I don’t usually play video games. But when I do, I manically smash the controller buttons every time one of those those pricey cinematic cut-scenes pop up. They’re hardly ever necessary to the gameplay—unless you’re someone who really cares about the deep historic intrigue embedded in BioShock Infinite—and are often just an excuse to show off rendering capabilities, or conversely, compensate for weak in-game graphics.
So it's easy to miss the occasional exquisitely crafted and detail-loaded specimens, especially when you just want to get back to shooting your way through the scenery. Writer Andy Kelly, who operates under the YouTube handle ultrabilliant, has done a great service then for gamers and occasional fans of the genre alike.
In his Other Places video series, he’s compiled the most breathtaking landscapes, architecture, and worlds plucked from game titles such as Mass Effect II and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
The sequences are scored with lilting strings or ominous tones, depending on what the scene calls for. The music enhances the otherworldly beauty of these environments and completes the vivid cinematic experience. In little more than three minutes, your eyes have gobbled up an entire place and time. Subtract the distraction of gameplay egging on your trigger-happy sensibilities and you can stop to appreciate the world that, after all, was created for you.
Dramatic fly-throughs and sun-kissed establishing shots piece together a simple backstory without the use of dialog or characters. In fact, few humanoids are ever glimpsed, save for the odd group of dancing or toiling villagers thrown in to sell the realism of the locales.
But who needs people? The purpose of the series, and what makes it so enjoyable, is that it gives the viewer the chance to explore the immaculately rendered places that you try so hard and in vain to pass or jump hurdles to reach. In that way, they’re the end of the rainbow, so to speak.
But enough chatter. Go on and watch the clips. Enjoy the scenery instead of shooting it up.