The Penthouse mission from the John Woo game Stranglehold features an entire segment where you have to pursue the boss through the place while fighting off his mooks, which is made very frustrating due to the simple fact that there's lasers everywhere, and if you touch them, BOOM, you're dead, and you have to start all over again. And you don't get to find a checkpoint until the very end before the standoff.
Driv3r: The mission "The Chase" anyone who's played that game will feel a chill just hearing those words, mere words cannot describe how insanely FRUSTRATING and agonizingly difficult that mission is, it's so hard it actually caused alot of people to simply give up on finishing the game altogether. Why is it so hard? Well first you have to chase Calita through some very narrrow back-alleys, which requires precision-perfect turning and braking, just ONE minor bump and you're pretty much guranteed to fail, and it's made ten times harder because of the lousy driving controls, and if you manage to get past the hellish part, then you have to chase after Calita AGAIN on a goddamn motorcycle, the driving controls get better, but it's still hard as hell annd you end going through some more narrow paths where it's REAL easy to screw up, then after that if you haven't already knocked Calita off her bike, you have to kill a bunch of her goons, which is easy compared to the rest off the mission, but still annoying nevertheless since if you die there, you have to start the motorcycle section all over again.
The two levels where you fight a helicopter in 24: The Game. It has a very large health bar, and can easily maneuver around any hiding place you find, and since you're fighting with heavy weaponry you have to stand completely still to shoot it. The second one adds the difficulty of far fewer hiding places, plus a bunch of guys on the ground shooting at you.
From the same game, the two levels where you are chased by a bunch of cops through a neighborhood. You have to be a certain distance away from any squad cars before you can move on, and they're all twice as fast as the car you're driving, plus they make the cops from Grand Theft Auto look like responsible drivers. Not to mention that both missions are timed, which means if you take too long trying to get away from them you'll automatically fail regardless. Basically your only hope is to hope that when you enter the neighborhood, there will be two large trucks there that you can let the cops run into, which will slow them down enough that you might get away if you keep going in a straight line.
The ReBoot action game (based on the animated series of the same name) for the Sony Playstation takes frustration to a new extreme. It's not enough that the entire premise of the game is flawed (you fly around on your hoverboard sealing up network "fabric tears", you can't fly up or down, and it's near impossible to make precise jumps). In the third level of the game, you must complete your mission in a set timeframe, travelling through an area that looks like a toxic waste factory. You can't make a crucial jump to get to a network tear, so you land on a pool of toxic waste, where a massive creature that looks like a tapeworm POPS RIGHT THE F#$@ OUT and bashes your character around. You can't even move quickly enough to avoid it because the graphics lag incessantly, and you sure won't be able to finish the level on your first, second or tenth try.
While the 100-Floor Vambery Tower Laboratory of Lunar Knights has the fairly reasonable stipulation of "floor number equals enemy level," the fifth and tenth floors of each series of ten can be incredibly frustrating for several reasons: The fifth floors have no Edge Gravity and wind constantly screwing with your movement (and falling off an edge is an instant Game Over, while just having a character killed results in switching to the other character, which itself causes the problem that if your gunslinger is dead, four of the enemies require timed guarding to kill them very slowly by bouncing their projectiles back at them), and there are enemies on every platform that can inflict confusion, removing your ability to lock on to enemies and randomly rotating your movement axis. The tenth floors, meanwhile, are winding hallways with stun-inducing Evil Eye turrets and multi-hit-immune Lizardmen that must all be killed in order to progress. After a certain amount of time, giant spiked balls (which deal damage in the quadruple digits) fall from the ceiling at regular intervals, and normally the Lizardmen are smart enough not to walk into them. If you don't have the Bomber gun, missing a Lizardman or an Evil Eye can be the death of you.
As long as we're listing Boktai-ish examples, the Waterway from the Second game, and Sol City from the First Game - although for opposing reasons:
Waterway: You fight Blue Dvalinn... what, four rooms after entering the dungeon? AND she's got obscenely high defenses for when you first meet her. I don't care if you are doing a fist-specialist run, you will NOT win this fight without a flame-enchanted spear and plenty of magic and health items.
