Just because you can go anywhere and do what you want doesn't guarantee you'll survive, especially if you "accidentally" find your way into these levels.
Grand Theft Auto
From 'III and on, the ambulance optional mission is ridiculously difficult. You have to collect all 78 patients necessary in one go. You cannot fail after so many patients and build up to a total, as you can with the fire truck, police car or taxi optional missions. The ambulance is also one of the crappiest vehicles in the game: it handles like a brick, can take very little damage, and tips if you so much as turn a corner at half-speed. Accidentally running over any patient forces you to restart, and the cops refuse to give you even this much free reign—ding a cop car and you are still fair game, humanitarian mission or not. Sure, it is optional, but that infinite run (or double health in San Andreas) is very, very useful, even if you are not after 100% Completion. Expect to spend lots of time on it. Vice City introduced beach driving to make it even worse, and San Andreas has elderly patients which walk as slow as possible to the doors.
Any rampage side mission that forces you to use a melee weapon against armed opponents. The slow swinging speed of most weapons mean that the gangsters can easily chip down your health as you try to chase and kill them.
There's a mission in which you're given the crappiest, slowest, worst handling car in the entire game and told to go to another island and shoot up dozens of members of an enemy faction. Anyone who's ever played a GTA game can tell you it's hard to even get to your destination without wrecking the car you're currently driving; now imagine having to get there, deal with a good amount of armed gang members and get back to where you started, all with a car that's ridiculously easy to flip over (flipping over a car in GTA irretrievably destroys it) and with the police relentlessly chasing you all the time. Oh, did I mention you cannot under any circumstance leave the car? And to top it all off, when (not if) you wreck the car, the goon that's traveling with you is revealed to be its owner, and he and his pal get pissed and proceed to shoot you full of holes.
"Big 'N' Veiny". Picking up magazines while using a none-too-good and rather unstable van, over a long and timed route. You start with 20 seconds on the timer and each magazine adds only two seconds. It does not help that you can lose the trail briefly and waste valuable time trying to pick it up again. Sure, there's a "shortcut" method involving pushing the van all the way to the end so you can kill the eventual target and spare yourself the trouble, but it is real time-consuming.
In the final mission, "The Exchange", you are stripped of all your weapons and dropped in a courtyard outnumbered and outgunned by Cartel members. Then you have to negotiate the wharf, which is a sniper alley, followed by shooting down a helicopter with a rocket launcher from a long distance away. If the chopper gets away, you start the whole thing over again.
The "Espresso 2 Go" mission requires you to go round the entirety of Liberty City destroying Columbian SPANK dealers posing as coffee sellers under a time limit. It is nearly impossible to hit all the espresso stands in time unless you look for them all first (they show up on the map when you see them), very tiring. In addition, at this point in the game the Mafia is hostile and own a portion of the map with a coffee stand, meaning they will shoot at you as you travel through the area. Even more tedious is finding a good route.
The race against Hilary, on so many different levels it is utterly infuriating. This one little mission has spawned countless pages of text on GameFAQs explaining every theory and method in this world to beat it. It's technically optional, but everyone suffers through it anyway because you get $30,000 for the bank robbery, and $10,000 a day for completing the night club asset missions. Money that provides for powerful weapons and a comfortable cushion in the final mission where Sonny Forelli's men start robbing you blind while you chase after Lance to kill him. To give some background, you're setting up a back heist and you need a good driver. No doubt you are one, but for the purpose of the story it needs to be someone other than you. That someone is Hillary, a very effeminate man with abandonment issues who insists that the only way he'll work for you is if you beat him in a race. Sounds fair, right? Let us count the ways it screws you over.
Hillary gets a supercharged muscle car. You get with a puny little family sedan. No, you don't have a say in the matter. You are driving the sedan. Period. There is no way in hell you can win a straight race, because your car is in every way inferior. You have to cheat, i.e. knock Hillary off the road, to win.
Not two blocks in, the cops get on your tail for street racing. And only your tail. They don't even see Hillary.
Due to game mechanics, your are further punished for getting too far ahead of Hillary. Normal traffic is dynamically spawned within 100 meters or so of your car. If the distance between your car and Hillary's is great enough, you get bogged down in traffic while he has a clear road with no such obstacles, either allowing him to catch up (if he's behind you) or get yet further ahead (if he's in front of you). Either way, much hair has been torn out.
And there's a glitch where you might fall straight through a bridge just before you cross the finish line. Hoo, boy.
The worst thing about this mission is that it doesn't even make sense. Hillary is supposed to be the best driver around; that's why you want him. So why would you have to race him first? If he only works for people that can beat him, he's obviously NOT the best driver. If you hire a plumber, you also don't have to prove to him that you're better at plumbing than he is, because if you were, you wouldn't need him. Abandonment issues are no excuse. This guy has effectively locked himself out of his own profession by personally ensuring that he will look incompetent to anyone that hires him.
The real insult to that mission is that, despite the effort you go through trying to recruit him, Hillary ultimately proves to be completely useless for the heist. He's there to drive your getaway car, but all he ends up doing is getting shot and killed, so you have to make the escape yourself.
