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- Gauntlet Dark Legacy has some great levels, notably all of the levels from the Dream World, thanks to its creative level design, unique scenery (particularly the Maze of Illusion and Your Worst Nightmare) and epic and haunting music. There's also the Desecrated Temple, where you have to fight hord of monsters in a chapel to defeat Skorn.
- The Castle Treasury also qualifies as it contains ton of gold in a hidden section.
- The Gates to the Underworld is also a pretty epic level, as you venture into Hell while fighting tons of monsters from all realms of the game, complete with lot of weapons on your way. The last part is an epic battle against FOUR golems, just before the final confrontation against Skorn!
- The levels in the Forsaken Province may also count. It's the perfect way to start the game, with a gothic ambience, memorable music (with some epic organ sections) and an immersive scenery.
Gears of War
- Gears of War 2 can best be described as an entire game of Awesome Video Game Levels. Some of the best parts:
- The entirety of the Rolling Thunder chapter. A massed armored assault with Delta on the back of building sized assault rigs, fighting off boarders and shooting down Reavers and Locust mortars, with delta having to leap off mid-transit to protect Dizzy as he repairs "Betty" while Locust swarm at you from every direction.
- All of Nexus. Particularly the Queen's Palace.
- "Intestinal Fortitude." Bet you never thought a Womb Level would be quite so impossibly awesome.
- Bet you never thought that drowning in blood would be something that could actually present a real danger to you.
- The final level, which has Marcus and Dom blasting their way through an entire Locust army on top of a freaking BRUMAK. There's even a part where you fight a friggin' Corpser in hand-to-hand combat with the Brumak! And it is every bit as awesome as you'd expect it to be.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
- For the many kids that wanted more than anything to grow up to be a Ghostbuster, there is a lot of awesome to be had in Ghostbusters: The Video Game. The second level, where you're making your way through the streets of New York to confront The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, is particularly good. The whole gang is there, and there's a good chunk of fighting actual ghosts (as opposed to just "shooting up" creatures, as quite a bit of the game features). You can use your Ghost Trap throughout, but the start of the level introduces an awesome roof-mounted trap on the Ecto-1. Made even more awesome by being able to "slam" your hapless ghostly foes into it.
- Shandor's castle is also pretty cool as well since it ties together the plots of the movies.
God of War
- The Battle of Rhodes in God of War II.
- In fact pretty much any of the intro sequences.
- The bosses in general tend to be high points.
- GoldenEye (1997). St. Petersburg + TANK = Squishy WIN. Ah, memories...
- Unacceptable Nonmilitary Casualties.
- Again?! DAMNIT! *throw controller*
- That's one improvement the remake made- you can blow up, run over, and generally destroy WHATEVER (or whoever) THE HELL YOU WANT.
- Cradle. Chasing down Alec Trevelyan after all the hell he's put you through, with some of the most epic music in the game playing in the background made for an awesome final level.
- Venus Lighthouse in Golden Sun. Visited in both games too, so you can hear that awesome music.
- The Colosso Finals is a very unique and entertaining segment, consisting of a mini Tournament Arc with a series of races and fights against three duel bosses, with the player having the ability to give Isaac an edge by altering the course in his favor, using psynergy from the rest of the party, who are watching from the audience.
- The beginning of Golden Sun: The Lost Age, in which the player gets to beat the crap out of adult men with a 17-year-old girl accompanied by the best battle music ever.
- Let us not forget the final level of The Lost Age, Mars Lighthouse. Epic music plays in the background as you wander through the ice-filled structure and go head to head with some difficult—but not too difficult—and well conceived puzzles; after fighting the main villains who have been transformed into dragons, the lighthouse rejuvenates and, at the peak, amidst a blizzard, you have an epic confrontation in one of the few examples of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere that actually works! In addition, we've also got Crossbone Isle, the Bonus Level from the first game. It has a very spooky atmosphere, not helped by the fact that there are no random encounters, though you do find a (usually challenging) miniboss guarding the door to each level. It also features the hardest puzzles in the game, many of which are throwbacks to puzzles you solved previously in the main story, except this time the kid gloves are off. As you reach the bottom of the cavern, you find a scary abandoned ship, where you go head to head with Deadbeard, one of the most awesome and challenging Bonus Bosses ever.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has its share of awesome levels as well, namely the Belinsk Ruins and Apollo Sanctum. Going into the Belinsk Ruins, you know that there's an ancient machine down in there that's bad news, the key to activate it is in the hands of someone who may or may not be reliable, and the baddies definitely will be going there. In fact, when winding your way to the heart of the dungeon, you see the baddies in front of you - in fact, they're apparently powerful enough to brute-force their way through puzzles, even chucking statues at the wall so hard they actually get embedded in it. Finally near the end, after many excellent puzzles, you get the implication that this ancient machine has something to do with an eclipse. Then, upon reaching the core of the ruins, the resident Manipulative Bastard makes you fight Those Two Bad Guys, and activates the machine while you're occupied, before the villains flee as a tower rises from the lake, trembling and shaking ominously... and nothing happens. You go the castle, rescue the people that you came to rescue... and then dawn breaks. Surprise surprise, there's a total solar eclipse. That doesn't go away. And evil shadow monsters spawn out of nowhere, everywhere, in a massive patch of darkness covering half the world. You wind up fleeing the town in a ship, while your two new party members swear revenge on the baddies that just killed their brother/father, respectively.
- But as epic as that is, the magnificent final level may surpass it. After gathering a monumental number of MacGuffins, you approach Apollo Sanctum by first magically scaling a massive tower to the top of a giant wall that traverses the peaks of the local mountain range. At the top of the tower, you open a gate with three of your MacGuffins, and exit onto the world map while epic music plays and you look down at the shadow-stricken land below. After hiking over on top of the wall to the base of the tallest mountain around, you begin to climb cliffs strewn with ruined statues. Finally, after completing a ritual on the mountaintop, the gates to the sanctum open... revealing that you still need to pass through 4 puzzles to open a bigger door, each of which takes place of the side of a massive white marble wall and culminate in an Indiana Jones-style outrunning of giant marble wheels with stylized elemental symbols. And after all of that, you finally get to the inner sanctum, where the plot reaches its conclusion...
- After you finish the previous part, you solve a quite easy puzzle, and then have a pause right before the final bosses where you fight groups mooks that have only moderate HP and can easily level up using the Random Number Generator trick. The great thing? They're weak to EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT, so you can just unleash Djinni after Djinni until they all die, and you'll get tons of experience every battle.
- Oh no, that's not the best part about the random battle mooks. Remember that trio of shadow soldiers Wake-Up Call Boss way back at the beginning that probably made you pull out your hair in frustration? They're back in the Apollo Sanctum as the above-mentioned mooks. Only this time you've got your fully-leveled A-Team that you've spent the whole game decking out with gear, Djinni, and psynergy to throw at them instead of the wimpy one you start the game with. Can you say Payback Time?
- Gradius Gaiden takes Gradius level design to new heights. Stage 2 is a junkyard of past Gradius bosses; can you name them all? Stage 3 is set in a crystal corridor where laser shots—yours and enemies'—will refract through the crystals. Then there's Stage 7, which starts off as an innocent-looking volcano stage...that gets gradually sucked into a black hole behind you, as well as enemies, bullets, and even your own missiles. Your ship is not affected by it, though, since it's capable of cruising at five times the speed of light.
- Damn near every level in Graffiti Kingdom counts, but the Chess Tower stands out.
- Polyphony Digital were masters of track design back in the good old days, and it shows, with Gran Turismo featuring such masterpieces as:
- And of course many of the tracks were too good to last, only appearing in one game despite being among the best in the series:
- GT Sport is showing that despite the mixed reception towards the new tracks for 5 and 6, PD haven't lost their touch and came back strong with new tracks such as Blue Moon Bay, a fast, difficult tri-oval a la Pocono, the tight and snaking Tokyo Expressway, and Dragon Trail - Seaside, regarded by many as the single best track PD has made in years with its gorgeous coastline scenery and quick, flowing layout. Autodromo Lago Maggiore has also gotten the thumbs-up from many players with its varied, tortuous layout.
Grand Theft Auto
- Grand Theft Auto IV, bucking the trend set by previous games in the series by having their toughest missions serve as That One Level (see "The Driver" in Vice City and "Supply Lines" in San Andreas), actually has some really fun missions among its toughest, including "The Snow Storm" and "Three Leaf Clover" (an Escort Mission where the people you're supposed to protect actually help you by taking out the cops and drawing their fire. Also, it's Heat, the video game). You'll probably die several times in the course of these missions, but you'll enjoy playing through them again. Another great Grand Theft Auto IV mission is "Hostile Negotiation", which has Niko charging into a warehouse trying to save his kidnapped cousin Roman. There's something really exhilarating about wielding an AK-47 while screaming "NOBODY FUCKS WITH MY FAMILY!" at the top of your lungs while about twenty guys are shooting at you.
- The Lost and Damned has its final mission: You break INTO the Alderney State Correctional Facility by shooting the front gate with an RPG, then fight your way through it with Clay and Terry. Immensely fun, totally badass, and a perfect way to end. Because who but Johnny would break into a prison to avoid being sent there?
- The Ballad of Gay Tony, apparently having listened to demands for a return to the over-the-top missions of past games, went all-out with craziness. Hijacking an APC armed with an explosive cannon, flying a gold-plated attack helicopter and using it to shoot down other helicopters, and finally Yusuf's Big Damn Heroes Gunship Rescue during the finale.
- Grand Theft Auto V
- The mission "I Fought the Law..." is often regarded as this by players. The reason? You get to do a street race against two of the fastest cars in the game (the Overflod Entity XF and the Grotti Cheetah) in the motorway which connects East Los Santos to Blaine County.
- "Hood Safari", where Trevor accompanies Lamar and Franklin to buy dope. First of all, this is your first mandatory return to Grove Street. Second, not only do you get to watch Lamar and Trevor interact, but Trevor tells off Franklin's annoying aunt, and stops Lamar from being ripped off. Third, when the drug deal goes bad, the trio fight off wave after wave of gangbangers (and then cops), and this mission is the earliest that you can purchase a grenade launcher, making Grove Street a literal war zone. And last, but certainly not least, you must escape from the cops by jet skiing through the Los Santos River.
- Another fan favorite is "Bury the Hatchet," on top of the Awesome Music, The Reveal for Trevor about what actually happened to Brad, and when playing it as Michael getting a voice over flashback to him breaking the news to Amanda, which is implied to be the start of their marriage going downhill. It's emotional, to say the least.
- The Heist missions, naturally, but special mention to the last 3:
- "The Paleto Score": When the gang needs to knock over a small-town bank, the bank gets surrounded by the Corrupt Hick Cops. Seeing it's too late for flight, the gang decides to fight: by walking out of the bank wearing Bomb Suits. Michael and your gunman come out sporting Heavy Machine Guns, and Trevor comes out hefting a freaking Minigun! So they tear up the police men... and the police cars... and the police choppers... and then Army Fort Zancudo sends soldiers, Crusaders, and Rhino tanks. The gang kills all of them, too.
- "The Bureau Raid": To clean the records on Corrupt Cop Steve Haines, the gang has to break into the FIB building. There are two options. First Option: Pull the largest Bavarian Fire Drill in history: first by having Michael plant firebombs posing as a janitor, then the crew charges into the building as firefighters to grab the data drive, having to eventually have a shootout with FIB agents in the flames, and rappelling down an elevator shaft while dodging falling blocks of concrete. Second Option: Skydive onto the roof of the FIB building, hold off FIB goons while doing Hollywood Hacking on the computer, before rappelling down the side of the building, and having your Badass Driver get you out of there in an ambulance to slip past the police.
- "The Big Score": "Subtle" or "Obvious." Either way: you get to steal four tons of gold, and you do it in a badass way.
- Lamar Down, where Lamar gets tricked into a Balla ambush at a sawmill in Blaine County. All three protagonists join together to save him, with Michael providing sniper cover while Franklin and Trevor go in and massacre the Ballas while searching for Lamar. This mission becomes even more awesome should you choose Ending C.
- All of the three final endings, but the best is Ending C. Franklin, Michael, and Trevor join forces to take out everyone who have ever wronged them. Franklin kills Mr. Cheng, Michael assasinates Stretch, and Trevor Snipes Haines. Trevor than heads up to 'ol Devin Weston's and brings him and his luxury car out to a peninsula in Blaine County, where after a "The Reason You Suck"Speech, they all shove Devin off the cliff, eliminating everyone that caused their problems.
- Online has the Top Fun trilogy of versus missions. One team of runners have to run off with some valuable stuff in their hands without the whole team dying on either Sanchez dirt bikes, Voltic and Coquette sports cars, or even Mallard planes. What are they running from? Oh, nothing but some hunters flying freakin' P-996 LAZER fighter jets than can blow the runners' asses off.
- The Fleeca Job, the first Online Heist. Simple, just scope out a Fleeca franchise on a highway, grab some supplies, steal an armored sports car, hit the bank with a hack and drill. Once you do that, half the LSPD comes at you, and you make a mad dash towards Fort Zancudo, where Eddie Toh, from the singleplayer heists, picks you up with a magnet attached to a Cargobob.
- While it also might qualify for That One Sidequest status, Humane Raid-Deliver EMP is this. You and your crew raid a Navy Aircraft Carrier containing the Hydra that the EMP is inside of. You fight through the Navy, grab the Hydra, and while the non-Hydra piloters have Lazer jets, blow apart a few squads of fighter planes. When this is done, Danger Zone comes on the radio, and you fly to Sandy Shores felling like you can do anything. Also a nice shout out to San Andreas's mission where you do pretty much the same thing.
- "The Pacific Standard Job. The final Online Heist, and almost definitely the craziest. First, you track down a transponder hidden in a Post Op Van that'll stop the dye packs from going off and invalidating the score. Then you have to find the, as it turns out, Properly Paranoid, Avi Schwartzman, who'll configure the transponder to the right sequence. After, you steal a hacking rig from another gang after a large scale shootout, and lead them on a wild goose chase. Then you steal bikes with KERS on them from the Lost MC for the heist. You also ambush a Merryweather convoy like you do in singleplayer to obtain the thermal charges they're carrying, while they come at you in the Hind-like Savage with infinite fast-fire missiles and block the road as best they can, while you get an Insurgent Pickup to protect the truck. It all culminates in your crew walking in, taking out the guards, hacking the vault open, grabbing as much as you can carry (all of it), and meeting half(if you do it right) or all of the LSPD coming out. After the massive firefight, you run for the bikes, than a Dinghy in Raton Canyon. Do all that, put in a blender and mix to make one of the most insane heists in the game.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features the Ocean's Eleven-inspired "Breaking The Bank At Caligula's", which involves a daring casino heist that finishes with a parachute jump off the roof and a mad dash to a waiting helicopter.
