Awesome: Video Game Levels A-F
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Ace Attorney Series
- One of the best cases in the entire series is Farewell, My Turnabout, the last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All. It's almost impossible to find something that's not amazing about this case. Early on, Maya is kidnapped, and Phoenix is blackmailed into getting a not guilty verdict for his client, Matt Engarde, who turns out to be the villain. The real killer is an intimidating Manipulative Bastard and a fascinating Deconstruction since he's actually the defendant, and Phoenix knows he's the killer for about half of the trial. The nature of this killer leads to a major Heroic BSOD on Phoenix's part about what it really means to be a defense lawyer. Edgeworth and Phoenix have several high-tension confrontations, work out their issues, and eventually take down the killer together, even though Phoenix is barely holding together from the stress. The tension is high and constant. The moral struggle is deep and compelling. There are cameos from familiar characters. The killer's reveal is awesome, and their breakdown is haunting. Fransizka - who has been an utter unapologetic menace so far - and Gumshoe each get a Moment Of Awesome. And on top of all of this, the case introduces an Ensemble Darkhorse Iron Woobie in the shape of Adrian Andrews, and comes immediately after Turnabout Big Top which is considered one of the worst cases in the series, meaning Farewell My Turnabout automatically shines brighter, and it features the first use of one of the series' most awesome songs, Core 2002, which plays to brilliant effect when Matt Engarde reveals himself. It's pretty much a masterpiece.
- Turnabout for Tomorrow from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies gets a lot of well-deserved love. All three defense attorneys are featured equally, and all three get a good chunk of Character Development too - not to mention that Apollo finally gets to use his ability in court again, and Athena's Mood Matrix gets a lot of interesting use, especially during Simon Blackquill's testimony. Pearly is back for a bit, and Edgeworth returns as a prosecutor. His time in the prosecutor's chair is equal parts funny, nostalgic and dramatic, and yet it doesn't feel unfortunate when Blackquill takes over again. The testimonies are all fascinating and emotional and challenging, while the rest of the game seems easier than its predecessors. It also features one of the best, most well-loved villains in Ace Attorney history, and the ending is spectacular.
- The very first game has Turnabout Goodbyes. Not only does it shake things up by having Edgeworth - the previously despised prosecutor - be the defendant, of all people, but it introduces Manfred von Karma, one of the best villains of the series, and a notable challenge as a prosecutor. The mystery of the case is very satisfying. Not only does Phoenix have to solve the murder that Edgeworth's accused of, but he learns about the death of Edgeworth's father and ultimately must solve that as well. The case gives significant insight into Edgeworth's character, beginning to make him more sympathetic and give the player an understanding of why he acts the way he does, and is when it's revealed why Phoenix became a defense attorney and how he, Edgeworth, and Larry all knew each other. By the end, not only does the player get the satisfaction of solving the DL-6 case, but the solution, that von Karma was able to remove one of the bullets from the crime scene because it was in his body and he left it in there, and Mia's hint (to consider not that the killer did take the second bullet, but that he had no choice but to take it.) could be considered a Crowning Moment of Turnabout for the game and, as it was the first game in the series, left a major impression on the players.
Ace Combat Series
- Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere
- The final mission of the General Resource path qualifies. You have played a long series of missions continued one after the other, involving shooting down both the Big Bad and Rena, a friend and copilot that became the Big Bad's Dragon. Both had planes with better specs than yours, and Rena's plane, Night Raven is supposed to be the best aircraft ever. Then the last mission begins. You start to play over your city and suddenly 12 enemy planes appear out of the frigging nowhere, not only that but as you approach to them, you realize that they have the same model of the Night Raven, the plane that took you 3 continued missions to shoot down and destroyed a whole city by itself, well 12 of them and with slightly better specs. And that's not all, after shooting one, you can hack into its system (as they're on autopilot) and for the rest of the mission you pilot both planes. Also, Awesome Music.
- Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies
Ally: A Yellow's hit and trailing smoke. Whose kill was that?
Yellow 13: Who was it that shot me?! See who's responsible for that shot!
Unnamed Yellow: It's a ribbon!
- Before "Weapons of Mass Destruction", it was the biggest of the Ace Combat "furballs."
- Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War
- The final three missions, Sea of Chaos, Aces, and The Unsung War. Convincing half an enemy fleet to defect to your side? Check. Defending your newfound allies against their countrymen and yours in a massive naval battle? Check. Having the captain of the ally fleet play his favorite song over the loudspeakers and on all radio frequencies? Check. Going in for an assault, only to have the first squadrons, from both sides, that come to intercept you decide to join you? Check. Tense aerial battle? Check. One of the longest tunnel sequences in the game? Tricky, but checknote . Escaping the tunnel while The Mole chases after you? Check. Finally getting to take out the evil bastards behind this war in an epic dogfight? Check. Being able to break the game and take out the evil bastards in about twenty seconds? Check. Sappy, heartwarming dialogue from your wingmen if you beat the villains fast enough? Check. Destroying a Kill Sat as it falls, while Awesome Music plays? Check.
- Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War
- The final level "Zero" deserves mention. After playing up the King Arthur motif the whole game (including many battles against other "Knights" of the sky over an area known as the "Round Table"), it's just you vs. your former wingman in the aerial equivalent of a knightly joust over a dam called "Avalon". While the most epic song in the entire franchise plays in the background and the countdown to the end of the world is ticking down. Epic!
- "Diapason". You lead your allies into the capital city of Directus, slowly taking it back and pushing the enemy out. The radio chatter in particular makes the level very fun, hearing the rebel forces and civilians berate the enemy as they retreat, and ringing the bell at the church in the center of the city to signal their liberation. All while one of the most heroically charged songs in the series plays through the mission. Finally, the mission ends with you and your wingman taking down a famous two-man squadron who come in to help out the enemy forces at the last minute.
Get out! GET THE HELL OUT OF OUR CITY!
- Zero also has "Mayhem". You've returned from a mission to destroy Excalibur when a massive air brawl breaks out over the Round Table. Think of it as "Shattered Skies" with even better music.
- Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation
- The Liberation of Gracemeria, taking back your capital city, with all your pilot, tank and navy buddies, all while the * BEST* track plays in the background? Heck yes.
- Weapons Of Mass Destruction. The level starts with you and your wingman flying through a valley to avoid radar detection, taking out all the enemy outposts to prevent alerts from being sent out. You get to the enemy convoy, dispose of it, and receive orders to exit the combat area. As you attempt to escape, more and more planes appear from your rear to try and take you out, and you keep trying to outrun them to make it to the zone line... Which abruptly vanishes as a literal fleet of planes materialize in front of you, cutting off your escape. The next few minutes are spent futilely dodging missiles from no less than fifty enemy planes, unable to lock on to any one of them long enough to get a shot off due to the unending missile barrage. Finally, when the situation seems hopeless, every damn plane you have ever worked with over the entire game shows up in a Big Damn Heroes moment, your ally command bar fills to the max, and the biggest and most epic free for all dogfight ever witnessed in Ace Combat history commences.
- Made even more awesome when you consider that for the entirety of the game, the battlefield is so immense, it's split into several simultaneous missions, which your allies are capable of completing on their own should you be preoccupied elsewhere. This mission just serves to remind you that while you are still a fantastic ace, you aren't a One-Man Army that can finish the war by yourself, unlike the previous games. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment at the moment your allies show up.
- Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception
- Alect Squadron and Operation X. The former is a massive air-to-air War Sequence to bring down the titular ace squadron before they get their mitts on the Fenrir superfighters, while the latter lets you finally go up against the AC-original fighters and kick the asses of a few ADF-01F Falkens. The rockin' BGM helps so much.
- The level in Aladdin (Virgin Games) that took place inside Genie's lamp. Good music, no enemies, and lots of stuff to bounce around on.
- Near the end of "Episode 4" of Alan Wake, Alan fights off wave after wave of the Taken on a heavy metal stage belonging to a pair of Badass Grandpa rockers. The stage area is loaded with ammo and a much-improved version of the flashlight, as well as blasting out a heavy metal song while Barry works the pyrotechnics.
Another Century's Episode
- Mission 15 of Another Centurys Episode 3. Macross Plus has this really nice climactic scene involving the original Macross being hacked by an AI that happens to be a virtual pop idol. Okay, now take that sequence, add Yoko Kanno's incredible song "Information High" from the OVA, have Roy Fokker alive and well leading a strike on the ship he once died to protect, throw in a dash of ACE 3 original story after a pair of Big Damn Heroes moments from the Nadesico C and your main enemies from the game, upgrade the protagonist's original unit to the high-speed model just before the stage, and top it all off with The Reveal of your main rival's formerly masked face, and you get a panultimate example of how crossovers sometimes just work.
- It's made by Banpresto, the dudes responsible for Super Robot Wars, of course the crossover works.
- From ACE 2, there is the final stretch (three separate stages played back-to-back in Story Mode), which recreates the final battle of the original Macross. Countless hordes of Zentraedi mecha and ships attempting to Zerg Rush you, only for your entire team to fight back, with each of the playable heroes having dialog in the background of the battle. Then you break into Boddole Zer's flagship, perform a Trench Run through its corridors, and blast him as he recoils in terror from your Protocultre. Oh, and "Do You Remember Love?" plays over the entire sequence.
- The final Eureka Seven story mission. The Gekkou charges towards the giant tree thingy where Eureka is stuck, while everyone encourages Renton and covers his breach, all the while Coralians are attacking all over. And while the number of enemies are overwhelming, that just makes this mission the perfect showcase for any of the Valkyries. And then once the mission's over, a number of characters decide to make their own love confessions.
- All three of the "boss" levels in Ape Escape. Crumbling Castle: a huge, dilapidated medieval castle with dungeons, enormous vaulted ceilings, secret passages, and a cool boss fight at the end. TV Tower: You get to drive a tank and blow up stuff, and the end boss fight is awesome. And finally, the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, Monkey Madness, split into two huge areas: A Circus of Fear complete with mine cart roller coaster and a fight against your Rival Turned Evil in an armored go kart, and the Big Bad's giant floating Space Castle, which manages to be both Nintendo Hard and ridiculously fun. Even better, Crumbling Castle and the final part of Monkey Madness come with Awesome Music.
- Tomoki Tower in 3. First, a trek through a futuristic cityscape, then you enter a giant, golden statue of The Dragon which serves as his base of operations. As you climb, you have to figure out puzzles using your gadgets. And at the end, you face off with The Dragon in a Mini-Mecha battle! (His has a 'fro just like he does!) Did we mention it comes after you get the coolest transformation in the game?
- Also, the kung-fu level, the western level, and the level where you run across planes that are floating real close to each other. Then you enter a huge airship and ride a tank through it! Best level ever!
- Armored Core 4 has "Breaking the White Lance" and "Marche au Supplice". The first has you piloting your AC through a vertible hail of missile fire lauched from an entire flottilla of ships to destroy the headquarters of one of the corporations controlling the entire world, made all the more awesome by the sunset in the distance. The second, aptly translating from French as "March to Torment", has you dueling four top flight enemy ACs in a ruined city solo when you play it on hard mode. It's an adrenaline-pumping high speed mech duel to make any anime fight scene pale in comparison, with absolute failure kept at bay only by your reflexes and intuition. If you somehow don't feel awesome from smoking the four best opponents the game will ever throw at you at once, they hand you a pair of angel wings that double as laser cannons for beating it. If that isn't cool, nothing is.