Sol City: Hoo boy, where to begin? You're over nine thousand feet in the air, so one missed step on the entry to the dungeon proper is gonna make you go splat; you're forced to use Redshrooms (think Alice in Wonderland) to get anywhere in the first section; you're pretty much forced into fighting Sabata halfway through the level (who you cannot beat here because... well, the plot demands it and you don't stand a chance against the Gun del Hell in an open area anyway); you have to deal with fnarking Cockatrice on the way up; there's a Solar Mirrors puzzle or five that you need to solve before you can get to Carmilla; the boss of the area is Carmilla, and to top it all off you lose your terrennial right before the boss fight. In the recap dungeons at the end, Carmilla's is easier compared to the others, probably as an apology for making you do Sol City in the first place!
The section in Ashes (act 1) when you first encounter the grenadier is your first real taste of the difficulty of this game. You are in a courtyard advancing up to a semicircular building. Suddenly, the doors open up and you're caught in an ambush. The enemy has an HMG, and the close confines of the building are protected by a guy whose shotgun can gib you in one hit.
Act 2 puts you in a junker, a stripped down APC, driving through some wrecked streets, and have to defend yourself against swarms of flesh-eating bats with an ultraviolet light turret. Simple enough. However, you can't drive and fire at the same time, so have to switch between the two. And even though there are three people in the vehicle, you are apparently the only one capable of doing anything. And your health in the junker does not regenerate; the damage goes to your vehicle, which undergoes Critical Existence Failure if it gets too banged up.
What makes this example so especially aggravating is that while many of the Gears of War examples can be greatly mitigated by having a second player along, this situation is designed for only one player. Even if you have two people playing you can only drive or fire the spotlight, not both. Thus it gets even harder as two people try to coordinate what's really meant for one person.
Act 3's entire factory level can be considered this. It has a big fight against the dark wretches. They pour on you in a Zerg Rush. Wretches are small and fragile and only have melee attacks. However, they also come in large numbers and can appear from anywhere. You normally deal with them by melee attacks. However, if you try to pummel these, they die, and then they'll blow up in your face, literally. They explode when they die. Now combine all those things together with being in a small space. Oh, and on insane mode, the explosions go from being little more than Scratch Damage to pretty much guaranteeing and instant death if you're too close, with a very very fine line between no damage, a little damage, and instant death. And the entire fatory is infested with them. Have fun!
The mine cart segment in act 3 is brutal. The game turns into a rail shooter, where those selfsame dark wretches crawl at you from the ceiling. If you don't kill them in time, they'll drop into your cart and explode. If you kill them too slowly, they'll still hurt you. And during the second part of this section, they advance on you WHILE your cart is stopped for gun-toting enemies to shoot at you.
The final section of act 3 is possibly one of the worst offenders in this list. Essentially, the ENTIRE chapter has no checkpoints. You have to walk from the site of a boss battle to the objecive, and the game goes into conversational mode along the way, so you're stuck slow walking for much of the way. Then you have to walk some more until you get a cutscene and the one fight of the entire chapter starts. All you have to do is take over a pumping station guarded almost entirely by new, elite enemies who have weapons that can easily kill you in one hit. And there are a lot of them. And they are cleverer than the usual enemy AI, so they will generally support each other and wait for you to come to them. And then once you're in the pumping station, you are always vulnerable to attack from either from front or behind. And these new enemies like to be sneaky, so you can have the entire place almost wholly secured and be hunting for the last poor Drone when you are suddenly killed by a cheap shot from nowhere. And you have to restart all the way back at the boss arena again, and then make your way back, again, and go back through the entire fight from the beginning, again.
The last section of act 4 is sheer madness. First, you have to fight ALL the way back through the house you just stormed. Then you get checkpoint BEFORE the cutscene kicking off a longish Hold the Line segment against lots of tough enemies. If you die, you have to restart this whole fight from the beginning. You then get a checkpoint. Then you have to go out back to escape, clearing out another courtyard full of enemies. Then you are suddenly put on a Timed Mission to escape past hordes of enemies, including quite a number with One-Hit Kill rocket launchers who have too much health for you to kill quickly enough, thereby forcing you to run for your life. It is very close to being a Luck-Based Mission. And if you die, you have to go back to just after the Hold the Line segment ended.