- How about the mission where you parachute onto the roof of the mansion, and systematically fight your way through? Slightly dampened by the chase sequence at the end in the crappy car, but still. Awesome
- And a mission where you have to chase a firetruck for 5 minutes... And a mission where you have to chase down a plane in a motorbike, drive up the ramp before it lifts off while secret agents are shooting at you, kill everybody inside with any kind of a melee weapon, steal one of the guys' parachute, plant an explosive because the plane is full of dynamite, jump out, and watch the cutscene.
- ... Heh, and then there's always the motocycle mission in the aftermath of the bad deal with the Russian Mafia. When the car carrier leaps off the bridge at you... Terribly fun to play over again too.
- And the one where you fly behind a plane, JUMP OUT, AND FREEFALL ONTO SAID PLANE AND CLIMB IN.
- The one where you break into Area 51 and steal a jetpack.
- Your penultimate mission for Mike Toreno involves sneaking onto a navy Aircraft Carrier, disabling the SAM defence systems, and stealing a Hydra VTOL fighter jet. After shooting down the jets that appear in response, you fly to a nearby reservoir and use your missiles to sink a flotilla of spy ships. Once you're done, you land the jet at your airfield, unlocking it as a permanently spawning vehicle.
- Most of the rail-shooting missions of the game are pretty fun. Mostly because all you need to do is concentrate on shooting without worrying about crashing, but also because it feels like a response to your likely frequent griping along the lines of "Oh yeah, [Sweet/Smoke/Ryder/whoever], you want me to drive for a change?"
- Hands down, "End of the Line" is the most satisfying ending mission to any GTA game before or since. You smash into a barricaded crack compound using a SWAT riot tank, running down about a dozen enemy gang members in the process, then storm your way through four floors packed to the brim with assault rifle-toting Mooks, culminating in the long-awaited showdown between CJ and Big Smoke. Once you've taken care of him, Tenpenny sets the place ablaze, forcing you to make your way back out of the compound, putting out fires while contending with even more mooks until you escape Just in Time as the compound gets blown to Kingdom Come. Then you chase Tenpenny's getaway fire truck going full tilt throughout most of Los Santos while Sweet clings onto it for dear life and rioters firebomb your car from all directions. Once you've finally got Sweet safe in your car, he takes over the driving while you fend off just about every faction in the city chasing you down. It all concludes when the fire truck drives off a bridge onto Grove Street, where Tenpenny is left to die from his injuries (or, more likely, to be torn apart by the rioters who want him dead). And remember, this all takes place in one mission. Needless to say, the "Holy Shit!" Quotient is high on this one.
- Vice City had lots of missions like that. There is a mission where you have to protect a yacht from homicidal French agents and an attack helicopter. There are RC missions that always involve bombs. And there's the last mission — the one that is just like the ending of Scarface (1983). You know... minus the focus dying.
- Pre-Searing Ascalon, the Prophecies tutorial zone, is a lovely area so popular that many players choose to have characters permanently remain there, rather than advancing to the game proper. Over the years, the developers added things to the area to make life a little easier for the characters who don't leave. Years after development on the game ended and most players drifted away, you can still find a decent number of players hanging out in Ascalon City. All this despite there being no serious gameplay elements in the region.
- The fifth episode of Gunstar Heroes, after the four selectable stages, is one long uninterrupted run of mass destruction, allowing you to shoot, kick and throw your way through an endless horde of enemies in your own style.
- Although some of those previous stages are no doubt counted by other games, such as Black's (silly) Dice Maze.
- Or Green's, complete with exploding trains and transforming 7-force boss. All while riding a gravity-flipping minecart.
- Orange's stage is also awesome starting with a climb then a fight ont the cruiser followed an early fight with Smash Daisuke before finally fighting Orange himself.
- What better way to work up to the game's climax than a stage where the previous bosses watch you charge in towards the center of their base on a big screen monitor, with each boss running out to try and stop you before you make your way to the control room?
- Office Complex tends to be a really fun early level due to the fact that you can get your hands on the shotgun well before any enemies are truly a major threat; meaning that you can just go shotgun crazy on anything you come across. It's also the level where you can gather up the most friendly security guards to fight alongside ya (up to 4), which can lead to a bit of fun running around with your own small army before you're forced to ditch them all at the final elevator shaft of the level.
- While there are plenty of other great chapters, Surface Tension seems to be where everything comes together perfectly and creates a non-stop ride of awesome.
- This is around the time Gordon Freeman Took a Level in Badass. His feats have been impressive up until this point, evading and destroying United States Marines, all manner of alien horrors, and maneuvering through more traps and puzzles than you can shake a stick at, but here, he goes head to head with the Marines' best-taking on multiple attack helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and main battle tanks. In particular, getting the rocket launcher and finally taking down the Apache that's been attacking you throughout the level might count as a Moment of Awesome. Assuming you didn't just blow it out of the sky the first time you saw it with that tau cannon you picked up in the last chapter...
- However, those who didn't actually find the tau cannon (and it's easy for beginners to miss) had a... different experience with Surface Tension.
- Unfortunately, Half-Life: Source waters down this encounter by allowing you to take down the 'copter with just one rocket. As Our Mutual Friend would say, "rather an anti-climax after what you've just survived". Still, at least there's the peace and quiet afterward.
- Most people up until that point had heard the Valve theme fairly often (every time they started up the game) but as you emerge from the pipe into the canyon and it expands into a full theme as you fight all kinds of marines and finally the helicopter...sheer perfection.
- Ravenholm gives you throwing buzzsaw blades to hurl at zombies, effectively cutting them in half. Throwing buzzsaw blades. The only way it could top that would be by giving you a gun that shoots drills on fire. From Bavaria.
- The following level allows you to use a crane to drop shipping containers on your enemies.
- Don't bother with that, just kill them with the crane itself. WHACK! THWACK! Oh, the antlions will eat well of your broken bodies tonight!
- The two Citadel chapters are even better; nothin' like grabbing your enemies to ragdoll them, and then tossing them at more enemies, or better yet: into areas which would incinerate them!
- Did we mention you can vaporize enemies? Because you can vaporize enemies. Quite possibly the funnest part of the game—you go from this moment of horror when all your weapons are vaporized to childlike glee as you discover what you can now do.
- It wasn't the buzzsaws that made that level cool, IMO, it was the atmos. Up to that point in the game, you've just been in the new cities and hardly see any headcrabs etc. Then you stumble on to a plagued, derelict town. Oh, and the end is really cool.
- "Follow Freeman".
- Owning the Striders? "If you see Dr. Breen, tell him I said *** you!"
- Few levels are more awesome than leading an unlimited supply of Antlions to attack Nova Prospekt.
- Closer to the beginning of the game, the air boat sequence, where in you navigate the channels of city 17 at high speeds with a combine chopper chasing after you. Half way through the level your air boat is augmented with a cannon and you finally get to blow that bugger out of the sky.
- In that level, when the Combine demolish a giant chimney to block your path. The "Holy Shit!" Quotient jumped right there.
- Highway 17 has the aforementioned crane dropping and it has the goddamn bridge, the most wonderfully atmospheric part of the game. The surrounding overcast driving alongside the ocean is quite awesome too.
- Oh, that bridge. One of the most stunning things ever seen in a video game. It's a beautiful bridge!
- Then there's the level in Episode One which is almost entirely pitch black. And you've only got a Ten-Second Flashlight. And there's zombies. Which spawn whenever the flashlight runs out.
- Mitigated by said flashlight functioning as a weapon on its own by directing the Action Girl's gunfire. Especially a lie as you have a little bit more than a flashlight, in the form of occasional road flares. Are zombies converted to a light source as well as gaining flame sprites while stumbling around? Of course!
- Also, Antlion Defense in Episode Two, which culminates in Vortal Combat.
- To sum it up, you've got an antlion army against three vortigaunts, Those Two Guys, and Gordon. It doesn't end well for the antlions, and for once Gordon's not the one saving everyone.
- Defending the rebel base against the striders at the end of Episode Two is perhaps the most awesome part of the series.
- Especially when the last 5 all spawn at the same time.
- The rooftop levels, which feature a delightfully jazzy track and lots of Notes. A lot of the "big" parts of the song are punctuated by rows of enemies that have to be hit in quick succession.
- Tom Clancy's HAWX. Your PMC takes an offer from some foreign powers and attacks America. What do you do? Take your 3 man squad and SAVE WASHINGTON D.C. The next level is your squad SAVING AIR FORCE ONE. The final level is an extended dogfight against some of the best planes in the game, and ends with you destroying a nuke that was about to blow up LA. And, the campaign to reclaim the eastern US starts with you flying stealth bombing runs over enemy installations while having to dodge missiles and fly in a narrow "don't get shot" pipe.
- The Rio level. You're flying along, and it seems like you'll get there and nothing will happen, then your AWACS controller says that there's a massive invasion force of planes, tanks, and landing craft headed towards the city. Cue what might be the largest battle in the entire game, culminating in a battle with you and your squadron mates against a quartet of Aces (the only pilots in the game that are actually challenging even with ERS) flying Su-47s. AWE. SOME.
- Segment 3 Lead. Relaxing music, two massive battleships and waves of Seagull enemies you can destroy for oodles of Spirits, and a boss-less final section where Sunken Bishop makes one last Macross Missile Massacre on you.
- The Great Majority, the first extra stage of Hellsinker. You travel through a visualization of the Garland system, fighting hexagonal enemies for huge amounts of Spirits, in what feels like Rez in two dimensions.
- Then there's the second extra stage, The Way of All Flesh. Not just because you fight The Unnamed 771, but also because the enemy formations are prominently in sync with the music.
Heroes of Might and Magic
- The seventh map of the Order campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic IV is essentially two maps in one. At the surface, the radical feature of being able to have more than one hero in your army is taken to its logical extreme by having an army of seven heroes and no creatures at all, making it more like an RPG party than anything else. Simultaneously, your underground army takes a more classical and familiar approach by having Solymr, one of the more popular characters from earlier installments of the franchise, being the lone hero of his army while looking for the Mind Shield.
- The end of the first scenario of the Inferno campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic VI has Azkaal take over Kiril, and Xana tries to stop him, leaving you with a reverse-boss fight. You control only Azkaal, who has 75000! health and all sorts of ass-kicking abilities, and you get single-handedly destroy a HUGE inferno army with him.
- Hitman: Codename 47:
- "Plutonium Runs Loose": Running around a humongous map setting up bits and pieces of a gambit and systematically making most every guard in the area disappear, before finally culminating in storming a ship, having to avoid or massacre the multitude of gun-toting crewmen while making your way to the engine room in a race against time to disarm a nuke.
- Hitman 2: Silent Assassin:
- The second proper level , "St. Petersburg Stakeout". Smuggling a sniper rifle out of a subway station and into the sewers, infiltrating an apartment building, then finding out the general you're supposed to kill is in a meeting with four others, and the target's description is gradually given to you by your contact as the meeting progresses.
- "Shogun Showdown". The previous two levels are usually not very well regarded, but this more than makes up for it- after painstakingly trekking through a snowy mountain and sabotaging all outer defenses, 47 infiltrates a Japanese crime lord's private castle in search of a missile guidance system. Among possible strategies, the player can choose to climb all the way up to the top chamber and face the katana-wielding Hayamoto hands-on before escaping in a helicopter.
- "Terminal Hospitality". Getting into the basement of a secret Indian palace to find a cult leader who's about to undergo surgery, before cutting the lights and finishing the job yourself.
- The last two levels (it's just that awesome):
- "St. Petersburg Revisited": virtually the same setup as in St. Petersburg Stakeout, until you notice the cardboard cutout you're shooting at doesn't budge, and neither does the sniper that ends up killing you almost instantly. After wising up and choosing to investigate up close, you find out it was a surviving Ort-meyer clone, sent by the main villain himself, which leads up to...
- "Redemption at Gontranno": "Here's every weapon you've encountered over the course of the game, and bucketloads of ammo. Here's an army of bodyguards for you to plow through. Enjoy!"
- Hitman: Blood Money:
- "Curtains Down": The assasination of the game. First of, the gorgeous opera house interior (as pointed out by an in-game tourist guide) and bombastic music played during the rehersals which you have to listen through in order to murder him undetected on-set. Secondly, you can get a bit melodramatic by killing a performer at his number's climax (he literally begs to be shot at that point!) and dropping a chandelier on his partner. Thirdly, framing the kill as an Accident by switching the prop gun with a real one seeps of Dramatic Irony as the play they're rehearsing is the final act of Tosca.
- "Murder Of The Crows": Trying to hunt down couple of feathered assassins in the middle of a ridiculously crowded parade they are closing in on their target by listening to their radio chatter? Infiltrating enemy hideout dressed as a cartoon bird? Killing a guy by blowing his payment for the hit he's pulling on his face? Awesome.
- "Amendment XXV": Mr. 47 having a duel of assassins with his Evil(er) Counterpart inside the fricking White House.
- And of course, the epilogue level of Blood Money, where 47 has his fake death reversed and proceeds to kill all the agents of The Franchise - including their crippled boss. Extremely satisfying.
- Hitman (2016):
- The first mission, "The Showstopper", takes place at a fashion show in Paris. With it's many NPCs, gorgeous outfits, and utterly delightful ways to screw with the targets, fans were blown away and extremely impressed. The only complaint the fans had was that the world felt a little small.
- The second mission, set in an Italian coastal villa, is widely considered to be the best, with it's stunning visuals, multiple ways of dealing with the targets, and just the right amount of challenge made it a delight to replay over and over.
- The final mission, set in a medical facility in Hokkaido, is beloved for its challenge factor and positively grisly ways to deal with the opponents. Putting on over on that Jerkass Soders was awesome as well.
- Hitman 2
- The first full mission (and second overall), "The Finish Line" which takes place at a Miami auto track and corporate HQ. Fans loved its unusual location, decor, and the numerous delightful ways to screw with your targets.
- "Golden Handshake", the first DLC level set in a New York bank, is wildly beloved for its tight level design, and the unique factor of being an entirely indoor mission.
- Hitman 3
- The second mission, "Death in the Family" is widely considered the best of the missions due to its intricate plot, many accident-prone ways of screwing with the family, and really putting the mechanics of the engine to great use.
- The third mission "Apex Predator" is also considered excellent, particularly by series veterans, for its tough but fair challenge system and numerous targets.
- The final level of Homeworld. You're the last people from your planet left. You've just wiped out multiple enemy fleets coming from multiple directions, more are still coming and you're running out of ships. It zooms out to a cutscene and seriously depressing classical music starts playing, as a huge fleet starts to hyperspace in right on top of you. You're left thinking "Well, shit, this is it". Then they finish appearing and turn out to be some allies from earlier in the game. And you go on to spread ion cannony death to your foes.
- What about the last level of Homeworld 2? The Vaygr are about to overrun the last of Hiigara's defenses. Then Sajuuk arrives. If not for the Planet Killers showing up in the middle of the battle, it would be over very quickly since Sajuuk can one-shot-kill nearly everything and is nigh indestructible.
