Festive Feature: Top 5 Opening Cinematics of 2009

Festive Feature: Top 5 Opening Cinematics of 2009

Written Monday, December 21, 2009 By Dan Webb
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Yesterday we kicked off our countdown to Christmas with the first of our festive Top 5’s, focusing on the best co-op games of the year. Today our attention shifts slightly from substance and appeal to focussing on pure eye candy. In this second Top 5 we take a look at the fanciest and slickest opening cinematics from the whole of 2009.

Whilst we did take into account substance and content, if you didn’t look good, you weren’t getting on the list. Simple as. Some people call us vain... and I’d actually agree somewhat. Let's face it though, opening cinematics should be designed to "wow" the masses. Join us as we countdown from 5 to 1, looking at each one and basking in their pixelated goodness.

Kicking off our top 5 is none other than Valve’s opening cinematic for Left 4 Dead 2. Whilst introducing us to a brand new cast of characters, Valve’s opening cinematic for their zombie-co-op-shooter not only looks sublime, but has plenty of one-liners, a shed load of blood and more zombie decapitation than you’d possibly ever need. And this is before you’ve even stepped foot in the game.

Aside from the obvious senseless violence, it does exactly what an opening cinematic should do. It introduces the new weapons, new characters, new environments, the new specials and gives us a little sunshine to stare at. Something that’s new to the series. And did we say it was gory? No? We love gore!

In the words of Ellis, “Kill all sons of bitches. That’s ma official instructions.” Damn straight son... now if only you weren’t such an idiot.

The DJ Hero opening cinematic is... how do I put this... bloody surreal. That’s part of its appeal though. Half of it doesn’t make sense, I mean, is that mean to be a giant needle that they’re all vying to get control of? Either way, who cares? Visually, it’s stunning. It has a fantastic soundtrack to go along with it. It’s confusing. It has break-dancing in it, and last but not least, it has Grandmaster Flash spinning up a whirlwind.

If there is ever a good advert for the game, this has got to be it. It’s one of few cinematics I actually watch every time I fire the game up... partly because I’m still trying to work it out. Seriously, I mean who the hell is that trucker and what is he doing trying to wrestle that needle from the Hobbit? Either way, uber awesome about sums the cinematic up.


Whilst Prototype the game wasn’t exactly the most amazing thing to look at – it was a sandbox game after all with the focus on gameplay – however, the same can’t be said for its opening CGI cinematic cut-scene. It’s as gory as Left 4 Dead 2’s, if not more, but with a touch more style about it. It’s definitely not one for the light-hearted – which is understandable considering the game’s 18+ rating – and actually, for an opening cinematic, it makes a few bold moves (around the 2:17 mark). It’s one of those cinematics you just can’t take your eyes off though. Alex Mercer is one shape-shifting bad-ass!


Like very few titles these days, Ensemble decided to deliver their early 2009 RTS title, Halo Wars, entirely with fancy CGI cut-scenes. Obviously being an RTS they didn’t have much choice, but the attention to detail throughout, fantastic character models and superb atmosphere meant that Halo Wars not only had one of the best opening cinematics of the year, but they had one of the best collective set of cinematics of the year also.

Throw in an epic Halo-esque musical score, depictions of the battle for Harvest and plenty of big ass spaceships, and you have sci-fi perfection. Everything about it looks spectacular and Ensemble did the Halo franchise justice with their presentation and accuracy.


Ever since we laid our eyes on the opening cinematic for The Beatles: Rock Band at E3 this year, we’ve been in love. The cinematic has two distinct art styles that meld together to form a perfect representation of everything The Beatles stood for. If The Beatles ever wanted to tell the story of their career in under 3 minutes, this cinematic would do just that.

The cinematic represents the stages of their careers, the transitions through them and treats us to some classic Beatles anthems along the way. All in under 3 minutes. Plus, a cinematic where a group of Englishmen drink tea on the back of a 200 foot elephant... you don't get better than that!

We were even nice enough to slap in the outro from the title as well because it’s equally as epic. A little shorter, but nevertheless, it still oozes the same class and style.

