Level In Reverse
This area looks familiar... wait a second. This is that other level, backwards!
Better Name Needs Examples Tropeworthy?

(permanent link) added: 2013-04-07 04:45:24 sponsor: Adbot (last reply: 2013-05-11 18:09:26)

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With the cost of development for video games going up, it's understandable that the dev team would want to find a way to cut corners. As such, a lot of game content becomes recycled. It's easier to miss and/or explain with small things, but with something as large as a whole game environment, players might start to cotton on.

Some decide to cut corners elsewhere. Others try to hide the recycled geometry better.

The two major ways that developers try to hide re-used level geometry are:

  • Flipped levels, where the level geometry is flipped (Left turns become right turns, up becomes down etc.)
  • Flipped paths, where the direction the player traverses the level is changed (i.e. the player starts at what was the end of the level, and has to move towards what was the beginning.)

Note that these two methods are not mutually exclusive.

There are several reasons why the development team might re-use the level geometry in this manner:

  1. The dev team was lazy
  2. The dev team ran out of time to develop unique geometry for every level
  3. The level description requires the use of previous level geometry, with different enemy placements, objectives etc. (for example, the player is going back to an area previously visited, except is approaching it from a different angle/entrance, or in the case of flipped geometry, a Mirror Universe situation.)
  4. The level contents (items, enemies etc) are randomly generated, including start and end points
  5. The dev team needed to keep file sizes down

Compare Backtracking, where the level is exactly the same as before, only you're going through it in the opposite direction, and Remixed Level, where the new level is the same as the old level, but altered in some fashion.

Note that while all Level in Reverse examples can be seen as Remixed Level examples, the inverse is not true.

Examples:

Action Adventure Games

Driving Games
  • Racing games tend to have reverse versions of circuits, as driving the circuit in one direction quite often has different challenges to it than driving it in the opposite one.
    • Need for Speed 2 had a setting which, if checked, meant you drove every track backwards.
    • The Mario Kart games have the Mirror Cups, which require the player to race on the reversed versions of tracks to win.
    • Re-Volt featured a particularly jarring version of this trope, having not only levels that were back to front, but also mirrored levels (swapped left-to-right). As well as reverse mirrored levels.
  • LEGO Racers has three levels which are previous levels, inverted left-to-right.

First Person Shooter
  • Modern Warfare 3 does this with its Spec Ops levels, with several of them being areas you play through in the campaign, just played from the 'end' of the level to the 'start'.
    • This trend started in the original Modern Warfare, however it was justified then as in between the levels that shared the geometry, the player character for these levels had not moved, but new enemies had arrived.
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct does this with its randomly generated scavenge missions.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved had the first half of the game playing through various levels, and the second half playing those same levels backwards, as you were fleeing/fighting the Flood.
    • This trend seems to be somewhat popular with the Halo series. Halo 3 had The Floodgate and The Storm being reverses of each other, and Halo: Reach had the levels The Package and ONI: Sword Base sharing similar geometry, but with different start points.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has a campaign called Hard Rain, which has the players reach a gas station half-way through, and then go back along the path they used to get there, except now a monsoon has hit, imparing vision and communication.
  • RAGE has several instances of having to go back to previous areas in order to retrieve something not gotten the first time, such as the two visits to Dead City. Once for an upgraded defibrilator, the other to get info on The Authority.
  • Duke Nukem 3D has an addon pack called Nuclear Winter, in which the first two levels are the first two levels of the standard game, played backwards and with a christmas theme.
  • The level immediately following your acquisition of the dual-portal device in Portal 2 is the final test chamber of the original Portal, only in reverse and in disrepair.

Massively Multiplayer Online games
  • Toontown Online has a section called the Goofy Speedway, where you race on one of 18 tracks. 9 of these tracks are reverse versions of the other 9 tracks.

Platformers
  • Super Mario 3D Land has several of the special stages using geometry from the regular stages, played in reverse.

Role Playing Game
  • Dragon Age 2 does this with its dungeon environments, although sometimes you don't get the full expanse of the level, but you can still tell it's the same geometry, as even though you can't get there the minimap still shows the rest of it.
  • Two of the DLC packs for Dragon Age: Origins used the Cadash Thaig area, except one started at the southeast exit and ended near the statue in the northwest, while the other started at the statue and ended at the southeast exit.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has two versions of this in one: The inverted castle is not only played with the same level geometry, only upside-down, but you start the inverted castle from the Dracula fight room, and work your way 'upwards', thus utilising both methods of masking the reused geometry at the same time.
  • The Disgaea titles have Dark World and X-Dimension map variants that may or may not rearrange the placement of the Base Panel and monsters.

Sandbox Games
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had two levels inside Madd Dogg's mansion, one near the end of the game, and one near the start, with both levels having you go in opposite directions through the mansion itself.

Third Person Shooter
  • In Transformers Prelude To Energon (The video game based on the Transformers Armada TV series) has one level where you fight your way through a space ship. The next level is the same ship, only the ship is now nose-down and you start in the bridge, which is where the last one ended, fulfilling both methods implied with this trope.

Misc. Games
  • BIONICLE Heroes for the DS that has a level which is one of the previous levels, only upside down.
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