But possibly the really most jerk-ass mission in all Vice City is "Death Row". See, you have found that it was Díaz who spoiled the drug transaction upon your arrival at Vice City, so you are quietly drawing closer to him to time the perfect moment to take him out. However, Lance can't stand working for him anymore because he was the one responsible for his brother's death. So he attempts to kill him, fails, is kidnapped and brought to the city's dump to be tortured to death. Right after you are given the mission, a bar appears on the screen indicating Lance's life which is diminishing, and you have to dash to the dumps (note that you start the mission at the very night club mentioned above, and the city's dump is across the other island of Vice City), break through a car barricade blocking the dump's entrance, gun down everyone there to make Lance's escape safe (take into account that the goons are packing sub-machine guns and automatic rifles, and are even firing from above in the dump's cranes!), and then take him to the Downtown's hospital while sports cars keep pushing and chasing you. While you don't get the money for mission itself, you actually get quite a lot of money from Diaz's mooks if you kill them. Probably the only redeeming thing from that mission. You would indeed desire to have Lance killed.
A helicopter makes this mission easier, since you can park it on a nearby roof then fly Lance to the hospital unchallenged.
"Checkpoint Charlie" from the same game. A checkpoint race where you need every single second to do the course... and you have to do it in a boat, which means that you can never predict how you'll come off of a wave, or how you'll land after a jump. Not something you'd ever want to do again.
There are two missions with toy helicopters. The first is tolerable, because the helicopter is only slightly awkward in its controls and you're not up against too much resistance. The optional one, a checkpoint race, has controls so damn sensitive that you'd plow into the ground if you so much as pressed forward. You have to tap the keys as light and as fast as possible just to make controlled movements, and it's still the most awkward thing in the entire game. Even the full-sized news chopper isn't as bad, and it's the worst of the four helicopters. Mercifully, it doesn't matter if you spend 20 minutes doing it, as long as it gets done.
"Flight School". Hours upon hours upon god-damned hours at failing to pull off perfect barrel rolls and loop-de-loops, and it's necessary to continue the game. The worst part is that flight school starts off deceptively easy. The first two challenges involve simply taking off and landing the plane, respectively, and they're both really easy. But on the third challenge, flight school takes a steep nosedive into the depths of Hell. It's "Circle Airstrip", where you have to take off and fly from corona to corona, all while you're most likely wrestling with the wonky plane controls. It wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to fly through the damn coronas - which are rather small targets - nigh-perfectly. And when you finish that one, guess what the next challenge is? You have to do the exact same thing, only when you're done you have to land the plane, which is incredibly easy for beginners to screw up. What fun! You CAN make all the flight school challenges a bit easier by just switching to first-person view, but it's still a huge pain in the ass.
Oh, and on PC even the first two missions are damn near impossible due to the fact that the missions were built around an analouge stick.
And the Flight School missions are easy compared to the driving school missions. Burn and Lap anyone?
Zero's first mission was truly frustrating—for a while, it made even the next two seem manageable—in that you stand on a roof, shooting down model bomber planes with a minigun so they don't get a chance to destroy Zero's transmitters. These little buggers just keep coming from every single direction and worse still, our pacifist "friend" Zero simply won't stop whining at you. Note that the PC version of Zero's first mission is really easy.
And those are cake compared to "Supply Lines". You have to fly an RC plane around San Fierro gunning down five couriers that can spread through out the entire city if you don't know the exact routes they take and then land the plane on Zero's store. The catch is you have a ridiculously low amount of fuel to do it with. That mission's actually a lot easier in the post-Hot Coffee editions of the game. The problem with the original is that your fuel acted more as a time meter, i.e. draining even when you weren't accelerating. In later editions, this is fixed so that fuel is consumed only while you're holding the gas button, making the mission much more manageable (but still by no means easy) or just has three times as much fuel. Even so, the mission is in itself also pointless. Zero insists that you use his model plane to take out the couriers, and admonishes you for failing at it, when you could have killed all of them in half the time if he just sent you out on foot.
"Freefall", where you have to act as some sort of air pirate and jump from your plane to another one in order to kill four mafia assassins. It's not just the difficulty of the mission(which mainly comes from how tricky it is to to turn the plane at exactly the right moment at exactly the right altitude), but the sheer ridiculousness of not choosing to just gun them down after they land. And also the minutes you spend flying until you get to the place where you intercept the incoming airplane.
Any mission where you are the driver and the passenger is the shooter, especially if it's on a motorcycle. By and large, they are all terrible shots.
The two Wu Zi Mu races in a car that has basically no traction on the dirt tracks that make up most of the courses. Unlike Zero's missions, these are not optional and definitely reduce San Andreas' replayability.
There's two missions from Catalina which qualifies.
The first is "Tank Commander", in which you'll have to drive into the red marker outside of the Dillimore gas station to trigger a cutscene. Afterwards, you'll get in the cab with Catalina and back it directly into the trailer to attach it to the cab. Catalina knows of a buyer in Flint County, which is quite a ways away from Dillimore. You have to be very careful when driving the tanker, because too sharp of a turn will detach the trailer which results in a mission failure. The two gas station attendants will pursue you and try to destroy the tanker; the trailer will explode if the health bar the top-right quarter of the screen reaches zero. This can be hilariously easy if you hop out and cap them as soon as you've hitched up the tank, but first-time players may not think to do this because the game tends to vary between "get back to your car or fail" or "fail because you left the car".