- For Answer's first real boss, the Spirit of Motherwill. that thing is what you think of when someone says "Arms fort".
- "Destroy Cradle 03" in For Answer. To describe the mission: You side with a villain, and cross the Moral Event Horizon— and destroy 5 rather helpless flying cities. Unfortunately, this sends you straight to That One Level afterwards.
- The final two levels in Assassin's Creed I are pretty awesome. First you hack your way through the Lionhearts, Saracens, AND the Templars, then you murder your way through the entire ASSASSIN'S VILLAGE. ALONE.
- In Assassin's Creed II, the assassination mission "Town Crier" puts you in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano which is filled with towers. Your target is on top of the tallest tower, with archers posted around lower towers. You need to climb up each tower and yank the archers over the edge before dueling your target on a platform basically ten feet square and two hundred feet in the air. Have fun.
- Or if you're like one guy, sneak up on him and poison the hapless target... or simply grab him and chuck him off of the platform.
- And the final level of the game. Infiltrate the Vatican, ride a horse along a wall and cut down any guards stupid enough to get in your way, attack the Pope from the sky and proceed to have an epic fight with da freakin' pope with clones created by the Piece of Eden's illusion while he fights using another piece of Eden — the Papal Staff — then HAVE A FUCKING FISTFIGHT WITH THE MOTHERFUCKING POPE. This is undoubtedly awesome.
- The mission wherein you use Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine.
- The post-credits sequence where Desmond kicks Templar ass.
- The mission in Revelations where you beat up the minstrels. Sweet sweet revenge.
- The Venice Assassin's Tomb deserves a special mention. Most tomb sequences are dark, dank, and full of rats; the Venice tomb is inside the Basilica of San Marco and is absolutely fucking gorgeous. Not to mention there are no guards once you reach the inside, so you spend the entire time solving very clever Le Parkour puzzles in some well-needed quiet.
- Another great tomb is the Basilica di San Pietro from Brotherhood in which you kill a corrupt cardinal responsible for the attacks of the Brotherhood of Romulus. You start out by following your target through the crowd of cardinals, before you give chase to him. The chase is one of the most awesome moments in Brotherhood, it's tense and feels more like something from Uncharted than the usual tombs. The chase eventually takes you out onto the roof in the middle of a rainstorm before climaxing in a fight against you target, where there is two ways to kill him, one much more entertaining than the other.
- The 2 missions involving the Battle of Bunker Hill in Assassin's Creed III are pure awesome. Nothing like running through a small town while it's being shelled by musket and cannonfire and falling apart, storming two ships to replace their British flags with American ones, dodging musket fire on the battlefield to get behind enemy lines and assassinate their leader totally undetected while running through trees. Even better if you fulfill the full sync objectives and stay totally undetected and undamaged the entire run.
- IV apparently has a crapton of these:
- 'The Siege of Charles-Towne' where you are trying to get medicines for Blackbeard and Nassau, where the Jackdaw engages in a tailing mission in shallow waters and then you slip to land and follow the tailboat through the swamp, past alligators is few times the franchise's chase missions felt lively and fun. The fact that it culminates in an intense Parkour chase at the end doesn't hurt it either.
- Likewise, the mission where you and Charles Vane are trapped in an island and he decides to start hunting you is both fun as a mission as well as incredibly hilarious. Comedic Sociopathy at its finest.
- The mission where you and Black Bart go up to the Observatory is incredibly fun if you play ith Full Synchronization and proceed stealthily through the jungle since your opponents this time are Native Guardians who have the same abilities to blend into bushes that you do. You have to incapacitate each one stealthily as you move to the centre through thickets and brambles.
- The mission where you first meet Adewale and find the Jackdaw is incredibly epic as well.
- Instead of Assassin Tombs, the game has underwater ship-wrecks to explore. The most impressive one in terms of design is The Black Trench where your entire perspective is flip flopped in alien geometries because of Ocean pressure and the ship wreck you are investigating being in odd angles. It's disorienting but fun.
- Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana has some absolutely gorgeous locations, but by far the most epic is Iris' Atelier and library. Some downright nasty enemies, beautiful music, the ability to FINALLY pick up Eital the Light Mana, a bossfight that requires intimate knowledge of your character's abilities to defeat, and some downright heartbreaking character development. In the space of maybe an hour if you take your time gathering mana.
- The Flawless Marvel, a gorgeous pyramid of pure marble containing Aion the Life Mana, some surprisingly tricky puzzles, more of the beautiful music that marks the vast majority of the game... and That One Smegging Boss. Beating said boss is a Moment Of Awesome all on its own.
- The Howling Depths in Avernum V. After you've completed the quests for the residents of the latest town and depart, they reveal that the Big Bad has extorted their cooperation in killing you, an endless stream of bandit Mooks pours out of the caverns behind you, and you fight an awesome running battle through the entire length of a huge cave. It really captures the overall tone of the game, that you're playing as soldiers deep in hostile territory, and everybody wants to kill you.
- Backyard Skateboarding gives us Shark Belly Shores, an amusement park themed level with tons of grind rails and ramps. The Kooky Kraken is easily the best part, because it's endless fun trying to see if you can grind the whole roller coaster with the game's highly unrealistic physics.
- Backyard Baseball brings us Steele Stadium, which is mainly remembered for all those who try to make home runs into the pool.
- It really is quite impressive how many cool segments Baldur's Gate has. The assualt on the Vampire Lair, Firkraag's Dungeon, and the most impressive of them all... Watcher's Keep itself. (That dungeon is larger than some games!) The Shadow Dungeon is atmospheric, nasty and contains an awesome optional boss.
- The Elven city was pretty epic too.
- Treasure Trove Cove. It is a bright, fun, big level with a nice soundtrack. The puzzles aren't too difficult, and you finally see a change in scenery away from the browns and greens of Spiral Mountain and Mumbo's Mountain. The environment finally opens up and you can fly, so it finally feels like you have some freedom. Honestly, the levels surrounding this one are nowhere near as colorful or fun.
- Freezeezy Peak. It is pretty much Christmas Eve. You're on a mountain and it's snowing under a clear night sky with a full moon. The soundtrack is full of bombastic brass, and you're in a big, interesting environment again. After the ugly, confined spaces of Clanker's Cavern and Bubblegoop Swamp.
- Click Clock Wood. Coming right after Rusty Bucket Bay, this tricky but satisfying level that cleverly uses the 4 seasons is made of awesome, especially as the seasons are more than a gimmick; you have to get many of the jiggies by doing part of the puzzles in certain seasons and then returning in later seasons. It doesn't hurt that this is the best level in a long time after Gobi's Valley, Mad Monster Mansion, and Rusty Bucket Bay.
- There are several in in Banjo-Tooie.
- Glitter Gulch Mine is a fun area with an old western mining theme. It has a large central cavern, but there are plenty of interesting spaces and areas to the side if you know where to look.
- Jolly Roger's Lagoon. Such a beautifully designed level; an above water section with a charming town, with some very funny residents and an underwater level that lets you explore Atlantis! Almost let down by an irritating boss, but a masterclass in doing underwater levels. It also avoids one of the most hated aspects of underwater levels by removing the Oxygen Meter and letting you swim for as long as you want. And the submarine transformation, which is awesome incarnate. You can fire infinite torpedos, move very quickly, and defeat enemies just by using your sonic ping.
- [[Hailfire Peaks.]] Half Lethal Lava Land and half Slippey Slideyice World. Features TWO boss battles against dragons.
- [[Everything's Better with Dinosaurs Terrydactyland.] Seriously, this level is just a lot of fun, with plenty of things to do, a badass boss battle, and a mountain that's fun to climb.
- Cloud Cuckooland. This level is home to the best transformation: the bumblebee. It's pretty much like the aerial equivalent of the sub from Jolly Roger's Lagoon. The scenery is damn cool, because it's a world made of floating islands. You can see the Isle 'O' Hags down below. And it's the last level before the finale.
- The Mind Screw sequence in the Bog, where you replay bits of previous areas with Rucks' narration slowly becoming more and more malicious and things slowly becoming more twisted, culminating with you killing a replica of The Kid himself and finding yourself in a campsite where you must...gather some ore and light a fire before going to bed, then waking up from the dream and facing the game's first proper boss battle in a while (against the plant whose toxins caused the Mind Rape and hallucinations).
- The final level; you fight hordes of angry Ura, pick up a few new trinkets (Hop Scotch which allows you to jump from platform to platform, the Calamity cannon from the previous level) before dropping them in favour of a massive battering ram which allows you to smash your way through everything and clear the screen with its special ability. Finally, you prepare to confront Zulf...only to find that your misguided friends managed to upset the other Ura and is near to death from being beaten by a mob. You can then choose to either leave him to his fate (taking your revenge) and fight an epic battle to the exit...or you can forgive him and try to carry him to safety (unable to jump, roll, attack or defend) and slowly walk through the gauntlet while the Ura's attacks slowly chip away at your health. Finally, when you're nearly dead and out of health tonics they stop attacking (impressed by your bravery) and allow you to leave with Zulf (apart from one who's killed by the rest for it).
- Baten Kaitos — the first game's Cor Hydrae. After a Moment Of Awesome from all five continents, you invade the floating castle of the gods on the back of the last dragon in existence, which has this in the background. You fight five minibosses (each of which gives you a powerful finisher), then you come to the final fight, which is viciously hard, incredibly climactic, and has Violent Storm blasting over the fight.
- The level where you storm the Imperial Fortress is every bit as fun as it sounds.
- Baten Kaitos Origins' Vega. It starts with the Heart-to-Heart scene, which is a true Moment Of Awesome for storytelling; equal parts Tear Jerker, Heartwarming Moment, Player Punch, and Wham Episode all in one, and ends with you getting your Infinity Plus One Finisher. The rest of the level is you tearing the enemies to shreds with it, all the way up until the boss of the place, Shanath, who's on the Best Boss Ever page for a reason. And then there's the music. Le Ali Del Principio (a.k.a. Motoi Sakuraba's single best work ever, which is saying a LOT) in the Heart-to-Heart scene, this song used after said scene, and when you get the finisher...and then there's the boss music.
Batman Arkham Asylum
- Every Scarecrow confrontation in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Especially the last one, when he pulls a masterful Fission Mailed gambit on you, the player. "Use the middle stick to dodge Joker's bullet"? Wow.
- The return trip to Intensive Treatment, where the gargoyles are rigged to explode when you climb over them. This comes after you've done a few rooms with gargoyles, and by this point using them has become routine, so being forced not to use them makes for a good challenge.
- For sheer fun, the welcoming party before the Joker's arena is just plain awesome. No Knife Nut inmates, no lunatic patients, no Stun Guns, no firearms. Just a truckload of mooks and The Bat. Start kicking ass, and watch your combo counter struggle to keep up with your awesomeness until you are a blur of kevlar and hate, flying across the room like a superball bent on revenge. Then, you leave the room, emotionless as ever. You're badass. You're Batman.
- Very similar from Batman: Arkham City is the Penguin's arena, which opens with Batman going up against several dozen mooks at once. Upgrade your fighting skills correctly before you get to this, and have the time of your life near-effortlessly countering blows and breaking bones until you've defeated the whole arena. Then do it again, but with a Giant Mook to fight this time on top of it.
- The Totally Insane DLC Challenge Map, where you fight a literally endless supply of mooks. The combo multiplier begins to imitate the energizer bunny and keeps on going...and going.... and going.
