Best Level Design This Generation

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bearshamanbro

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#1  Edited By bearshamanbro

Good level design to me is when the levels work with the gameplay to bring about memorable experiences. I was thinking about this earlier while playing Dragon Age. I really love the game but I don't think it has great level design. The environments can be neat to go through but the levels don't really add much to the gameplay experience and mostly serve as scenery changes. I'm sure I won't remember 90% of the levels a year from now. This got me to thinking about some of the top level designs that I've played through this generation that will be memorable for years to come. 


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1. Demon's Souls

I still haven't beaten this game (halfway through) but all of the levels that I've played through are still crystal clear in my mind a year later. The levels are well done in my opinion because they greatly affect the gameplay. If you're going through tight corriders you better have your spear ready (swords will hit the walls) and you better be aware of drop offs. The levels always seem to be working against you but not because they are badly designed. They are perfectly designed to add a great depth and challenge to the gameplay. The game forces you to learn the level to advance in the game. Levels that I found near impossible, I would be breezing through them after learning their ins and outs.


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2. Metal Gear Solid 4

This game is impressive to me because of the different ways to go through a level. You can run through it ten times and do it different every time. If one takes the time to play the game patiently and challenge oneself to use stealth, the level design is really excellent. I especially enjoyed the desert and South American Acts a lot and enjoyed their level design the most.


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3. Vanquish

This one is still relatively new but I think the open design of the levels is really well done. The impressive thing to me is how the levels can support so many different play styles and give a great experience to everyone. You can play for better times or you can play strategically and the levels still hold up. I'm hesitant to put this up here but I'm fairly confident it will stand the test of time.


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4. Battlefield 1943

This has my favorite level design for multiplayer shooters, even though it's not a full blown game. The levels seem to fit the amount of players perfectly and the action always keeps moving. I think the levels greatly benefit from being surrounded by water so that everywhere can be easily accessed. Really fun levels that seems perfectly designed to me.
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EpicSteve

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#2  Edited By EpicSteve

Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid.

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Surkov

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#3  Edited By Surkov

Braid. Every level had a simple elegant solution. 

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GhostlyEnigma

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#4  Edited By GhostlyEnigma
@EpicSteve said:

" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "

I disagree. I'm a Halo fan, but the maps in Reach were poorly designed. Most of them were copy-then-pasted from the single-player, which I find lazy on Bungie's department. 
 
On subject:  I say the Super Mario Galaxy series have the most creative and expertly designed maps of this generation.
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demontium

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#5  Edited By demontium
@bearshamanbro: You're almost factually wrong, but I guess there is a degree of opinion.
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bearshamanbro

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#6  Edited By bearshamanbro
@demontium:  What are some of your favorites? I'm not definitely stating these are best designed levels just that these are my favorite and what are the best to me. I'm a little curious to see what other people's favorites are to see if there's any games with great level design I'm missing out on.
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MysteriousBob

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#7  Edited By MysteriousBob

Super Meat Boy.

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ESREVER

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#8  Edited By ESREVER

SOCOM II has the best designed Multiplayer levels out of any game I have seen so far... 
Those levels were genius and always a blast to play

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Smokay

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#9  Edited By Smokay

Super Meat Boy indeed

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demontium

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#10  Edited By demontium
@bearshamanbro said:

" @demontium:  What are some of your favorites? I'm not definitely stating these are best designed levels just that these are my favorite and what are the best to me. I'm a little curious to see what other people's favorites are to see if there's any games with great level design I'm missing out on. "

Like  @MysteriousBob: said, Super Meat Boy, anything from Mario Galaxy 2, Kirby's Epic Yarn, DKCR - what I mean is walking through open plots of land isn't good level design. You may like the atmosphere, but that doesn't affect the way you play. Now I noticed things like Vanquish's chest-high walls that you can slide into cover, and I do agree that is pretty damn fun. But look at some more of the crazier shit Bayonetta has.  
 
Basically what I'm saying is you chose games that look nice or have some cool features, but there is much more interesting design out there, most of which twist the way you look at games entirely.
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Gizmo

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#11  Edited By Gizmo

Arkham Asylum and Left 4 Dead come to mind.

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lemon360

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#12  Edited By lemon360
@EpicSteve said:
" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "
Far, far from the truth.
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EpicSteve

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#13  Edited By EpicSteve
@lemon360 said:

" @EpicSteve said:

" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "
Far, far from the truth. "
I went into the thread thinking about this year, not the entire generation. If I had to pick from everything, probably Braid or maybe Left 4 Dead.
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Red12b

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#14  Edited By Red12b


Best Level Design This Generation nerfed in the sequel that you can cosplay as? 
 