Join us tomorrow for our third festive top 5 focusing on the year’s best.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 130
Comment #1 by Xtrem3 Poptarts
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:34:44 PM
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beatles deserved to win, and by yesterday do you mean 45 minutes ago lol. unless you guys are based in the UK which i can understand. :)

Forum Posts: 175
Comment #2 by i Eat Kittenzx
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:39:06 PM
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I can see Left 4 dead 2 being in the top 5 for everything :P

Forum Posts: 14818
Comment #3 by Webb [STAFF]
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:42:40 PM
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@#2 - Ha ha. You'll be surprised. I can tell you now, it doesn't make every Top 5 =P

Forum Posts: 31
Comment #4 by II ANiKA II
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:43:36 PM
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Cool, I've never seen any of these,thnx!

Forum Posts: 2102
Comment #5 by ThrawnOmega
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:45:15 PM
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I think you mean vain. I'm pretty sure our veins are just fine =P I'm done giving you crap now LOL. Working on these lists was a lot of fun.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #6 by GunSlayer87
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:47:30 PM
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that is very interesting, I like the fact that prototype made it up in the top 5 also, the part where he jumps looks so REAL, like live action.

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Comment #7 by Webb [STAFF]
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:48:31 PM
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@#5 - Whaddya talkin' 'bout? It says vain =P *sticks on halo*

Forum Posts: 175
Comment #8 by i Eat Kittenzx
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:57:36 PM
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@3 Well maybe not top 5 arcades games but the rest maybe :P

Forum Posts: 4596
Comment #9 by DOOKH8R
Monday, December 21, 2009 @ 11:59:28 PM
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What, no love for the super long, unskippable intro for Borderlands?

Forum Posts: 3508
Comment #10 by Yunder
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 12:24:26 AM
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Nice to see variety. The sad thing is though, is that I have yet to play any of these games yet. :(

Forum Posts: 123
Comment #11 by Hustlinonradio
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 12:33:58 AM
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DJ Hero was amazing. Though the prototype cinematic was awesome

Forum Posts: 324
Comment #12 by MrIacob
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 01:02:13 AM
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Where's Modern Warfare 2?

Forum Posts: 128
Comment #13 by linkin10362
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 01:05:45 AM
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Modern warfare 2 didn't have an amazing opening cutscene,it had a summary of the first game,nothing special

Forum Posts: 227
Comment #14 by Slim Pizza Boy
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 01:18:10 AM
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WHat The beatles, come on Frontlines into was better then that.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #15 by blackout529
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 01:20:24 AM
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Great list but ive got to mention the halo 3: odst opening. Dropping into new mombassa never gets old to me.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #16 by JamMastrHibbert
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 01:47:04 AM
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Loved The Beatles one. Can't put that game down

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #17 by Watergoma
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 02:27:34 AM
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You guys forgot armored core for answer intro.

Forum Posts: 858
Comment #18 by Hybridchld
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 02:31:53 AM
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WOW! I'd never seen the Beatles one before and after watching it i have to agree it deserved to win.

Good to see HW there though, that game had some amazing cinematics.

Forum Posts: 576
Comment #19 by ovoon7
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 03:29:19 AM
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I dont exactly like The Beatles or do I have interest in the beatles rock band... but I respect them, and that was a worthy trailer for a band that huge.

Forum Posts: 576
Comment #20 by ovoon7
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 03:29:35 AM
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er... intro i mean not trailer

Forum Posts: 1809
Comment #21 by Emfulz
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 03:33:52 AM
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I strongly disapprove with #1! Have you even taken the time to see MW2's yet? Now that shit is mind blowing and will make you jizz in your pants! (^.^)

Forum Posts: 107
Comment #23 by blodnutman
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 03:35:13 AM
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I would have thought Brutal Legend made the list

Forum Posts: 374
Comment #24 by X360a Licey
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 05:30:29 AM
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Nice list Webb! :)

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #25 by CheesyToast111
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 05:55:25 AM
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The Left 4 Dead openings are absolutley fantastic every game should make openings like that

Forum Posts: 314
Comment #26 by AngrySalad
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 06:44:08 AM
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When I first put TB:RB in my xbawks, I was floored. That opening cinematic is fantastic. I also enjoy just watching when someone else is playing. They "videos" they put with each song were done so well and are beautiful to look at. It definitely deserved the win on this one.

