PS1 game :P

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 3:13:11 AM
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I can't really imagine a game not having cutscenes, or at least story elements... with the exception of racing games. It has enabled a massive leap in the immersion of games, while giving reason for their existence, and I wish I could shake the hand of the person that first thought of implementing them.

Also, the idea of cutscenes usurping gameplay as the key element of games is a non-issue. Heavy Rain proved that. Although I swear MGS4 on normal difficulty had a 50/50 swing.
Peace.

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main_event05
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 7:09:36 AM
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The cutscenes from tree of mana on the ps1 were awesome, and from Tomba!.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 11:16:34 AM

Tomba!

Dude! 100+ respect points right there.
Why hasn't Sony released this as a ps1 classic?

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main_event05
Sunday, November 14, 2010 @ 8:36:03 AM

Maybe they are gonna use it as a secret weapon?

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Dreno
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 8:46:57 AM
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Oh the dancing scene if ff8. Truly beautiful. But one of the hands down best scenes in ff8 is when squall and rinoa reunite after squall rescues her from the sorceress lock. What am I saying? Every fmv in that game was truly epic. I love ff8

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Scarecrow
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 11:17:03 AM

FFVIII > FFVII

Let it be known

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 12:19:20 PM

No.

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fstop
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 9:17:13 AM
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I just want to come on and thank Ben for using LoD for the pic.
I never want this game to be forgotten.

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Jawknee
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 1:41:39 PM
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I always looked forward to those flashy cut scenes in Final Fantasy games. I loved them. Now though, games like God of War III have spoiled me. The whole game is pretty much a cut scene. We need more games like that. Only if more developers would put more effort into the PS3 we COULD have more games like that.

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AnonWTF
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 2:48:03 PM
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This is "The Legend of Dragoon." That picture is Rose with Dart's father (forgets his name). I felt this was one of the best games of all time and deserved at least a remake for the PS3. Had a wonderful story and gameplay was awesome, despite some reviewers complaining. Don't know who your favorite character is, but mines is Rose. It is related to this article because it deals with CGI/FMV cut-scenes.

On a side note, some people think a sequel to the story would have been good, but I disagree. A prequel would be much better.

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AnonWTF
Saturday, November 13, 2010 @ 2:50:32 PM

I probably should have hit the refresh button before submitting -___-

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Beamboom
Sunday, November 14, 2010 @ 5:59:04 PM
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Just to state the obvious: The cutscenes are beginning to look like the gameplay because it practically *is* gameplay: They are using the game engine also for the cutscenes. No not Uncharted but games like GTA has done so for a long time already. However I want to use Saints Row 2 as a prime example because of how your custom character (gender/size/voice/body type) appear in the cutscenes, complete with current clothing etc.
It's really cool when the cutscenes blend into the gameplay like that.


Last edited by Beamboom on 11/14/2010 6:01:03 PM

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SvenMD
Monday, November 15, 2010 @ 1:57:40 PM

Yeah but GTA cutscenes look like crap next to FFXIII or Uncharted 2.

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Beamboom
Monday, November 15, 2010 @ 6:51:00 PM
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Of course it does, since it's prerendered. That's like watching any other video file.

In my opinion it's by default much cooler of a game to use it's own engine for the cutscenes. I firmly believe prerendered cutscenes will be a thing of the past in the not too distant future!

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