Casual Friday: Putting the 'Video' in Video Games

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, I've found a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond. Well, what are you waiting for?

You Oughta Be in Pictures

It's easy to draw comparisons between movies and games, but video game makers really aspired to be like big-time movie studios not too long ago. A little over 10 years back, entire soundstages loaded with actors, sets, and camera crews filmed full-motion video (FMV) for games. Why even bring that up? Well, this week marks the release of Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath on the PC. I'll get to that game soon enough. During its run of 13-plus years, the C&C series has become known for cheesy full-motion video acting--and the real-time strategy part, of course. Now, the newest game is out, and FMV is back, recorded in HD. That means you can see semifamous actors squirm in the high-def spotlight wondering why they agreed to read from the script.

(Yeah, we all know the an$wer to that.)

This got me thinking that someone should put together a proper tribute to some of the "greatest" FMV performances to ever grace a CD-ROM. So, without further ado...

My Top Five FMV Game Appearances (click the links for more videos from the games):

5. Mark Hamill (and a whole cast full of people such as Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, and...hmmm...Ginger Lynn Allen) in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. Honorable mention for the huge Muppet-like costumes.

<div><object width="348" height="288"><param name="movie" value="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/xrblt" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed src="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/xrblt" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="348" height="288" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always"></embed></object><br /><b><a href="http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/xrblt">Wing Commander III extended trailer</a></b><br /><i>by <a href="http://www.dailymotion.com/fmvgamer">fmvgamer</a></i></div></embed>

4. The sci-fi detective series Tex Murphy, featuring...a cast of people you probably didn't know. The acting was good enough in trying to ape the whole noir vibe. And to a degree, it worked.

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3. Command & Conquer: Red Alert (this clip starring Albert Einstein's stand-in). To me, Red Alert provided both great gameplay and many memorable moments off the battlefield, thanks to the video clips. Some were intentionally cheesy, some not, but the big surprise is that they were actually decent. Crazy, I know.

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2. Christopher Walken (!!!) in Ripper. Christoper Walken can be himself, reading the phone book, and I'd watch it. Put him in a video game, and that's magic on a disc.

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1. The infamous Night Trap "starring" Dana Plato and the refugees from some horrible 1980s slasher movie. A treat: You can see the whole game as a couple of painfully long movie clips if you really hate yourself. Or, if you consider yourself only a minor glutton for punishment, try the first 9 minutes on for size.

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Free Full-Motion Video

You know, all this talk about full-motion video adventures reminds me of a tribute to those good old days that I played recently. This game is not only good, it's also available online free of charge. If you're hankering to see a modern take on a noir-styled FMV adventure, check out Fate By Numbers. A word of warning, though: It's a large (1.2GB) download, so hang in there.

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