The other is "Local Liquor Store", primarily because the quadbike you're driving is very difficult to control. In this one, you are tracking down some guys (three of them) who robbed a liquor store, each of the robbers holds a briefcase full of money, so your job on the quadbike is to get Catalina close enough to gun them down. You can use your own SMG if you're carrying one, otherwise you're limited to driving. If the robbers get too far ahead the mission is a failure. You'll have to be especially careful on dirt roads, because if the rancher tips over, it will be nearly impossible to catch up with the bandits.
"Stowaway". Here's a bike, there's a plane that's taking off right now. Go drive up its loading ramp without being killed by the government agents or hitting a single barrel dropped out the back, because a single mistake equals failure.
Any of Maria's missions. 90% of the time, the missions consist of her making you help her buy drugs, the buyers trying to screw you over in some way, and then you have to chase them down on a motorcycle. Keep in mind, you have to go top speed to keep up with them, which increases the likelihood that you'll crash into some other jackass who comes out of nowhere, which wastes even more time than usual because, again, you have to do so with a motorcycle, and when you crash into something, you are sent flying off of it.
The side mission "Car Salesman" is very repetitive and painful to complete. It seems pretty straightforward at first, requiring you to "test-drive" with certain customers in different ways which may involve driving recklessly, fast, slow or off-road. A meter will determine how satisfied the customers are. However, if you so much as screw up even once then your meter will decrease and eventually fail the ENTIRE mission, forcing you to start all over again. That's not even the biggest insult considering there's 6 levels of this (with 4 customers to impress each) which get harder as you progress, all while a timer is set. You will often end up shooting dead your customers in anger. While it is optional, it is required for 100% and to gain protection money from the auto shop. It can only be hoped that this disaster of a side-mission never makes it into another GTA game again.
Most of the missions actually. Boomshine Blowout, High Wire, the ATV race... it's maddening, man!
"Jive Drive", which must wholly be blamed on the PSP's lack of a second analog stick. After a hair-raising drive to an abandoned lot, being shot at all the way there (thankfully this isn't terrible as your car has decent armor), you must survive a gauntlet of fire on you and your brother. Lance is useless with a gun and if he dies, WHOOPS, start over. The fact that you can't get a clear look around you with the PSP's limited control scheme is the main reason you will fail this mission
"Tune on, Tune in, Bug out." You have to destroy 6 police antennas, and with each one you destroy your wanted level goes up and using the Pay'N'Spray trick will only fix your car but not reduce your wanted level for this mission... that is until after you destroy all the antenna, which by then you have a maxed out wanted level with the entire national guard on your tail as you try to get to the nearest spray shop. By the way, reducing your wanted level after the antennas are destroyed is mandatory, or else you fail the mission. And then to top it all off, you get a paltry $300 reward for all the ridiculously hard work.
"Unhealthy Competition" is a MAJOR Difficulty Spike comapred to missions before it, it's not too hard until you get to the swimming pool, which is absolutely crawling with enemies and has very little cover, making it insanely hard to kill all the enemies without getting killed yourself, and if you somehow survive you have to chase down and kill the last two guys using a quad-bike, which is very akward to control and it's hard to drive and aim at the enemies at the same time.
Any of the missions where you need to chase someone in a vehicle and gun them down at the same time. The shooting-while-driving mechanic is well implemented; it's just really hard to track your target effectively while avoiding the obstacles inherent to driving at top speed. And you'll always have to drive at top speed. Complicating this is that half of the missions require you to kill your target while they're still driving and the other half have scripted events where the target gets out of their vehicle and goes on foot (and they're invulnerable until they do this)—and the game usually doesn't give you any indication of which it's going to be.
The races were pretty awful too, especially "No. 1" since you couldn't cheat your way out of it (calling Brucie to cancel a race before crossing the yellow arrow yourself guarantees you first place).
The motorcycle chase ones are the worst, because you'll usually fall off your bike from the slightest brush against any obstacle (at which point they'll invariably escape by the time you can get back on.) You will usually break your controller on the mission "I Need Your Clothes, Your Boots, And Your Motorcycle," in which you have to chase and gun down a professional stunt cyclist mob guy who starts the mission with a block's worth of lead on you, while the game throws every conceivable obstacle at you, up to and including trucks overturning right in front of you.
You're forgetting the mission in which you must chase two motorcyclists through a subway tunnel. Eventually they split up, and don't forget how many trains are coming at you.
After completing the "Ruff Rider" mission Weazel News chatter on the radio reports something like 'two men on motorcycles chasing through the streets'. To which the answer was 'Sod that'. Just jack a nearby car, crush the biker under your wheels and chuck a grenade into the mix. Kaboom. Ker-ching'.
Speaking of Ruff Rider, the mission right after that, Undress to Kill, can be extremely annoying for beginners, especially if you don't know tricks like knifing the first strip club manager. Not to mention it's possible to get a Game-Breaking Bug where Playboy won't open up the next mandatory mission, The Holland Play, after completing Undress to Kill, making the story unwinnable. Fun!