Forum Posts: 769
Comment #27 by l.maciver
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 06:51:37 AM
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i think left 4 dead has one of the best openings even, the l4d2 was like a trailer for a movie, but still great.

Halo wars is hads down the best for movies, it was epic...

Forum Posts: 769
Comment #28 by l.maciver
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 06:52:26 AM
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Halo wars is hands down the best for movies, it was epic...

(sorry little spelling error)

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #29 by civilian brokke
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 07:26:03 AM
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I see why the beatles won, but l4d2 should be higher on the list.

Forum Posts: 43
Comment #30 by lacavera
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 07:47:38 AM
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I was getting worried that The Beatles: Rock Band wasn't going to be there. Not only was it the best this year but it was the best opening cinematic EVAAAR!!!

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #31 by ZLU CORONA
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 07:58:40 AM
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Dragon age Origins was badass also!!!!

Forum Posts: 27947
Comment #32 by Barad
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 08:03:54 AM
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i loved the l4d2 vid but beatles deserved the win. :)

Forum Posts: 39
Comment #33 by Mr_Beast
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 10:28:45 AM
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What about X-men Origins: Wolverine? That was bad ass....

Forum Posts: 69
Comment #34 by ilRadd
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 10:32:42 AM
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The Beatles Rock Band opening cinematic is great - definitely deserves the #1 spot!

Forum Posts: 68
Comment #35 by NorseForce28
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 10:48:04 AM
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Why not Dragon Age? Why a cinematic for crappy Beatles music but not Dragon Age? Wow.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #36 by Launch
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 10:48:58 AM
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Aww, no ODST. The drop scene is one of my favourite in any game.

Forum Posts: 318
Comment #37 by THC BLUNTED
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 11:29:57 AM
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I don't know what everyone else is seeing that I am not, people must me smoking something. The Beatles don't deserve #1, it was good but by no means deserves the #1 spot. I thought that all 4 of the videos were better. They actually depict what the game is about, The Beatles video was for people tripping out.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #38 by rob_subzero
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 01:50:24 PM
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Well siad #23.......brutal legends' opening was hysterical.

Balls to DJ hero as well ¬_¬

Forum Posts: 598
Comment #39 by D4RKXPOW3R
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 03:03:06 PM
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The best opening Cinematic EVER, is Onimusha 3 (i know its not xbox, im not saying it should be on this list)...but I thought for sure the opening to Wolverine would have been on this list...but I can always just link to it if anyone wants to see... (Onimusha 3) (Wolverine)

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #40 by rob_subzero
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 03:58:40 PM
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What about the opening for Street Fighter 4 or Tekken 6 as well. Both of those were pretty epic

Forum Posts: 102
Comment #41 by Zacxx201
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 04:32:36 PM
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It's not an elephant Webb its a Rhinophant for The Beatles opening cinematic =P

Forum Posts: 142
Comment #42 by XZYOE
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 06:15:23 PM
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I was getting mad when I was scrolling down the list because Beatles Rock Band wasn't there, but then I got to the bottom, and it's all good.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #43 by Yung Romeo
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 08:24:35 PM
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i think they were better ones the halo wars
the first 2 min were epic tho

Forum Posts: 16
Comment #44 by Gumbercules9001
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 08:56:23 PM
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Does this mean everyone skipped Ballad of Gay Tony's opening cutscene?

Forum Posts: 14818
Comment #45 by Webb [STAFF]
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 09:49:06 PM
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@#44 - Definitely not.

Forum Posts: 4596
Comment #46 by DOOKH8R
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 10:37:37 PM
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@#23-good call

Forum Posts: 2161
Comment #47 by mjc0961
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 @ 11:20:03 PM
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Kudos for recognizing Prototype, it was the first game I thought of when I saw the name of this list.

#44: Ballad of Gay Tony's opening cutscene was recycled in-game footage of the regular GTA IV, followed by more in game footage of Luis walking around. Not exactly impressive either graphically or "wowness."