- The video to the beatmania IIDX song "Tranoid" starts off looking like the attract demo to an old NES game. And then, we see the "game" in action: Tran running through the Normal chart for the song. Some players, for a lulz-y Self-Imposed Challenge, play the song on Normal, and, at the speedup, play the rest of the song by the video.
- The song "Scripted Connection" is divided up into three parts. When it first debuted in the arcade version of Happy Sky, the Normal version of the song was the beginning of it, the Hyper version was the middle, and the Another version was the end; put all three of them together and you have a full five-and-a-half song. The PS2 version of Happy Sky has a "Long Mix" of the song, which is basically IIDX's Free Bird, for an epic single-song experiencce.
- When "FLOWER" crossed over from jubeat knit APPEND and REFLEC BEAT into beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro, it got its own video, featuring DJ YOSHITAKA playing the song at a release party. Combined with tricoro providing a larger video window, the experience has been described as like experiencing a DJ YOSHITAKA performance from the front row.
Beyond Good and Evil
- The roof-running sequence from Beyond Good & Evil.
- The entire end of Beyond Good and Evil was absolutely amazing. The sequence of fights leading up to the climactic multi-tired final boss battle contained large amounts of awesome.
- BioShock: "An Evening With Sander Cohen".
- BioShock 2, "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day."
- And meeting Andrew Ryan. And bringing an end to Atlas/Fontaine.
- Bioshock Infinite: The entirety of Columbia is a pretty awesome level in and of itself.
- Blood II in most cases isn't as good a game as the original was. However, there's one level in the game that stands above all others in the series. Why? In the middle of dealing with fanatical employees of a cult-turned-Mega Corp. or Eldritch Abominations from Another Dimension, there's one level where all combat is dropped in lieu of getting to take a boat through a fully-working canal lock.
- The whole of World 4 in Braid, which has you manipulating time by simply walking forward or backward, making for some really tricky puzzles.
- Then there's the final level: World 1, Level 1. You and the Princess help each other as she tries to escape from a knight, she opening doors and disarming traps for you as you run from a giant wall of fire. You reach the end. Everything changes. And then the scene goes backwards, and she's running away from you, and she's setting off traps to stop you. Even the conversation she has with the knight works in reverse order.
- Brütal Legend has your first encounter with Doviculus. First, he casually kills the Rebel Leader. Then, while Eddie's all ready for vengence, Doviculus just snaps his fingers and giant coffins containing unstoppable, nightmarish monstrosities fall from the heavens and begin ripping apart the majestic city you just saved. What follows is a driving mission as you try to escape the collapsing city to fight another day, driving and smashing your way through buildings, towers, demons, and a giant statue's crotch. And all of this is set to Through The Fire and Flippin' Flames. Best Final Boss Preview ever!
- The Lair of the Metal Queen (a big freakin' spider) is another level that is well-beloved by pretty much everyone who played the game. This partly due to the very atmospheric use of Brocus Helm's "Cry of the Banshee" that sets the scene as the player enters the lair and the subsequent epic boss fight that also plays "Cry of the Banshee" as the background music.
- The entire first chapter of the game is pure awesome from start to finish. You start off fighting druids atop a mountain of skulls, then you meet a hot Action Girl who joins forces with you, then you build a Cool Car, then you battle gigantic tapeworm before escaping across a crumbling bridge. Oh, and all the while classic Heavy Metal from Black Sabbath and Motörhead is playing in the background.
- Road Rage on I-88 in Burnout Paradise. Insanely fast, it loops (so you don't have to worry about sudden dead ends), intense combat... grab your Aggression car of choice and get out there.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
- The hotel escape level in Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth. After a few establishing hours of realistic (no HUD, no medikits, not even any weapons at this point) gameplay, you find yourself delayed in the small town of Innsmouth by a broken-down bus. You investigate the town and find the locals distinctly unhelpful and somewhat sinister. With no leads panning out, you retire to a hotel room to wait for the bus to be repaired. You sleep poorly, plagued by disturbing dreams. And in the dead of the night, the townspeople come for you.
- With no way to defend yourself, you have to run away and close every door behind you, lock them, and push tables in front of them if possible. All while your pursuers are running after you, breaking doors down. If you forget to lock a door, they'll break through it faster than you can get into the next room and hack you to pieces.
- The Coast Guard Cutter. Well on your way to assaulting the cultist's final fortress the ship comes under attack from Deep Ones. From then on it's a constant battle of survival, not only against the monsters, but against the now-violent seas, the ship's failing engines and superstructure, and the inevitable madness.
Call Of Duty
- The final level in Call of Duty, featuring the Russian attack on the Reichstag. Fighting alongside tank support, sniping machinegun emplacements, with the operatic music and the joyful cries of your comrades pushing you on as you blast through the final Nazi defenses - it's a complete turnaround from the desperation and chaos of the first Russian mission.
- The whole fucking Russian campaign.
- Likewise, the Pegasus Bridge level for the British campaign was incredibly epic. Having to spend the entire level defending the namesake bridge against relentless hordes or German troops with just a small squad of friendlies, and slowly being forced to fall back. Finally, you're running low on ammo, you have nowhere left to retreat to, the Germans keep coming, and then you receive a radio message from your reinforcements that they're almost there. The last few minutes of that mission are just a desperate fight for survival to some of the most epic music the game has to offer.
- For the Americans, it was the mission where you and a few squaddies pile into a tiny French Puegot in an attempt to make contact with friendly forces. In the meantime, literally the entire German army is trying to stop you, and you and your squaddies are desperately firing out the windows and cursing at each other every death defying turn and swerve.
- Pretty much every level in United Offensive. The American campaign begins with you manning the machine gun on a jeep escaping a massive German assault in Bastogne, and then defending a valley with a machine gun. Then you run through artillery bombardment to take a town. Then you defend a chateau against an endless wave of German soldiers, including at least six tanks. Then you switch into the POV of a RAF bomber gunner fending off the Luftwaffe on a bombing mission over the Netherlands. Then you are shot down and rescued by the guy that you rescued in the first game, who happens to be leading several Dutch resistance members in blowing up a bridge right when a German train is passing. Said guy recruits you into the Special AirService, and lead you in a commando mission where you sneak into a bunker in Sicily to blow up coastal guns, and then escape with a motorcycle and eventually a German PT boat. And all of this are before the Russian campaign...
- The Battle of Hill 400, The D-Day mission, the Pipeline, and the Brigade Box in the second game.
- The Death From Above level in Call of Duty 4. Not because it's difficult, but in a game where you are always outnumbered and outgunned, having one level where you get to rain death on hapless bad guys and the difficulty lies in choosing whether to cut them in half with a minigun or blow them into chunky salsa with a howitzer makes a nice break.
- Call of Duty: World at War's final mission with the Russians, where after fighting through Berlin and into (and through) the Reichstag, heroic music and all, you get to the top and are the man to retrieve the Red flag and plant it. You get shot (for reals), but you've told death to flip off so many times before that it's not enough to stop you from planting the flag after Reznov cuts it down.
- For that matter, Reznov himself also shines in the same scene, seizing the Nazi who shot you, brutally goring him with his knife, and throwing him off the roof, leaving you clear to plant the flag.
- In Modern Warfare 2, the Ranger campaign is definitely a highlight. From "Wolverines!", in which you engage in street-to-street combat while hiding from a tank and defend the President of the United States (who is unconscious) from invading Russian ultranationalists who are assaulting a burger joint, to "Of Their Own Accord", in which you see the devastation of Washington firsthand, assault the Capitol building, protect fleeing civilians from attack, then finally go on a helicopter ride that sees you taking out any and all "targets of opportunity", to "Second Sun" and, finally, "Whiskey Hotel", in which you storm the White House grounds with your unit, take out squads and make a mad dash to the roof with 1:30 left to light your flares and stop the military from leveling the city. All while Hans Zimmer's epic score is blasting in the background. Oh hell yes.
- In fact, every second level seems to have at least one memorable design element or unique trait. "Loose Ends" has you fleeing for cover through a Bouncing Betty attack by advancing INTO the ambush, being sieged in Makarov's safehouse (with an arsenal of small arms and claymore mines) as his crew try to stop your computer download attempt, then fleeing through another forest as you're chased by his men firing madly. "Just Like Old Times" is you and Price single-handedly taking on scores of soldiers in an attempt to reach General Shepherd and stop him for good (the rappelling section down the cliff to silently kill the two soldiers is brilliant} and "Endgame" is a mad inflatable boat chase down an Afghan river as you take out enemy personnel with your machine pistol and avoid RPG fire and Minigun fire.
- While those levels are all fairly nice, there were two that really stood out. The first is The Hornet's Nest, where you fall down from the rooftops and have to outrun an angry militia to get to a chopper. It's a pretty simple concept, but incredibly tense, especially because of the music. The second is the opening to The Gulag, which requires you to snipe high-value targets from a helicopter as you storm a fortress.
- Note that in the above description, when we speak of an angry militia, we're not talking about a few soldiers. We're talking about the entire goddamned militia trying to kill you, while you have no firearms of your own. And they are right behind you. And let's not forget the part where you fall through the roof and have barely two seconds to stop a lazing soldier from planting a machette in your face. You feel like such a badass when you take him down.
- Has no one mentioned Cliffhanger, The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday or Team Player yet? The first starts out with a tense ice-climbing section followed by some sniping in a snowstorm... and concludes with a pulse-pounding snowmobile escape. The second wins points for its brilliant slo-mo breaches, section with the smoke, AND awesome soundtrack. Team Player's vehicle ride really stands out for its suspenseful opening followed by all hell breaking loose - plus the awesome section where you ram into an enemy truck. And, oh yeah, The Enemy of My Enemy - infighting amongst Russians and Mercenaries, exploding vehicles, and a crazy escape in a jeep.
- "Vorkuta" in Call of Duty: Black Ops. You start out with only a knife, and join Resnov in leading a prisoner uprising, culminating in you wielding a
fist of iron minigun against the guards. And it's only the second level.
- "SOG" has you on the receiving end of a wonderfully epic NVA human wave assault, the likes of which aren't very often seen throughout the series. You can obliterate them by the dozens with Fougasses mines, but if that's not fun enough for you, the game is kind enough to provide you with an M60.
- The level where you get to pilot a ridiculously overpowered PT boat down a river blasting other boats, enemy safehouses and garrisons while "Sympathy for the Devil" plays in the background.
- Black Ops II has "Cordis Die", which has you fighting through the streets of 2025 Los Angeles as hacked American combat drones tear the city apart in a spectacularly horrific fashion, with the task of saving the President of the United States. You tear through armies of Menendez's mercenaries and their drone support, before jumping into a freaking fighter jet and using it to rain down fiery death from above upon Menendez's armies while escorting the Presidential convoy to safety. After that, you manage to shoot down a whole squadron of hostile drones before finally having to eject, landing completely unscathed in the middle of the war-torn city while your teammates congratulate you for being simultaneously the bravest and craziest bastard they know.
- The intro to Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse opens with a mysterious figure on an altar amidst ruins. Upon shedding his cape, he reveals that he is none other than Trevor Belmont. What follows is a level with possibly the catchiest song in the Castlevania series playing while Trevor navigates the ruins, climbs cathedral steps, and squares off against an evil knight. That's how you make an opening!