- "Return to Kharak", in the never-been-so-moved-since-Aerith kind of way.
- The final course in the arcade version of Hydro Thunder, Nile Adventure, is an amusement ride-like take on the Nile River, with many amazing features such as multi-colored lightning, a dome with a spinning starfield,, and a huge chamber containing a huge cyclopic monster in the water that shoots lasers (though they don't hurt you). It's also one of the longest courses in the game, taking nearly four minutes to complete.
Hype: The Time Quest
- In Hype: The Time Quest, the thieves' village (not exactly a level, but an area nonetheless) is definitely befitting of this trope. Amazing music, golden light, people in green tights, and fully explorable REALLY thick tree branches!
- Iji, Sector 5. After four levels of introductory skirmishing with the Tasen, this is where you finally discover what the game is really about. You suddenly find yourself in the role of a mere spectator as two alien races duke it out, and it's up to you whether to respond by trying to slip past them while they're occupied with each other... or just blow them both to pieces. It helps that it's also one of the largest levels and has what's widely regarded as the game's best non-boss music track. Keep in mind that basically every song in Iji is Awesome Music.
- Everything after the point where you die in Jade Empire just kicks so much arse (although the part where you fight hundreds of little cannibal monsters is pretty damned awesome too).
- Plenty of great sequences before that, too. The Arena, battling through the burning ruins of Two Rivers, infiltrating Necropolis and the Lotus Assassin fortress, performing in the play in the Imperial City, the philosophical duel with Sir Roderick, visiting the forest spirit...the list goes on and on.
Jak And Daxter
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
- Snowy Mountain. It is a big, beautiful area with a lot to explore. Running up a hill while avoiding huge snowballs? Exploring icy caves? Jumping and flying through canyons? Discover the fort and jump your way around it? A breathtaking view from above? Snowy Mountain has it all.
- A trait shared with most of the game. The Precursor Legacy's scenery not only justifies buying the game on its own, it also makes it fun to just run around the levels for ages after you collect everything except a few orbs. In fact, the game world itself is pretty much the world's largest Awesome video game level (without any loading screens it's essentially a single massive place...)
- That said, Snowy Mountain HAS to win the prize for awesome videogame foreshadowing. After you arrive by cable car, The silhouetted shape of Gol and Maia's citadel, the last level of the game, is visible in the clouds off to the right. Exactly how that turns out cannot be done justice with mere description.
- Lava tube. Dear god.. Just Lava tube. You start off racing through an active volcano, end up bouncing along metal roller coaster tracks over the top of a really big fast flowing lava river, and then after a rather disorientating set of junctions you end up in something akin to an Eternal Engine level. Except the floor is still covered with Lava. And if you do it backwards, about halfway through you get treated to an almost vertical downhill plunge towards a river of Lava and back up again. The only way to really appreciate it is to do it yourself, and pay close attention to the background.
- Jak II: Renegade
- The climax of the first third of the game takes place as you descend from one of the cables that are attached to the Baron's palace, with a beautiful atmosphere thanks to just how high up you are and the dramatic atmosphere provided by the rain. At the end you get a boss fight against the Baron himself that's overall a fair challenge with what you have at your disposal. It's a great sign that there's only better things to come.
- The Tomb of Mar level. It is a defining moment in the game and a pure example of excellent good ol' fashion platforming.
- Haven Forest and the Mountain Temple, primarily because they're both so damn pretty.
- Your first visit to Haven Forest is also the first time you get the JET Board, and the forest makes for an excellent skate park. Using the board in general is pretty fun, which the scenery only adds to.
- Mountain Temple looks and feels a lot like an area from the first game, except with vastly improved graphics. There are several routes to go through, all of which provide unique challenges. There's plenty of good platforming mixed in with the occasional battle and even some interesting puzzles.
- Jak 3: Wastelander
- This game features a level containing absurd quantities of win and awesome, which isn't even the end battle. It's the one in which you are basically given a gunship (VASTLY improved from its appearances in the previous game) with unlimited ammunition and a regenerating supply of smart missiles, and set loose on a flying war factory. By yourself. Watching a smart bomb explosion significantly bigger than your own ship while spamming ammunition at tanks, defensive structures, and flying KG drones, solo? Where do we sign up?
- The levels in Volcano and Dark Eco Mines. Both are visually impressive locations with the design that sets them apart from the rest of the game and with very nice fitting background music. It also helps that both concentrate mostly on good old platforming with some elements to spice things up: controlling Daxter (involving sliding segment in pipeline) and Leaper Lizard in Volcano, and timed mission where you must shoot the railings down so the Nitro Express may pass in Mines.
- The Dark Maker assault on Spargus City. Unlike the Metal Head/KG Bot attacks in Haven City, everyone in the Wasteland is armed, and they're fighting back. The Dark Makers have shields, and even they're not helping much.
- Also, the mission where you have to run from location to location killing KG bots and Metal Heads with the Blaster, while picking up weapons. It may rip off your ammo something shocking, but killing hundreds of Mooks almost single-handed, with a sudden tidal wave of Freedom League Red Shirts turning up at the end to help you out against a Blast Bot. Or the time you take over a Blast Bot and march it through the city by remote control. Or doing the same with a Dark Maker version of the Atlas mech. Or Daxter riding a missile. Or...y'know what, half the game.
- How about the final sequence where you're chasing the Dark Maker walker? The music, the ongoing storm, bringing down that hulking machine with your machine-gun armed dune buggy...just an awesome chase sequence to get you pumped for the final boss.
Jet Set Radio
- Grind Square. Ignoring the abundance of Golden Rhino thugs populating it, there are tons of high-up grind rails that lead into one another, allowing you to pull off some incredible combos. Plus, you get to listen to Jurassic 5 and Rob Zombie!
- Kogane-Cho features tons of rooftops to grind on, and a giant underground area. Plus, it always has a beautiful sunset in the sky.
Jet Set Willy
- One for oldbies; "We Must Perform A Quirkafleeg" in Jet Set Willy.
- And for the sequel, The Cartography Room.
- Apotheosis, the eighth and final chapter of Journey. You're flying to the summit, with water and a bright star present in the scene and cloth almost all over the place. After your death when struggling to climb the mountain, the White Robes resurrect you with enough energy to make it. It's so beautiful.
- The Sunken City area also qualifies here, especially the part giving you a vast view of the ruined city.
- The final level in most Katamari Damacy games, that has you rolling up the islands of Japan, rainbows, the clouds, volcanoes, and expies of Godzilla, other Kaiju, and Ultraman. If you're good enough, you can even roll up the King of All Cosmos.
- The "final" level of We ? Katamari has to be mentioned. You're tasked with rolling up the whole freaking solar system... using the Earth as your katamari! All to a surprisingly understated, kind of eerie song in the background. Equally awesome is the penalty for failure (which you must see at least once to progress in the game): Your rolled-up planets hit the sun and burst into flames.
- Beautiful Katamari one-ups that. You start with a katamari about a meter in diameter, and roll until you're rolling up buildings, then islands, then continents, and then you go into space and start rolling up planets and stars and other celestial bodies, all in the efforts of making a katamari big enough to block up a black hole.
- Never mind the fact that you can ROLL UP THE BLACK HOLE.
- The final level from the first game still trumps them, if only because Katamari on the Rocks, the Main Theme starts blasting and keeps you going. And you know it did.
- The third-to-last level of Katamari Forever is kind of a refinement of all of the above. You get to roll up everything you'd made in every mode up to that point...possibly including Corrupt Data Peanut Planet.
- Kingdom Hearts features Hollow Bastion, which is a huge epic castle with great world music and plot-important, dramatic boss fights. Also, it lets you go from packing a near-worthless toy sword made of driftwood all the way up to the awesomely badass-looking Oblivion, the second-strongest Keyblade in the game.
- Hollow Bastion ought to be the official name of Awesome Game Levels. The scenery is breathtaking, right from the self-explanatory(?) Rising Falls that usher in the level down to the labyrinthine inner sanctum; the boss fights are some of the most intense, emotionally-charged battles in the game; the gamut of challenges is more complete than you even thought possible, even forcing you to go back to the basest of basic weapons as mentioned above, and later including a gummy ship segment, just to make sure you've mastered every art the game offers; the plot takes a breakneck-speed dive into the most epic of territory with dark possession, evil sorcery, gratuitous amounts of Power of Friendship, and even the transformation of the main character into a Heartless; and to bring everything to a height of awesome that only the word "crowning" can describe, there's that haunting organ that ushers in the ultimate boss of the world. You face the rival the hero never managed to top, you meet The Man Behindthe Man, fight The Dragon (literally,) and then fight the rival again with his own evil version of the Keyblade. And when he's beaten you free the princesses, and then the hero dies and is revived as the party flees and escapes. Seriously, was this originally where the game ended? The End of the World, despite being suitably epic and large-scale, seems like an afterthought compared to Hollow Bastion.
- Neverland. By the end of the level, you can fly! Which leads right in to a boss fight with Captain Hook, where you get to use your new ability to dogfight his minions before swooping down on the old codfish. You get the Glide ability after that, but it just pales in comparison to the full flying ability that you have in Neverland.
- Agrabah. It may have become a worse in later games, but it was great fun to play through here: climbing to the rooftops of buildings, exploring the Cave of Wonders, facing down Jafar...all of it memorable.
- The End of the World may not be as dramatic as Hollow Bastion, but it's no slouch as levels go. It takes you through wave after wave of Heartless as you go deeper into its various surreal landscapes, which seem almost organic in places. It even includes a battle with Chernabog where you get the same flight abilities that you have in Neverland and a (sadly non-repeatable) visit to the lab where the experiments that caused the Heartless outbreak were carried out. The music is a Dark Reprise of the Dive to the Heart music, fitting with the eerie and surreal nature of the place. It culminates in a protracted battle against several swarms of powerful Heartless to reach the last room before the Point of No Return.
- The 1000 Heartless fight in Kingdom Hearts II. They're some of the weakest Heartless in the game, admittedly, but taking on that many still makes you feel like a total badass.
- Before that, there's the separate fights with Heartless where you're paired up with various Final Fantasy characters, and before that there's the battle with Demyx, and before that there's Space Paranoids!
- Though Space Paranoids itself gets very awesome when you visit it for the final time. The boss battle with the MCP is purely unforgettable. Not to mention the heartwarming cutscene after the battle...
- Goofy was just taken down before Sora pairs up with the Final Fantasy characters, so unless your heart's a dried up prune, Sora, and by extension the player, is brimming with grief-turned-fury-turned-COME GET SOME!
- A similar Heartless invasion occurs in Mulan's world. The player is given a limited time to survive to the enemy Heartless. Riku is also there but as both ally an enemy. He will attack Sora but will defend from the Heartless.
- That whole Heartless Invasion was cool. So was The World That Never Was. Despite them being extreme bastards, many gamers have created separate files for Xigbar, Luxord, Saix, and Xemnas.
- Beast's Castle, chiefly because all of the bosses you face there are freaking epic, especially That One Boss Xaldin.
- Even though it (for the most part) doesn't have any serious battles and takes part of the game's Prolonged Prologue... Twilight Town is still a rather breath taking and relaxing level. Even in this day and age, it still looks pretty good graphic wise, and the atmosphere and music easily captures the feeling of lazy summer days. It may not have much in the way of battles or epic moments, but it still manages to invoke a rather powerful sense of nostalgia...
- In 358/2 Days, considering its his claim to fame, pretty much every player who played the game kept waiting the mission where Roxas finally cracked out the dual-wielded Oathkeeper and Oblivion and started kicking ass like he did in KH2. He finally does it during final mission, so of course it was a lot of fun since you waited the entire game for it. The only problem is that the mission was really short, but hey, we got the dual-wielding at least.
- Mission 91 is also awesome. Roxas basically goes, "Screw this, I'm outta here!" and you run through the castle fighting Nobodies. And then you fight the game's semi-Big Bad, Saix. And THEN you get one of those awesome FMV cutscenes.
- Day 357 (Tears)? True, it's a major Tear Jerker, but it brings to a close an unknown chapter in Roxas' life, and by the end of it, you should be ready to storm the Organization XIII headquarters. Xion's final words to Roxas, perfectly set the mood for the aforementioned final chapter. And the boss fight itself is awesome, too.
- Mission 89 lacks the drama of the final missions, but makes up for it with the sheer variety of bosses that you get to fight.
- Coded has its version of Hollow Bastion. Let's see here: four different gameplay styles and three genres (shooter, platformer, action RPG), a two stage fight with Pete, two battles (one three parts) withData Riku, then a whirlwind tour of the other worlds in the game. After that we get a fight with Dragon Maleficent which is easy but oh so cool.
- Birth by Sleep has the player go to Neverland. Unlike the first game where you only went to Hook's ship and Big Ben, or Days where you were only on the outskirts, you actually go to Neverland proper. Sure, the music for Days may have been seen as better, but it's a relief to finally go to Neverland and see all the artifacts like the Lost Boys' tree, the Indian Camp, Mermaid Lagoon, and the mountains&caves that went unexplored in the movie.
- Additionally, the Enchanted Dominion - where you finally get to confront Maleficent on her home turf.
- Dream Drop Distance has Symphony of Sorcery. This world replaces Sora and Riku's battle noises with musical sounds, fitting since it's a Fantasia world. The world includes several sequences from the film, all with their original music. Also, Fantasia means Scenery Porn (in a cutscene, even Young Xehanort has to say what a beautiful world it is) and Awesome Music come as standard. Still not convinced? Riku gets to fight Chernabog.
- And don't forget The Grid. If one were to not cry (especially after completing it as Sora), they would notice the awesome Scenery Porn, a lot of Flomotion grind rails and the chance to reprogram some Rectifiers, doors, and even the Black Guards (a perfect payback for all the crimes Clu committed, I'd say). Oh, and Riku even gets to play on a Light Cycle!
- Kingdom Hearts III has a few as well:
- Olympus. Unlike the first game where you were limited to the colosseum, or the second where you only explored the underworld, this one lets you explore Thebes and Olympus itself. What's more, Hercules finally gets to join you as a party member.
- Toy Box, for its unique-to-its-level mechanics (With its mech battles) and the massive amounts of detail put into recreating Andy's room, the street, and the 1990s-esque toy store. There is so much love put into this level - between the blocks that actually move when you touch them, to the helium that makes everybody's voice sound funny, and its multiple boss fights. What's more, Young Xehanort gets a very fitting take that from Woody of all things.
- Monstropolis is another beloved level - between the weird monster forms to the recreation of Monsters Inc. The unversed appear for this level as well, and it gives a pretty important plot revelation. The cherry on the sundae is when Sulley tosses Vanitas right out of the factory.
