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Tales series

  • The Tower Of Salvation in Tales of Symphonia fits perfectly. You go to this gigantic tower a total of 3 times throughout the game, each being different in their own brand of epicness. The first time, you're treated on one of the most memorable scenes in gaming,and a fairly challenging Boss Rush. The second? One of the best puzzles, EVER. The third? A true Tear Jerker. All three trips are also accented by their music- the "Derris-Kharlan" tracks (~Appear~ (for the first couple of rooms); ~Fear~ (for the second trip dungeon, Welgaia) and ~Shrine~ (the third trip dungeon's music...)) Oh, and as a later cutscene proves- the entire place? It's Made of Explodium.


Team Fortress 2

  • Upward. Large area, lots of places to zip around, good sniping spots, interesting terrain, breathtaking scenery? Yes, please.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4's penultimate level is a highway in the year 2020, to what appears to be Las Vegas, and you (and your enemies) are on hoverboards.
  • Think back to the TMNT arcade game of the early nineties. What level do you remember most clearly? Is it the first level where everything's on fire? No, it's the level where you get to ride rocket-skateboards!


Tetris: The Grand Master

  • Tetris: The Grand Master 2 PLUS's "T.A. Death" mode. To get into the second half, you need to beat the first half in under 3 minutes and 25 seconds. Doing so successfully gives you the rank of M (while playing the "game cleared" music while we're at it), causes the music to change to something fast-paced and terrifying, and now you are left with but one goal: survive all the way to the end of the game. Which is much, much harder than it sounds, for a number of reasons: you're going at instant-drop speed (which you have been since you started the mode). You have 0.067 seconds between a piece locking and the next piece spawning. You have a quarter of a second between a piece hitting the stack and locking, unless you move it down. The nightmarish music plays for the rest of the game, even thorugh the credits. The backgrounds become more menacing, ranging from pistons to drills to power generators. If you succeed in surviving this entire half of the game (which takes about three minutes) under these conditions, you get the Grand Master rank.


Thief

  • Thief 3 has the Cradle, which makes what could almost be considered an Unexpected Gameplay Change in terms of the overall atmosphere (although it fits in with situations in the earlier games), and executes it perfectly.
    • Thief 2 had a wonderful early level which was devoted to just...going around stealing things. It worked beautifully.
      • 'Shipping and Receiving', IIRC. Level 2. Based in a warehouse. Just stealing because you need the money. Great level.
    • Thief 2's unofficial expansion Shadows of the Metal Age had a level in which a Xanatos Gambit (yours, in fact) finally comes together, and two factions get engaged in a brutal melee with each other. Your goal? Slaughter anyone and everyone in your path, and make sure the faction who killed your brother is ground into the dust. In a game where you've had to stay out of view and skulk about for a long, long time, there's something satisfying about a level of nothing but brutal vengeance.


Thunder Force

  • Thunder Force V has an entire level where your ship, the Gauntlet, docks into a massive armor called the Brigandine and uses a rail gun and a laser to obliterate battleships. Even though the Brigandine has a shield and is a massive target to everything, it's possible to beat the whole damn level with it, but you don't get to keep it for the next stage.
    • In its predecessor Thunder Force IV there is a level called Air Raid that consists mostly of you dodging giant battleships' lock-on cannons while also blowing shit up.