Act 5 has ANOTHER dark wretch fight in a closed space. And the entire train is packed to the gills with Elite Mooks and even introduces new Demonic Spiders just to make your life miserable.
Gears Of War 2: The sequel gives you a light tank in Ascension. The first few sections are spent clearing out some annoying Troika turrets placed in front of roadblocks, but later on, you have to cross a frozen lake. In said tank. As predicted, 15-ton armored tank + vicariously unstable ice + awful traction = your repeated watery grave. If you manage to trudge through that, there's another section where you're bombarded by Nemecyst artillery, and have to fight in a circular arena that leaves your vehicle WIDE open to enemy fire. It becomes much easier if you stay on the road leading up and instead bombard them with fire rather than rushing headlong at them. The next few levels where you fight the Leviathan are a breeze compared to this mess.
Skipping a few chapters ahead, we have pretty much the entirety of Act IV: Hive, especially on Hardcore and above. Remember the Therons? You know, the ones that spawn with the Torque Bow? They spawn TENFOLD throughout this act, and so much as moving your big toe out of cover can mean the difference between staying alive and being reduced to Ludicrous Gibs. To make matters worse, you have to eventually deal with Skorge, and while he's nowhere near as tough as General RAAM was in Gears of War 1, he can still make you cave in really quickly if you're not agile enough. On Insane mode, he becomes absolutely infuriating.
Gears of War 3 didn't bring too many frustrating levels to the table, but one that often comes to mind is Anvil Gate, also known as the Zerg Rushto end all Zerg Rushes. You don't even fight on the ground, either; most of the combat is spent up in the rafters above the cavalry, and there's at least one point where the ceiling collapses and crushes you if you're not careful. Oh, and then you have to go through a Lambent attack outside the base, and when you get back in, you get to fight the Lambent Berserker, who is a frigging bullet sponge except for its ominous glowing stomach that is about the size of a basketball. Fun.
The Sewer level in Enter The Matrix. How bad is it? Let me count the ways: Dull colors and pitch-black areas throughout, making it insanely easy to get lost. (This level is Exhibit A in The Case Against the Real Is Brown Aesthetic.)
Threeescort missions that will end the game if any of your fellow rebels die.
Bottomless Pitseverywhere. If you do not jump in just the right manner in a couple areas, you just drop to your death like a stone.
The Sewers in BloodRayne 2 started out a fun level, with layouts for good combats, well-placed explosives, opportunities to blast minigun turrets, and the longest railgrinds to shoot down. When the suicide bombers showed up, they showed up en masse, and required harpooning puzzles to survive and get through areas, including Playing Tennis with the Boss at the end of the level.
The nightmare levels in Max Payne. They each start off cool and creepy, and then tack on an infuriating maze. The first maze has you running down featureless hallways endlessly until you take the right combination of turns. The second has you running around a maze of bloodtrails in otherwise featureless blackness. Every time you reach a dead end, a scream plays that exactly mirrors your own.
Then, you finally get out of the maze, and find yourself running through a different maze made of blood trails suspended in space! The blood trails are extremely thin, and accidentally overstepping one will result in you falling into the darkness, and having to restart from your last save. Did we mention that while you do this you're subjected to a soundtrack of a muffled baby crying, and your wife begging for mercy?
The elevator sequence in the first game. Elevator moving too fast to allow you accurate shots on the claymore mines, Bullet Time not sufficient to get all the way to the top without running out, tiny tiny space through which to shoot. Gah.
The last shooting section in the final mission of Max Payne 3 is unquestionably the most difficult shootout in the game and possibly the entire series. You're inside a private airplane hangar with droves of militia all gunning for you at once, including a nearly-invincible general firing at you from behind a riot shield with a grenade launcher, and you're stuck behind a chest-high barrier with a maximum of two guns in your arsenal. Moving as much as a stray chin hair out of that cover without using Bullet Time guarantees instant death. Even with an absurd amount of pain pills and grenades, it's immensely difficult to survive this encounter in the standard game, let alone New York Minute mode.
'Fear Effect', in numerous areas, most notably the part where you have to sneak through the kitchen. It's a Triad-owned kitchen, so everyone in the place is packing. You need careful timing or else you're a bullet sponge.