Any of Phil Bell's missions, but Catch the Wave in particular. Holy shit. Having to fight a couple dozen Russian drug runners with automatic weapons in a cramped building with only one entrance is bad enough...but it's a fucking Escort Mission on top of that, and Phil happens to be a Leeroy Jenkins who frequently gets himself killed. A common strategy is position the truck in a certain way so Phil gets stuck in the door when he gets out, keeping him safe until you clean out the building.
The Snow Storm is really annoying, too. You have to fight your way into an abandoned hospital with a dozen or so gang members in it in order to get some cocaine. That isn't all that bad, as you can take cover or flank them with a ladder, but the confined spaces make guessing when you can even hit an enemy and when you can't ridiculous. But that's not the bad part - after you get the cocaine, police special forces (NOOSE) storm the building, so you have to defeat a bunch of elite mooks all on your own (hope you got enough ammo). That, however, is not the worst part, either. After that, you must get out of the only exit while there is a police car with several cops in it coming every few seconds, they practically respawn. You must push through their lines and get to a car, after which you are chased by the police at a three star wanted level (which means, they aggressively ram you, keep shooting your car and have a helicopter) that you must get rid of. It's ANNOYING.
One more wrinkle: the mission takes place on Charge Island, so assuming you get to your getaway car, there's only one bridge off,with heavy traffic going out and cops coming in. A traffic jam is highly likely. The saving grace is that once you get off the island, you can usually outrun the cops on the extra-long north-south streets of Algonquin.
The ending is what really clinches it. We find out that Michelle, Niko's first girlfriend, is working for the government and was the undercover cop the entire time and takes the coke from Niko and thus dumps him. Not only you go through a lot of trouble to get the coke, but the first girlfriend in the game flat-out tells that she was undercover. That's right: all that effort put into the mission and every bit of it was completely pointless.
"Holland Nights", which is annoying for the exact same reasons "Snow Storm" is. You have to make your way through a project building to get to a target on the roof, all while fighting off enemies. This part isn't that bad if you have good weapons, plenty of ammo and full health and armor on Niko, and they do give you a few health packs throughout the mission. But after finding your target (and either killing him or letting him go), guess what? You've got a 3-star wanted rating to shake, and have to escape the building while fighting off cops. And then, you have to lose the wanted rating while those damn pigs just torment you to no end. And if you die, you have to do the whole long mission again. RAGE.
Who could forget the mission "A Revenger's Tragedy"? The mission is full of bottleneck moments. Most notably the part were you have to chase Dimitri's helicopter in a speed boat. Jacob will appear in an Annihilator to pick you up. You have a very limited window to board the Annihilator before Jacob hits the water. You're always so close to catching the helicopter but Jacob always hits the water, Dimitri escapes, and it you fail the mission. Can't that pothead Jacob fly?
Driving cars in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven is rather awkward, due to their erratic controlling—realistic, because the game's set in 1930's when you didn't exactly have great maneuverability in cars. This doesn't really bother normally, but then the game throws in a level where you have to win a race with such a car in order to advance the story. Despite the developers releasing a patch where you could choose the race's difficulty level, the racing bit still causes very uncomfortable memories for many.
The final mission on Driver: Parallel Lines It's pretty reasonable until you have to chase down Corrigan, first you have a strict time limit to escape from a tunnel after Corrigan blows it up, not only do you go very fast while narrowly avoiding falling debris, but seemingly every single car is actively trying to drive right into your path to slow you down. Then you have to chase after and shoot down Corrigan's helicopter, which isn't a problem if you have plenty of SMG ammo(it also helps if you max RPG ammo, but it's pretty tricky to time it just right so that the rockets hit him) but the heavy traffic can really slow you down, and you'll fail if you take too long to catch up, and later on Corrigan flies over areas with lots of bumps and hills where it's real easy to accidentally flip your car over and fail the mission, so you basically have to fire RPGs and SMGs at him nonstop, hoping that you'll get lucky and be able to finish him off quickly before he flies over the rough terrain areas.
Sosa's mansion, the final level of Scarface: The World is Yours. Three bosses, a ridiculous number of Mooks armed with the same weapon Tony gets to use and no checkpoints. Sure, the first one is an Anti-Climax Boss... but that bunch of Mooks you need to kill to get to him will reappear if you let Tony die and are booted back to the start. The second one is fairly okay if you've still enough health on Tony, but the third and final boss is effectively Implacable compared to the others before. Alejandro Sosa takes multiple chest shots from the otherwise-one-hit-kill Desert Eagle and can dish it out as good as he can get.
Put your guns away and fight Sosa hand to hand. He doesn't retaliate.
Delivering cocaine once you have a good number of fronts can be a harrowing experience. The first few aren't so bad, but every delivery ratchets up your Gang Meter by a goodly amount until your car is under constant fire by Max Mad-style street rovers and every front you try to deliver to will be under attack by a small army. All the money you make is kept in a tally until the delivery sequence is complete. If you die, not only is all that money gone, but so is the supply of cocaine you tried to deliver, which cost a small fortune or tedious sidequest to get in the first place.