Tomb Raider

  • Tomb Raider: The Lost Valley: Along with the iconic T-Rex encounter, it is also filled with other memorable set-pieces, like the waterfall (and subsequent draining of it), and the design of the Valley itself.
    • City of Vilacamba: Nice puzzles,beautiful pools,and those swinging axes,plus a great Green Hills Zone
    • St Francis' Folly: Full of puzzles, as well as having an interesting vertical structure.
    • Palace Midas: A great layout that interlinks in really cool ways, along with some good puzzles as well.
    • The Cistern however was a great Down the Drain level
  • Tomb Raider 2: Barkhang Monastery: A massive level with tons of non-linearity, that is filled with puzzles, challenges and exploration.
    • Temple of Xian: Another huge level that covers almost aspect of Tomb Raider at some point, including some unique sequences like the Spider cave.
  • Tomb Raider 3: Aldwych: A massive and complex level, but the atmosphere is what really makes it; it manages to be more atmospheric than many of the "tomb" locations in the series, and shows how a modern level can work perfectly in TR with the right concept.
    • Lost City of Tinnos: The finale level before the boss, and a great finale it is, with an interesting theme and some nice use of the elemental puzzles concept.
  • Tomb Raider 4: The Lost Library: Another big level, and one that keeps linking in interesting ways and constantly brings on new tasks and puzzles.
  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness: Hall of Seasons: The controls make a couple of the trap sequences very frustrating (along with That One Boss), but as a whole it has several puzzles and some very atmospheric areas that make it arguably the last echoes of the original designers former glory.
  • Tomb Raider Legend: Ghana: Starts with a very impressive waterfall sequence and continues with an interesting layout, large scale puzzles and less combat than most of the other levels.
    • England: Beyond That One Boss it's a great level with quite possibly the best atmosphere in the game and several nice puzzles and platforming sequences.
    • Nepal: Exploring through ice caves with ruins frozen from the past, leading all the way to a giant temple that seems to be built around a believable Bottomless Pit, the entire level(For the most part) makes you feel like you are alone and exploring a place that was once magnificent, the music in the level helps too.
      • The Quick Time Event in the crashed plane actually managed to be quite entertaining. The level also contained only a single, brief shootout sequence with enemy mooks: just long enough to change up the pace, but not so much that the simplistic combat outstayed its welcome.
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary: St Francis' Folly takes every puzzle and the overall layout of the original level and expands on it all in several ways (such that the cuts that were made are balanced by more content elsewhere). Unfortunely this clashes with the levels that were remade less competently.
    • All of Egypt: A couple of the trap sequences are frustrating, but beyond that it's another segment that, instead of strange changes, takes everything good about the original segment and makes it better.
  • Tomb Raider Underworld: Mexico: There's quite a lot of exploration and a nice atmosphere. It also has some good puzzles in the Xibalba section.


Tony Hawk series

  • Downtown Minneapolis from Tony Hawk's 1. An unprecedentedly large city at this point in game history, including secret rooftops you can jump onto.
  • Downhill Jam from Tony Hawk's 1, at least for its boiling atmosphere.
  • Skate Heaven from Tony Hawk's 2.
  • Rio De Janeiro in Tony Hawk's 3...has the most ingenious rail circuit around the edge of the park that you can loop around endlessly.
  • Airport from Tony Hawk's 3. The ability to grind the travelators, jump off onto the lights...or take the other path and grind the helicopter to watch it fly off, then do an almost endless combo around the baggage disposal...it was moments like this that show the Tony Hawks series are more than just a sports game series and are adventures in their own right.
  • Skatopia from 2, which is like a huge playground with giant mountains you can ride down.
  • New Orleans in Tony Hawk's Underground 2. On top of feeling like a genuine large city, it had an entire network of half pipes, ramps and parks on the roofs of all its buildings, and it actually managed to feel southern without passing in to stereotypical territory, something games usually don't handle well. On top of that, grinding the tombs (The dead are "buried" above-ground in NO) in the local graveyard will transform the entire city into a voodoo hellhole, with a portal to hell in the center and hordes of zombies.
  • The huge cities and surrounding areas in Project 8 and Proving Ground. What were once distinct levels are now linked, you can go back and forth through them at will. Whilst not as large as GTA, it does prove that extreme sports and sandbox go together quite well - there is serious potential for this series to continue if the makers choose to focus on the right aspect of it.


Total Annihilation

  • Total Annihliation features two. The final Mission of the ARM campaign, which starts you at the bottom of a series of terraces on which are overlayed the entire CORE force, including everything except ships. You must fight your way up each terrace, until you can destroy the CORE commander. The second is in the CORE campaign and is called Surrounded and Pounded, where you must defend a plateau from ARM forces, and don't have much room to build.