- Port Royal/The Caribbean was a rather divisive level in II. To an extent, it remains divisive, but it's far less so in III. In contrast to the original which featured some awkward looking graphics of people (which were alright for the time), this one features much more beautiful looking people. Sora, Donald, and Goofy don't look nearly as out-of-place. What's more, this world features a very unique gimmick - sailing and a limited Wide Open Sandbox. The result of this is a surprisingly huge world with lots of hidden areas and treasures to find. The Kraken and Davy Jones are seen of as nice boss fights, and of course... Jack Sparrow knocks Luxord out with his breath.
- San Fransokyo. While the world is rather short in terms of plot and only has three areas (one of which is just the other at night), what's impressive is the sheer size of the world. San Fransokyo has a surprisingly small amount of Space Compression for an area set in part of a city. Much like Toy Box and Monstropolis, Square-Enix put a lot of detail into this. They have a lot of identifiable landmarks from the movie such as all the skyscrapers and the wind socks.
- For those who didn't find it a drag due to being a retelling of the movie, the Kingdom of Corona due to its Visual Effects of Awesome.
- The entirety of the Revenge of Meta Knight mode in Kirby Super Star. The running dialogue from the enemies makes Kirby an unstoppable force of destruction!
- And at the height of it all during the final assault on the airship, all of it is set to Awesome Music.
- Kirbopher (the creator of TTA) made reference to this in his collaborative flash $00pah NiN10Doh!. Kirby infiltrates the Halberd with a machine gun, and one of the Waddle Dees working for Meta Knight says the line "He's like totally owning everything without even TRYING!"
- Similarly, there's also a stage called "The Revenge" in Kirby Super Star Ultra's Revenge of the King, with similar running dialogue and a Boss Fight of Awesome.
- Also in Kirby Super Star Ultra, there's the game mode where you play through all of the original levels, as Meta Knight.
- The Crystal and Garden Areas in The Great Cave Offensive, with its Scenery Porn and extremely epic sounding music, which is basically a Triumphant Reprise of "Green Greens".
- World 7-6 in Kirby's Adventure It is a wonderful black and white throwback to Kirby's Dream Land and is the final standard level of the game too.
- Spectacle Space of Kirby: Canvas Curse is basically the stage all the others in the game has been building up to, with the true scope of Drawcia's handiwork as the background to the entire experience. The best part though is the middle where you are free to fly around in space at your leisure (literally if you have Kirby copy a Bang-Bang for the Missile ability) navigating through debris with gravity strong enough to pull Kirby into orbit.
- In most Kirby games, the level before the final boss can be one of the best in the game, if Level 7-6 and Spectacle Space are any indication.
- Candy Constellation in Amazing Mirror is an extremely fun space level with a beautiful backdrop and easily some of the best music in the game. Not to mention that it ends with you fighting Master Hand and Crazy Hand!
- Gamble Galaxy in Squeak Squad starts with you escaping a destroyed Halberd.
- Level 7-3 in Return To Dream Land has you running past ginormous meteors that can destroy so much of the level, while epic music plays in the background. Later in the level, you get an Ultra Sword allowing you take down each and every miniboss in one hit.
- Level 6-5 in both Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot are also very awesome. In the former, you take on a series of micro-challenges to save the People of the Sky, before getting a Hypernova to suck up every miniboss and Flowery Woods. In the latter, you use your Robobot Suit to, once again, satisfyingly take down every miniboss in the game.
- Kirby's Epic Yarn, Melody Town. The fact that all of the platforms in the level are musical instruments that respond to your landing on them creates some sort of indescribable audiovisual joy.
- Klonoa: Door to Phantomile has the Wind Ruins (World 4). It's really the first level in the game where the difficulty gets kicked up to interesting, has great background music, and the best boss in the game.
- Right before the Wind Ruins is the Tree Mansion of Machinery (World 3). It's a surprisingly nonlinear level with multiple branching paths, keys and locked doors, and some of the first challenging puzzles in the game. As a result, it ends up feeling more like a Zelda dungeon than a normal platforming level.
- World 6-1 is also worth mentioning for its beautiful atmosphere and for boasting some of the best puzzles in the game.
- Mts. of Mira-Mira in Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil. An extremely fun boarding level with some awesome background music in the form of Stepping Wind (Wahoo Stomp in translated versions).
- Right after that is the Moonlight Museum level, where you traverse a fantastically beautiful Escherian labyrinth, where up and down become extremely relative concepts. The whimsical, lighthearted music makes the whole level have a very dream-like quality to it, which just makes the ending of the level all the more wrenching.
- Kingdom of Sorrow. You arrive on the wings of a giant flying ship that you just spent the previous stage destroying, and proceed to climb up a dilapidated, almost skeleton-like city with no visible life, chased everywhere by haunting musical refrains from earlier in the game (not to mention the previous game) and echoes of conversation and laughter. It almost feels like walking through a graveyard, except everything is in warm, inviting, earthy sunset colours and the major key BGM manages to be melancholy without being mournful. And as the last walking level in the game, the puzzles are absolutely fantastic.
- La-Mulana has the Dimensional Corridor. It's one long string of miniboss fights, and if Lemeza is at full power, you can basically curbstomp all of them. Unless you get stuck trying to get that damn Life Jewel in the room above the Dragon.
- The Giant's Mausoleum deserves a mention. It's the second area in the game, and it's where the game starts getting serious. Also, the music is some of the best in the game.
- The Mausolem's backside area, the Graveyard of the Giants, is another strong contender, albeit more for story reasons. The poor Second Children... ("Giant's Cry" helps. It's very aggressive for an ice level theme song, but somehow it suits just perfectly.)
- The Black Caesar, the first Vice case in L.A. Noire. First off, Cole and his new partner, Roy Earle, have great chemistry, even if they dislike each other. The dialogue is great, with Cole and Earle both positing their differing views on law enforcement. The case itself is really intriguing, drawing Cole into the dark underworld of organised crime and the morphine trade, where you can't quite be sure who is or isn't involved, including the LAPD themselves. You've also got some great crime scenes to investigate, and a memorable shootout in the finale. And the title of the case is a Red Dead Redemption Mythology Gag.
- The Quarter Moon Murders, the last Homicide case. You've already solved five homicide case, but you feel that something's up and the individual cases are all actually connected, and you've been charging inncocent men. In this case you are led around LA by the actual killer in the previous five cases using clips from Prometheus Unbound to determine the next landmark you need to go to. The end has you uncovering the real killer: Garett Mason, a seemingly innocuous bartender you questioned four cases ago
Left 4 Dead
- Left 4 Dead 2s Concert finale. You set up a rock concert, then fight zombies. also, the Tank has remixes of its theme to match the two songs that play. AWESOMEST ZOMBIE FIGHT EVER.
- "So we got to set up to rock, and then fight zombies? This is the greatest day of my life!"
- The Midnight Riders have the greatest fireworks and light show in history, hands down. Now imagine yourself on the up there, killing zombies who are bumrushing the stage, through fireworks powerful enough to set people on fire. It is the greatest moment of the game, and one of the greatest in video game history.
- Speaking of Left 4 Dead, how about some of Left 4 Dead's community-made levels? Personally, there is nothing more awesome than the Helm's Deep level for Left 4 Dead. Re-enact the holdout of Helm's Deep for Lord of the Rings with zombies? Breathtaking level-making? Using the Awesome Music straight from the movie? Hell. Yes.
- Hard Rain. Fightning zombies in the middle of a hurricane.
Legacy of Kain
- Avernus Cathedral in Legacy of Kain: Defiance. Finally meeting vampire Turel, the one brother that escaped you in Raziels first game. Finally getting Raziels TK upgraded to Kains level. Encountering Mortanius, who hasn't been seen since the first game. And then, aaaaaaaand then Raziel and Kain finally battle it out to the death and you control one then the other and finally Raziel rips Kains heart out of his chest and flings him into hell. And there's still a good two hours of game left.
The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel
- Pantagruel in Cold Steel II is considered by fans to be one of the best levels of the game despite it being nothing more than mostly a cutscene based level with only a small hallway to get to the boss fight. Mainly it's because Rean ends up getting captured by the enemies and ends up talking with the bosses from the previous game and this one, his attempted breaking out of the ship with Alfin who is playable for a short time, and Rean finally mastering his Super Mode with players playing around with it for the first time and capping it off with his duel with Crow.
- In Cold Steel IV, The Black Workshop is seen as one of the best levels in the game due to Rean permanently in his Superpowered Evil which means he has permanent buffs on him and is immune to status effects throughout the entire level and is playable for the first time in awhile, a plethora of boss fights, Rean being a legitimately tough boss fight in contrast to the rest of the game because he still has all of those stat buffs when he was playable, and capping it off with a Dual Boss fight between Osborne and Arianrhod with Rean, who managed to snap out of his cursed self, leading the charge.
The Legend of Zelda
- The Palace of Winds from The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Also from the same game, the final dungeon, Dark Hyrule Castle.
- The City in the Sky in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and the Hidden Village shootout. And one of the most hilarious self-parodies in the history of gaming, the Hidden Village kitten-befriending.
- Goron Mines. The boss is awesome and scary looking! Well, he's easy, being in temple number 2, but still.
- Gerudo Desert and the Arbiter's Grounds are the best levels in the game. First you get to be a ninja in the night in the desert and the Bulblin encampment, then you fight your way through the most ancient, elaborate, haunting, Nightmare-Fueled dungeon ever.
- Gerudo Desert, alternatively, not going ninja and going Axe-Crazy on the Bulbins instead. To clarify not sniping the Bulbins on the towers gives you NEVER ENDING enemies.
- There's a reason it's considered by many fans to be the best dungeon in the franchise. Seriously. You don't even mind much if you screw up some bits eighty times, because they're just so cool! (Primarily things involving the spinner. That spinner is pure twirling awesome.
- And the fact that the boss is also considered one of, if not the, absolute best in Zelda history certainly doesn't hurt.
- Stone Tower Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
- The Water Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Makes up for the frustration by having some clever puzzles and two fun bosses. Plus, the most demanding players appreciated the challenge the level design offered.
- The Spirit Temple, also from Ocarina of Time. You get to go through it in both child AND adult forms, and the various puzzles are fun. Plus, you get to fight THREE Iron Knuckles. What more could you possibly ask for?
- The Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time. The music, the atmosphere, the Stalfos fights, hunting the Poes, the outdoors bits, getting the bow, the level design, the twisting corridors, the Wallmasters...bloody hell it's epic. And to top it all off, the boss is a Phantom version of Ganon. GANON.
- This is also the first dungeon you go through as Adult Link. After turning from a fairy kid to the chosen one with a magic sword, you're ready for some adventure.
- The Shadow Temple is really good if you're into mystery and creepy atmospheres. Fan speculation is that Hyrule used to have a VERY bloody history and the undead have been inhabiting the temple for a VERY long time. Dead Hand is one of the most memorable mini-bosses in the game for his sheer horror factor, there are ReDeads in there, and you get to ride a floating boating while fighting the tough Stalfos which you previously learned are made from the poor adults that get Lost in the Lost Woods. After the battle, the boat decides it's going to fall into a pit and trap you there (sort of, you can use the songs to escape) and you have to cross the large gap by blowing up the base of a pillar to create a bridge. Your reward? A boss fight against an invisible, giant THING with detached hands just floating there and playing the drums. It's music, it's drumbeat, and the surprisingly catchy groans it makes to the music is a beautiful ear worm. Just don't think too hard about how Link can aim a bow while being bounced up and down on a giant bongo. Oh, by the way, the boss is called, "Bongo Bongo". Even its "wounded" noises sound pleasant for some reason...
- Either the Color Dungeon or Eagle's Tower from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.
- From the The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, Seasons has Tarm Ruins (lots of fun playing with the seasons), while Ages has the Skull Dungeon. Worth investing in both games purely to experience both of those levels.
- Seasons may possess the distinction of being the only game in the Zelda series where the segment which is almost universally regarded as the most enjoyable and memorable part of the game is not a dungeon. Tarm Ruins and the Lost Wood segment which takes place in the middle of the ruins—you will remember the Lost Woods from these games, if only for the screen where Like Likes rain from the sky—is a friggin' masterpiece. With amazing music.
- The Savage Labyrinth (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) and the Cave of Ordeals (Twilight Princess) are massive Multi Mook Melees that are consistently considered a greater challenge than the Final Boss fights. Both end with fights against three of the game's resident Boss in Mook Clothing, Darknuts, which will challenge your application of your special moves and items. (Heaven help you if you didn't spend the time to learn the Mortal Draw.)
- And, when you finally do win, you feel like a Badass.
- Also from Wind Waker is the Shark Island secret cave. It takes a lot of effort to access it and even has a sign warning you about how dangerous it is. Once you get down there, you're in for perhaps the most savage single battle ever fought in a Zelda game. You are attacked by a horde of enemies, Wizzrobes and Darknuts included, in extremely rapid waves. There really is no trick to beating it; you just have to fight your way out. It's really only a battle for pride since you get 100 rupees, but it can be refought again and again and again. Badass indeed.
- Snowpeak Ruins, by virtue that you never expect a ruined mansion to be a dungeon, let alone have one of the most awesome, if not creepiest, boss fights in the game. The fact that it also gives you infite supplies of a free healing item doesn't hurt, either. Nor does it hurt that you get the Ball and Chain. Well, it doesn't hurt you, anyway.
- Ocarina of Time's Forest Temple pulled the ruined mansion schtick before that, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. Still very awesome.
- In the Master Quest version, the Fire Temple is awesome! You fight an Iron Knuckle, much earlier than in the standard game, and the challenges presented here are staggering but fun. You also get the Megaton Hammer much earlier in this version of the dungeon, turning it into much more of a useful puzzle solver in said dungeon.
- Twilight Princess also has the Temple of Time. Yes, The Temple of Time, complete with, initially, the familiar choir-sung version of the Song of Time playing. Thrusting the Master Sword back into its pedestal reveals that temple you remember from OOT (largely unchanged in this version) was just a tiny part. The whole Temple of Time is a full-blown dungeon this time around, with cool puzzles, cool music (not the Song of Time, but still awesome and fitting), Darknut. GIANT SPIDERS. And to top it all off, just when you think you've beaten the biggest of those spiders, it gets back up. Epic rematch? Well, no, but would you settle for one of the most hilarious scenes in the entire franchise instead?
- Wind Temple from The Wind Waker, Mutoh's Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Sand Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks; nothing better than three Indiana Jones-esque levels to conclude the day. Each with unique puzzles and very creative boss battles.
- Not to mention the Wind Temple lets you play as Medli during parts, and flying around as the cute bird girl is a lot of fun!
- Returning to the Forsaken Fortress with Master Sword in hand is very fun. This time you can take out all those pesky guards from before, not to mention fighting the bird who kidnapped your sister!
- Death Mountain in The Legend of Zelda. You finally enter, and this creepy new music starts playing, as you proceed into by far the least linear level in the game, with all the most powerful enemies in huge numbers.