Go the other way, through the land strip. You just have to kill a bunch of soldiers and make sure you make the last group of templars come at you by killing one of them with a throwing knife. After that, when you go for Sibrand, he'll flee towards you.
And the level leading up to Robert de Sable, which involves nothing but mowing down legions of soldiers again and again, is plain dull. Historically King Richard went back to Europe because he didn't have enough troops to hold the city he'd just captured—now we know why.
The Bonfire of the Vanities DLC for Assassin's Creed II has a number of these, but the Port Authority mission is by far the worst. It's yet another case where being spotted by a guard is an auto fail, and the assassination target is on a ship that's crawling with them, including several that patrol. The general strategy involves hiding on the edge of the ship and yoinking them off one by one, but a fair amount of tricky timing (and luck) is involved.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has almost every mission where the Full Synchronisation requirement is no detection or damage. What really makes this annoying is that simply going back to the last checkpoint via death will not reset the Full-Synch requirement back to its fulfillable state - you have to restart the whole bloody memory. And Ubisoft didn't bother fixing this for Revelations, well done guys! But I digress. The part in Sequence Eight where you need to get to the courtyard in the Basilica di San Pietro within a time limit is also very annoying due to its Full-Synch requirement of not killing anyone, combined with the guards getting on your case with abnormal speed.
Immediately following the above mission, you need to escape the Vatican District with the Apple of Eden, with a Full Synch requirement of taking no damage. This, despite the fact that you can't fight back, since the Apple of Eden drains your health upon use and prevents you from equipping anything else, evading the guards will immediately cause another group to home in on your position, and some of the guards are faster than you.
The mission to detonate gunpowder in Cappadocia in Revelations has a Full-Synch requirement of not losing any health, and pits you against no less than seven groups of enemies who can break through your block and attack while you are still countering another enemy, and you cannot sneak up on any of them for insta-kills. If any of these twenty-odd bastards so much as grazes you, it's restart-the-whole-memory time.
The final bossfight in Prototype: Giant monster with tons of health, your normal attacks are useless, the military are constantly shooting and bombing you while you fight, and the only way to get health is to stop and grab a human to eat. Oh yeah, and you're on a timer. Good luck!
The Stolen Body. Specifically, the part where you have to hold off a bunch of Infected and Hunters and keep them from breaking through a (rather tough, but far from indestructible) plate-glass door into a secure lab. Not so hard, right? Except that you have to fight them without any of your combat powers, reducing you to your regular punches, kicks, and throws, as well as the few guns left lying around. What's worse, if you fight right next to the glass (which you will, since most of the enemies will pretty much make a beeline right for it if they're left alone for more than half a second), your own attacks can end up damaging it as well. Have fun!
Not that hard a mission as all enemies except hunters can be grabbed and insta-killed by being consumed (which gives you health on top of that). That combined with some of the crowd clearing moves makes the mobs easy. And the game gives you a ton of machine guns and rocket launchers to deal with the hunters. Oh, and trucks to throw at them too.
Rescuing Dana, specifically the part where you have to escort the thermobaric tank around the infected part of the city. You'd think the military would be glad to have a Nigh Invulnerable unstoppable Bad Ass that is clearing everything in their path for them... But no. There can be hunters, runners, even a leader hunter tearing up their armour and they STILL go out of their way to attack you.
Yes folks, you read right. This is the first escort mission in the history of escort missions where the forces you are trying to protect will attack you, and only you, at the expense of nearly everything else.
You can always disguise yourself as a Marine and drive the tank yourself, as long as you don't graze your guards with the giant fireball cannon. Yes, this is an escort mission where, possibly, the units you're guarding will attack each other.
The Altered World: This has to be the most annoying level of all. Let's summarize: you have to use the detector hacking skill (which you will never use again), the countdown is like, five seconds, The correct numbers appear too slow, making hacking the last two detectors depend on luck, You can't destroy the detectors, 'cause the mission fails if you do, the area is swarming with baddies that can also damage the detector (with the same result) and to top it all off: The detectors themselves send strike-teams on your ass if you fail to hack them on time.
Trying to fill out the Web of Intrigue pits you against the games most nefarious enemy. It is an enemy who has been against you since nearly the first mission. He has made you miserable for many a stage, but with the last few Web Of Intrigue missions, this foe is relentless, cruel, and merciless. This enemy? THE FREAKIN' TIMER!!! You have to cross the city multiple times in less than two minutes to take out the target. Oh, and many of them will be on ground level, in hostile territory, where enemies WILL kill them with you less than an inch away. And even if you get to the final guy at the last second, since it takes you several seconds to "digest" the target unless you manage a stealth kill, then you still can and will fail. Even on easy mode, the time limits are a constant, and it's nearly impossible to pull off these missions even WITH the maximum speed, jump, and glide upgrades. Have fun, tropers! Using the Whipfist and locking on to do long-range grabs will give you a bit more of a cushion, but it's still a matter of luck, and missing once can doom you completely. Even if you get the target on the first try, it's still close.