Total Overdose

  • Total Overdose early missions Smash The Stash and Steal The Wheels. First blow up four silos of chemicals that fertilize their ganga to the angry grinding metal of Apocalypshit, then bust into a villa and steal a Cool Car with Molotov Cocktail Party playing. The center is a nice maze-like garden of weed with gun-toting mooks jumping from all directions, encircled with dirt tracks filled with trucks, tractors, and explosives. The whole layout gives you the most opportunities for car-leaping kills and wall-bounces. The villa raid ends with a gun-duel with a crusty, revolver-packing miniboss then busting out of the garage with the fastest car in the game, leaping ramps of burning barrels, and getting it safely back to your boss...just so you can watch him blast it away with an Uzi.


Touhou

  • The Extra and Phantasm stages of Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom certainly qualify. Half of each level is an epic boss battle complete with Crowning Music Of Awesome, and the stages themselves are quite well-designed to be Nintendo Hard without relying on Fake Difficulty.
    • As well as the final stage of the same game. The sheer beauty of the gorgeous attacks with butterflies and cherry blossoms, the unreal music at the last fight, and the awe-inspiring end-boss, Yuyuko Saigyouji, all come together to form a package so stunning and wonderful, many a member of the fanbase has been moved to tears, and not from the also-insane difficulty that comes with it on the higher levels.
    • How about stage four from Subterranean Animism? Two awesome songs, a gorgeous background, and Satori cranking up the nostalgia meter by copying old cards, some of which hail from the fighting games. "Now, lie down with this terror that will leave you sleepless!"


Transformers: War for Cybertron

  • Transformers: War for Cybertron has an absolutely amazing level as the fourth mission of the Decepticon campaign. Megatron, along with Soundwave, and Breakdown are attacked by Omega FREAKING Supreme, and are cut off from the rest of the Decepticon forces. What follows is the three of them racing through the underbelly of a ruined Autobot city while being chased by a gigantic warship, with lots of 'Oh crap!' moments where you have to avoid being killed by it. Not to mention the hordes of Autobot mooks that stand between you and a safe escape. Oh, and then there's the fact that Starscream takes advantage of Megatron's disappearance to do what Starscreams do best and declare HIMSELF leader of the Decepticons...of course, you're playing as (or with) Megatron, so his reaction to all of this is pretty much 'BRING IT ON!'
    • And conversely the 4th level for the Autobots is equally amazing, as a team lead by Silverbolt chases Trypticon as the latter is in the process of Colony Drop ping onto Cybertron. So you follow it into the Gravity Well all the while trying to blow him up.


Treasure of the Rudra


Twisted Metal

  • The Paris level in Twisted Metal 2 had a large portion of Paris that could be driven around in. It had the Louvre and The Eiffel Tower at opposite ends of the level which had teleporters that could be used to reach their roofs. But the best part was that the Eiffel Tower could be blown up and the wreckage could be used to drive across the roofs. Everyone who played that level collected remote explosives so they could plant them in the Eiffel Tower, and then drove as fast as possible to the Louvre roof so they could set them off and watch the tower explode. It was so cool.
    • Early on in the game, when you play the New York level (in the campaign mode, not multiplayer), there's a section of the level where you can drive at top speeds across rooftops, getting ridiculous heights off the angled roofs, before you smash into the third floor of an apartment building and ventilate a man swimming in the hotel pool. Before taking the elevator down. With your car.


Uncharted Series

  • The train level in Uncharted 2 (technically it's 2 chapters, but who's counting). You're going over, around, and through a long freight train, getting into several great battles, including a very persistent attack helicopter that won't go away (until you blow it to bits near the end, at least). All the while you have to contend with some very realistic train physics that throw off your aim, which is far more cool than it is annoying. Naughty Dog had people working on it for most of the game's 2-year development cycle. It shows.
  • Chapters 12, 13 and 14 in Uncharted 3.


Vampire: The Masquerade

  • The Oceanside Hotel in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. It pulls out every haunted house trick in the books, and the resulting effect is creepy as hell.
    • The Hotel and the werewolf chase.
      • Just to elaborate a bit on what the chase is: there you are, having kicked ass for for than three quarters of the game, and you are armed to the teeth with all sorts of weapons, and your supernatural powers' ranges in strength from turning the tide to your favour to mopping the floor with the enemies. Right, this was just the background - you are given the task to go and talk with one of the local badasses - Nines Rodrigez, who in a nearby park. Very soon after going there you both notice a forest fire and Nines starts freaking out because he knows that the werewolves don't take kindly neither to fires nor to vampires. Just then a werewolf jumps at him from nowhere snatches him and leaves you with another werewolf who is hellbent on trying to rip you to pieces and chew you. Oh, and all those powers and weapons are useless - the only option left is to scream like a little girl, run, and try to survive until you manage to get away.
        • 2nd option left: crush the offending shapechanger between the closing halves of the telescope ceiling.


