Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Favourite maps and levels

November 22, 2014 admin No comments

Half-Life 2 - full of memorable levels

Half-Life 2 – full of memorable levels

GameCentral readers name their favourite stages, maps, tracks, and levels in everything from Call Of Duty to Mario Kart.

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Emmet. You were free to name either single-player or multiplayer stages but they had to be something defined by the game itself – not just a random portion you happened to like. We also wanted to know if you’ve ever tried to make your own maps using an editor or games like LittleBigPlanet.

As you’d expect we barely got the same game mentioned twice, let alone the same level, but perhaps because of their absence from Mario Kart 8 there were a lot of nods for Super Mario Kart battle stages. Older first person shooters such as GoldenEye and Half-Life 2 were also popular.

Anniversary favourite
This Hot Topic question has coincided a week after the anniversary of my favourite video game Half-Life 2, which is also host to my favourite level. The level I refer to is the bridge battle with the spaceship thing (sorry I don’t know what it’s called). It’s part of the buggy part of the game, you pull up to the bridge and then have to walk along the girders of the bridge (which for some reason blew my mind at the time) whilst fighting the spaceship.

It was perfectly paced, full of tension and exciting. I had played bridge battles before but Valve took a different take on it by taking the fight under the bridge. Another honourable mention should be given to perhaps my second favourite level, which I’m surre will be getting lots of mentions: Ravenholm.
Truk_Kurt (PSN ID)
PS: Add me for some PlayStation 4 GTA Online.

Sweet dreams
The Rainbow Road course on Mario Kart 64 was both infuriating and brilliant: infuriating because it was almost impossible to stay on there and seemed to go on forever, but brilliant because of the trippy dreams it gave me and my uni housemates at the time. And to win on that track was to win at life.

This Hot Topic reminded me Micro Machines: Turbo Tournament had a track editor and that I was pretty proud of one track I built using it. Can’t remember much about it now other than the stormy weather conditions I set up and the fact I took my sweet time to make the thing perfect. I really wish I hadn’t sold my Mega Drive…
FoximusPrime81 (gamertag/Twitter)

Water great dungeon
Bunker 2 on GoldenEye 007 is my favourite designed mission in a first person shooter. Sure there is some heavy rose-tinting going on but I will always maintain the very small and cramped environment added a lot. Games nowadays focus too heavily on making things bigger and just end up being bland. When played on the hardest difficulty it required a lot of planning in order to get past the guards and there were a lot of different objectives crammed into a tiny space. The game also gave you the freedom to tackle them in any order.

The only recent game to capture the same sense of discovery and planning that Bunker 2 had is Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.

In third person games Zelda has had some amazingly crafty dungeons. It is a pity many people found the Ocarina Of Time Water Temple too hard, as this is my favourite by miles and I would welcome even more fiendish dungeons.

I did try and make a puzzle level in the first LittleBigPlanet but my ambition was a little beyond the game mechanics and it would not allow me to do what I wanted. The sequels however would have let me create the level I wanted but I never found enough time to achieve it. I did create a pirate ship in the PS Vita version of the game but did not manage to build the level around it. In this instance my ambition far outstripped my skill or patience.

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Just right
Favourite tracks and maps? Hmmm let me see. Donut Plains from Super Mario Kart is a big favourite of mine, due to its tight corners, which are perfect for my Koopa. The Panzer Dragoon track from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was another. Racing around Macao and Hong Kong in Project Gotham Racing was also a complete joy.

However, for me, my favourite map/dungeon is from Final Fantasy XIV: Pharos Sirius. The layout is excellent. Not too hard, but still offers a challenge. A fantastic soundtrack mixed with a battle against Siren, means that for me, the perfect map.

Secret hell
My favourite level in a game is A Dance with the Devil from Hitman: Blood Money. I love this map because it’s odd, ambitious and reminds me of Stanley Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut.