- Block 5 from Super Castlevania IV. The thousand-times-larger-than-life feel of the whole thing as you ascend the grassy hills blowing in the wind and traverse the cave that gradually dwindles into the courtyard and finally, finally enter the castle to the unbelievably epic music that changes to the ultra-dramatic riff of the altered between-levels map screen music when you make it just in the nick of time through the door under the tight time limit. It's an indescribable feeling. You just have to play it to understand.
- Block 4 is also pretty good. Partially because of the music, but it also has some interesting stage designs, such as when the screen rotates and you have to use the whip to hang on. Super Castlevania IV also has the last two levels, which have awesome remixes of the main themes from the three NES Castlevania games.
- The final stage of Castlevania Chronicles. Not only does it have the best rendition of Simon's theme ever, you are blasting your way through Animated Armor, giant bats, and ninja demon maids while a falling chandelier sets the stage (And the armors) on fire.
- Condemned Tower in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a peaceful ambient climb up this lost, abandoned and sad feeling tower with not that many enemies, soothing music, and a great atmosphere. Then you fight Gergoth, who completely loses his shit after halfway through the battle and you both fall all the way back down to the bottom.
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin's 13th Street, for one reason: Iron Blue Intention.
- ...and the Westminster Palace/Abbey inspired backgrounds.
- This level is a triumph of art design in video games; from the aforementioned backgrounds, which are strongly reminiscent of the late Edwardian/early Victorian London skyline beyond the Thames river, illuminated by gas lamps at dusk; to the warmly-lit interiors, which bear striking resemblance to stereotypical English pubs, shops and social clubs (complete with preserves and canned goods you can knock from the multi-tiered shelves); to the cavernous cathedral interiors, which feature beautiful motifs associated with European religious and martial tradition (giant organs, sarcophagi with stone-carved knights lying upon them); every element of 13th Street colludes to create a perfect whole. Even the enemy selection is (for the most part) perfect for the setting—there are animate suits of armor around every corner, undead horsemen trampling the alleys, freakish, malformed "Rippers" stalking the seedy locales and hidden passages and a giant werewolf lurking at the heart of the city. (One wonders if he's American?) It's possible no fiction has ever better captured the classic perception of London as a mysterious city with a sinister underside. Playing through 13th Street is much like stepping into Dracula.
- 13th Street because it starts with you STOPPING A TRAIN WITH YOUR BARE HANDS.
- Portrait also has Dark Academy, the second version of Forest of Doom, which is this old school style area. Except it is now in a thunderstorm, and the music is dramatic and epic as hell.
- Both circus levels are quite memorable as well, once you notice that everything is turned on its side, and later even upside down!
- In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, finally reaching Dracula's Castle in the last half of the game, with Shanoa's leitmotif playing in the background. This plays in the entrance, and also the library, which is the biggest library you have ever seen, with books all over the shelves, and the entire floors are just covered in paper which is blown away as you walk through it. Then in one area, it links directly to the biggest kitchen ever too, with plenty of mad butchers, hanging meats, and massive stocks of food.
- Clock towers in general are a mix of this and That One Level. They usually have incredible music, and feature the most challenging platforming in the game, particularly in the Metroidvania entries.
- Most of the levels in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood are very good, particularly Stage 2 Alternative and Stage 4 Alternative.
- Olrox's Quarters in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Beautiful song and nightly atmosphere.
- Royal Chapel and Anti Chapel. Mostly because of the atmosphere.
- Nightmare. Finding a distorted save room while exploring some collapsed mine ruins... the cutscene leading into the fight... the creepy subtext when you realize you just fought a Succubus... It was just perfect.
- The Reverse Catacombs. The eerie music, creepy atmosphere, and to top it all off, this game's super-boss, Galamoth.
- Cave Story gives us the Sacred Grounds, a ruined temple area that combines That One Level, Nightmare Fuel, Awesome Music and Nintendo Hard into a hectic jetpack race against the clock. It's memorable even if you never make it to Ballos.
- Many are partial to the Outer Wall. It's the first time in the game where it really hits you that you're on a Floating Continent — the level is a vertical climb up the side of the island on a moonlit night, with pickups blowing to the side in the wind instead of being affected by gravity. And all the while, Moonsong is playing in the background.
- Chrono Cross: when Lynx is playable, you wander alone through a setting that first looks like an expressionist painting, and then heavily M.C. Escher-inspired illogical landscapes.
- The Dead Sea. Not only do you get to play as the above-mentioned Lynx, but you get to do it in a place frozen in time. You get to see waves standing still, the ruins of a future that was erased from existence, and get a good amount of plot exposition handled in about as straightforward a way as the game will give you. Plus, you top it off by fighting Miguel in a battle set to "Prisoners of Fate". As far as RPG levels go, it's easily on par with the Black Omen, if not quite Ocean Palace caliber.
- Chronopolis. Yes, it's basically a glorified Info Dump, but to get there, you had to hunt down the six Dragon Gods and fight them, which brought the main plot to a screeching halt. It's nice to have the story moving forwards again, even if it is showing the game's severe pacing issues as it does so. Plus, the music is great and the boss at the end is one of the game's best.
- Magus' Castle in Chrono Trigger is the definition of "atmospheric", and culminates in one of the most awesome Climax Boss fights in the history of gaming.
- Some would argue that, at that point in the game, Magus' castle is more satisfying and challenging than the final boss rush!
- It helps that the last legs of the level is a Shout-Out to Donkey Kong, with you dodging Roleys by climbing down ladders as you make your way up the stairs on the castle's exterior.
- The Ocean Palace is at least as good as Magus' Castle, if not better. Awesome music (that plays over all the battles), an ominous atmosphere, and the Final Boss Preview at the end make this one easily Trigger's best level.
- The Black Omen, while not as good as the Ocean Palace, is still an excellent level.
- Reptite Lair, with its kickin' music, the fact that you ride on pterodactyls to make it there and also the very idea of a medieval styled castle in prehistoria with Dinosaurs rampaging inside as enemies and giant T-Rex skulls making up the doors. And instead of conserving MP as you make your way to the boss, the game encourages letting you go crazy with Crono's magic to kill the otherwise tough dino enemies. It even gets a revisit later in the game as the ruins of the castle in the future, letting you do much of the same.
City of Heroes
- The Frostfire level in City of Heroes. There is a half-pipe made of ice.
- On the same ice note, skiing in the Christmas level. It may be Nintendo Hard to get the achievements, but you can't deny you slid down that slope for a half an hour once you got there.
- The entire Imperious Task Force in the endgame is one of the most fun, epic and fairly challenging series of missions there is.
- Every mission released since Issue 17 has been amazing, but the best has to be the final stretch of the Warden Story. Heartbreak, humor, and one of the most epic boss fights in the game all rolled into one. And Praetorian Penelope Yin is just adorable.
Command And Conquer
- Command & Conquer 3: GDI Campaign Stuttgart: The Scrin have just royally curbstomped GDI territory; the entire city is falling apart and the GDI presence is decimated. At the start, all you have at your command is Lt. Fullerton, and you're tasked with reorganizing your scattered troops, rebuilding a defense, and kicking some alien ass.
- Nod Campaign Ayer's Rock: Kane is back, and he's pissed. Starting with four squishy engineers and a Fully Upgraded Avatar, you have to take over a Nod base run by an alleged traitor, then deal with GDI.
- Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge expansion features three notable ones for the Soviets, including one where you get to use Tanya and Boris together to beat one of Yuri's bases.
- Then you get the level on the moon where you get to use jetpack soldiers that carry lasers, and modified tanks on the moon's surface.
- In the final campaign, you face off against mind-controlled Allied and Soviet bases deep in the heart of Trannsylvania, then finish Yuri, who is living in Dracula's Castle.
- What makes it awesome is that the Dracula's Castle is located on a small cliff with just 2 extits - one guarded by a Soviet, another - by an Allies base. So, it's a 3 vs 1 fight against you with Super-weapons. However, both flanking bases are mind-controlled by a single building, which (be it a programming mistake or not) can be taken out with a single nuke. 2 Nukes later, Yuri is stuck on his tiny cliff with both exits blocked by YOUR bases!
- Red Alert 3: Rising Sun Campaign features the levels where you get the giant walker that literally stomps all over the Soviets. Turns every level that features it into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Commander Keen 5. Blowing up the Armageddon Machine with the aliens' own mines is tricky, but it feels quite rewarding. Plus, the music is Mars, Bringer of War.
Company of Heroes
- Company of Heroes has several levels that can be easily considered CMOA. For instance, the FIRST level of the game IS the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan," right down to "blowing the shit out of the bunkers and killing every last German in the area." Then there is the Mortain two-pack in which you first defend a hill again a seemingly endless wave of German tanks, infantry, and artillery, then take your battered units in the very next level that survived the night and CHARGE the Germans. And then, of course, there is the last level, in which what seems like the entire Wermacht is poised to go through your pitiful little base in a desperate attempt to retreat out of the Falaise pocket. In a game where having just five tanks on a map is enough to pwn anyone and anything in your way, the Germans come at you on this map with endless streams of Tigers, Panthers, Panzer-IVs, and only Hitler knows how many armored cars and halftracks. There is nothing more epic than watching your thin line of American armor and infantry about to get blown over by the grey wave, and then-HOLY SHIT THAT WAS A P-47 WITH ROCKETS.
- The Falasie Pocket from Tales of Valor. Holding the village from endless waves of US and Commonwealth forces while the broken and battered remnants of your comrades are falling back. And you have none of the heavy units in the game.
- Condemned 2: Bloodshot has Black Lake Lodge. Overall it's a rather controversial level, as you spend most of it blasting SWAT guys and throwing bombs out of windows in an (extremely creepy) dilapidated hunting lodge. But hardly anyone can deny that the first part of the level is one of (if not the) highlights of the whole game. After an extremely suspensful buildup, you get chased by a huge rabid grizzly bear through a service station. Once again: You get chased by a HUGE RABID GRIZZLY BEAR through a service station. It's terrifying, exhilarating, and awe-inspiring all at once. Hell, it's so cool it almost makes up for the huge increase in goofiness the plot has not too long afterward.
Conker's Bad Fur Day
- Conkers Bad Fur Day features Spooky, a stage where you get turned into a vampire bat and have to hunt down zombies with a shotgun in a faux Dracula's castle, among other things.
- Then there's War! Coming across the Tediz discussing the game over cigarettes, getting a frigging tank and using it to fight a giant mechanical one of the Tediz, who you kill by shooting rockets up his ass, the laserbeams, and even hearding the exploding imps over in the beginning of the level. And of course, Conker, with twin machine guns, and a cigar.
- As soon as you saw the trenchcoats in Heist, you knew this was gonna be fun.
Crash Bandicoot 2
- Crysis. The harbor infiltration and the large tank battle levels are giganormous, epic and very open in how you accomplish them.
- The beginner course in the original version of Daytona USA 2 is set in a huge, breathtaking forest dome. Sadly, Daytona USA 2 Power Edition substitutes this with a more generic-looking NASCAR-like track.
Dawn of War
- The final mission from the original Dawn of War is badass. Basically an all-out attack against a warband of Chaos Space Marines upon a planet in the grips of a violent Warp Storm. It helps add to the tension that your enemy commander is a newly ascended Daemon Prince. An unholy demi-god of nigh limitless powers. It also helps that your character, resident Badass Gabriel Angelos, is gifted with a mighty Daemonhammer to brandish against the traitors.