Vexx

  • Tempest Peak Manor from Vexx. You get to roam around inside a giant's house, which is neat enough, but it also has things like getting flung up into the rafters and sneaking around, flinging gelatin to get an extra life, playing a mini-game on a GIANT TV by standing on the joystick, and a ridiculous Shaggy Dog Easter Egg. Oh: And the music? It's awesome.


VVVVVV

  • The final level of VVVVVV, in which you destabilize an alternate dimension and have to escape before it falls apart. The levels start flashing different colors, and action music starts playing, as you play through some of the hardest (but most fun) levels in the game.


Warcraft

  • The final level of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (i.e. the original game, not the expansion): "Twilight of the Gods." A 45-minute Hold the Line mission against The Legions of Hell. Your side starts with three bases and covers most of the map. You will lose almost everything before it's all over. The general panic of throwing everything you have at the endless waves of demons and undead is nothing short of awesome.
    • The level was so badass that Blizzard put it in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade as a raid instance JUST FOR Fan Service!
    • Not to be outdone, the Frozen Throne Night Elf campaign ends with "The Brothers Stormrage", featuring Malfurion and Illidan cooperating for possibly the first time ever to save Tyrande. Not only do you get to use the Naga for the first time, but the simple fact that these two are working together is something special. Also nice is that you've finally gotten rid of Maiev.
    • Really, the final level of any Blizzard RTS qualifies. In the case of Starcraft, the final level of any individual race's campaign qualifies as well. "The Hammer Fall" is undoubtedly the most epic Terran vs. Terran battle in the entire game, including the ones leading to Mengsk's defeat in Brood War.
  • (Cough!) 75% or more of all raids. (Cough)!
    • As far as raids go, Blackwing Lair, AQ40, Naxx, All of TBC especially Hyjal (the example above) Zul'Aman, and Black Temple, and Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel in WOTLK all are considered amazing by those who have done them.
  • There are quite a lot of Scrappy Level examples for World of Warcraft, but some zones are just excellent: for example, The Storm Peaks. It has plenty of fun quests (including The Drakkensryd, mentioned in the CMoA page for Warcraft), the scenery is to die for, the background music is hauntingly beautiful and epic, and there's enough of a storyline there to satisfy at least some of the people who complain about WoW's lack of one.
    • At least among the cities of WoW, Dalaran is one of the best places to be. The epic music helps quite a bit.
    • The entire Wrath of the Lich King expansion had a lot of Crowning Moments of Awesome. One example being In the quest Finality after going through a huge quest chain involving a number of siege engines and decimated undead armies to kill a powerful lich who comes out a portal to hell with a group of elite soldiers at the bottom of an ancient crypt, you engage the lich and in terrifying moment of awesome, he freezes you and your soldier team in place to await death. When all hope seems lost who swoops in but Highlord Bolvar Fordragon himself who then helps you to handily defeat the undead commander.
      • Battle. For. The. Undercity. The absolutely epic finale of arguably the best damned quest line in the expansion. It's amazing as either faction, but the Horde version is by far the most satisfying. Not only do you get to see Thrall showing off his bad ass shamanic powers, you get to fight alongside him and Dark Lady Sylvanas, all to reclaim one of the major home cities of the Horde, and finally beat the snot out of Varimathras, who's been plotting this coup since the original game.
      • And when we say "fight alongside them," we don't mean "sit back and let them handle everything," we mean you get a buff that boosts your damage to INSANE levels and a never ending Heal Over Time that basically ensures that YOU WILL NOT DIE as you fight right next to them dishing out just as much pain to the elite demons who turned your pants brown so many times as the two of them are. Honestly, the expansion is well worth the cost just for this one quest chain. (Too bad it was taken out as of Cataclysm.)
  • The Icecrown zone as a whole. Certainly playing as a Blood Elf. The PC assists the Argent Crusade in establishing their first outpost in Icecrown, and proceeds to smash through every single line of defence the Lich King has in place around the Citadel. The storyline ends with the Argent Crusade merging with the Knights Of The Ebon Blade to surround Icecrown Citadel itself. The player can then go into the raid and destroy his top generals, fighting him face to face, knowing that countless scourge died with your face the last thing that the Lich King saw via their mind link. Essentially, blood elf players can single handedly claim vengeance for the sacking of Quel'Thalas in warcraft 3.