- From The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
- There's the Ancient Cistern, the resident water dungeon. It completely shatters the tradition of water dungeons being That One Level by being fun; the upper floors of the level are Scenery Porn, resembling a golden Buddhist temple with lilypads, lotuses, and even a giant not-Buddha statue. And then you get to to the basement - a twisted, creepy underworld with Cursed Bokoblins and a poisonous bog. And the only way back up to the heavenly upper level from this hell is to climb a rope bathed in light while endless hordes of Cursed Bokoblins climb up after you, trying to drag you back down to "hell." It contains many nice pieces of symbolism on top of that: the aforementioned giant Buddha statue has easily-retrievable Silver Rupees in its hands, but trying to grab them results in the hand closing on you and harming you (and you don't get the Rupee). The "climbing the rope out of Hell" bit is a blatant reference to a Buddhist parable about an evil man who tried to do just that, but fell down again due to his selfishness. And the dungeon's boss, located at the highest point, greatly resembles a Hindu diety in its second form.
- The Sandship is also a very cool dungeon. It's a large vessel that is found in the grand expanse of the Lanayru Sand Sea. The boat can be time-shifted so it can exist in the present or past, allowing for some diverse puzzle-solving (much like the Lanayru Mining Facility, but this time for the entire dungeon, rather than just select rooms). The non-time-shift puzzles make good use of your arrows as well. The setting is also interesting, as the ship's design feels authentic and natural yet it also works well as a dungeon in spite of that. The "shipwreck" boss, Tentalus, is also fun, even if he looks a little funny.
- Lanayru Mining Facility is a blast. It's very compact in size, like the first two dungeons, but it makes it for the density of the puzzles, the enemy population, and the clever usage of the Timeshift Stones. And the music (especially the past-era version) is very catchy. And once the dungeon is concluded, the game offers a really memorable scene where Impa confronts Ghirahim and Link assists her to she and Zelda can escape through the Time Gate.
- When you think you've seen everything about the awesome Timeshift mechanic and Lanayru Province in general, you enter Lanayru Gorge during the quest for the Song of the Hero and one more surprise awaits you. You now have to escort a minecart with an active Timeshift Stone, and you have to move quickly through the various obstacles and platforms while they're under the timeshift effect so you don't fall behind. You climb from vine to vine with the Clawshots, open jails with the Whip, destroy boulders with the bombs, and defeat numerous enemies that are revived when the minecart approaches their initially-lifeless bodies. And when the ordeal is complete and you cure the Thunder Dragon's illness, not only will he reward you with a portion of the song, but he'll also invite you to the very fun and challenging Lighning Round minigame, where you can fight all of the game's bosses once again! Including, in Hero Mode, the Final Boss.
- There's something about the Twilight Princess version of Lanayru Province that makes it memorable on its own. It might be the vast, beautiful landscape of Zora's Domain, going through Zora's River and finally reaching the majestic Lake Hylia. The music in the latter helps, too, and there are also hilarious characters like Fyer, Falbi, Plumm, Coro's sisters and (in Castle Town) Agitha. It is filled with many fun minigames as well, like the Fruit Pop Flight Challenge, the Boat Ride, fishing, Rollgoal and (in Castle Town) STAR.
- The second trip to Hyrule Castle in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You've just gotten the Sword of Plot Advancement, which also happens to be a HUGE upgrade over the wimpy sword your uncle gave you, and you're immediately given a challenge that feels worthy of it. You're storming the castle, you're saving the princess, you're blasting evil wizards in the face with their own black magic. Awesome.
- Thieves' Town has a unique feel for a dungeon since it is basically the inner labyrinths of a crooked village, and the boss is a maiden in disguise that requires some ingenious puzzle-solving to reveal. It is also a nice breather after dealing with that obnoxious overgrown moth.
- The Swamp Palace. Despite the name implying that it's a different kind of level, it's more akin to a water park (complete with blue and mostly harmless water), secret passages and possibly the easiest boss in the game. The Link Between Worlds version takes this Up to Eleven by actually putting Link onto passages of water that allows the player to slide across the level.
- The version of Skull Woods in A Link Between Worlds. Remember those pesky Wallmasters? Well, this time, you're hoisting them by their own petards. It also has multiple pathways, and really feels like a trek through ancient ruins.
- Thieves' Hideout. Cleverly placed tricks and traps? Check. Only dungeon where you have to cooperate with a partner? Check. Escape sequence from a rogue's lair? Check.
LEGO Adaptation Games
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, since none of the characters have dialogue, The Tale of the Three Brothers is told through a playable side-scrolling level in which the three brothers use the gifts they received from Death to indirectly harm Death in various ways.
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes:
- The entire Bifrosty Reception level and boss fight, with Loki taunting you every step of the way as the heroes use their powers to great effect to take him on. He even gets alternate dialogue in Free Play mode.
- The mission where Iron Man and Steve Rogers are forced to fight through Stark Tower. Really good puzzles topped off with a fight with both Killian and the Hulkbuster. Also, playing as the Mark 1 is a plus.
- "Riddle-earth," primarily due to how many amazing moments it contains. The Riddler has invaded Minas Tirith and turned it into a giant death trap. To even enter, the heroes have to summon the Animal King Turret to clear away debris. Orcs with Personality Core helmets are running around parts of the city that GlaDOS turned into test chambers. To top it all off, the level ends with a fight against the Riddler riding on a Balrog.
- "All Your Bricks Are Belong To Us" has the trio venture through the worlds of Defender, Gauntlet, Super Sprint, and Robotron2048. The segments are crafted exactly like how their respective games were made with near perfect graphics. The final portion deserves special mention: a Multi-Mook Melee featuring not only the standard Robotron mooks, but damn near every other standard mook you've fought up to this point, all accompanied by an ominous techno remix of Robotron's "high score" jingle.
- "Sonic Dimensions" is a giant love letter to the classic Sonic games (and Sonic Adventure). From the gorgeous recreations of Sonic 1 levels to the duel with Sonic's old metal counterparts to the final battle with Chaos (accompanied by an instrumental version of "Open Your Heart", natch), it's clear that quite a bit of love went into making it.
- Mayhem 3, It's hero time, is notable for its mathematical elegance. It's a puzzle using exactly one of each skill.
- Mayhem 13, The Great Lemming Caper, departs from normal gameplay by giving you just two lemmings. There is a very beautiful solution: each takes a separate route, timed so that the lower lemming climbs up a wall and the other builds a bridge at the right moment to catch him. (Unfortunately, there are also several less interesting alternative solutions.)
- Mayhem 20, No added colours or lemmings, appears on That One Level for the awkwardness of executing its solution, but it's still a very nice puzzle that's really satisfying to solve — and one of very few levels that has no alternative solutions at all.
- In general, the levels exclusive to the Sega Genesis version are more highly regarded than the originals. The maximum level width is much less, so instead of long builder-fests, levels had to rely more on ingenuity for their difficulty. (Not that all of them succeeded.) But in particular, Taxing 20, Fall and no life. You're cruising along in a stream of medium-difficulty levels, and you hit this. With a total of just six skills, they managed to make an amazing puzzle that looks completely impossible until you solve it, and yet the solution is entirely fair and can be worked out logically. The level returns as Fall and no life (Part Two), the very last level of the game, which requires a more complex but extremely elegant solution, and ingeniously makes use of parts of the level that seemed to be mere decorative terrain.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
- The Game of the Movie, A Series of Unfortunate Events (the console version, not the PC version) has one minigame that involves playing a specific song on a piano. Not only is the song depressingly catchy, but it requires three tries to get to the end, each time getting faster. After you get into the pattern, it becomes surprisingly easy for this game.
- In LittleBigPlanet, Skulldozer takes the cake. You're running away from a giant bicycle-wheeled, bull skull-headed mechanical beast surrounded in red fog, piloted by an insane zombie bride who thinks she's been jilted. Blazing guitar plays in the background, and it's downright awesome.
- In LittleBigPlanet 3, Go Loco. This level takes place inside a dragon which you have to climb to the top of. First, you are introduced to the Hook Hat, which allows you to go on rails inside the dragon. During the level, you destroy enemies which are on the rails and use that to your advantage as you go closer to the top. Also awesome music plays during the whole thing.
Live A Live
- Every chapter of Live A Live tries out a different spin on RPG mechanics, but one of the coolest is undoubtedly the ninja chapter. Oboro must infiltrate a huge castle and assassinate Ode Iou. The castle is laid out as a maze, and Oboro can take any of a number of paths to reach his objective. He can stealth his way through the level and avoid killing anyone, or attack anyone he sees to score up to 100 kills. There's hidden passages, a constantly changing password, optional characters, a prisoner to rescue, secret bosses, ghosts, robots, ghost robots, and overall some of the best level design in any RPG.
- The western chapter starring The Sundown Kid is another cool one. Set within the confinements of a small town, the twist in this chapter is its strict time limit. The goal is to loot the town collecting various items and setting up various traps for the Crazy Bunch before their arrival. After the bell has tolled eight times in total, it's time for the boss battle. Depending on how elaborately you have set the traps, you can face only the boss and no one else. But if you're confident, you have the choice to set no traps whatsoever and face the entire Crazy Bunch at once!
- The future chapter, with Cube as its protagonist. Despite that chapter having no battles except for the boss battle against OD-10, it's not boring. The player controls a mute, adorable robot travelling along with a crew of messed-up characters, with a heavy emphasis on the personal relationships between the characters. And part of the chapter has the behemoth wandering around, an invincible enemy that the player needs to avoid because merely touching it spells Game Over. There's also an interesting minigame the player can play, which is completely optional. Couple it with some really good music and it's a joy to go through.
- From a story standpoint, the medieval chapter. Every other chapter in the game up to this point takes on a different genre, and while they're all entertaining and diverse, they stick steadfastly to the cliches of their genre and of RPGs as a whole, featuring a perfect and powerful hero who overcomes the odds to defeat a despicable villain. One might expect the medieval chapter, itself an RPG cliche, to follow suit. Instead, it's the gut-wrenchingly emotional tale where the seemingly-perfect hero loses everything he loved, fails to save the princess as he set out to do, and ultimately becomes the Demon Lord Odio whose evil plagues every other chapter.
The Lord of the Rings
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, there's "The Southern Gate" from the Path of the King level route. The level itself is pretty simple in that you have to pass through Gondor's southern entrance gate to reach Minas Tirith. Only the gate suddenly closes due to an ambush of Uruks, orcs and a couple trolls. Said ambush is actually what makes this level incredible due to the amount of enemies the game sends at ya. All of which gather up within the same small field before the gate, which makes for a great opportunity to grind experience to level up your heroes. If you remain in the field in front of the gate to continuously clear out the enemies until they finally stop spawning, you could eventually end the level with over 200+ kills. This is especially true at the end of the game where you can go back and replay levels with different heroes. You can just return to "The Southern Gate" and kill the ambush enemies over and over to quickly level up all your heroes. The map of the level is also quite small being just the ambush field, and the Gondor wall with the southern gate. This results in very little travel time to kill enemies, and quickly end the level, which again, plays into why it's such a great level to grind hero experience.
The Lost Vikings
- From The Lost Vikings 2, the level 4RGH. Coming between That One Level H3LL and the Boss Battle against Tomator, it has very few enemies but plenty of timed switches and thought provoking puzzles.
- In the first game, we have the factory level, with all its contraptions used for getting around, like catapults.
- One of the ancient Egypt levels has Baleog and Eric taking the high route. Olaf, by comparison, puts his shield on his head and glides the whole way through the low route. Eric even commends him on his flying.
- Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven might be Nintendo Hard in so many ways, but some parts are just great. But the most epic is The Whore where you need to storm Hotel Corleone and kill a whore. Going through the hotel is filled to the end with supsense and you're the edge of your seat. After reaching the top, what do you do? You plant a bomb, run through a corridor and jump out a roof. After being chased by the police through the roofs you enter a church. Inside follows an epic shoot-out during the funeral of an old enemy. How do you top it off? You escape in a freaking hearse.
- Magicka has a lot of fun levels but the biggest standout is Chapter 6: Return Of The Wizard. The entire level is set at the literal edge of the world. You have to navigate your way through a series of prominences and floating islands jutting out into an empty sky, which makes not only for amazing visuals but also for great level design, as you have to navigate moving floating islands, islands that spin around as they move, and at one point having to cross one island that spins vertically. The main enemies in this Chapter are Daemons, who have the most unique design and abilities of any enemy in the game, and are just really fun (and hard) to fight. All this while "At World's End" plays. The level occasionally has Game-Breaking Bugs near the end, but if you can struggle through that you get to fight Grimnir.
- Chapter 10: A Grim Tango is another one that's great just out of sheer uniqueness. The whole thing is just a blank, grey, dark plain littered with piles of bones, full of Elementals, a bizarre and interesting enemy only found in this Chapter. Once you get to The City Of The Dead, you have to fight Darksouls, which can be a pain in the ass unless you use a simple strategy to steamroll right through them. Then it all concludes with an epic boss fight against Death.
- Chapter 11: Raiders Of The Lost Ruins is an interesting example in that it is probably the hardest level in the game, but if played well it can also be the most fun. The level introduces a whole bunch of very tough enemies not seen before this point, forcing you to come up with new strategies on the fly. It's a Marathon Level that takes you through a multiple very different environments, is probably the most open-ended level of the game (if you use Invisibility, you can pretty much skip most of the combat), takes you through a section full of lava that you have to freeze to walk over infested with fire-spitting lizards, is home to some of the best items in the game, and ends in another epic boss fight, this time with Fafnir.
- Finally, Chapter 12: At The Mountains Of Madness. It's effectively a Boss Bonanza disguised as a level, and it's one that pits you against three of the best (and hardest) bosses in the game: Vlad, Grimnir, and Assatur. In a row. Awesome.
Mario & Luigi
- Super Mario Kart's Rainbow Road. All of design is aimed towards making Rainbow Road the epic final stage. It features devilishly thin stretches without guardrails and partrolled by invincible Thwomps, whom you can't even touch safely. These obstacles, plus the aggressive computer racers, make this Rainbow Road the most intense race in all of Mario Kart.
- Especially if you're able to complete the course without ever falling off. And considering even the AI has trouble, that's quite something to accomplish.
- Mario Kart 64 has Bowser's Castle with that badass Urban Legendof Zelda and goosebump inducing Cherubic Choir, and that awesome courtyard. But the best track ever invented was DK's Jungle Parkway with its frickin' cool river jump and those coconuts that the natives threw, and best of all the river is beautiful.
- Also MK 64 has Royal Raceway with its Super Mario 64 homage with the castle. Oh, and there's the absurdly long jump across a wide river about halfway through the course.
- Yoshi Valley, a maze level where you had to figure out which way to go - and the driver rankings can't even be displayed!
- Banshee Boardwalk was also very fun! You drive through a pier at night, and into a mansion with bats coming out of cells and a coffin! Boos also watch your every move during the later part of the track. It also had no railings in some places so it posed a good challenge for everyone!