- The Exterminatus of Typhon Primaris from the sequel is a frantic race against time, as the planet is being bombarded by massive Inquisitorial fleets and being transformed from a verdant, green world into a blackened, flaming hell pit. And despite this, all races present upon it are locked in furious combat as they try to find some way to escape. At the end of the level is massive Colosseum were a particularly Deranged Chaos Champion awaits you, bellowing his anger that you would even think of escaping Typhon and such a glorious death amidst the destruction of a plant. The remaining portion of the level is engaging in gladiatorial combat against Orks, Chaos and Tyranids until you draw out the Champion who reveals himself with a massive explosion of fire, your main character and he then share some particularly badass one liners and then engage in a Duel to the Death. And to top it all off? At the end of all this madness, you have but a minute to escape your destruction.
- The final battle against Azariah Kyras from the same game also counts. It begins with Kyras ascending to daemonhood by submerging himself in a pool of flaming blood and rising as a Balrog on steroids. Then fading to black and the screen reappearing with a badass narration from Gabriel Angelos before the screen turns to the player character's heroes. And then then fun begins. Your commanders/honour guard fight their way past an army of Chaos Space Marines defending Kyras and the towers of offerings he has erected to the Blood God, Khorne. After destroying the first one, we see that Gabriel has already fought his way to Kyras. The Daemon Prince attempts to weaken his adversary's faith in the Emperor of Man by telling him that his soul has already been devoured by the Chaos Gods, Gabriel has none of it and calls him a liar as he rallies his battle-brothers to destroy him. Kyras then crushes Gabriel underneath his fists, leaving him a burnt husk. The Player Characters must now fight their way to the final two towers, facing tremendously impressive enemy fortifications on the way, until they finally undo Kyras' invulnerability. They then face him in one of the most impressive boss fights ever, with an entire army at their back as Kyras summons daemons to flank them from all directions and rains down fire from the skies until he is finally overwhelmed. He then dies in a wonderfully gore filled combination of Death from Above and BOOM Head Shot.
- The Templar's Chapel Level in Deus Ex. The architecture is incredible for a sniper and by this point in time the character's skills, weapons and implants are just badass. Smooth, quiet, and in a weird way, relaxing. Much more enjoyable (although easier) than the levels that followed it.
- Hong Kong from the same game is a sprawling underground with atmospheric loactions, rivaling triads and one of the best merges of storyline and player freedom. Maggie Chow.
- The first mission to Hell's Kitchen, for its sub-quests, sheer amount of NPCs to talk to, including basement-dwelling conspiracy theorists and random bums calling you Masonic passwords, and the feel that there's something wrong with how the things are.
- The OceanLab. Very haunted house terror.
- The final level in Area 51. For a game that does a fairly good job in giving you enough ammo, health, etc that you are never really deprived but have to play it smart anyway, the idea of an endless mook hoard, especially ones with karkian super-mooks, at the end of a nasty series of levels, is about enough to make you whimper in fear no matter what your playstyle is.
- The Nameless Mod, having a good level design overall, gives us two levels that stand out: The Air Traffic Control Tower (Big level, with a mindblowing number of different ways to complete it, including crashing a hovercar in the tower to get inside. The other is Aunt Betty Industries, an even bigger level that, rarely for a Deus Ex-like game, takes place in daylight (With a nice-looking exterior in the valley that surrounds the base), during a war between two different factions, includes some of the most satisfying opportunities to use stealth and and awesome combat setpiece, you really have to use all of your tricks to finish the level.
- Tai Yong Medical in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A grand climb from Lower Hengsha to the top of one of Upper Hengsha's tallest towers, in broad daylight, with chances to shoot, sneak, and bluff your way past Belltower mercenaries, culminating in one of the best combat setpieces in the game.
Devil May Cry
- Devil May Cry 3 has a short mission Hunter and Hunted, in which the player's health is slowly drained in exchange for unlimited Devil Trigger. The poor Mooks barely stood a chance before. Each mook you kill coughs up health restoration.
- The Hell Levels of Diablo. The most atmospheric hell ever (if you prefer Gorn hell over firey hell), and you fight the Devil at the end.
- The Bloody Foothills of Lord of Destruction began with a town under siege and its residents hating you. As you progress you rescue Barbarians, repel demon hordes, and destroy catapults as you go, ending it all by destroying the commander of the attack and gaining a socket to place in almost any weapon. No other level throughout the game gave you such a specific goal, or immersed the player so well.
- The Arreat Summit, and, perhaps, the entirety of Act V stands as an awesome level... even before considering the region's Awesome Music.
Diddy Kong Racing
- Diddy Kong Racing: Future Fun Land is absolutely made of racing course win, with intricate space-themed courses (often with various things shooting at you) that are also visually impressive (including Shout Outs to the Death Star trench and Disneyworld's Epcot Center) and feature Awesome Music.
- Also from this game is Boulder Canyon, which turns from a wild hovercraft trip down rapids into a trip through a castle. You enter the castle from a drawbridge, and you can hit a bell at the end which will actually raise the drawbridge, potentially screwing over some of the racers behind you. Mwa ha ha.
- The sole River level in the Dinosaur GBC game. The last few levels have been gruelling treks through volcanic areas, raptor-infested deserts, and a cave where nearly everything can kill you. The River level, by contrast, is a cheerful level (it is the first time in the game you've found drinking water, after all), with cheerful music (which only plays in one other level). In comparison to the immediately previous levels, it is also refreshingly free of random things coming out of nowhere to kill you, save the very visible mosasaurs.
- Now, this might seem a bit less awesome than some of the above, but the Skybax riding level of Dinotopia: The Sunstone Odyssey was pretty darn cool, and easily the best part of the entire game.
- The Item World in Disgaea. Note: creating massive destruction with Geo Symbols is really fun. The fact that you can choose any music to use for the levels is cool, but the music it automatically goes to every 10th level is cooler.
- As fun as the Item World is, it has nothing on Chapter 6, the Blair Forest Stages (of which there are 6, making it the first in the game to have more than 4 maps). Here's a list:
- Stage 1: You face a massive army of enemies so thick you can only field a couple characters.
- Stage 2: You face a lone mercenary with an... interesting Verbal Tic.
- Stage 3: Prinny Baseball. That is all.
- Stage 4: You are attacked by an alternate Overlord. For your first playthrough, it is a hopeless boss fight that your Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass vassals save your rear from when you lose. Is replaced by a single powerful dragon when you play it again.
- Stage 5: You face some Sentai parodies in a sequence so awesome words don't do it justice (though the fight itself can be quite annoying).
- Stage 6: Another Midboss fight!
- Then there's Disgaea 2's Prinny Bowling - there's no end of satisfaction in tossing 10-Pounder and getting a strike!
- Lady Boyle's Last Party is often lauded as the best in the game, and for a good reason. Corvo is tasked with infiltrating a Masquerade Ball in order to eliminate Lady Boyle. Since it is a masquerade, the player can walk around and mingle with the guests, and the level is filled with tons of loot and a wide variety of ways to complete the mission. In addition, the target of the mission is masked with her two sisters wearing identical costumes in different colours, so you have to find out which one of the masked women is the on you're supposed to kill and how you do it is up to you.
- The Primary Memory in Distorted Travesty. It is, unusually, the final level, and it comes right after the most hair-pullingly frustrating level and boss fight in the game. So what happens here? Well, you're treated to a couple simple platforming challenges, and the rest of the time you're almost completely invincible and basically tear through everything at super speed, including an army made up of every enemy you've ever fought, numbering in the hundreds. It sounds a bit anticlimactic, but after the horror that was the Secured Data Segment, it is incredibly cathartic and fun.
- "Mine Cart Madness" is one of the best known and most loved levels of Donkey Kong Country. Of course, all of DKC's levels are awesome. Especially because of the Awesome Music.
- The factory levels as well, being some of the fastest paced in the game.
- The bonus stages, where you get to play as one of the animal helpers and do nothing but run, swim, fly or bounce around, collecting hundreds of little tokens.
- The roller coaster levels in Donkey Kong Country 2.
- Rickety race in particular. Instead of jumping off the coaster, the coaster itself jumps. What's the gimmick? There are enemy rollercoaster riders in front of you that throw barrels backwards that you have to kill or surpass.
- The mine levels are pretty awesome too.
- Any Donkey Kong Country 2 level with Stickerbush Symphony as the BGM.
- The beehive levels. You'd think they'd be a nightmare, being filled with almost nothing but the enemies that can only be killed by barrel throws and have to be otherwise avoided, or the red bees you have to avoid entirely. The music seems to give off this idea as well, as it sounds like pure danger. This is not the case, as the bees are cleverly placed, sometimes making you do jumps that are surprisingly easy but seemingly risky, it's usually filled with lots of hooks so it's ESPECIALLY fun to have Dixie in the lead, and it has honey covered floors and walls that you stick to. The former forces you to jump around or use the shoulder throwing mechanic, the latter lets you scale walls, allowing for clever level design. AND, to alleviate the abundance of usually unkillable enemies, they usually give you an animal helper part of the way through. A particularly memorable scene was, shortly after rampaging through as Rambi, a giant bee just bursts from the wall and chases you down. The level from this point is designed to let you RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. It's pretty exhilarating.
- The lost world levels. They are the most challenging ones in the game, but the difficulty is still fair (except for Animal Antics) and are the only appearances of jungle levels, curiously absent from the rest of the game, which is about a pair of monkeys. Jungle Jinx in particular has the tires from the first game, now giant and rolling all over the place and letting you bounce everywhere.
- Donkey Kong Country 3 has a bonus level in Krack Shot Kroc where you play as the cannon that's been harassing you and use it to fire at enemies.
- Donkey Kong 64's Hideout Helm qualifies. It's the final dungeon. Your mission is to disarm the superweapon that's been pointing at your island for the entire game. You'll need every single one of your party members (and their special abilities) to do it. Your main opponent is a timer that ticks down whenever you aren't in the pause menu. Disarming it entails completing specific minigames that you can't find anywhere else, including one involving Rambi. And the music is completely appropriate.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns' Golden Temple is pretty sweet, too. Even for Donkey Kong himself.
- The mine cart levels in general can often be this as well. Crazy Cart is pretty cool for the first one, with a lovely ride past a waterfall and nice looking scenery, but Prehistoric Path and Bombs Away? Awesome, especially the latter with the falling spikes, explosives blasting the track apart and a ride inside a giant wheel while smashing a ton of crystals to pieces.
- 7-7, Music Madness. Pretty much all the factory levels are awesome, but Music Madness probably takes the cake because it has the same cool factory-related gimmicks and great music (remix) as the previous levels, but in this one, the obstacles in the level move to the beat of the music. Platforms go back and forth, fire and water jets spray, hammers pound...all in time with the BGM. Some things in the level even look like musical instruments, such as hammers that resemble drums.
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has 3-1, Grassland Groove. It's basically Scenery Porn incarnate, with dancing trees and a savannah scene reminiscent of The Lion King - and the level is very easy, which in this case is a very good thing, as it lets you focus all your attention on the amazing view without any frustration from dying mid-level.
DOOM II: Hell on Earth
- Episode 2 Map 8, the infamous first encounter with the Cyberdemon. Enough to scare a newbie's socks off and have them running around in circles like a chicken, and immensely fun to replay time and time again.
- "Mount Erebus" from the "Inferno" Episode. If Hell exists, this is what it looks like.
- Bonus points because the secret exit to E 3 M 9: Warrens, a candidate for Best Level Ever itself, is in this level as well. Once you get there, at first you appear to be back at the first map of the episode, until you get to the exit and suddenly have to fight a Cyberdemon, then battle your way back through the level with new areas and lots more monsters. Very challenging and loads of fun. Also, you can get a BFG 9000 here.