Wario Land

  • Wario Land 4 had fantastic levels, especially Toxic Landfill! You have to traverse a waste dump filled with breakable and unbreakable trash that lead to hidden places and goodies, and many of the enemies here will transform Wario into a form that can be used for puzzle solving and other fun. Money is easy to come by, and it has one of the most awesome music ever made by man!
    • Fiery Cavern is a cave filled with lava geysirs and other fire-related obstacles and enemies. Awesome music and a fair challenge, but the crowner comes when you hit the timed-bomb switch as it causes the entire level to freeze over, completely changing its puzzles from there on out.
    • The Big Board's main gimmick was that you had to hit dice blocks to traverse a number of spaces. Whichever space you got would also have various effects on either Wario or his surroundings. Better Than It Sounds as it manages to keep the level fresh and not become a Scrappy Mechanic.
    • Monsoon Jungle took you through a lush rainforest accompanied by soothing music.
    • Golden Passage was a very effective Final Exam Level, requiring you to use all of your techniques and knowledge of Wario's transformations to get all the four pieces and Keyzer as fast as possible before the time ran out. Also the only level where the recurring scientist appears outside any of the puzzle rooms.
    • Crescent Moon Village was an awesome level. Not only did it have excellent music like most levels in the game, it had arguably the best amosphere for a 'haunted' type level in the series (by being a haunted town which actually felt like a town and not a cartoon ghost house). Nice graphics, interesting level design and a few gimmicks that weren't too overly gimmicky.


Wario Ware

  • Any of the 9-Volt and 18-Volt stages tend to be awesome levels filled with Nostalgia-inducing microgames! Any of the final Wario stages are also this and tend to have some of the best Boss microgames.
    • Ana and Kat's stage with the Japanese inspired story in the original Wario Ware. Must be the music.
    • Dribble and Spitz' stage in Smooth Moves! Fun microgames, a very nice song, and one of the best Boss microgames that even utilizes your Mii.


Willow

  • The second level of the Willow arcade game, particularly the wagon ride. Its counterpart in the movie was nowhere near as intense.


Wolfenstein 3D

  • E3M10 of Wolfenstein 3D. Seems freaky when you first enter it ("why the hell is a Pac-Man ghost bearing down on me?!") - right up to the moment you realise it's a near-perfect recreation of Pac-Man (the only things missing are the looparounds - replaced with level exits - and the power pills are switched to extra lives. The ghosts themselves are indestructible).


Yoshi's Story

  • The Tall Tower from Yoshis Story is boing-a-riffic fun! In addition to having a lovely backdrop and pretty music, you get to rocket around on springs everywhere! Wheee!


Zone of the Enders

  • Air Fight in Zone of the Enders 2. You versus six flying battleships with More Dakka, Roboteching Beam Spam and naturally, Wave Motion Guns. All accompanied by Crowning Music of Awesome. And when you manage to destroy one with your own Wave Motion Gun, you can see it falling for miles and breaking up in the air. Troperrific.
    • And while we're at it, the Mars Melee. You, the Vic Viper, and 20 or so LEVs against hundreds if not a thousand or more enemy Mecha Mooks. From the opening salvo of attacks, to the scramble to save your troops, to the inevitable Oh Crap you feel when the on-screen radar shows a wave of enemies coming down at you, the whole thing is an intense, frantic, and awesome battle that really shows off what the game's about, and how much power Jehuty really has.
    • Rescuing Ken. The mission, the music, and just the sheer amount of mooks you'll obliterate on your way up and out of there is beyond description in how heroic and awesome it will make you feel.
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