- Other awesome tracks were Koopa Troopa Beach with its rising and sinking water and cave shortcut, Wario Stadium with that big jump where you could screw over everyone if you had Lightning, Choco Mountain for the awesome music and falling boulders, Mario Raceway where you could jump over a frickin wall if you had a Mushroom, and to some extent Luigi Raceway and Kalimari Desert. Luigi Raceway had an Item Box that was always rigged so that you would get Blue Shells giving it some tactical elements, and Kalimari Desert had the frickin train! Mario Kart 64 was basically made of levels upon levels of awesome!
- And finally the Rainbow Road had an Awesome Music theme with beautiful neon lights in the background, chain chomps everywhere and the biggest shortcut ever made!
- In direct contrast to Rainbow Road in most other Mario Kart games, 64's Rainbow Road is lined with walls throughout the entire track. While it does make the track less dynamic (especially combined with being the longest track in the game), the ability to relax and focus on driving is surprisingly fun in its own way, and since the other three Special Cup tracks are trick levels with plenty of places to fall off, this is a welcome change of pace.
- In Battle Mode, Block Fort is often cited as the classic battle map of the 3D games. With no gimmicks or bottomless pits, it's simply a square with four giant block forts with bridges and ramps running between them. However the excellent use of the level geometry lets you rain shells down on unlucky players stuck in the alleyways, or have frantic jousting matches on the bridges, where the loser often gets sent flying back down to the ground.
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit had Cheese Land which had great music and was made of cheese with mice serving as obstacles, Luigi Circuit where it always rained and traction was decreased, Sky Road with its many shortcuts, Sunset Wilds which had Indian Shy Guys and sunset to dusk to night change, Ribbon Road which was fairly challenging and had awesome music, Bowser's Castle 3 and 4 with the former taking place outside and having a Magikoopa cameo while the latter had Mecha-Koopas as obstacles, Lakeside Park which had an erupting volcano, and Broken Pier which was challenging and had Boos as obstacles. Also, this game's version of Rainbow Road is entirely lined with jump plates, making for some amazing Mushroom shortcuts.
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! - Rainbow Road was thoroughly epic. Of course, that had a lot to do with the music it played.
- Especially if you're the only person you know who can complete the level without falling off once. And hit every boost pad.
- MKDD's Rainbow Road music is particularly awesome though. Even Nintendo thinks so, as they included it in Brawl as an unlockable track.
- Double Dash also has Mushroom City, probably the best traffic-based course in the series.
- Wario Colosseum and Dino Dino Jungle were both awesome courses as well! The former was so long it only had two laps and was a satisfying rollercoaster-like experience while Dino Dino Jungle had lots of shortcuts, geysirs as obstacles, and a dinosaur!
- Baby Park is considered to be a real favourite. It's so simple - easily the shortest track in the entire series (so short it has 7 laps). So why's it so memorable? Because it's so short, you often end up lapping people and the amount of items flying around the stage causes it to devolve into downright pandemonium. The fact it's so easy to lap people also lets people screw with first place in a very unique way.
- The battle mode probably had the best stages out of them all. The first was Nintendo Gamecube, which has you fight atop a giant Gamecube in space. By design it's just a simple flat square battlefield guarded by railing on all sides, but this makes for the most hectic battles as bananas and shells, big and small, to shoot all over the place. And in Bob-Omb Blast mode, it's rows of explosions.
- There's also Luigi's Mansion, which had 3 floors, the bottom being a split hallway, the middle being filled with item boxes and the top has a giant gap in the middle so you could fall down to middle. Not only was it great for strategic battling in Baloon Battle, it was amazing for Bob-Omb blast as the explosions spanned the entire mansion.
- Finally there's the secret level: Tilt-A-Kart. What is it? A giant flat 8-bit sprite of Mario Jumping, with white outlines that slow you down so you don't fall off. What makes it special, aside from being the biggest arena? It tilts. You have to constantly be in movement to avoid falling off, or chasing down the item boxes as they fall from the sky and roll off the stage. It's probably the best level for Balloon Battle AND Shine Thief, as the fight can be taken anywhere, and unlike the other arenas, there's also the danger of falling off.
- On the note of recurring course themes, there's also Bowser's Castle. These courses tend to have the toughest gimmicks in the game and often are the hardest tracks in the game alongside Rainbow Road, but they never fail to be a blast to play through. Special mention goes to the ones from 64 (which got to be in the final course of Mario Kart Wii's Retro Cups), DD, Wii (it has Mecha Bowser), 7 (underwater lava, anyone?), and 8.
- Mario Kart DS: Waluigi Pinball. The fact that the sound effects change to sound a little bit more arcade-y also helps.
- From the same game, there's also Airship Fortress, a big reference to Super Mario Bros. 3 and an awesome course, and Tick Tock Clock, a great tribute to the Super Mario 64 level.
- Luigi's Mansion is also pretty awesome as well, and a great way to finish the Mushroom Cup. You drive through the front door of the mansion and down into the cellar, out to the graveyard complete with Boos, culminating in a trip through the forest that has moving trees and lots of mud! Rainbow Road in this game was also awesome and was a real rollercoaster experience, with one loop-de-loop and corkscrew, features which never appeared in any other Mario Kart up until 8!
- Mario Kart Wii has Toad's Factory, a great way to finish the Mushroom Cup, Coconut Mall, an overall fun course, and pretty much the entire Star Cup (especially Koopa Cape), sans Grumble Volcano.
- It also shows where item boxes come from.
- Coconut Mall, which is outright hilarious and even features the Miis in the audience... and driving obstacles near the end. It was well liked so much that it got included in 7. It even lets you go up and down escalators.
- MKWii also boasts what is likely the best Rainbow Road track in the series, with amazing music to match.
- Mushroom Gorge, due to the bouncing off of mushrooms and the music.
- How about Grumble Volcano? It's not often you experience a mad dash for first place through a volcano AS IT'S ERUPTING. Yes, it might be That One Level, but no one can object it's one huge adrenaline rush from start to finish. It's rightfully moved to the Lightning Cup (the Retro equivalent of the Special Cup) in Mario Kart 8.
- A lot of Mario Kart Wii tracks qualify as this when you're not getting wiped out by item storms. Any Rainbow Road course is fun to play through if you're good enough not to screw up at every left turn. But DK Mountain and Summit from Double Dash and Wii in particular. Mainly, it's blasting out of the cannons, then making a mad drive down the side of the mountains trying to do it again.
- Koopa Cape and Maple Treeway. The former has you driving around a cliffside that borders the sea, through caves and rivers, ending with a trip through an underwater pipe... that's see-through. The latter starts with you blasting out of a DK Cannon like in the summit and driving through the treetops to what is probably one of the best music tracks in the history of Mario Kart! And it has leaf piles... that have items! Possibly Starmen as well!
- Mario Kart 7 has a ton of excellent tracks, such as Music Park (which has you drive on/around musical instruments), Wario Shipyard (a reference to Wario Land), Shy Guy Bazaar (which references Super Mario Bros. 2)note , DK Jungle (which was even made by Retro Studios) and Rainbow Road (three sections including parts on the surface of a planet and with Super Mario Galaxy like launch stars). And then there's the retro tracks, which seem like they were inspired by this very page, bringing back Airship Fortress, Waluigi Pinball, Maple Treeway, Coconut Mall, SNES Rainbow Road, Koopa Cape and Dino Dino Jungle in the same game. The game is literally like a collection of the series best levels.
- SNES Rainbow Road is made more awesome in that it's one of only two tracks that do not feature any gliding or underwater sections ever. Just pure racing and item bashing like the older games. The only other track? Luigi Raceway from N64!
- Mario Kart 7 also has Neo Bowser City, which is rather challenging even if there's no real gimmicks except for the puddles that come from the rain, as well as the glider section that allows you to take a shortcut, so what do you get to compensate? A well-designed track with sharp turns through a dystopian Cyberpunk-like city that pulsates with life through Tron Lines and Awesome Music to top it off. We also have Piranha Plant Slide which is based on the Underground Levels of the main Mario Games, and the new Bowser's Castle of course. Koopa Beach and Luigi's Mansion are also pretty awesome! The former have been heavily redesigned, while the latter has some new shortcuts and paths to accomodate the glider feature.
- Piranha Plant Slide, a waterpark attraction like level where as soon as you start off, you jump onto a water slide, with the item boxes themselves joining in on the fun. You have to stay on the water to get a speed boost. The aesthetic of the level is great as well, being based on levels from Super Mario Brothers, the underground areas filled with gloombas and reminiscent of World 1-2. The overworld areas are based on World 1-1 and even have floating question mark blocks and clouds that use the same model as bushes. At the end of the level, you use a glider boost to go through, or over, an end of level castle from the first Super Mario Brothers acting as a gate, with cardboard cutout goombas appearing as a Super Mario 3D Land.
- Airship Fortress returns from the DS incarnation and is every bit as awesome as it originally was, starting off by dodging a barrage of bullet bills from a Super Mario Brothers 3 style air ship, making your way onto the airship and avoiding classic obstacles from the Airship levels in Super Mario Bros. 3, from Rocky Wrenches to flamethrowers. Then you get shot out of a cannon into a tower as yo spiral down to the finish line. This was better suited for 7, ironically enough, as the new drift mechanics changed it from a super long drift down to the bottom to a stream of constant drift boosts as you try not to make your turn too sharp.
- Rock Rock Mountain. You make your way through a cave filled with swoopers, then fly through the sky, grabbing coins and picking up warp pipe updrafts, then near the end of the course you go up an almost verticle path, zig zagging to simultaneously collect boost panels and dodging boulders, then gliding back down to the finish line and trying to keep the glide as long as possible if it isn't the third lap.
- Mario Kart 8 has Mount Wario. This is one track that's divided into three sections rather than three laps, like a couple of the tracks in 7. Section one starts you on a helicopter jumping down onto a winding track on an icy mountain. In section two, you go inside for a flying section over a flowing river and then an antigravity ride through Wario Dam. Section three is a ski course incorporating slalom gates and moguls, with an Olympic-style finish line.
- Cloudtop Cruise is another awesome track. Imagine Sky Garden From Super Circuit and Airship Fortress from DS having a baby and throwing in an antigravity ride through a thunderstorm after being shot out of the airship's cannon.
- Mario Circuit is a giant mobius strip shaped like a figure-8, just like the 8 in the game's logo.
- This game's version of Bowser's Castle features the return of the laser-firing Bowser statues from Super Mario Bros. 3 and a flying section over lava near the end after an antigravity section with shockwaves after being punched by a giant Bowser. Also, the view of the castle's exterior from the outside can be intimidating. And didn't we mention the mind-blowing heavy metal BGM?
- Thwomp Ruins is also awesome; especially with its anti-gravity mechanics. With its multiple pathways it feels like a Spiritual Successor to Yoshi Valley.
- Rainbow Road has two flying sections to and from a space station, with two split antigravity routes afterwards. The venue is totally breath-taking, the music is uplifting and dreamy, and the track is always as brutal as it was. Best Rainbow Road ever? Surely.
- Speaking of Rainbow Road, the remake of the Mario Kart 64 version in this game is mind-blowing. The neon lights have been replaced with fireworks displays over a city, the Chain Chomps that patrolled the track in the original version now bounce on the track creating shockwaves that you can trick off of for extra speed, the 360-degree turn is now in antigravity, there is a train following along with you the whole way, most of the guardrails have been removed for added challenge, and the track texture is reminiscent of Rainbow Road from Super Mario Kart. The track is still just as long as it was in Mario Kart 64, so it has been split into 3 sections for one lap.
- Electrodrome looks like something straight out from a rave party, and it really shows, with strobe lights, a crowd dancing to the beat of the music, and the track itself◊ being almost in the shape of an f-clef.◊
- The first DLC pack brings Dragon Driftway, the most aptly-named track in the series. The course is almost entirely antigravity, snaking around itself like a dragon, and it's full of sudden, smooth turns that put your drifting skills to the test. The oriental theme, with its gorgeous scenery and head-bangin' soundtrack really seal the deal.
- Ice Ice Outpost from the first DLC pack. Set in the arctic seas, you race along two meandering parallel tracks, held up by cranes, that swoop around each other constantly. This leads to an unusually strategic race - players are constantly thinking about when to jump to the other side to gain a lead or avoid an attack. Add in some tough-but-rewarding shortcuts, and you've got one fine race course. The music, with it's beautiful bells and violin, cranks the awesome up even further.
- Also from the first DLC pack, Mute City is a fitting tribute to the F-Zero franchise, completely in antigravity with lots of twists, knotting turns, boost panels, and recharge strips that refill your coins. It really feels like something taken straight out of an F-Zero game.
- The second DLC pack tops Mute City with another track inspired by F-Zero, Big Blue. This track takes everything that made Mute City great and adds branching paths that criss-cross each other like in Ice Ice Outpost, conveyor belts like on the space station section of the new Rainbow Road, and a water slide that takes up the entire second section. It's also a 3-section point-A-to-point-B race like Mount Wario, so you never travel on the same section of the track twice.
- Toad Harbor, a city course that takes elements from San Francisco and New York City, all set to some really happy and upbeat music. And speaking of city-based courses, Super Bell Subway from DLC Pack 2 is a great homage to the London Underground.
- Sunshine Airport is one big homage to Super Mario Sunshine, as you drive through an airport and even alongside airplanes. You can even see the Koopa statue from N64 Koopa Troopa Beach in the distance while descending.
- Dolphin Shoals, a rather tricky water-based course where you get to drive on a Unagi, and the course itself even starts underwater. On a similar note, Wild Woods from DLC Pack 2 has you starting on the side of a tree in anti-gravity, then has you driving through a treetop village, down a water slide, through a pond, and back onto the tree trunk.
- Twisted Mansion, a haunted mansion course that certainly lives up to its name, what with some creative anti-gravity sections, an underwater section in the flooded basement, and boos possessing suits on armor that will swing their hammers down on you.
- In the past three Mario Kart games, retro tracks have more or less been direct ports of the courses from their games, aside from some updated visuals and an addition of a new gimmick. The retro tracks in MK8, however, have been recreated from the ground up, now looking absolutely gorgeous and more alive than they were before, with some of pretty much unrecognizable. Special mention goes to N64 Toad's Turnpike, N64 Yoshi Valley, GBA Cheese Land, GBA Ribbon Road, GCN Yoshi Circuit, DS Wario Stadium, DS Tick Tock Clock, Wii Moo Moo Meadows.
- Luigi's Engine Room, Bowser's Magma Mountain, and Eternal Star from the first Mario Party all had some cool board effects while being fairly challenging.
- Mario Party 2 had Space Land, Mystery Land, Horror Land, and Bowser Land. Horror Land especially stands out for its day and night system, eery atmosphere, and Big Boo. Bowser Land meanwhile put a new spin on the established Bank System, had Warp Pipes that could help or hinder you, and ? Spaces which did different things depending on what was near it for the first time.