The level starts in an unpromising way. Agent 47 waits outside an office block. You then enter the office block reception area and its underground car park. Thus far the map is about as fun as being called into work on a Sunday.

Then you notice masked men guarding two lifts.

One lift goes up, to a heaven themed masquerade, the other takes you down, to an opposing hell-inspired event. These shindigs have wildly different atmospheres and bizarrely dressed guests. These revellers include your main targets, a terrifying woman with a cane sword, and a guy in a golden devil mask.

There’s also shark tanks, a suspiciously tone-deaf singer and a deep lift shaft to throw people down. Who wouldn’t want to gatecrash an event like this?

That all this freakish wonder occurs in the same level without loading screens is very impressive. I often wonder what inspired A Dance With the Devil and if sinful masquerades occur in the real world inside innocuous looking locations.
msv858 (Twitter)

Offline deathmatch
2004 in college. Living room. Two Fat CRT televisions back-to-back and two Xboxes and two Halo 2s and system link. Two players on each TV. Stage was with Burial Mounds and rocket launchers and pistols only. Really was an amazing experience.

So many different areas of the map even though it was quite small is a sign of an excellently designed map. Hearing the other team whisper behind your TV, trying to decide where you were. When converging on the middle of the map with four players with fully loaded rocket launchers was an unforgettable time and my favourite ever in gaming. How they haven’t remade this map in The Master Chief Collection is a sin, but hopefully it will be DLC at a later date.

Makes perfect
Since race tracks are included I have to go for the high speed ring on Gran Turismo. I know it is a simple beginner course, but when I first played Gran Turismo on the original PlayStation my cousin used to batter me on it.
I practised and practised and eventually beat him, but after thousands of laps I love this track more than any other. The long, high speed left hand curve at the beginning of the lap, tough hairpin into the straight over the bridge, the flowing ‘esses’ into the tunnel – which a couple of decent drivers it’s an excellent course for close and fast racing.

The other one is the return to Shadow Moses Island in Metal Gear Solid 4. From the moment you reach the facility and the music starts, to the battle at the end between Metal Gears Rex and Ray it was a wonderfully nostalgic and moving trip down memory lane.

Visiting all the old areas of the facility and seeing them ruined was great, yet sad at the same time.
OldMiley (PSN ID)

Horiffic return
The chapter where you return to the Ishimura in Dead Space 2 was so atmospheric and spine-tingling (especially with the lights off) that it has always stayed vividly in my memory.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Too popular
I’m sort of answering on behalf of a friend here. Back in the days of the N64 (the zenith of local multiplayer, or at least in my social circles) I used to play a lot of GoldenEye 007 and Super Smash Bros. with my older brother and his friends. All a lot of fun, except one of them would consistently insist on playing on the same stages: Facility on GoldenEye and Hyrule Castle on Smash Bros. They’re both very good stages, especially Facility, but the repetition nearly ruined them for me (especially with the music on Hyrule).

When Perfect Dark came out, I was pleased to find a few GoldenEye stages in there, including Facility. Oddly though, even allowing for the overplaying of it on GoldenEye, I didn’t find it as good in Perfect Dark. Instead, I really got into Complex, despite having thought little of it in GoldenEye. It had some good sniping positions and a lot of two-level rooms allowing for interesting matches, especially with bots added in.

Speaking of Smash Bros, I look forward to having a go with the level maker in Smash Bros. for Wii U. The one in Brawl was a bit of a pain to make, but the GamePad’s touchscreen looks very handy. I’m hoping to use it to make some good, smaller stages, as I’ve found the series’ insistence on ever bigger and busier stage since the N64 original a little disappointing.

Stages like Rainbow Ride, that are essentially on-rails platforming levels distract from the actual point and enjoyment of Smash Bros. Massive stages like Melee’s Hyrule Temple and the Earthbound one in Brawl are just too big for purpose, with it being far too easy to get detached from other players, breaking the flow of gameplay (although I suspect 8-player matches will redeem big stages like this in the new game).
Martin Smith

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