Forum Posts: 131
Comment #48 by The Dark Wyvern
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 02:29:17 AM
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This was fun to read/view. I've been interested in trying out Left 4 Dead 2 (I never really played the first), DJ Hero as well, Prototype was indeed a good game, but just imagine playing it with those eye-candy graphics, I have Halo Wars, and watching the Intro again, I think I'm going to give it another go (Didn't get very far into it...I'm a terrible RTS gamer), and I just rented The Beatles RockBand, and while never really have listened to much Beatles, I love Rock Band and the game looks to be very enjoyable. =]

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #49 by eatingforthree
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 07:34:19 AM
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would not agree. if it went through both platforms i would say killzone 2 wins it by a landslide. anyone who has a ps3 would know what im talking about. I have both systems and ps3 exclusive games have bettr openings

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #50 by Seven7
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 02:56:47 PM
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And what about the opening of Assassins Creed II? I haven't seen it myself, but judging on all the trailer work I've seen before the launch of the game I'm guessing that it must be pretty sweet??

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #51 by Lievan
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 03:49:46 PM
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@49 good thing this the xbox site, head to their sister site for PS3 and talk about the game openings there.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #52 by snypr2217
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 06:01:35 PM
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Thank you for having such laggy-ass videos, I couldn't tell what the fuck was going on. I really appreciate it.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #53 by Finisher808
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 07:10:15 PM
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If Ezio from Assassin's Creed 2 had shape-shifting abilities he would be the worlds greatest assassins ever!

Forum Posts: 1719
Comment #54 by UNDERWALLY
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 07:53:20 PM
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Agree with Beatles #1, but u LEFT OUR GH: METALLICA!!!! It's the best, whith all the albumcovers and logos and everything it's awesome!

Forum Posts: 63
Comment #55 by Gearbolt
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 05:05:59 AM
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The Beatles deserved to be on this list, but #1? DJ Hero was just plain confusing. I'm sure there was a better deserved entry than that. And L4D2 should have been further up on the list. It's one of the few games I always watch before playing the game. More games should do thier opening cinematics like this.

Forum Posts: 58
Comment #56 by Victory Guy
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 05:38:26 AM
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No Brutal Legend? Jack Black rambling > LFD2, Prototype, DJ Hero, Halo Wars.
Beatles Rock Band's opening cinematics were awesome tho.

Forum Posts: 52
Comment #57 by JoeyStone
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 06:12:58 AM
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Brutal Legend was my favourite of the year, easily. Made me laugh out loud several times.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #58 by dR PowerDrain
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 09:11:21 AM
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When I saw Beatles opening I just flipped out. Best one by far.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #59 by iTz L14M
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @ 11:05:29 AM
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Totally agree with l4d2 at 5th and The Beatles 1st. But DJ hero's was bad.. Prototypes was good but i dont think it should of been in the top 5...

Forum Posts: 43
Comment #60 by BlO0DJUNKi3
Friday, December 25, 2009 @ 01:29:43 AM
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For those talking about the elephant in the Beatles Opening, its the Hindu deity, Ganesha. Patron of arts & sciences.

The list is fine, MW2s wasn't shit.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #61 by Buzz Killer81
Saturday, December 26, 2009 @ 10:12:41 AM
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Oh look more undeserved Halo, and Left 4 Dead 2 nominations.

Forum Posts: 54
Comment #62 by Grimm Tim
Sunday, December 27, 2009 @ 01:37:52 AM
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Left 4 Dead 2 should have definitely beat DJ Hero and Prototype. DJ Hero shouldnt even be in the top 5... Halo Wars and The Beatles are right where they should be though

Forum Posts: 150
Comment #63 by BrandAid1138
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 08:33:45 AM
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loved the Beatles opening. I'm a big fan of the band and was floored when i first put that game in and saw that. anyone that comes over to play, I make them watch it too, and they're all "holy crap is that cool!"

Forum Posts: 35
Comment #64 by Big AsherZ
Thursday, November 11, 2010 @ 12:03:12 PM
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its a shame ffXIII came out in 2010 as that would have easily won

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #65 by UntoldLegend13
Sunday, May 22, 2011 @ 06:05:09 AM
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where the hell was Sonic Unleashed, it was argueablly the 2nd best part of the game

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