The Force Unleashed. The beginning of the very last level, in the Death Star hangar. You start out in the middle of what basically amounts to all of the biggest pain-in-the-ass enemies all deciding this man with a lightsaber would be very nice to step on for a while. You'd think having a lightsaber would help, but now; it can't deflect half the attacks thrown at you, and there's virtually no cover. If you're out of sight of the snipers, the AT-S Ts and Purge Troopers'll get ya. If you can find a corner to hide in, you're not going to be able to hit anyone. If you don't find the not-entirely-obvious exit door, or take too much time to get it open once you (finally) kill everyone in the room, your enemies will keep respawning ad infinitum. God help you if you haven't mastered the controls and leveled up every last stat you have.
The trick to that portion is that you start very close to the exit door (its the floor). The room is entirely avoidable if you just use a force explosion to blow open the door. You'll fall right through and start a cutscene.
Arguably worse is having to pull down an entire Star Destroyer from the sky. Actually, you just have to hold the analog sticks, except that each time you have to align it just right, then fight some TIE fighters, during which time the Star Destroyer has time to go back to how it was before!
And the onscreen prompt lies about which direction to pull the stick in! Anyone doing this without a guide will never figure out what they're doing wrong.
On the PS3 version at least, it does actually indicate the correct direction if you look at it carefully, but at first glance, yes, it does look like it's indicating the wrong direction to move the sticks. The strange directions don't help either.
Every player of Wet probably has that one level, often an arena level, that they hate with a fiery passion. For some, it's the freefall mission where you have to shoot a ton of guys falling out a blown-up plane and then dodge parts of the plane as they fly toward you. Others hate the icehouse arena level from stage 8 which marks the first appearance of the hated blockers, which have to be killed via manually-aimed head shot, or explosive, or melee, because they'll stand there and block your off-hand gun if you auto-target them, and to top things off can hit pretty damned hard if they get to melee. The level also has a minigun guy joining the fray at the very start to compound your problems.
The New York Sewers in Syphon Filter 2. Whats worse than a literal No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom level? One with infinitely respawning Agency mooks in both front and back, with deadly range and accuracy, especially on Hard mode. Good luck, you'll need it.
The C-130 crash site level. Basically every enemy can either headshot you (instant kill) or is armed with explosives (instant kill), most of them ambush you, and the boss requires you to kill a guy hanging off of a helicopter hundreds of feet in the distance within fifteen or so seconds. It's like the developers actively tried to shoehorn in as much Fake Difficulty as they possibly could.
Krivorozhstal Mill in The Omega Strain. This level is huge, at least twice the size of the previous levels, and maze-like. First, you have to rescue Dobranski and retrieve the documents in his office at the far side of the map; one false move and the guards will immediately execute him. Enemies include flak-jacketed mooks and at least one grenade spammer. Second, you have to escort three mill workers, including Dobranski if possible, to the shelter in the first room, which can take a long time and you have randomly spawning mooks assaulting you all the way. Third, you have to climb a smokestack guarded by One-Hit Kill armored snipers to disarm a couple bombs. Finally, after completing all of the above objectives and shutting off the overloaded machines, you have to race to the front gate and plant C4 on the tracks before Zhidkov's train escapes. If you do the objectives in the wrong order, you won't have time to eliminate Zhidkov and/or achieve 100% Completion.
Worse is International University. Not only is it a 20 minute long Stealth-Based Mission, but you can't kill any of the University guards or walk around with a non-concealed weapon during the stealth parts. In the action part towards the end, said guards are liable to get caught in the crossfire with Jandran's mooks.
For that matter, the Teresa Lipan levels on Syphon Filter 3. It includes pretty much all of the hazards above, but with one final kicker: you are FORBIDDEN to kill some of the Mooks, since the mission requires saving them. Gee, thanks.
Ugh...don`t even start with the level where you have to find an MI6 agent pinned down by IRA troops. You start off under attack within one second, you`re on an unseen time limit, you have to FIND this guy "Nigel" in a maze, escort him through waves of enemies and he`s cocky so he`ll just run into enemy fire and to top it off...he`s a traitor. You have to kill him at the end anyway.
