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Top 10 Cinematic Video Game Trailers of the Early 2000s

best cinematic video game trailers of early 2000s

Since our last article on this topic featured the best video game trailers of recent years, we thought it was time to take a look at some old but gold pieces. Today, we take a stroll down memory lane and showcase the best video game cinematic trailers of the late 90s and early 2000s. 

Even if you haven’t been an avid gamer at that time (or weren’t old enough yet), you will likely have already heard about many of these. But even if you haven’t, we can begin by wholeheartedly recommending you give these games a shot — most of these have aged like fine wine!

When it comes to our ranking system, all of these picks are subjective choices as there is no tried-and-true way to rate these objectively. However, we have it our best to be as fair as possible when ranking them. When evaluating these trailers, we looked at the following factors:

  • overall video production quality
  • the game’s reputation and audience reception
  • how well-made it was for its time

Also, we’re aware there isn’t enough room on our list for all the fantastic trailers that the early 2000s gave us, so we had to make some tough cuts. However, we will also include two honorable mentions at the end, so hold onto your seats and let’s get right into it!

Top 10 Cinematic Video Game Trailers (1998-2010)

Here are our picks for the best video game trailers of the early 2000s:

  1. Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands (Ubisoft)
  2. Fallout 3 (Bethesda Softworks)
  3. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (THQ)
  4. Resident Evil 5 (Capcom)
  5. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (Eidos Interactive — Now Square Enix)
  6. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (Blizzard Entertainment)
  7. Demon’s Souls (Bandai Namco)
  8. Halo 3 (Microsoft Game Studios)
  9. Diablo 2 (Blizzard Entertainment)
  10. Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix)

Honorable Mentions

  1. Metro: Last Light (THQ)
  2. Wolfenstein (Activision)

Let’s check them out!

10. Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands (Ubisoft)

Prince of Persia has been a well-beloved and popular franchise of the early 2000s, so imagine how the fans felt after the long-awaited second iteration of the game under Ubisoft’s wing was announced! The trailer features some breathtaking cinematic scenes that do the franchise justice, as well as some dynamic gameplay footage featuring the game’s most iconic mechanic — rewinding time! That epic atmosphere is further enhanced by the fantastic narration that will genuinely make you want to save the world. Overall, this trailer is an excellent introduction to our list as it features everything one could wish for — a long-standing franchise, superb video quality for its time, and tons of action!

9. Fallout 3 (Bethesda Softworks)

The serene tune that plays throughout this trailer cannot prepare an unexpecting viewer for what’s to come. We all know and love the post-nuclear-fallout world of Bethesda’s Fallout series, but this trailer just strikes the right cords! The slow-paced camera zooming out of the demolished bus reveals a ruined city gradually. The change in the background music that ensues perfectly paves the way for the big reveal — a fully armed man in Fallout 3’s iconic power armor! We just had to include this trailer on our list solely due to its atmosphere and build-up. And let’s not even mention that all fans of this Bethesda’s gem still get goosebumps from it to this day.

8. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (THQ)

Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant. Purge the unclean.

Everyone who has ever played any of the Warhammer 40K games knows this chilling line. It perfectly illustrates what this game’s world is all about! With that in mind, this trailer has everything you would expect:

  • space marines fighting orks
  • shooting, hacking, and slashing
  • giant robots
  • a glorious charge
  • an honorable sacrifice

It doesn’t end there! This game was long-anticipated and is remembered as one of the best Warhammer 40K installments to date. All of that combined gives it a well-deserved spot on our list. 

FOR THE EMPEROR!

7. Resident Evil 5 (Capcom)

How could we not include a Resident Evil game? The Resident Evil franchise is one of the most well-known in the world. It has even been turned into a series of movies. With such outstanding popularity and a reputation to maintain, this trailer does not disappoint! Now, we know that Resident Evil 5 is far from the most popular game in the series, but that doesn’t take away from the cinematic quality of its trailer. It gives an excellent introduction to the game’s environment while still piquing viewers’ curiosity by showcasing familiar characters from the franchise. Watch it and see for yourselves!

6. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (Eidos Interactive — Now Square Enix)

This franchise finally got its well-deserved closure four years after the last installment in the Legacy of Kain series. Oh, and what a closure it was! Unless you’re a part of the older generation of gamers, you might not have heard of the Legacy of Kain games, which, if you ask us, is a massive loss for you. But it’s nothing you can’t fix! These games have had one of the best developed and most convoluted storylines to date, and the series started in 1996! This trailer utilizes gameplay elements and merges them in a perfectly cinematic fashion to feature the all-so-familiar characters, places, and scenery all veterans know and love. We’re having a hard time picturing the looks on the gamers’ faces once they realized they’d be playing as both Raziel and Kain in this perfect conclusion to one of the most epic sagas in gaming history

5. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (Blizzard Entertainment)

Even if you’re not a Blizzard fanboy, you’ve undoubtedly seen this trailer before! If you haven’t, you’ve probably been on some desert island somewhere, cut off from the rest of the world. This cinematic trailer has a simple premise — it’s a duel between a human footman and an orc grunt on a meadow littered with bodies. However, the dreary weather, the ominous thunder, and the sounds… oh, the sounds. The narration and the voices fit the atmosphere like a glove. And don’t forget how old this trailer is! Its first debut was in 1999. Overall, this cinematic masterpiece has aged well and perfectly foreshadows the game’s main plot.

4. Demon’s Souls (Bandai Namco)

If you have never heard of Demon’s Souls, you have missed out on a lot! This absolutely gorgeous and dark cinematic trailer is an introduction to one of the games that had the most significant impact on the modern gaming industry. That fact alone is what got this trailer so high on our list. Even back then, when this title launched, it was revolutionary. What was it known for? Its difficulty, of course! It paved the way for a series of exceptionally challenging games in the Dark Souls series, and many more alike. The trailer itself is not as well-made as some of our other picks, but what they nailed was the music! Oh, and the video also showcases some of the many opponents you will have to face throughout your adventure, so it checks that box as well.

3. Halo 3 (Microsoft Game Studios)

For all the fans of the Halo series, this trailer was a dream-come-true. The long-awaited ending to the franchise was finally here, and this cinematic experience does it justice! It foreshadows the final battle between the human race and the Covenant. The sheer epicness and the build-up for the reveal will sweep you off your feet! If you haven’t played this franchise and love shooting aliens, this trailer is sure to make you pick the game up and try it for yourself!

2. Diablo 2 (Blizzard Entertainment)

Yes, it is yet another Blizzard’s gem, but this time, it’s even older than our previous entry. Aside from that, Diablo 2 is popularly considered to be the best Blizzard game of all time! This trailer starts as one would expect from a Diablo game — on an extremely dark, rainy night. That immediately sets the mood of the entire cinematic. However, what makes this trailer different from many others on our list is just how vital it is to understand the game’s story. It features the protagonist of the previous installment in the franchise carrying Diablo’s soulstone. It is then that the viewer realizes the devastating truth that the character they had played in the last game is becoming Diablo himself. These reasons are why we decided to place this trailer so high on our list. We believe it’s well-warranted; what about you?

1. Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix)

Finally, we get to our number-one spot, and here, we believe there is no need to justify our choice. Not only is Final Fantasy one of the longest-running gaming franchises in the world, but so much has been put into this trailer that it could be likened to a stand-alone animated movie! Everything about this trailer is miles ahead of its time — the attention to detail, the cinematography, the music… They all flawlessly preserve the game’s identity while staying true to its distinctive art style. Overall, we believe this trailer is on a whole other level compared to the rest of our picks, so it indisputably takes the top spot on our list!

Honorable Mentions

As we’ve mentioned at the beginning, we have two honorable mentions for you as well. Unfortunately, these two didn’t make the cut for different reasons, but they’re still worthy of highlighting,

1. Metro: Last Light (THQ)

Does this look like a video game trailer? No! And that’s the most baffling thing about it! This trailer is a movie in disguise, and it’s sure to send shivers down your spine. The chilling cries of panicked people and the sobbing of children as they run toward their only hope of shelter, the metro, will simultaneously leave you feeling uneasy and in awe. But wait, why is this trailer an honorable mention? Because it’s for a game that came out in 2013. Although that doesn’t fit the bill of our trailer list this time, we just had to make an exception.

2. Wolfenstein (Activision

Our final entry is none other than the 2009 edition of the long-running Wolfenstein franchise! This title marked the rebirth of this game series and was followed by many more installments in the following years. When it comes to the trailer, it is not too shabby, but it’s nothing to write home about. It includes a highly cinematic display of many ingame scenes and gives a decent insight into the game’s plot. Unfortunately, it barely didn’t make the cut, so we decided to showcase in as an honorable mention due to its overall importance and franchise popularity. Anyways, if you’re a fan of FPS games and haven’t tried the Wolfenstein series, we wholeheartedly suggest you begin here!

Hope You Had a Blast!

Did you enjoy our list of the best video game trailers of the early 2000s? Do you agree with our choice? What other trailers would you include that didn’t make our list? Let us know on social media; we’d love to hear your thoughts! And don’t forget to check out our list of best video game trailers of recent years if you’re looking for more similar content.

Until next time!

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