- MAP08, "Tricks and Traps". Sandy Petersen is a god when it comes to clever and creative level design. The whole thing consists of an octagonal room surrounded by doors leading to its on unique gimmick scenario. Simple, yet brilliant. The fact that it introduces one of the best pieces of music in the series ("The Dave D. Taylor Blues") is just icing on the cake.
- MAP28, "The Spirit World". Arguably the most chillingly designed level in the game, with similarly terrifying and climactic music (Bobby Prince comes as close as possible to replicating a baroque orchestra in MIDI form, and actually pulls it off). The architecture pushes the DOOM engine, with all its clearly visible limitations, to the limit, creating an almost believable cavern that really could come straight out of Hell itself. Plus, it's damned hard to boot. The fact that it isn't the lead-up to the Final Boss is a real disappointment, especially considering MAP29, "The Living End", is rather conventional in comparison.
- Go 2 It, the second secret map in the Plutonia Experiment, is absolutely insane, brutally difficult, and the Trope Codifier for fan-made "slaughter maps". And it is fun as hell massacring hundreds of enemies if you're good enough to not get yourself killed every five seconds, and even more awesome if you're playing it with the Brutal Doom mod.
- Thanks to the massive amount of content generated by Doom fans, you can find loads of amazing levels available for download.
- Deus Vult II has been called "the best WAD ever made." Including levels inspired by Indiana Jones and The Mummy Trilogy, Stargate (sort of), Chuck Norris, Japan, and two levels based on The Lord of the Rings ("Minas Morgul" and "You Shall Not Pass!"), it has some of the most diverse and stunning architecture to be seen in a video game, as well as ludicrously balanced gameplay. The amount of planning and work put into it is truly astonishing; it may truly have the best level design of any video game.
- Map 29, "Ticket to Eternity", of the megawad Plutonia 2. A huge level, with over 500 monsters (at least, on Ultra-Violence) allowing for a few fantastic instances of monster infighting, and an utterly nonlinear design allowing you to hunt for the three keys you need to reach the exit individually. Throughout the level, there are also five very well-hidden alcoves, each containing a hung Commander Keen, not listed as actual secrets, and neither is the Developer's Room you can reach only after finding all five of them, opening a gate close to the beginning of the level. Even exploring the stage with noclip after beating it gives a fantastic feeling, seeing every little nook and cranny that was put in. An absolute Moment Of Awesome of stage design.
- Phobos:Anomaly Reborn. Amazingly detailed and realistic levels and varied locales makes this map pack the best of 2004.
- The Hell levels qualify for this trope.
- The fight against the Maledict in the last level in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil was just awesome.
- .hack//G.U. has the climatic attack to Moon Tree's headquarters in Vol. 2. It makes you forget that the characters are just playing an MMO, just because of how awesome it is.
- The Gauntlet from Dragon Age: Origins. Seeing the spectral Guardian appear and ask each party member a piercing question concerning their past, encountering the spirits from Andraste's own past, encountering the spirit of your friend/family member from the prologue, fighting the duplicates of the party...truly a haunting and atmospheric masterpiece of a level.
- For that matter, the entire final sequence at Denerim. Especially the bit with Ogres, who had previously been at least mini-bosses, are powered down enough that you can slaughter through them like Mooks.
- The Dead Trenches is one of the most terrifying levels in video game history. "First day they come and catch everyone...." will haunt your dreams.
- Dragon Age II has the Qunari invasion of Kirkwall at the end of Act II, that first introduces you to Meredith, sees the leader of the city murdered (following the death of his son, no less), and can potentially end with Hawke facing the military leader of the Qunari, the Arishok, in single combat to determine the fate of the city and one of Hawke's companions. Act III follows this up by ending with the opening salvos of the Mage-Templar War starting with Anders-a partymember and potentially Hawke's lover-blowing up a Chantry of innocent people, Hawke possibly losing some of his/her partymembers depending on which side he/she takes, then fighting both Orsino, who transforms himself into a Harvester using the corpses of his dead mages, AND Meredith, who has been driven mad by the red lyrium idol she bought from Bartrand and made into her sword. What's particularly awesome about the final battle is not only in addition to your regular party, the REST of your remaining partymembers fight too (but not under your control) as well as a few other allies you may have made along the way (Such as Zevran and Nathaniel Howe). Both are incredibly epic and awesome.
- The Act III quest in Bartrand's haunted mansion is beautifully creepy...walking through the rooms one after another as ghosts float objects through the air and hit your party, all of whom are spooked, builds such a sense of tension that it's a relief when a fight finally breaks out in the end.
- The confrontation with the dragon.
- King Dugan's Dungeon: Ninteenth Level. Unusually for KDD, this level has only a few monsters, but they require logical thought to guide them to places where they can be killed. (Levels in this style would become more common in the later games.)
- Twenty-fifth Level. Meeting the 'Neather was a real surprise the first time you played the game.
- Duke Nukem 3D's moonbase. In particular, the gigantic domed crater around which you must run like a madman while shooting down the thousand-odd kamikaze drones that swarm out of the ceiling.
- Most of Episode 4's levels too. You get to visit Area 51 and blow up a nuclear power plant and fire off a pair of nukes at a burger joint, and the first level of Episode 4 has more easter eggs/references than the other 3 episodes together.
- Every level in the unofficial expansions Duke It Out In D.C., and the Land of Forgotten Toys from Nuclear Winter.
- The last section of Dungeon Siege III. It takes place in a forest that is on fire due to Jeyne ressurecting the archons in the form of a meteor shower, and you fight through zombie archons and four-armed Daevas, then throw down with a zombie god
- Dynasty Warriors 6's Battle of Hu Lao Gate (Lu Bu's version) for one simple fact: It's Lu Bu (and whoever the player character is if not him) versus almost everyone else in the game at once.
- 8, the Battle of Chibi. Not only does it involve all three kingdoms in one of the fiercest and most famous battles in Chinese military history, it also has arguably the most epic song in the game, "Capricious Wind", a track that remixes the theme songs of all three kingdoms into on epic-ass power metal music fest.
The Elder Scrolls
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The moment you step out of the Census and Excise into Seyda Neen and look around. As you explore the little village and realize that pretty much everyone you see has a house within the town or at least to place a sleep. Quests that bring you back to the town from later in the game can be staggering when you realize that no, that little self-contained village is not self-contained, and those characters have histories that make them part of the larger world.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has the Dark Brotherhood quest in which you attend a party at which one person is a murderer (you!) To complete it properly, instead of just going mental on everyone you must lure them off one by one to kill them without the others seeing who did it, then slipping seamlessly back into the party to react with shock when told that one of the guests is dead, and swap theories on who the killer might be. For extra awesome points, you can convince one guest that another is the killer, and have them kill each other for your amusement. So much fun.
- Especially when leaving the young, dumb nobleman for last. If you talk to him then he will whimper about how since you and him are the only two left that the killer must be slipping in and out of the manor somehow.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has Blackreach, a massive cavern/underground city that connects all the Dwemer cities in Skyrim from below. Your jaw will drop the first time you see it.
- Sovngarde. After chasing Alduin all over Skyrim, you follow him into what's basically Valhalla, where he's set up soul-trapping mist and is eating the souls of the warriors there to regain his strength, you run through this mist (finding a few familiar faces along the way, depending on your actions in other questlines) and, after proving your strength in a duel with its guardian, enter the great halls of Sovngarde, reunite yourself with the heroes that defeated Alduin the first time, clear away his mist, and bring down the world eater together. An awesome ending to an awesome game. Not to mention you can hang around to enjoy the Scenery Porn afterwards.
- Dwemer ruins in general are pretty fun. They're full of the unique and badass construct enemies, you can stock up on good loot like soul gems and other crafting agents, and the general Magitek Steampunk aesthetic makes them very memorable over the caves and tombs you'll spend the rest of your time in.
- The Black Book levels in Dragonborn. They're just so... so... alien.
- Empire Earth, the first game had many major historical battles to fight, but certainly Waterloo takes the gold. You have to make do with a scant few units, trying to hold back Napoleon's forces from taking your castle or flanking you and heading for the city, while desparately praying that the Prussians manage to reach the battlefield before it's too late. You also get the chance to carry out operation Sea Lion (the planned but never executed German invasion of England), which normally starts out with a Blitz of massive proportions. This time around, however, there's little the RAF can do to stop Buckingham Palace from being reduced to rubble.
- Ventureland. You get to go through a pirate town, a jungle, a broken-down version of the Pirates of the Carribean ride, a beach with Skull Rock on it, and ultimately to the Jolly Roger to fight a mechanized version of Captain Hook, who can be defeated three different ways, the most difficult but rewarding of which has you climb the rigging of the ship all the way up to the top. And all with epic music!
- Fable, the arena level, to which the rest of the game pales in comparison for the sheer staggering scale of combat brought to bear.
- The Battle of Wolfstack Docks. All the labors and grinding you've been doing with the unions or the Neddy Men come to a head in a climactic battle over control of the docks. So satisfying.
- The fight against the sorrow-spider. You've been hunting spiders for a while, and then all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, you meet the terrifying creature that's been controlling the others.
- The murder mystery in the University. It sort of wears out its welcome by being a lot longer than it probably should be and by requiring a lot of grinding, but the writing in it is some of the best in the entire game, and there's just something so cool about unraveling the secrets of the school.
- The Forgotten Quarter and the race to find the Correspondence Stones. The fact that you actually have rivals in your archaeological exploits really psychs you up.
- Special mention has to go to the Educating Lyme storyline. Teaching a sweet, dim-witted golem how to shop, read, and ponder over introspective questions about itself has a warmth almost unparalleled in games.
- Fallout's assaults on either the Cathedral or the Military Base if you opt for the guns blazing method are pure awesome.
- The Glow from the same game is one of the most atmospheric levels in all the series, an abandoned military research facility under a giant radiated crater which stores a pretty big reward in its depths if you manage to put your Repair skill to good use.
- Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel. Non-canon, and all the bad things that bad people say about it, but there's one mission that stands out - Mardin. You are tasked to deliver a Humvee with food and medicine to the next Brotherhood outpost. Duh. Why you are tasked with such errand? Soldiers before you were ambushed in the Mardin city, you have to assist them. When you arrive...only one soldier is alive. He hands you the car keys and runs away. Why? The WHOLE city is dying because of starvation, then they see a car filled with food - guess what happens? THE WHOLE FRIGGIN' CITY WANTS YOU DEAD. You are not shooting bandits - you're shooting FAMISHED people who are doing it for their survival. Most of them are civilians, who don't know how to use firearms, so most of the time you just run over people rushing to the car with their bare hands. Kids throw rocks and grenades at you. The level is awesomely designed, you have an armored vehicle, and a CITY full of desperate people to kill. You feel awesome...but they just want help. You kill them. Awesome. You got to try if you have the chance, you'll see. Too bad the rest of the game is not so good.
- The last mission of Fallout 3 has the player escorting a Giant Robot, that fires death rays out of its visor and throws Fat-man like tactical nukes the size of friggin cars like footballs while spewing anti-communist propaganda as it blows helicopters out of the sky, to retake the Jefferson memorial. Oh, and as long as you aren't evil, you'll likely be escorted yourself by a super-mutant armed with a LASER MINIGUN! HOLY CRAP!
