All Time Favorite Video Game Levels
February 22, 2018
These are my favorite levels in video games. I thought about making a list of most "iconic" levels in video games, but that would be difficult, and I only know my opinion, so this is my own list instead. A lot of the games in the list have multiple great levels, but I'm only choosing one from each.
Goldeneye - Facility
Some of my best video game memories are from staying up late playing Goldeneye with my brother and our friends on the Nintendo 64. I liked all the weapon sets (especially Lasers and Proximity Mines), but my favorite level was always Facility. Rushing to the bathroom to get the best gun was always a rush, plus it seemed so funny fighting in a bathroom. I saw the movie Goldeneye a few years after playing the game, and I couldn't believe that the facility - AND the bathroom - were in the movie! It felt like I had really been there. I knew exactly where Bond should go when he goes down the stairs, he needed to get some body armor the in room behind him. There are a lot of great rooms on the level, but what separates it from the other great levels in Goldeneye, is that every room looks unique. It is hard to get lost in the Facility.
Super Mario 64 - Bob-omb Battlefield
In 1998 we got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, with Super Mario 64. As soon as it started, I loved it. I love the noise when Mario jumps out of the pipe for the first time, opening the door to the castle, and jumping in the first painting. Bob-omb battlefield is the first level, and it is perfect. It is a grassy, up-beat world to explore with a lot to do. Fighting the Bob-omb King, racing Koopa The Quick, shooting Mario out a cannon onto the island floating in the sky...it is all so fun. I thought I was pretty cool finding BOTH warps in the level, and thought it was fun just surfing around on a koopa shell. Of course, the other levels in Super Mario 64 are great too, but being the first, Bob-omb Battlefield is my favorite.
Banjo Kazooie - Click Clock Wood
Like Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie is full of great levels. There aren't quite as many as in Mario, but they are bigger, and seem higher quality too. It is really difficult choosing a favorite, but I think it has to be Click Clock Wood. As a kid, Banjo Kazooie was difficult for me, and it took months to get through each level. At last, I had enough puzzle pieces to unlock Click Clock Wood, and couldn't believe how cool it was. It is almost like four levels in one- Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter in the forest around a gigantic tree. Climbing up the tree is perfect 3D-platforming, fun, and difficult sometimes. The setting is the same in each season, but things change too. It rains in Spring, leaves fall in the fall, and everything is snowcovered in winter. You get attached to the level as the seasons go on, and it is kind of sad seeing everything in the winter, covered in snow. Mumbo's Skull Shack looks so cold in the winter time, almost like it's covered in frost. You help a beaver over the seasons, turn into a bee and infiltrate a beehive, and help a bird hatch and grow up. And it all has an awesome soundtrack. Click Clock Wood is a 3D platforming masterpiece.
Counterstrike - cs_office
The original idea for this post was "most iconic levels in video games" and Counterstrike easily has some of the most iconic. Dust and Dust 2 are classics, along with cs_office. Set in a snowy office setting, counter-terrorists have to infiltrate an office building, and rescue hostages from terrorists. I started playing counterstrike with Counterstrike: Source, and the physics are amazing. Everything seems real. You can shoot paintings off walls, blast office furniture around with grenades, and even shoot individual keys off the keyboards. I loved shooting the snowman in the side yard. The office setting seems so real. It feels like it could absolutely be any regular office. Windows XP is on the PCs, the reception area seems real, and there are even vending machines (that vend soda!). The realistic setting and attention to detail made this one of my all time favorite levels. It is big enough that it doesn't get old as fast as Dust and Dust 2. There are great locations for close quarters figthing, long corridors for sniping, rooms to throw flashbangs into, cs_office has it all. One of the best FPS maps ever in my opinion.
Call of Duty - Carentan
Call of Duty on the PC was the first time I got to play a multiplayer game...with my own screen. I think gamers take that for granted now, but it blew my mind that I could have my own screen while still playing against friends. The old Call of Duty games were great too. I like the World War II setting more than the modern and futuristic Call of Duty games from recent years (and I'm glad they finally went back to WWII in 2017). There were a lot of cool levels, but my favorite was Carentan. Carentan is a real town in France, and it really seems like you're there. The buildings don't look American, and what made Carentan so cool was that you could go inside most of the buildings! You could even get on the roof of some. It was so cool, running around a town, able to go anywhere you wanted. Previous shooters I'd played usually had indoor levels, or very limited outdoor levels with buildings that you couldn't go inside. It felt so real in Carentan. The new Call of Duty: WWII released two versions of Carentan- with modern graphics! One is regular, the other is a winter-themed version with snow on the ground. It is a great blast from the past, and still an awesome level.
Halo 3 - High Ground
The Halo 3 Beta set the bar high back in 2007. I remember being so psyched to try it at a friends house after school one day. The three maps in the beta were snowcovered Snowbound, epically huge Valhalla, and my favorite: High Ground. High Ground is a fort, a little way up from a pleasant beach. From the beach you can either go straight up to the fort, go through a cave into the fort, jump up a magic levitating bounce pad to the top of the fort, or go in through a hole blasted into part of the fort's underground bunker. High Ground isn't a very big map, and with so many places to go, it is always an action packed time. There are vehicles too, I remember riding on Ghosts up from the beach. This map has it all, and the graphics were awesome at the time. Halo 2 was still the party game of choice, so seeing High Ground for the first time in the beta was really exciting. It was a staple map of Halo Parties, which are some of my best memories of high school.