Army Of Two: The 40th Day has a section in Chapter 5 that could qualify. Starting from the checkpoint, you mock surrender and kill 2 guys, take $40 000 from a crate, and then go up against a room of enemies with no fewer than 3 of them carrying RPGs (which can down you in one hit on Normal). There's also a mounted gun on the side that seems to be able to shoot you even if you can't shoot it and a Heavy Shotgunner who can down you in 2 shots and is only vulnerable in his head. Clear everyone out? A Heavy with a gatling gun will burst through the wall, followed by at least half as many Mooks as there were in the room originally.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men had one of these in the first Havana mission. Up until now, the biggest thing you had to take out in a non-boss (the truck counts as a boss) mission was a cop car or two. Then you get sent off to Cuba, and suddenly you're forced to shoot down helicopters, take down tanks, and kill tons of guys just coming out of the woodworks. You get some Communists to help you and your team out, but they're pretty much useless and all get killed within the first half of the mission. Easily the hardest level in the game, and frustrating as all hell.
Eradicator has the level involving three forcefields you have to take out within a 30 second time period. The timing is tight and enemies constantly respawn to slow you down.
Blood Wake for the Xbox has too many of these levels. One of which involves infiltrating a harbor that is stacked with gun turrets to destroy two shipping boats. Sounds not too bad right? WRONG! Whenever these things hit you, they do a lot of damage and make you bounce in the water, and if your propeller is not in the water, you are basically motionless and can do nothing but watch yourself bob up and down, trying to get traction, while loads of enemies lay it on thick. This is even worse on another level, where you are basically an unarmed speedboat, having to run inside the heavily defended port to collect three chests, cue reset 9 times out of 10 if you even get hit once. Oh, and the chests? Situated on ramps. If you don't land back in the water, game over; if you do, cue floundering about for a few seconds as you're pummeled to death.
Shadows of the Empire speederbike level. You're racing against other guys and you have to go at a high speed to beat them. Problem: If you hit something going at any speed above slug-speed? You die. Also, there's a turn every second and there are no end to the obstacles. It also forces you to hit the highest speed possible to make some jumps.
All in all that is perfectly achievable with a a lot of practice... but then on the highest difficulty the level is at night which coupled with some ever present fog means you can't see crap ahead of you and must run the level on memory... but you can get easily confused given that most of Mos Eisley is made of about the same 10 types of structures at most, so screw that.
What makes it worse is that the level in and of itself isn't that hard - if you know what to do. Unfortunately, "what to do" is completely counterintuitive. You're on a speederbike, and trying to race a gang before they can reach and kill Luke Skywalker. Logically you should be going as quickly as possible. In reality, you're supposed to go only as fast as the enemy biker who's trailing furthest behind (who is not that fast), ram him until he crashes, and repeat for each biker in sequence till they're all dead. Failure to do this in favor of just rushing ahead will result in each biker rubberbanding and going impossibly fast. What's worse is that there are twelvechallenge points throughout the level, and through normal play you MIGHT find three.
The first SOCOM had the "Prison Break" mission, which was irritating for numerous reasons. For one, the level was pitch black, which many of the other ones weren't. Next, the level took almost an hour to finish, no matter how fast you go. And did I mention that after you rescue the guy that's imprisoned in the facility, it becomes an Escort Mission? And with your impulsive AI squadmate, this is NOT an ideal game for escort missions. Oh, and did I mention that after you rescue the guy, you get attacked by a fucking chopper? And your squad entails of only four guys designed for stealth missions, not heavily armed assaults. And even after that, you have to take down the terrorists guarding the landing zone (who do a pretty damn good job at that). The best part? Since SOCOM had no built-in checkpoints, if you die at any point, you have to start all over again. Fun times, yeah...
A turret section about a third of the way through the game makes you Hold the Line while seemingly at least a platoon of American soldiers come at you. And they have RPG's, which can instantly kill you on any difficulty level. And there enough guys appearing all around your screen for you to keep them at bay.
The radio tower level is a pain from start to finish. It begins with a prolonged sniper battle where you are heavily outnumbered and all your cover is destructable. After you storm the place, you have to leave the way you came, right through a fresh helicopter full of Elite Mooks and fresh troops. Then you use the helicopter's mounted gun to cover one of your teammates as he makes his way to you. Then you have to defend the helicopter as you make a victory lap and destroy the radio tower.