- One of Prime's lines upon encountering your first laser fence sums up why this sequence is awesome. "PROBABILITY OF MISSION HINDRANCE: ZERO PERCENT!"
- You can muck around with the terminal connected to Liberty Prime earlier in the game - one of the options is a test of its voice systems. "PROBABILITY OF COMMUNIST CHINESE VICTORY... ZERO PERCENT."
- In the revamped awesome ending of Broken Steel, you're in an abandoned air field, with a kick ass Tesla Cannon blowing crap up. If you've been hoarding a lot of ammo throughout your travels, specifically the ammo that powers the Tesla cannon, you can essentially go through this section firing off shot after shot and disintegrating Enclaves soldiers en masse. Sure, no robots helping you out, but at least this time you're effectively leading the assault. But it get better after you scramble inside the Enclave's mobile home base. Lots of Enclave soldiers in here and and if you're high level its pretty much a gore fest. When you get to the mainframe, if you have the Robotics Expert Perk, you can pretty much turn the Enclave Robots on their masters and have them help you take the base. Then, at the end of it all, as long as you're playing good, you can essentially drop the Enclave's own bombs on their base and watch the thing explode with Sarah Lyons from a safe distance. After what they did to Liberty Prime, its a fitting punishment for the bastards and makes one want to say "That was for Prime." Of course in the traditional game one can't leave out the cool gun fight you can start up in Paradise Falls against the slavers. Its very visceral and since everybody is armed with some powerful weapons it makes for an exciting fight. There is, of course, an added bonus though if you head into the fight using Lincoln's Repeater to blast them all away. Consider it your very own Emancipation Proclamation.
- Escape from Raven Rock. If your Speech skill is good enough, you can convince President Eden to self-destruct with a bit of logic. As he does this, he offers robotic companions to aid you in escaping from his base. So you're fleeing a highly advanced military base, with Sentry Bots firing missiles at Tesla Armored Enclave Soldiers while you're running about with hopefully a very big gun at this point, totally eradicating everything in your path. Awesome.
- And then Fawkes, who most players never expected to return, shows up with his laser minigun, blasting through Enclave soldiers like so much wet tissue paper, and shrugging off plasma hits. And then you fight your way out together. Even awesomer.
- The Sacred Bog of Point Lookout. The freaky hallucinations after you start tripping balls off punga seeds are both morbidly hilarious and Nightmare Fuel.
- The entire Operation Anchorage simulation. Best quest in the game by far, right in front of "Take it Back!"
- Fallout: New Vegas' final battle. Holy crap. Whoever you're fighting with, it's awesome.
- Et Tumor, Brute? from Fallout: New Vegas. Put simply, you get to display your awesome Medicine skills by operating on Caesar himself's freaking brain tumour!
- From the other side of things, storming the Fort and wiping out Caesar and the Praetorian Guard, especially if you bring Boone with you. "Thumbs down, you son of a bitch."
- New Vegas'Old World Blues DLC, all of it.
- If you're a big fan of Survival Horror and Fallout, Dead Money is a dream for you.
Far Cry 3
Final Fantasy Series
- Many of the boss-party fights in Final Fantasy Tactics, especially with that kicking soundtrack. Assuming they weren't That One Level, ironically.
- Germina's Peak is a fun one. You've just acquired Thunder God Cid, and the level is an excellent opportunity to show off his powers.
- Both fights with Zalmo are interesting cases. Although they aren't terribly difficult (especially the second one) their interesting terrain is an excellent opportunity to make use of some of the game's quirkier movement powers.
- Final Fantasy III, the Forbidden Land of Eureka, simply for the visuals, the music, and the effect the setting has on Geomancer abilities. Just a lovely part to wander around in.
- The defense of Fabul in Final Fantasy IV. It starts with airships bombing the castle, then you're gradually pushed back further and further inside. What really puts it over the top is that the music plays continuously throughout the whole sequence, making it seem like more than just a series of random fights. Finally you're forced all the way to the crystal room, and the music suddenly cuts out when Kain walks in. He proceeds to kick Cecil's ass, and we then see Golbez for the first time, who effortlessly takes care of everyone else before leaving with the crystal. Perhaps the greatest villain introduction of the franchise.
- Inside the Giant of Babil; you descend form its mouth down to its midsection, refight the Four Fiends, regain a party member, and receive the crucial plot twist for the last part of the game.
- And, while we're here, the battle on the Big Bridge on Final Fantasy V.
- The Magitek Research Facility in Final Fantasy VI, featuring one of the best music tracks in the game, several intense boss fights and, finally, a frantic mine cart chase.
- In Final Fantasy VII, the whole Shinra tower level. You get to raid the enemy HQ, fighting through the security floor by floor (assuming you chose not to sneak in), pick up a crapload of new useful weapons and materia as well as Red XIII, and you get to see Red XIII maul Hojo and then fight one of Hojo's monsters in the first of 4 awesome boss fights. On the way out, you're captured by the Turks and locked up. Everyone talks for a bit then falls asleep. When you wake up, the door is unlocked and you find everyone in the place has been slaughtered. You follow a blood trail to the top floor in one of the creepiest bits of the game. When you reach the top, you find the Shinra president impaled on Sephiroth's sword. Then the president's son shows up and proclaims himself the new boss of Shinra. Your party then splits up for two more bosses: Barret, Aeris and Red XIII take on the awesome but super hard Hundred-Gunner while Cloud goes head to head with Rufus. Then they all meet up again and steal a truck and a bike in an awesome CGI sequence and then comes one of the best mini-games ever: driving at breakneck speed down the freeway with Shinra troops in pursuit and you have to protect the truck as Cloud. On the bike. By slashing Shinra troops off their bikes with the Buster Sword. And this game determines how much health you have going into the next boss fight which starts immediately after against the Motor-Ball. And when you win, you get to leave Midgar and explore the world properly.
- How about when the party returns to Midgar for the last time? The entire section of that game as the party comes back to more or less finish what they started the game doing; destroying Shinra for good. Something about knowing the truth about Shinra and all the atrocities they committed made systematically taking down their hierarchy and eventually killing Hojo, the game's biggest monster, made the collapse of Shinra so rewarding.
- The summit of Mount Gaia also qualifies (following That One Level of climbing the damn thing) for the FMV reveal of the Northern Crater and the section's place in the plot. For the whole game so far, you've been chasing Sephiroth around the world, and then you get to the end of the path and find out that you've been chasing JENOVA and Shinra's failed experiments and that Sephiroth himself has been summoning you from beyond the grave by manipulating your mind and memories. Then the game itself has a BSOD and when it comes to everyone has been separated, some of the party are going to be executed in an attempt to appease the public, manifestations of the planet's wrath are walking the earth, and a giant meteor is coming to kill everyone in the world. It's still a letdown.
- Climbing Mt. Gaia is annoying, but getting there is pretty fun too. The Great Glacier is truly massive but the game gives the players an ambiguous map beforehand in the town beforehand letting them know the general locale. Whether you successfully interpret the map and head straight for the summit or simply explore the place to your heart's content, picking up the treasures along the way, the Great Glacier is a well-done sequence.
- The final battle of Crisis Core. Zack Fair against the entire Shinra army. The music, appropriately titled The Price of Freedom, the endless struggle against the end all players know is coming, the use of the DMW System as a storytelling tool, the final memories of Aerith, unbroken, even when Zack's body refuses to acknowledge its owner. He can't even remember Angeal or Cloud - those two have disappeared along with all the other rolls - but Aerith remains. However, the battle goes from an entire army, fully equipped and ready to fight, to three soldiers and a helicopter. Was it worth it, Shinra?
- The Nibelheim Reactor. C'mon, we were all waiting for this one.
- Also the final dungeon of Crisis Core. An eerie cavern with underground lakes, crystals, laboratories (with evidence of human experiments), machinery, etc. all culminating in the final battle with Genesis, who pulls power from the very Lifestream itself. The track has a nice mix of desperation and determination, too.
- The final levels on each disc of Final Fantasy VIII (Deling City, Galbadia Garden, Lunatic Pandora, and Ultimecia's Castle) were all excellent and exciting, always ending with battles with the Big Bad and/or The Dragon. Galbadia Garden in particular is made of awesome.
- Memoria in Final Fantasy IX. The monsters are challenging but not annoying, the music is awesome and the scenery very interesting.
- The alternate world of Terra. Beautiful music, amazing visuals, and great character development.
- The Iifa Tree toward the end of Disc 2 was awesome as well.
- At the start of Disc 3 in Final Fantasy IX the player is treated to the chance to use a Beatrix, who had been wiping the floor with the entire party for the entire game up until that point, along with a highly cinematic scene and a rock version of her theme that is never heard again in the game. The real CMOA is when Steiner, who has basically been beat on for the entire game to that point, confesses his love and goes Super Saiyan.
- The You're Not Alone sequence, is not only a sweet, cool and awesome short battle gauntlet with a boss in the end, showing the power of friendship and how friends are there to pick you up when you're down, while also letting you kick some major ass. It also doubles as pretty much the definition of a BGM Override scene.
- Zanarkand Ruins in Final Fantasy X. Monsters are challenging as above, the haunting music continues throughout the battles and the characters don't do their traditional Victory Poses afterwards, which would have been too much Mood Whiplash.
- Also, Bevelle. From crashing a wedding in epic fashion to a showdown with the ever-persistant Seymour, this level definitely stands in one's memory.
- And you get Bahamut. Awesome!
- To top it all off, it ends with a combination "behold the power of the Playstation 2" and Heartwarming Moment where Tidus and Yuna share their first kiss in a beautiful, peaceful spring while this is playing.
- The Omega Dungeon.
- Pharos in Final Fantasy XII. Despite being the Marathon Level to end all Marathon Levels it's truly epic. It's huge, winding, gorgeous to look at all over, and the monsters are challenging and fun but not overly difficult. Plus you have Reddas as a Guest Star Party Member! And the scenes at the top were just gold, and then you get to beat down Dr. Cid who reveals that he's managed to get his hands on an esper... Best Boss Ever indeed.
- Earlier in the game, there's The Leviathan airship, where you get both Ashe and Penelo, fully completing your party, are assisted by Vossler as you fight wave after wave of imperial soldiers, and finally take on your first Judge Magister, Ghis. The Shiva airship later on, where you have to FIGHT Vossler, who's joined forces with Ghis is equally awesome.
- Final Fantasy XIII has lots of these:
- Palumpolum, which contains two awesome boss fights and Hope's Momentof Awesome.
- Nautilus, which is beautiful, has awesome music, one of the best CG in the game and a surprising cliffhanger.
- The Palamecia, where you finally assault the government that's been chasing you all this time, awesome moment upon awesome moment, culminating with Galenth Dysley revealing himself as the fal'Cie Barthandelus, in a kickass boss battle.
- Gran Pulse, where you get your first sense of freedom in the game. Not to mention the second battle with Barthandelus. Special points go to the entire Dust to Dust segment, a hauntingly beautiful trek through the ruins of Oerba Village.
- Eden, while still being attacked by Pulse, is one of the most breathtaking landscapes in-game, it starts off with this awesome cutscene (spoilers at your own risk) and contains too many moments of kickass to mention.
- The Vile Peaks sequence where Hope rides the Dreadnought. It is such an awesome sequence that turns an otherwise boring and grinding area into pure glee. This sequence is also immediately followed by the appearance of Odin.