- Mario Party 3 had Creepy Cavern, a board with a train, an NPC who you had to bribe with items, great atmosphere, and awesome music! The unlockable board of this game, Waluigi's Island, was also fantastic to play on. It featured explosive dynamite, an island on which the spaces constantly changed, and a fork you had to cross if you were planning on using Boo. The wrong choice was random and picking it would send a character back to the beginning.
- On the Duel Board side, Pipesqueak and Backtrack. Pipesqueak featured Warp Pipes that could take you to any of the other Warp Pipes. If you were lucky and smart enough, you could really put some hurt on your opponent. Backtrack meanwhile changed all those one-time Reverse Spaces into Backtrack Spaces which made everyone go the other path until one stepped on another Backtrack Space. In the Story Mode, Backtrack also had a soothing music.
- Mario Party 6 had two awesome boards: Faire Square and Clockwork Castle. The game's day and night mechanic really factored into these boards. In addition to being the biggest boards in the game, Faire Square had the most side activities, but the main reason it's so great is that the star space remains fixed in one spot, and you could buy as many stars as you want (up to 5 per visit) as long as you have the money. In the Day Time, stars are 20 coins as usual, but in night, the price is randomly picked from set prices, cue mad dashes to the star space once it becomes 5 coins each or slowing down when it's 40. There are lots of ways to build up a lot of coins so you could buy as much as possible. Clockwork Castle is also a big board, and the main feature here is a mobile star space. As soon as the match starts, Donkey Kong appears and hits dice blocks to move clockwise around the board as you chase him down. But once it becomes night, movement becomes counter clockwise and Donkey Kong transforms into Bowser, who chases YOU down and steals your stars. Switching spaces with the guy closest to Donkey Kong only to get a bad roll and not reach him, and then get hit by Bowser once it becomes night is one of many possible events here.
- Mario Party 7's Windmillville has a then-unique Star-collecting system where instead of buying Stars, players invested in windmills that contained them, the owner going to whomever invests the most. This creates some surprisingly tense arms races and allows matches on Windmillville (as well as the Spiritual Sequel Koopa's Tycoon Town in Mario Party 8) to go in any direction all the way up until the end because never is the current leader safe at the top.
- Mario Party 8's Boo's Haunted Hideaway is so far the only randomly-generated stage in the entire series. On top of that, every room of the mansion is concealed until a player goes into it. This makes it by far the best stage for repeat plays.
- Mario Party 9 has the final level, Bowser Station. Three Bonus Stage style Captain Events, the Jackpot Machine (which started up minigames with higher stakes), and the best Final Boss in Mario Party: An epic showdown with Bowser himself, who can call the other bosses in as backup.
- DK's Jungle Ruins. It's short, yes, but that's what makes the competition for Bananas even more epic. Plus, with you taking multiple laps on the board, it feels like a throwback to previous Mario Parties.
- Rocket Road in Mario Party: Island Tour. A Rainbow Road-esque race through the stars with only a few boosting items to help you. There's also Kamek's Carpet Ride, which does a very good job combining The Lost Woods with Abandoned Laboratory.
Mark of the Ninja
- Tabriz as a whole. Amazing level design, cool challenges like breakable platforms, a sandstorm that looks and feels great, amazing enemies and generally intense gameplay.
- Karajan's Castle and the Catacombs.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
- The final level of Mass Effect. It starts with you and your squad being flung halfway across the galaxy and flying out of a mass relay gate in your APC, right onto the heads of several Mecha-Mooks. From there, you proceed to run up the central tower of the Citadel, tearing your way through hundreds of enemies, while half the military forces of the entire galaxy are battling a robotic Eldritch Abomination (no, that is not an oxymoron) in the background. You can send enemies into orbit during the space walk segment, and it culminates in either one or two extremely well-done boss battles, depending on how many points are in your persuasion skill. Oh, and there's Awesome Music, just for kicks.
- Virmire. Starts off with pretty much nothing but nonstop destruction in the Mako, followed by launching a three-person assault on the most heavily-defended geth base this side of the Terminus Systems, and that is while you can hear the raging battle in the background as Captain Kirrahae's salarians Hold the Line. Not to mention the confrontation with Sovereign, the fight against Saren, and most heart-wrenchingly of all having to choose between Ashley and Kaidan. And no, picking the one you want Shepard to get it on with doesn't make it any less heart-wrenching.
- The infamous and much-touted "Suicide Mission" of Mass Effect 2. Considering it is essentially what the entire game is building up to, it better be worth it, and by god is it intense. From the initial run through the Omega-4 Relay to the furious assault upon the Collector Base itself, with all the firefights and interesting gimmicks being thrown at you, having you on the edge of your seat the entire time because you are on pins and needles about whether all your decisions throughout the game were enough to have your team make it through — and make no mistake, if you didn't do enough, they will die. And then the final boss comes. It's a monstrous (thankfully not even close to being finished) construct that turns out to be a human Reaper, built out of, and feeding off of, all the human colonies that were abducted. Shepard then proceeds to Punch Out Cthulhu for the second time in their career. And even after all of that, if you didn't do things right, Shepard themself will die! It's rare for a game to spend its entirety building up to one intense mission, but it all paid off in the end. Unless, you know, you lost your favorite party members.
- Let's just think about the amount of work that went into programming this one level. It is possible to lose party members during the approach, meaning there are several scenarios programmed before you even start the mission proper. Then you can lose party members at pretty much any point during scripted events, even if they're not the person you chose specifically — it's possible, for instance, for one of your squadmates to die during the biotic barrier segment. Then you find the Normandy's crew, which may or may not still be alive depending on how quickly you went through the Omega-4 relay after they were captured. Then you can send someone back to escort the crew back to the ship, who may or may not make it; then, before the final battle, party members can die holding the line. And then, after the final boss, you might still lose party members or even Shepard. Think about this for a minute: it is possible for eleven squadmates to die at any of six or seven points during the mission. How much work must have gone INTO that?! There's a reason this mission is so talked up on all the promotional material for this game: Bioware is very proud of it, and with all the work they've done on it, they should be.
- Not to mention that there has never been a level quite like it. There are levels where people can be killed depending on your choices but when you go into thinking about the transfer that will take place in ME3, where everyone killed here will not be in it, it's unparalleled. Even more so when you see that it remembers who did what; both Jack and Tali have snarky asides when reminded of the mission in 3.
- One of the things that really makes the suicide mission interesting is the fact that, when looked at on paper, it sounds like That One Level. First, you need to pick two people to do certain jobs, temporarily eliminating them from your squad. Then, you need to fight your way through a timed, pseudo-escort mission. Screw the jobs up, and squadmembers die permanently. Next, you need to pick two people to do jobs again. you need to stay within a small bubble for the next segment; going outside means you start getting damaged. Screw the jobs up again, and squadmembers die again. Then you finally get to the final boss, who is almost comically easy. Even after you beat him, Shepard can die. From the start of the entire mission to the end, you're facing Demonic Spiders and Goddamned Bats, as well as a respawning miniboss. It sounds terrible... and yet it's awesome.
- The reason it avoids being That One Level is because, while you can sustain massive casualties throughout the suicide mission, the game plays fair by providing all the information you'd need to keep your entire squad alive. Jacob and others (like the Consort if you helped her) advise you to help your teammates with their personal problems so they can be fully committed to the task at hand; Tali, Garrus and Jacob recommend upgrading the Normandy specifically for when you encounter the Collectors again; and if you've spoken at length to your crew, you know exactly what they can and can't do (and, therefore, who's best suited for the specific tasks at each interval). If you use that information, you get the Golden Ending and Everybody Lives.
- The music. Because somebody had to mention it.
- One of the most notable things about the Suicide Mission, is that it is one of those missions that seems like it would be a one-trick pony. But even after you figure out how to get everyone out alive, it still manages to retain its epic and intense feel every single playthrough. From the opening cutscenes with the debris of thousands of destroyed ships, the supermassive black hole in the background and the Collector base against it giving it a sinister look, to the inside of the base itself, everything makes it feel like Shepard and his/her Ragtag Bunch of Misfits is walking into absolutely alien territory, which also does good service to Shepard, giving an excuse for and (potentially) showing off his/her good on-the-fly planning. The music, the design, the direction, etc. all give it immense replay value, long after you've solved the puzzle. Easily one of the greatest final story levels ever made.
- The Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC is noteworthy in how impressively deep and cinematic it is, as well as having some incredibly awesome levels. When you're fighting across the hull of a super-advanced airship in the middle of the mother of all lightning storms with one of your old squadmates to track down and assassinate one of the most powerful individuals in the galaxy, you know you've got an awesome level.
- Hell, even before reaching the Broker's base, you've got a running fight across Illium that includes a chase in flying cars. We'll say it again folks: you participate in a flying car chase. And then there's the fight against the asari Spectre, Tela Vasir.
- The icing on the cake is all the self-referential humor. *Crashes into several flying cars* "Still better than the Mako!" — "Remember when you could just slap a bunch of omni-gel on everything?" "That security upgrade made a lot of people unhappy" — "You'd think they'd send everyone in a huge wave." "Stop giving them tactical advice!"
- This isn't even getting into the superb dramatic character moments between Shepard and Liara that are mixed in with everything else. Whether just really good friends with Shepard worrying about the kind of person Liara is becoming, or lovers involving both that and Liara dealing with the fact that she lost Shepard for two years, they made for some of the most emotionally compelling scenes in the series.
- Kasumi's loyalty mission is really cool. Infiltrating a bad guy's party, sneaking around to find a way into his vault without attracting any attention, and then fighting your way out when you get caught - just a really good level, and very, very different from anything else in either game. Not to mention the way Kasumi takes out the gunship's shields, which is almost worth the price of admission on its own... And to top it all off there's an awesome soundtrack during the whole thing.
- Legion's loyalty mission is utterly brilliant. It's not very often a moral dilemma in a game is so deliciously murky, but the superb writing makes this one of the best examples of a grey and grey choice ever.
- Mordin's loyalty mission also has some superb writing and performances. You can literally feel Mordin's guilt over his role in revamping the genophage despite him making some very good points on why he had to do what he did.
- The Citadel siege in Mass Effect 3, especially if Thane is still alive.
- The entire goddamn Tuchanka campaign in 3 if you decide to cure the genophage. This ends with you siccing the largest Thresher Maw in existence on a Reaper. The Thresher Maw wins.
- The Rannoch campaign. It starts with you infiltrating a Geth dreadnought, running along the length of the main gun, destroying the drive core, and then escaping as the quarian fleet blasts the hell out of it. From then, it only seeks to ramp things up more and more, eventually culminating in Shepard going head-to-head with a Reaper destroyer, armed only with a targeting laser for the quarian fleet. And if you've made all the right choices, you can get the geth and quarians to finally settle their differences, working together to rebuild Rannoch and help defeat the Reapers. Although be warned that if you didn't do things right, things get very traumatic, very fast, especially if you side with the geth.
- Cerberus HQ. After spending the entire game being harassed endlessly by Cerberus, it's time to take the fight back to them.
- Mars. The atmosphere really feels more like the other Mass Effect games (in particular the first one) than the rest of the game does. Great way to start the game.
- Even the London level, which can be seen as a Disappointing Last Level for some, works as an example of this trope. After getting the Cain, killing six Brutes and several Banshees on foot, killing another Reaper, and the final charge against Harbinger, it honestly feels like the Reapers are throwing everything they have at you, and it's still not enough.
- The Grissom Academy sidequest early in the third game: particularly, there's the part where you commandeer a Cerberus mech and start blasting away at their officers wave by wave.
- The Archives in the Citadel DLC. For once, Shepard decides to bring along their entire crew rather than just two people. This leads to some of the biggest, most hectic firefights in the entire franchise, with bullets flying in every direction. The crew's banter throughout the entire level is hilarious and emphasizes what a group of badasses you're working with. Finally, the level ends on one of the funniest moments of the franchise, where the villain, a clone of Shepard, steals "I should go" and Shepard begins asking, "Do I Really Sound Like That?"
- The next level, retaking the Normandy from your clone in an intense Mirror Match. Particularly when the enemy is forced to launch one of the shuttles, meaning you spend the rest of the fight with the landing bay door open, the entire ship swerving from side to side as you mow down Mooks.
- And after all that, the party afterwards; some really nice moments between the team, at least one Ascended Meme, and on the whole a great way to close out the series. Just a pity it couldn't take place after London...
- The Expanded Galaxy Mod (for 3) has this in the form of the "Evacuation of Thessia" Assignment. It was singled out for praise by players, as it's unlike anything else in the game (or the trilogy, for that matter). It's an interactive Race Against the Clock, potentially stretching out over several rounds in the middle of a pitched battle between the Alliance and Reapers in the system around Thessia. Each round, the player has to fly the Normandy to the planet, rescue a pocket of survivors and rush back to the Fleet before the Reapers catch them, all while casualties mount the longer you stay in the system. The success or failure of the mission differs wildly depending on what refugees, resistance members and ships are collected during the Assignment, and the format resembles a top-down strategy game.
The Matrix: Path of Neo
- The Dream Sequence first level of Path of Neo, where you have almost all of your abilities. You go up from the security Mooks to the police and up, all the way to a Agent, a Vampire and, of course, Agent Smith.
- One of the Virtual Training Simulations in the pagoda, where you have to follow a ghost, all while fighting off it's students, before fighting it for a secret techinque.
- The next Virtual Training Simulation is set during winter with tons of ice and snow. You have to defeat all the people and at the end you have to defeat Three swordmaster demons. At the end of the level, after the fight there's this awesome cutscene of Neo Staring Through the Sword and then he barely swings the sword...everything behind him falls down.
- When you have to rescue Morpheus, with the time ticking down and you start to worry that you won't make it. Only to make it at the very end, and you know that you'll be able to save him.
- Also the Gatling Good helicopter level, you get to shoot even more of everything, including Agents and other helicopters before finally, really, saving Morpheus.
- Another really awesome level, the one near the end in the congress-type building with the waves of Smiths and all you have is a flag-pole.
- Looferland in The Maw. After Maw eats the Loofer at the start of the stage, he turns into an unstoppable laser-spewing platform of destruction, which Frank rides as his mighty steed, pumping his arms triumphantly as all that stand in their way are destroyed with lasers. It's too bad it comes two levels before the end, as they can only be disappointing by comparison.
- In MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, one campaign for the Draconis Combine has you up against a mercenary company that went rogue. On approach for the final battle, you receive the following message:
"Attention, Mercenary: This is the dread legion. Whatever the Combine's paying you, we'll double it. Just turn around, go back to your Drop Ship
, and we'll do the rest."
- In the same vein, a much later final mission has you piloting a captured 100-ton uber-mech for your employers - and your briefing is interrupted partway through by your operator, asking you if you still want to try to steal it for yourself. You do have the option. It is difficult. But behind the wheel of the most ridiculously over-armed mech you'll ever have, it's going to be fun the whole way through.