Pretty much the entire remainder of the game after the helicopter crash. While Spec Ops was never generous with ammunition before, here it really gets strict and starts only allotting ammunition in quantities normally reserved for post-apocalyptic Survival Horror games like Metro2033. The entire rest of the game is nothing but a Drought Level. Oh, and upon waking after the crash, you have only a handgun with 20 rounds of ammunition. And you are immediately beset upon by a dozen soldiers. You can kill them for more weapons, but they themselves hardly have any ammunition. And you are going to face more of them than ever before.
The yacht section combines all these problems with being attacked from every angle, enemies throwing grenades in confined spaces, and then having to deal with a frigging SANDSTORM.
The enemy's Last Stand is suitably brutal. You are just two guys on foot with nothing but personal small arms and grenades trying to attach a fortified position on foot, going uphill. Every single shot counts. It can take an hour to gradually grind your way up through the damn thing. And afterwards, you have to fight the toughest heavy in the game at very short range while he has a fully automatic shotgun.
Fighting to the final objective is difficult. Try as you might, you're pretty much going to have to change guns on just about every single fight as you deplete their scarce ammunition. And the resident tough guys are at their most plentiful.
Metropolis from Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. Once Dr. Nefarious unleashes his Biobliterator on the city, turning the Tyhrranoids into robots, things get harder. There are literally countless flying Tyhrranoids (the ones that shoot green hard-to-avoid lasers at you), and at least once you'll run into a tank that fires even harder-to-dodge missiles.
Star Wars Battlefront II. The ewok level. It's bad enough when they are so small that it's hard to kill them, but when the rest of your AI team cannot hit them,well then you have a problem.
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin includes a trio of missions set in Japan. The first of these, Hidden Valley, is a prolonged walk through a snowy castle grounds. This level contains several snipers who more often than not will see through any disguise the player is wearing and open fire.
This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how infuriating this level is. Fist of all, every enemy on the ground will instantly run over to you if you enter their range of vision to 'check your ID'. You don't have any, and they open fire. Of course, this is to prevent you running through the valley to the exit, but they don't do this to any of the other guards, and it's still annoying to have a guard catch a tiny glimpse of you and effectively end your mission. And let's not even think about how the guards recognize you as an impostor despite wearing clothes covering your entire face and body. Then there is the infamous bug where the truck will often run over a guard walking in the tunnels thanks to glitchy hitboxes. This happens maybe three quarters of the time, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it; you just have to hope that it doesn't happen, because the death counts against you, meaning you cannot get the Silent Assassin ranking. Also, the aforementioned trucks going through the tunnels sometimes just stop. You need those trucks to get past the many guards around the exit of the tunnel, so again, you're gonna have to restart. Oh, and sometimes the guards can see you through walls, which is a bug that only shows up on this one mission. When the stars finally align and you make it through all of this, you'll be pleased to find out that you have to face snipers and psychic guards again in 'At The Gates'. Perhaps worst of all is that despite being released over a decade later, the Hitman HD Trilogy didn't even attempt to fix this mess.
Activating the damned batteries for the elevator as Jake and Sherry in Resident Evil 6 will drive you bananas. You are pestered by the Nigh InvulnerableRasklapanje that can only be stunned for a very short time, and can slip through walls while you have to take the long way around. And each time you activate a switch, another one shows up.
Once the flying part is over, Chapter 19 is a marathon up a tower so tall that there's a loading screen in the middle of it. Some of the areas you battle in have obstacles that hurt Pit, but do nothing against enemies. It also includes quite a bit of tricky platforming in a game where the controls are clearly optimized for shooting. Perhaps the worst part is a section where you have to cross three narrow (not very narrow, just narrow enough to make them worse than they look) bridges with wind blowing sideways, forcing you to run diagonally against the wind to advance, which, again, the controls are not optimized for, especially for lefties with no right-hand circle pad. So, what happens if you fall off the third, narrowest bridge? Well, you get to do those other two all over again before getting another shot. Just before the boss, there are a few gaps to jump over with enemies that come out from each one if you take too long. All the enemies from these gaps are the same, but lest you take it too casually, an Orne suddenly appears from the last gap; that's a One-Hit KO for you if you touch it!