The one mission where you have to lure out Elizabeth Greene, and in order to do that, you have to defend a small bloodtox pumper from a HORDE of leader hunters, at least two hydras, and soldiers firing stray bullets that damage the vehicle by accident, and if you die (which is extremely likely, regardless of having both the strongest weapon mutation in the game, several guns at your disposal, and body armor that makes you even harder to kill than normal), or if the pumper gets destroyed, you have to start the whole thing over again. Need I mention that the Hunters have that annoying sprint-attack that knocks your ass across the area, or even kills you, along with a bunch of other annoying traits?
"Anything for Trish" from InFamous. You have to protect a bus full of sick people for your Ex-Girlfriend, a paramedic who blames you for her sister's death, and whose trying to get them medical help at the hospital, while the ceiling is constantly being electrified to keep you powered up for the trip, so you don't have to get off to recharge. Seems good, but not only you have to fight legions of bad guys from one island to another, the bus moves at a snail's pace and to top it all off, from any corner an enemy can appear with an RPG. And happens every time, so before you even get to the end of the street you'll be in critical damage. And then there's the factor that you can get killed there yourself. The only way to finish this mission is to die over and over so that you advance from checkpoint to checkpoint until you're done. And that's before the bus gets thrown in the hospital's ceiling
The Helicoptor mission from the same game. And you can't leave this one.
The fucking dry ice mines in Brutal Legend. For starters, this is your first full battle against the Drowning Doom. And boy are they tough. Ratguts will absolutely destroy you if you so much as get near them. And unless you spam Fire Barons you will be steamrolled.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of the fact that the AI never defends the left flank and send two or three units of roadies to their stage. Takes a little time to get there, but once you do you'll win in about twenty seconds.
How about the LAST full battle against the Drowning Doom: the first Stage Battle at the Sea of Black Tears. An endless supply of large groups of Reapers being thrown at you, an insta-death force field, and a giant... tree thing. Results do occasionally vary, as many a player has beaten the game easily on Brutal difficulty, only to go back through on Normal and get so completely stuck on this battle that they have no choice but to give up. There are a few tricks, though, mostly involving flying solo around the side of the force field and attacking the enemy with your car or whatever creature summon you've managed to earn from the Hunter missions.
Doing the tribal stage on aggressive isn't QUITE as bad if you bribe the other tribes first with a gift basket and then attack them one by one ensuring that you won't be attacked by the other tribes while you're away fighting. But there's still a ridiculous difference in difficulty between passive and aggressive.
One Saints Row 2 mission has you infiltrating a police station in order to hack their computer system. As designed, it's pretty straightforward: You walk in (disguised as repairpeople) and go straight for the computer room. Shaundi begins hacking, which sets off some sort of alarm, raising your police notoriety to four stars. This triggers waves of cops, whom you shoot. Eventually, Shaundi declares that she's finished and you escape in the conveniently-provided helicopter. This would not suck at all if a later patch hadn't given police helicopters (a number of which hang around the police station) the ability to shoot freaking guided missiles when your police notoriety is at four stars (which it is, unavoidably). Under these circumstances, you're doing well to even reach the conveniently-provided helicopter before you explode in a shower of mission failure.
On the same token, that one mission where you have to rescue Johnny Gat from the hospital in what basically boils down to a drawn-out Escort Mission. First, you have to wheel Johnny's injured ass out on a painfully slow gurney to the front door while Ronin forces pop out of every conceivable corner and shower you in gunfire. After realizing the door is locked, you backtrack to the beginning of the mission while even more guys come at you. Once you make it to the roof, you and Johnny get in a conveniently-placed helicopter that's even slower than the gurney you just pushed around while the Ronin pursue you in a fully equipped gunship that has the aforementioned guided missiles all the way back to your base on the other side of the city.
An earlier Ronin mission (the one that ends with Gat being in the hospital in the first place) is also pretty bad. The Hold the Line section at the beginning isn't that bad, but then a Saint shows up to drive you and Gat to the hospital. They will take an incredibly roundabout path through pretty much the entire city as just about the entirety of the Ronin pursue you in motorcycles and cars. This still manages to be hard in spite of the fact that you are given an infinite ammo RPG due to the sheer number of them.
Heli Assault in Saints Row 2 is generally terrible, simply because of Stilwater's design - every time an enemy manages to close in on your ally, s/he will immediately drive under a bridge or railwayjust to prevent you from defending them. Trying to get low enough to shoot under the bridge will generally result in crashing into a tree or the cramped buildings to the sides, because the helicopter controls are overly-sensitive. And then they have the balls to yell at you as if you're not even trying. The Third generally makes the entire activity much more fun, solely because Steelport has far fewer roads that can't be seen from a helicopter, even if the trade-off is less cover from police or Morningstar snipers when you have them after you.
The final mission, specifically the bit where you have to pilot a helicopter (sensing a pattern here?) and use it to take out targets on the side of a building while avoiding being shot down by other helicopters (which pack missiles that will take you down in two hits). The targets are very small and recessed into the building, the helicopter controls are, as always, so clunky as to demand a better descriptor, and the helicopters coming for you can fly so fast that they'll usually be able to lock onto you and hit you with at least one missile before you even orient yourself toward them. Oh, and your helicopter will crash if you bang into the building a few too many times. Not a fun experience.