- In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers, the game opens with a luxury airship getting attacked by Zus. The escort for the cruise, a bearer named Layle, responds by grabbing a gun twice as big as him and jumping from the escort craft, shooting monsters out of the air during freefall.
- Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword's penultimate stage sends wave after wave of mooks for you to squish. If you play defensively, it's an epic siege map. If you play offensively, it's a Foe-Tossing Charge to the boss. This leads to...
- The final stage, which mixes this with a Boss Rush. Besides the awesome music, you have to fight 8 leveled-up bosses. Then you have to kill the Big Bad while reinforcements flood the place. THEN you have to fight a dragon he released, while getting bombed with status ailments.
- You want "wave after wave of mooks"? You want Cog of Destiny. The fact you have advanced units spawning every turn and then Vaida attacking you from the rear makes it insane. What made it even stranger was the realization that having less units made the level easier instead of maxing out the headcount.
- The final stage is actually rather a letdown when you realize it doesn't really get any harder on the harder difficulty levels. If anything, it gets easier, because your characters are higher-levelled. Also Cog of Destiny, which on HHM is INSANE - especially if you aren't prepared for a level where almost every enemy is a high-level magic user.
- Fire Emblem: The Sword of Seals. Chapter 22. You start out with your team spread out, and you have to send units to two switches. Then a bunch of reinforcements show up when you hit the switches, and you have to gather your troops to take on Big Bad Zephiel. Absolutely amazing.
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Rausten Court. You must defend the center of the castle from enemies coming in from multiple places. Most of the early enemies are kinda weak, but they get stronger as you go. Not to mention the optional boss waiting for you outside the castle, if you so choose to hack through all the enemies to get to him. It's dark (literally), but fun.
- And, of course, while we're on the topic of Fire Emblem games, how about 3-13 in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn? It's an extremely frustrating level at times, to be sure, but if you're properly prepared, it can be awesome. And it has the archer.
- Also, 4-5 and 4-E-3. Seriously, all of those dragon laguz just make it better.
- 2-E. For one thing, you have almost as many ally units as you do normal units, and they're actually competent. One of them even gets Bolting, to complement your own Meteor tome. But perhaps the best thing about it is the fact the extent to which you can play this level your way. Want to play defensively? Take advantage of those perfectly placed chokepoints. Want to play offensively? Go right ahead! Either way, you'll certainly have a lot of fun abusing the fact that you just received what is arguably the single best weapon in the game, free of charge.
- Add to that, if you play it right, you can get your first third-tier BEFORE the boss. Nephennee impaling Ludvek with a silver greatlance is one of the most satisfying moments in any game.
- 3-6 in Radiant Dawn. Nothing is better than wiping Gallia's forces with seriously underleveled troops.
- Except 3-E: nothing beats turning around after That One Level and beating the ever living hell out of your own units (specifically the ones that you were using in the aforementioned level) and their Redshirt Army of Mooks, in an all out brawl with troops that are going to be seriously powerful.
- The kill counter. You know, the one that pulsates, counts up whenever any unit dies (and you have NPC allies, so the kills probably won't all be enemy units), and causes random chaos at various points until it reaches 80 and the supposedly, but not really dark god is on the verge of escaping from the medallion? Yeah, 3-E is the coolest level ever.
- All this talk of Foe Tossing Charges and Boss Rushes and all-around hardness leads inevitably to the fourth installment (Genealogy of Holy War)'s "Final Holy War". So, you've fought your way all the way back to Calphy, where it all started, and avenged the game's first main character... but wait, that cute girl has gone missing and said first main character's spirit appeared and told you "It's not over". Cue this chapter: It starts by having to: Not kill your own unit (she's possessed by Manfroy's evil magic and is key to killing the Final Boss (note: She tries to kill you for a huge chunk of this mission), killing the Final Boss' lover (who's wielding one of the game's most powerful weapons, and has a Bolting as well for kicks), killing off 2 villains after that (Including that Chess Master who plotted the entire ordeal in the first place, and is number 1 in "Let's play: Feed the kids to the Dragon") (Both of which are incredibly powerful bosses), then turning around to get your unit back (possibly only to find that you can't (For certain reasons)) then taking on 12 Max level, near max stats Bosses, AT ONCE, then the final showdown with the final boss himself, who unless faced by his sister and her Infinity Plus 20 Tome, Naga, will halve your stats when engaged (and he has Vantage/Wrath, so once he's below 40HP, he's nearly unstoppable.) Epic indeed.
- The Anri's Way chapters in Mystery of the Emblem and its remake. All three of them! (Though 11 can be really annoying on the higher difficulties.) You essentially go on a tour of Videogame Settings: first a Shifting Sand Land, then Lethal Lava Land and finally Slippy-Slidey Ice World, complete with copious amounts of Scenery Porn. (Some of the battle backdrops here in the DS remake look absolutley gorgeous; the desert one even comes with its own heat-haze effect!) All the while you're going on a perilous quest to find a vital MacGuffin to save the world, the same quest Marth's ancestor went on hundreds of years ago. Oh, and the basic Mooks you're fighting? Dragons. Sure, they're Bosses In Mook Clothing, but fighting them is so epic you really don't care. They give huge amounts of experience too, so your party is guaranteed to come back from this quest as total Badasses. The Wyverns are probably the only negative thing about these maps.
- Fire Emblem Awakening gives us Chapter 10, notable for being one of the most atmospheric chapters in the series, coming right on the heels of Emmeryn's sacrifice, being a Battle in the Rain against a general who doesn't want to fight any more and lets any of his troops who feel likewise retreat, and an amazing background theme. Meanwhile, thieves with rare treasures try to escape from the top of the map. It's arguably the finest example of War Is Hell in the series.
First Encounter Assault Recon
- F.E.A.R 2 has the Wade Elementary School, with some of the best scares in the game including the locker room, Alma messing with entrances and exits, and the piano playing Remnant.
- Wade Elementary also features the best of the games Nightmare Fuel. Seriously, how about a dark hallway where your flashlight doesn't work, the only light is dim and flickering, the soundtrack is really really eerie, and to top it all off, it comes just when you think you're through the whole horror build up. The creepy stuff has stopped for a little while as you go through a few deserted, nicely lit rooms. Suddenly, you are faced with a very long hallway that has been trashed severely. The lgihts are all still working so it doesn't seem too bad. But then, you go further and get attacked by a couple ghosts. You then move forwards again, and this huge eruption of vehemence just obliterates the hallway, blowing everything around and breaking almost all the lights.
- Don't forget the gun battle on Still Island. You get to use the APC's automatic grenade launcher turret against enemy mooks! After all the difficulty that the last few levels have posed, especially on Hard, it feels great.
- Flower is a composite of best levels ever, but the one that really stands out has to be the city level. Flying through at breakneck speed, smashing black metal and laving flowers and trees in your path, restoring beauty to what was a ragged hellscape.
- The PC game Freelancer, once you've acquired an artifact, the Liberty government framed you and Juni for murder and the Liberty send the whole damn navy after your tail. You have about 20 ships chasing you at full speed, firing, bent on destroying you. Your objective basically is to get to a warp gate approximately 3 - 4 minutes away at full speed. (It even says so right in your quest log - "Mission: Escape to the wormhole. Reward: Your life.") This mad rush runaway is a blast dodging fire going all around you. And, actually, is the first hard part of the game.
- Another moment is just before you attack Tekagi's Arch. After meeting with a group of Blood Dragon fighters, you are instructed to head to a waypoint, and your reinforcements enter formation with you. It is here when you realize just how large this battle is going to be.
- Freespace 2 has a number of these, but 'Into The Lion's Den' is truly world-class: you get the best fighter in the game (an enemy one at that), three (competent) wingmen, a horde of enemies and the objective of just causing as much mayhem as possible in 15 minutes. Oh, and of course the intro:
- 'Bearbaiting' showcases the other area where Freespace excels: dwarfing you with an enormous super-ship, then telling your handful of bombers to run the gauntlet of the defences to hit it where it hurts. Repeatedly.
- The user-made campaigns have plenty more. Where to begin? "The Number of the Beast" in Derelict, where you must attempt to keep the peace in the middle of a riot? The Battle of Jotunheim from Silent Threat: Reborn? The defense of a Karnak-class installation from the same campaign, complete with flying inside it to defend the main reactor? The final two missions of Blue Planet, which contain some of the most epic music ever put into Freespace, and one of which has a pair of quasi-dieties battling it out in the background?
- Special mention also goes to "Delenda Est" from Blue Planet. Although it has one of the biggest Downer Endings ever, there is the gorgeous backdrop of Saturn for the battle, which mostly consists of your fleet smashing one obstacle after another and generally demonstrating why they're called the "Wargods". And the music... let's just say the HSQ was at a perpetual high.
- The previous installment has "Forced Entry". It's hard. Dear Lord, is it hard. But nothing beats the satisfaction of pulling it off as your entire fleet smashes through the Shivan blockade in a chaotic rolling furball and escapes by the skin of its teeth.
- Much earlier in the main game, you're fighting the fascist Neo-Terran Front, and frankly they're a pain in the ass. Some of the missions are cake-walks, some of them are struggles against the futility of the entire universe. You're finally pulling up to what your told is the decisive battle; and it sucks. Oh it's not unfair, it's just a slug-fest to end all slug-fests. The whole time you're being told that reinforcements are on the way. You're finally starting to wish you had never put on a flight suit, and suddenly, "GTVA Colossus is on station!" This WMD of a ship is multiple times larger than the apocalyptic flagship of the Shivan fleet in the first game, and has so much firepower it chews up and spits out the juggernaut of a capital ship that you've been nibbling at for the last who knows how long over multiple missions. And dear god is it glorious to see that bastard go up in a series of titanic explosions.
- Original F-Zero had Red Canyon II. While the course itself wasn't THAT awesome, it featured the best jump in the game, which required you to hit one jump plate at high speed then aim for another arrow shaped plate on the terrain to get back on the track. It was the only such jump in the game and was a real blast. Also, the level wasn't so hard, so it was a nice breather before Fire Field.
- F-Zero X has the X Cup. The courses that are generated can range anywhere from simple short runs to courses with killer jumps that half the field won't survive to ridiculous half-pipe courses that make White Land 2 look easy. It's always entertaining to see what course the game will throw at you next.
- As far as regular courses go, the first Silence course is golden, particularly the first half which has multiple dash arrows that can be hit consecutively.
- Sector Beta with its two loops and three drop-offs offers a lot of speed potential.
- There's also Rainbow Road. Yes, that Rainbow Road.
- F-Zero GX has the Trident course, which has many very narrow roads without guardrails. In a game where falling off forces you start the whole race over (and lose a life), this could easily be That One Level, but once you get used to it, it's possible to send over half of the grid (of 30) to their demise before the race is over, for great fun and profit.
- Fire Field: Cylinder Knot. Awesome Music + driving upside-down + lava everywhere = epic win.
- GX's Dragon Slope - a course which includes three consecutive long-ass drops, which, if you time it just right, can be taken in one single, epic flight and a top speed of over 3000 kph.
- Green Plant: Spiral. A long course with a crapload of twists and turns. It's made even better if you're playing on an F-Zero AX cab with a moving seat.
- Ordeal, a brief but exhilarating ride through a Big Blue crafted out of pure Scenery Porn and touched with Awesome Music.
- Phantom Road - basically Rainbow Road on acid. Easily That One Level, but it doesn't get much cooler than a psychedelic roller coaster ride through a cybernetic void.