Timesplitters 2 & 3 - Training Ground
Every once in a while my parents would get me a Nintendo Power magazine. I remember reading about Timesplitters 2 shortly after the Gamecube came out and thinking it sounded cool. We saw the game at Sam's Club in Idaho Falls for cheap, and I convinced my dad to let us get it. It turned out to be one of our favorite and most-played Gamecube games. You could tell that it had Goldeneye in its DNA, it played similar, and had that same fun party-game vibe. The best game mode was called "Virus", where someone started out covered in green flames, meaning he was infected. If he touched another player, they would become infected too. We played "virus" all the time, especially on Training Grounds. Training grounds was a map with two forts, one at the top of a hill, and one at the bottom. There was a cliff and a waterfall in the middle. The map design was simple, but awesome. We would add a bunch of bot players, and try to survive against them as long as we could. We usually tried to hold the upper part of the map-which we called "The Resistance". We would lay mines on the path to the Resistance, blowing it up when the bots got close. The Resistance also had some remote-control machine gun turrets inside, which were fun to mow-down zombies with, but scary to use in that there were blind spots. Eventually, the infected bots would get past the Resistance, and it would be total chaos. Training Grounds was a great map, in a great game.
Trespasser - The Town
My brother and I were little kids when we got Trespasser, and we loved it. It was one of the first T-rated games we played (our Mom didn't buy it for us), and the feeling of being hunted by Velociraptors was terrifying. The atmosphere in Trespasser was so spooky. You were alone on an abandoned island on Jurassic Park's Site B. There was evidence of civilization everywhere...old buildings, broken cars...but no people. John Hammonds voice narrating was very cool, and gave a good history of what the island used to be. But now, it was crawling with dinosaurs. Some nice, like Parasaurolophus and Brachiosaurus, but mostly Velociraptors, which really did feel like they were hunting you. It was terrifying hear one close. They seemed so bloodthirsty. The first few levels of the game were mostly wild, in the forest. But The Town was the abandoned town where Site B's workers lived while the dinosaurs were being created. The town had a church, a lab, a mechanic shop, and other small houses. Every building was fun to explore, especially if you could find some guns, as the town was dangerous and crawling with velociraptors. The Town would seem primitive today, but when it came out, it seemed to me like we were really exploring a huge, abandoned town in Jurassic Park, something every kid who like dinosaurs would love.
Super Smash Bros. Melee - Hyrule Temple
Super Smash Bros. Melee was a classic Gamecube game. And I think Temple was most people's favorite level. At least it seemed like that among my friends. The level was HUGE. I always thought the thumbnail of the level looked like Bowser, even though it is a Zelda themed level. Hyrule Temple is well designed. It has spots for both close-quarters fighting, and long distance. The cave in the middle of the level is great for racking up or taking huge amounts of damage without worrying about getting knocked off the map. Some characters can even run off the top edge of the map, and safely fall down onto the bottom (if you are good). Definitely a classic Super Smash level. I think they brought it back for the Super Smash Bros. on Wii U too.
3D Hunting Extreme Grizzly
3-D Hunting Grizzly was a weird game. We got it from one of those small game-racks at the end of an aisle in OfficeMax. I think we bought it based on the name alone, and it turned out to be very cool. Basically, you hunt bears. Hunting bears was more exciting than deer, because the bears would fight back, and kill you if you didn't kill them first. There were levels in Alaska and the Yukon and they were fun. But the most memorable level was called Man Eater. It was cold, windy, and raining, with dark, fast moving clouds in the horizon. Pulling open you map showed bears EVERYWHERE. When you start the level and look around, there are two dead hunters on the ground, obviously killed by bears. This level was so scary that I was afraid to play it by myself, I only played it if my brother was there with me. It was terrifying, and awesome.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 - Space Battles
Star Wars Battlefront 2 on the Playstation 2 was so awesome. It was the same great game as Battlefront 1, but with new maps, added Jedi and Sith characters, and the option to do space battles. These space battles were super cool. They were just like how you expect a space battle would be. You could jump in a tie-fighter and attack the enemy's ship, flying around it and blasting weak points. You could fly around, defending your ship from enemy ships in dog fights. You could board the enemy ships, and fight the humans inside, or try to sabotage the internals of the enemy ship. Or you could defend the inside of your ship. There were so many fun options. It was a great addition to Battlefront. It is a total bummer that the new, EA version of Star Wars Battlefront doesn't have space battles like that. They were really cool, and I hope they come back in another Star Wars game.
Goldeneye - Bunker
Another fun Goldneye map. It always ended up a fight outside, above the bunker in the snow. Plus shooting the glass and explosive monitors in the control room was awesome.
Halo 2 & 3 - Zanzibar
It's easy to see why they brought this map back for Halo 3. It was fun on the beach, around the giant wheel, the whole level was fun.
Super Smash Bros Melee - Pokefloats
Some people like plain, flat levels for Super Smash. Pokefloats is the opposite, it is all over the place, fighting on top of giant pokemon. Best played with Pokeballs as the only item, turned up to the max.
Counterstrike - Dust 2
Another classic Counterstrike map. There are always people playing on nonstop Dust 2 servers, it's that good.