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Top 5 Jaw-Dropping Game Debuts

It's that time of year; not only are we close to the biggest video game trade show (E3 2013), but both Microsoft and Sony announced their next generation systems. Consider those factors, and you know we're about to see a lot of new games with crazy good-looking stage demos and trailers. We look back at the most impressive (both at the time, and still even today) debuts of some gorgeous looking games over the past few years.

5) Shadow of the Colossus, Tokyo Game Show 2004

Some of the best games come out very late in a console's life. By then, the developers have learned the platform and how to push the machine to the limit before moving onto the following generation. This follow-up to the thoughtful Japanese adventure Ico has a distinct art style that still looks great even today. It's a hauntingly beautiful game that shows off a great sense of scale despite running on last generation hardware.

4) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, E3 2009

The developers at Naughty Dog have always pushed the hardware to its limit with their games, but it was the E3 presentation of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves that stunned nearly all attendees during Sony's press conference that year. The setting of Nepal provided a vibrant color palette, there was an immaculate attention to detail (pay attention to how all the debris on the floor slides around near the end), and the presentation for the various action setpieces rivaled the best action movies.

3) Battlefield 3 "Fault Line", April 2011

Lots of shooters give impressive demos, and we almost put Battlefield 4's Fishing in Baku on this list. But it was Battlefield's 3 Fault Line trailer from 2011 that made us really take notice. Lots of shooters boast high fidelity graphics, but the way BF3 shows you a street and then proceeds to tear it apart in a firefight stays in your mind. Plus, we're still not tired of seeing buildings collapse into rubble.

2) Killzone 2, E3 2005

Okay, the final result of whether the released game looked like this "target render" is a separate discussion, but this presentation stands the test of time in wow factor. At the time, the audience simply had a hard time believing a game could look like that—remember that we were still playing PS2 and Xbox games by comparison. To this day, whenever a game has a super cool debut presentation, we mentally compare it to this demo.

1) Halo, Macworld 1999

It might look old and quaint today, but rewind yourself back to 1999, when most shooters put you inside corridors or maybe in an outdoor arena. Imagine transitioning from those to seeing a magnificent landscape filled with rolling hills and mountains. The landscape was so large, that you had to hop into a vehicle to traverse the world in—not to mention the fact that you can seamlessly hop into a vehicle was also a big deal. A lot of things that we take for granted in modern and next-generation games can usually be traced to this presentation.

Those are the stage demos and trailers that have wowed us the most; what game simply made your jaw drop the first time you saw it?