The original Saints Row has several, but the two that stand out are the last missions for Los Carnales and the Vice Kings. In the Carnales mission you and Dex have to drive to the airport and kill their leader before he escapes in his plane. Sounds straightforward right? Well, once you arrive you'll notice two things. One, there are about 20 mooks with rocket launchers that can kill you in about three hits. Two, your vehicle is on a set path. This means that unless you aim perfectly you'll get blown away before you can even get close to the plane. Even better, you'll have about two or three cars shooting up your ass as you try to avoid getting blow away by the RPG's. The cherry on top? YOU HAVE TO RESTART FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE MISSION AND WASTE TWO MINUTES DRIVING BACK TO THE AIRPORT EVERY. TIME. YOU. DIE. But that's just the first mission. The Vice King's mission? You have to drive King's car (it HAS to be King's car, no switching out if it gets too damaged) to Impressions and interrogate Stefan by driving while King holds him outside the window. The whole time more and more police show up to clusterfuck you into a corner where they will blow your car up and force you to start over. But wait! The mission isn't over after you interrogate Stefan, oh no. You then have to storm the Vice King's stronghold. If you die during the fight? All the way back to the very start for you! Have fun listening to Stefan whine for the 5th time. Thankfully, Saints Row 2 has checkpoints in its missions.
There are the occasional assassination missions where just trying to get the target to show himself is more effort than it's worth. Standout examples in The Third are the pimp whose ho's you have to beat up to lure him out (your success relies entirely on whether the game will actually bother to spawn ho's at all, let alone the specific [read: fat] ones that work for him) and the gas station owner that likes muscle cars (even if you have an eye for cars, there's no indication anywhere of what the game actually counts as a muscle carnote Hint: The Hammerhead counts. The Mayor's Phoenix counts, too, so if you've put the assassination missions off until at least after you have him as a contact, you can call him in as support and use his car..
The parking garage stronghold from the first game. On paper it's easy; all you have to do is destroy the cars of the VK members. Except when you get to the last one, its owner gets in and jumps off the conveniently-placed ramp, turning it into a Get Back Here Boss fight with you chasing him around Stilwater. Good luck if you ended up with a slower car to chase him! Also, if you get him to go into a dead end, the bastard can teleport onto a different street. If you fall too far behind for too long, you fail and have to restart from the beginning of the stronghold.
The final missions of The Simpsons: Hit & Run (the same one in three parts, actually). To sum up, you have to drive from the power plant to the school carrying a barrel of toxic waste strapped to your bumper which will fall off and explode if you so much as ding a wall with your fender. The path is also extremely unforgiving and the car controls for this game are very sensitive. Did I mention it's a Timed Mission? If you lose the barrel, it forces you to run all the way back to the plant. But wait! That's a Timed Mission, too! One that will likely be outright impossible to complete if you've gone even half the required distance, forcing a restart. Oh, and there are certain points where other cars will try to ram you, and if you don't manage to get far enough from them before they turn to chase you, they'll catch up and bump into you, destroying the barrel and starting the above nonsense. Finally, because all the above just isn't enough, it's the only mission without a Mercy Mode.
Even worse is "Cary in Trouble", which pretty much requires you to have both an encyclopedic knowledge of real-life LA streets and a faster car from a previous level. Thankfully you can replay the previous levels.
Just Cause 2 brings us Black Gold. You're piloting a fighter jet, and have to blow up an oil rig. Jet controls are difficult to figure out at best. And if you die? Well, good job, you just locked yourself out of 100% (unless you get 100% on that rig BEFORE starting the mission). Of course you can always use a helicopter instead of the jet, which makes the mission considerably easier.
The Raya Race. At over twenty minutes long, it's easily the longest race in the game, and it takes you around a good portion of an island. This, in itself, isn't too bad. It's that you'll have to use a sports car if you hope to win. The game's driving controls get incredibly loose at high speeds, making it easy to spin out, and if you do, you'll have to pray that you can find another fast car, in an area of the map that doesn't normally have them. Oh, and did I mention that it all takes place on the wrong side of a highway?
Red Dead Redemption has its generally smooth and enjoyable mission layout interrupted by the hated "Liars, Cheats, and Other Proud Americans". Apart from being one of the few missions where you can't shoot your enemies, you have to compete in a cart... um, chariot race, and dear god, you will hate that cart. It's slower than a horse, far less maneuverable, has sluggish and occasionally glitchy controls, makes the actual horse pulling it exhausted, will crash often, has the turn radius of an aircraft carrier, and is just barely smaller than the road that you're supposed to ride it on. Worse, the course itself is punishing, filled with turns, sheer cliffs, and rail-less bridges over water... water that will eat your soul the moment you dip your toe in it. Add to that the facts that you can't use your own Kentucky Saddler or War Horse in the race, that visibility tends to be poor, and that the nearby civilians tend to put on khaki camouflage and stand right in front of sandy slopes, and you've got a level that will have you smashing your TV in fury.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare gives us "A Cure for Most of What Ails You", which, perhaps not coincidentally, is given to you by the same character who gave the mission above. You have to wander around a forest and a desert, collecting 5 specimens each of two very specific plants. Wouldn't be so bad if you weren't being constantly heckled by both zombified versions of the main game's extremely vicious wildlife (cougars, wolves, and bears, oh my!) and packs of roving zombies, some of which spit projectiles. And if you're playing at night, have fun with the reduced visibility.