- In MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, one planet features your forces engaging a group of Clanners. Do well enough and you'll be able to challenge them in a Trial of Possession — meaning, your mechs and their mechs are going to duel to see who gets the island chain. As if that weren't awesome enough, Spectre decides it's time to show the Clanners who's boss. Your opponent, Star Colonel Thastus, brings ten mechs to the engagement. Spectre shows up with eight. She asks if maybe he misread the invitation. He replies, no, that's just how he rolls — is she scared? He then proceeds to take her mechs apart with better tactics and incredibly huge guns. The alternative to this mission is pretty interesting in its own right: having decided he's not going to muck about with this "honor" bullshit, Spectre tells them he's going ahead with the duel, and then attacks their base the night before, getting the drop on them and wiping the group out.
- Another mission early in the game's progression has the player being hired for front-line duty defending a mountain pass. What follows is a particularly grueling Hold the Line mission. The player has 6 mechs, likely comprised mostly of medium mechs (unless you do this mission much later in the game), plus 2 or 3 NPC mechs, going up heavily outnumbered against heavy mechs. Also, you actually have to travel a bit to reach the battle itself (which is going on live as the mission plays), meaning you can't just strip out your mech's engine for weapon and armor space, and you need to snipe some choppers before getting there, meaning you need to pack at least some long-range weaponry, which is not efficient in the short-range fighting of the mountain pass. The only advantage you have is that all the enemy mechs seem to be piloted by Leeroy Jenkins.
Medal of Honor
- Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault has a level where you hijack a tank called a "King Tiger" from Those Wacky Nazis and barrel your way through an occupied town full of enemy tanks and Nazis with rocket launchers. 99% of the buildings in town are Made of Explodium, Germans go flying in graceful arcs when they take a tank shell to the face, and your tank owns everything. The fact that the soundtrack is by Michael Giacchino is just icing on the cake at this point.
- Battle Mountain, the final level of the final expansion pack. You're completely outnumbered, forced to perform a messy retreat the entire level in an attempt to reach a castle the allies have holed up in. Everyone is using the most powerful weapons in the game, SWARMS of axis forces mob you from every direction, many of the kills you make are too far away to grab the health pickups they drop, ammo dropped by enemies can't be picked up (at least when I played it,) and absolutely nowhere is safe. When you finally make it to the castle, it's being overrun, so the decision is made to radio for bombardment of the castle, except a generator has failed. You then have to defend a tower from an all-out assault with a sniper rifle while it's repaired, and then retreat from the castle as it's blown to smithereens. In summary, it's an FPS level where you fight as hard as you can possibly fight, vie against impossible odds, and LOSE, and it's awesome.
- Arnhem Knights from Frontline qualifies. For much of the game, it's just been Patterson by himself on covert operations. You come along in the middle of a battle through the ruins of the town between Germans and the British. Some neat level design that keeps you on your toes and your allies actually being somewhat helpful make it one of the most memorable levels of the game. But what really sets it apart is the tear inducingly beautiful background music that plays throughout.
- Omaha Beach from the main game easily qualifies for this. It is like living through the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, and many a gamer found themselves panting with relief the first time they successfully made it off the beach.
Metal Arms: Glitch In The System
- "Unhandled Exception" is simultaneously awesome yet annoying. The first two major gameplay areas are puzzles, but only in a very loose fashion. You're tasked to infiltrate a Mil spy droid factory as spare parts and be rebuilt into a spy droid, then have to pass a Grandmother's-Footsteps style minigame, followed by a Simon-Says style minigame, neither of which are particularly robust nor interesting in terms of gameplay. The tedium is helped somewhat by the hilariously bad German accent of the factory chiefs. The truly awesome part, though, is the last part of the mission, a rocket launcher deathmatch free for all with the other spy droids. Last man standing lives. It's a fleeting, glorious moment of exploding fun that makes you think of what a full-feature multiplayer game mode might have been like (this was when local screen-sharing was still the order of the day). Beyond that, it's really just a lot of cathartic fun after such an uninteresting first two stage acts, especially since this is the only time you get to fight Droid units.
- The "Sidecar" sequence in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It's a marathon slog of escalating awesomeness with adrenaline-raising music.
- Or just the jeep escape in the original. The Metal Gear theme kicks in, in all its awesomeness.
- Or storming the Guts of Arsenal in 2. Right after the naked section, you get all of your equipment back, plus a sword, and you get to slice and dice your way through an army of ninjas with Snake at your side. Oh, and Fission Mailed.
- There are a lot of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots areas, but the motorcycle sequence deserves special mention. Going through the streets of Eastern Europe with that AWESOME soundtrack going.
- Head to the Control Tower from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
- You fight an attack helicopter while the amazing theme song plays as the stage BGM.
- Returning to Shadow Moses island in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. And then you get to drive METAL GEAR REX.
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has File R-04, which has you storming the villains' stronghold, with plenty of Cyborgs and U Gs to slice up, a really tense, kickass moment where you just run through some hallways while explosions go off all around you, then you run up a building. Finally, in the end, you have sort of a semi-Boss Rush against weakened versions of the previous two bosses, and the difficult but awesome Sundowner to top things off.
- The final level of Metal Slug 3 - You initiate a midair assault on Morden's troops but after you make it to him and finish him off in the same way as in the first game, he turns out to be a disguised alien and your current character is taken hostage by the aliens. You then continue playing as their counterpart, get shot off into space to storm the Martian mothership, fighting clones of your previously kidnapped teammate, eventually being joined by Morden's troops which you've fought in the first half of the game - including Allen O'Neil - and after your teammate is rescued the machine that was creating the clones stats pumping out the harder zombified versions of that character; all this eventually culminates in destroying the mothership, but then you still have to fight the giant alien leader as it's falling to Earth.
- Not to mention the fact that it's longer than every other level in the game combined. Jesus CHRIST.
- Metal Slug 4: The final level involves an enemy base infiltration complete with rappelling down and killing enemies along the way, you even get the tank and wreak havoc, scientists that shoot bullets that revert your character into a monkey which gives you INFINITE Machine gun ammo, and a face off with Allen O'Neil near the end by the way, he's now a robot. All while playing this music.
- Metroid Prime 3 has the mission where you team up with the Galactic Federation and storm into the mines on the Space Pirates' home planet in order to gain access to the seed. This is the one time in the series where Federation soldiers have assisted Samus, and it's freaking awesome!
- And yet this level is an Escort Mission. But it's all made up for when An enemy that served as the first boss back at the start and later a mid-boss since you upgraded in power can now be destroyed in one well-aimed hit!
- It's an escort level by formal definition, but not colloquial because while escort missions have become known as situations where you're dragging useless liabilities along with you, here you're pretty much participating in an attack that just happens to progress at your pace.
- Not only that, but the troopers you fight alongside are actually USEFUL. They do a respectable job at combating the dozens of Space Pirates that you encounter along the way.
- To quote the Metroid Awesome Moment page: "This is how an escort mission should be."
- Echoes might not be as good as the first game, but damn if Sanctuary Fortress isn't one of (if not the) best level in the trilogy. Coming off the suicide-inducing Torvus Bog, the So Okay, It's Average Agon Wastes, and Temple Grounds, Sanctuary is just the breath of fresh air Echoes desperately needed. It's a Cyberpunk Eternal Engine with lots of Morph Ball tunnels, tubes and magnet rails seamlessly and beautifully integrated into the main structure, spiced with Tron Lines, spinning rotors and other little details everywhere. It's gorgeous.
- While most fans don't share this view, there are many who loved Agon Wastes and Torvus Bog (and Echoes' quality in relation to Prime), finding such locales as the Pirate base of the former and the lower section of the latter to be some of the best parts of the game, though not as good as Sanctuary Fortress as a whole, although that's not to say that the other parts of those areas didn't hold up. The lore really helps in making the atmosphere and level design in the game's areas even more enjoyable. Oh, and while neither of Agon Wastes' themes are very spectacular, both of Torvus Bog's and Sanctuary Fortress' themes are very nice, with one of the former's being a remix of Super's Red Brinstar theme.
- The first Metroid Prime itself deserves mention for Level Design of Awesome. It is entirely possible to get through most of the game without walking the exact same path twice, in a franchise that's normally filled with backtracking. Practically every time you return to a room, you've got new abilities that open up new secrets and new doors that can be accessed. Many return-visits feature rooms that have changed (such as new enemies present or platforms that have changed), keeping the experience fresh. Major props.
- Going back to Prime 3, motherfucking SkyTown. With a beautiful aesthetic that will make any steampunk enthusiast light-headed, incredible atmosphere, a downright heavenly soundtrack, and a deep and sorrowful backstory exploring complex themes like Creating Life and What Measure Is A Non-Chozo, a level like this doesn't roll around every day.
- The final segment of Metroid: Zero Mission. A little earlier in the game, Samus was been shot down, and lost her power suit (and the area is swarming with Space Pirates that can kill her in only one or two hits.) However, after sneaking through the Space Pirates' ship... she gets it back. Better than before. Cue dramatic music, as the unstoppable Samus Aran goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge through the Space Pirate mothership...at least until you enter an unassuming door at the very top of the ship. The door locks behind you, and a giant something comes scraping and grinding out of the darkness...it's a humongous robotic Ridley! The final final boss of the game!
- Brinstar in Super Metroid. Helped largely in part by the good visuals and incredible music - quite catchy but still tense and foreboding for the green jungle part, and really sad and ambient for the lower red part.
- While one could probably get away with adding the entire game to this list, special mention has to go to the lower section of Norfair. Racing through caverns filling with acid, facing down some of the toughest enemies in the game, TWO epic boss fights, one against the Golden Torizo (who can catch your super missiles and throw them back at you) AND the other being arguably the definitive battle against Ridley, all set to the most amazing music in the series.
- Metroid Fusion has Sector 5 (ARC) after Nightmare blows it up. You're hunting a tremendously powerful, completely insane X-infested monster. This comes immediately after getting the Plasma Beam, which allows you to slaughter your way through X like never before. The whole atmosphere feels like a turning point, like you're finally being able to really stand against the X.
- Mickey Mania has a level exclusive to the Sega CD and PlayStation versions that comes right before the final battle. Pete stands on top of a stack of three crates, and he laughs off any marbles you throw at him. Fortunately, he doesn't actually harm you, not even when you run into him. However, you have to run back and forth collecting pencils to call the other Mickeys as Pete summons more weasel guards to take care of you. The first of the Mickeys, Mad Doctor Mickey, lights a cannon that destroys the top crate. Next, Mickey and the Beanstalk Mickey takes a saw and saws down the second crate. Lonesome Ghost Mickey then runs in, bumps into the last crate a few times, and finally pushes it away. But the level is still not over. The next pencil summons Moose Hunter Mickey, who blows his horn and leaves, followed by a moose running in and trampling Pete. Then the Prince and Pauper Mickey (or is it Pauper Mickey dressed as the Prince and vice versa?) each swing in on a chain, the latter swinging a sword and exposing Pete's Goofy Print Underwear. The last pencil brings in Steamboat Willie, who blows a whistle and summons a crane that carries Pete away, ending the level.
Might and Magic
- The Tomb of Varn in Might and Magic VI. Not only is it one of the most massive dungeons in any game of the series, it also has some of the coolest enemies, genies and jackals.
- Mirror's Edge has the Jacknife level. You start off fleeing through a drainage ditch, before moving through vast storm drains, leaping between broken service railings and dodging snipers. Then you have to climb back out of the storm drains, do battle with a group of shotgun-wielding guards, and then engage the titular Jacknife in a daring, high-speed chase across the rooftops.
- "Kate": Just before the sniping segment you have to make you way to the top of the atrium, almost 10 stories of mid-renovation scaffolding with soothing ambient music in the background. Can overlap with That One Level due to the slightly broken nature of the control system, but when done right and with patience is surprisingly awesome as it puts all your parkour techniques to the test.
Mount and Blade Series
- 300 man battles are a highlight of Mount & Blade. However the greatest moments come when the player has to defend his castle/town against a siege when the opponent has him 4 to 1. Holding back the tide of warriors while everyone is shouting battle cries is a rush of adrenaline.
- The final stage of Mushihime Sama Futari has you weaving through and raiding an Eastern-style village while taking out waves of dragons that are as wide as the screen. And then you fly into a palace and take on Queen Larsa, the infamous Final Boss.
- Stage 2, particularly on God Mode where you can take advantage of the many bullet-cancelling opportunities to cancel the huge swarms of bullets into gold gems that can raise your score by as much as 25 million points in 5 seconds.
- The Amateria age in Myst III: Exile. A series of seemingly nonsensical disconnected puzzles whose only common feature is that they all involve rolling ice balls. Then at the end, you discover that you've been constructing the greatest roller-coaster ever, complete with a cutscene of you going through it at the end.
- There's something incredibly satisfying about the final age, Narayan, where you meet Saavedro face-to-face, and with the flick of a single switch, reduce him to a crying mess begging you to have mercy.
- He deserves it! After all, if you do what he says and you drop the outer shield to his home, he just throws away the book anyway! Bastard!
- Edanna, from the same game. It's awesome simply because from the outside, it looks like a huge tower rising up from an ocean, nothing else in sight. But it's not a tower, it's a giant tree
that grows inward. It's a miniature jungle inside one giant tree.
- Myst IV: Revelation - The Spire Age. The AFGNCAAP gets to build a primitive Maglev vehicle, reconnect an dangerous circuit board, blow the crap out of rocks for fun, and then create tones through an entire mountain as if it were a giant pipe organ.
- The whole game is massive Scenery Porn, but nothing matches when you pull a simple lever in the organist's chair and discover what you thought were mountain peaks rising above a cloud cover are actually huge, disconnected planetary fragments orbiting a magnetic core, and you are now dangling between the two like an insignificant speck with a panoramic view.
- Along the way, you read from Sirrus' journals, and learn how he not only emotionally manipulated his father into giving him some Green Rocks, he gained his sister's trust and hatched a plan to use the Applied Phlebotinum of a different world he had never used before. Atrus may have had two evil sons, but only one was a Magnificent Bastard.
- Uru: Ages Beyond Myst has a lot of scenery porn from the word 'go', but an early example that stands out is Gahreesan: you link into a rotating building of some sort, and need to begin by restoring power to the elevators. Once you've done that, you can take a look outside and be simply dazzled by the world.
- The final mission of the original Myth has you carrying the Balor's (the Big Bad) head to a bottomless pit so you can throw it in and keep him from coming back. The Catch? His Dragon, Soulblighter, is chasing your guys. Soulblighter is so psychotic that he has cut out his own heart and peeled the skin away from his nose and mouth, exposing his teeth and skull. And he's faster than your fastest guys. And he CANNOT BE KILLED. And the only guys who can carry the head are your dwarves, which are slow, fragile, and carry lots of explosives. The only way to beat the mission is to use all of your non-dwarves to delay Soulblighter as long as possible while your dwarves make a dash for the pit. Don't expect many survivors.
- The Mountains and the Jungle Temple in MySims Agents certainly count.