There are a few missions in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames that are like this. But among the worst are:
Any of the Pirate Smuggling missions. They all involve the same thing: driving past armed checkpoints with an unsecured cargo in a pickup truck that can fly out seemingly on a whim. Sometimes you have to deal with Helicopters armed with homing missiles. And if you play the missions late in the game, sometimes the Allies shoot at you. Almost EVERYTHING they have has homing missiles.
Eva's Recruitment mission. Drive a bouncy, unarmed and unarmored monster truck through a quarry equipped with super-hydraulics that make you fly thirty feet. It's timed, you have to leap over a bunch of stuff, but that's not so bad. It gets bad when the VZ show up. They shoot at you, drop logs on you, and at the end you have to avoid a tank in just the right way, or you will get blown up in one hit. Die at any point and you have to start all the way at the beginning of the course.
The Final mission for China. When you do this mission for the Allies, it's actually rather easy, as all you have to do is destroy a few anti-aircraft guns and the Chinese main base. Not so with the Chinese version of the mission. In the Chinese version, you have to take out several Allied buildings along with the HQ. This would not be so bad, if nearly everything the Allies used did not have some type of homing missile. Their helicopters will shoot you down, their APC's will blow up your tank, and grenade-launcher equipped Humvees will blow you to pieces. Good luck trying to capture the HVT at the end.
The Ambulance Escort Mission for China. One unarmored, slowly moving ambulance. Lots of landmines. Allied Soldiers making sure to back up the landmines. You have a Chinese APC armed with an infantry-killing machine gun or a cannon more likely to kill your own ambulance than the missile-armed Allied APC's. Have fun.
And the worst one of all, the PLAV mission "Paint the Town". You have to liberate Merida from a heavy VZ occupation. First you have to destroy several buildings to get the VZ's attention. To do so, you have to go through a gauntlet of tanks and RPG's. When you are done doing that, you have to defend a church, which is easily one of the the biggest buildings in the town. Making matters worse is that you are "helped" by PLAV troops with explosives. If one of them runs in front of a cannon you are using as you fire it, they will all turn hostile against you the moment you hit the ground, and try to kill you with said explosives. While you are standing in front of the church. Then reinforcements show up, in a helicopter which can blow up on the church's roof. Then you have to capture or kill the VZ commander after about five or so minutes of this madness. When you get there, if you want the full cash bonus for capturing him alive, you have to make sure to not only not kill the commander yourself, but make sure he does not kill himself, his "allies" don't accidentally blow him up and to blow up the stands in the stadium he is using as a base so that the guys with the Stingers and rocket launchers don't blow up the helicopter you have to throw him onto. And to rub salt in the wound, the bonus objective? "Don't Kill Civilians". The same civilians who casually walk about a battlefield. The same ones who think the safest place to stand to avoid a tank is in front of it.
The "Amazing Discovery" quest in Space Pirates and Zombies. Wave after wave after wave after wave of medium and large enemy ships, all sporting extremely powerful weaponry. You will be forced to grind in order to stand a chance.
Dead Island has a quarantined section of the city map that constantly spawns waves of Infected all the time you are within it. Unfortunately, the Third Head Of Cerberus quest requires you to explore this area. Even if you take to the rooftops and run as much as possible, you are almost certainly going to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.
Also notable is that this is the ONLY place in the entire game where zombies will climb ladders to get after you.
"Distract Moash" in Escape Velocity: Nova. You need to land on a space station while not letting too many of your escorts die. Between you and the station is a massive amount of Moashi ships. You're likely to die from gunfire before you can slow down enough to land. The best solution is the Not the Nine O'Clock News Maneuver. Jump in, then fly away from the planet to lure the blockade away, then double back around them.
Most of Dead Rising, especially the mall gardens if you haven't killed the Convicts driving around and / or are escorting an NPC who can't walk unaided.
Convicts that constantly bloody respawn. You'd think cutting someone to death with a katana would prevent that sort of thing.
At least they drop their minigun each time, which is very useful for speed runs. "Oh, you got a pretty nice shotgun Cletus? Well, SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!"
Don't Starve is already hard as it is, but the game ups the ante with Chapter 5 of the Adventure mode, Darkness. You start in area surrounded by campfires, fire pits, and a backpack full of stuff. The catch? The chapter is locked on PERMANENT NIGHT, and standing in the dark for more than 5 seconds results in a monster attacking you for 100 DAMAGE. Not only that, but food is painfully scarce, crops won't grow in the dark and your sanity constantly depletes, which will likely result in hallucinations and, subsequently, enemies who can put out campfires and fire pits. The items you need to find to progress are all scattered around the dark. Thankfully, there are several Maxwell Lights around the map to help, but they aren't so useful if you aren't prepared. To make matters worse, this is the last level before the ending of Adventure mode, and dying here will have you restart from chapter 1.