Should have been the true title of this thread,

 

   

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rjayb89

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#15  Edited By rjayb89

Super Final Fantasy XIII Arcade Edition Third Strike vs. Capcom vs. Tekken'''''''''.

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HitmanAgent47

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#16  Edited By HitmanAgent47

Oblivion, crysis, just cause 2, mass effect 2

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bearshamanbro

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#17  Edited By bearshamanbro

  @demontium:  In my opinion Vanquish has better level design than Bayonetta, even though I think Bayonetta has the better gameplay and most other things (and is probably my GOTY). Bayonetta to me was mostly mini-area after mini-area. The actual level design didn't affect my gameplay to the extent that Vanquish did. I think the actual level design in Vanquish is set up really smart and is well thought out and skillfully executed. Regarding 'walking through open plots of land isn't good level design', I don't see how that applies to any of the games that I posted. MGS has intricate levels that encourage stealth and is all about interacting with the environment. Demon's Soul's levels directly dictate the strategy of gameplay more than any action game I've personally played.   
 
Super Meat Boy and Kirby do look good. Have always loved Mario. Hope to play those in the future.

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EVO

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#18  Edited By EVO

Best level design is reserved for puzzle games like Braid, Crush and Portal.

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Hosstile17

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#19  Edited By Hosstile17

Mass Effect 2, Halo 3, Uncharted 2, and Batman AA.

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ShadowKnight508

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#20  Edited By ShadowKnight508

As stated earlier, the map designs for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots are pure genius. Each map offers many alternate routes and offer some creative ways to sneak up on get the jump on enemies. The levels in the South America mission arc are a great example of how to get around in multiple ways.

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Heartbreak

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#21  Edited By Heartbreak

Super Meat Boy "The Guy" warp zone
 
That is all

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Valkyr

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#22  Edited By Valkyr

Batman AA

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meteora

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#23  Edited By meteora

Final Fantasy XIII. 
 
Just run straight forward herp derp.

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Akeldama

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#24  Edited By Akeldama

As far as competitive FPS maps go, Killzone 2 and 3 are my favorites hands down.

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csl316

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#25  Edited By csl316

Super Meat Boy, Portal, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Darksiders.  off the top of my head, anyway.

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jmfinamore

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#26  Edited By jmfinamore

If you're talking pure design, Braid, Portal and Super Meat Boy are amazing in their exactness. 

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iam3green

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#27  Edited By iam3green

oblivion, i think it's the biggest level out there. big area just small inner levels like caves.

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bearshamanbro

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#28  Edited By bearshamanbro

I think I'm going to move Batman AA up in my backlog, thanks for the input. I know a lot of indie games have great level design but it seems to be lacking in the bigger releases. Castlevania: LOS is one that I've played recently where the environments were gorgeous but the levels themselves were very mediocre.

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Kjellm87

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#29  Edited By Kjellm87

I'm gonna go with Donkey Kong Returns, none of the stages in that game gets old playing through, so full of energy

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Doctorchimp

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#30  Edited By Doctorchimp
@iam3green said:
" oblivion, i think it's the biggest level out there. big area just small inner levels like caves. "
I don't really get the Oblivion map love... 
 
I mean sure it's pretty impressive, but if you're intrigued by its size there are bigger maps out there this gen (Just Cause 2) 
 
and the intricacies aren't impressive when you realize that it's the same cave/ elven ruin/ dungeon. Just copied over and over again. By the time I was done with Oblivion I couldn't believe how mundane and dull everything was.
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WickedFather

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#31  Edited By WickedFather

I was waiting for some joker to say Mass Effect 2.  A load of boxes strapped together with doors.  Amazing.   Doom has far better level design and that's not a joke.

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Three0neFive

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#32  Edited By Three0neFive

Street Fighter 4

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bearshamanbro

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#33  Edited By bearshamanbro
@WickedFather:  I was planning on picking Mass Effect 2 next month, doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement lol.
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bearshamanbro

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#34  Edited By bearshamanbro
@Three0neFive:  For fighters, I always enjoyed the levels in Dead or Alive. You had to have different strategies on different levels and multiple-levels within each arena were cool. I realize it's not the best for competitive fighting, but I hope they come out with another one soon.

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JJWeatherman

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#35  Edited By JJWeatherman

Hey, yo. Mario Galaxy 2. Some of the best level design you'll find.

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Jack268

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#36  Edited By Jack268

DAT FIRST HALF OF CRYSIS 
 
I think Bad Company 2 has really solid multiplayer maps. I guess the Assassin's Creed games deserve a mention too, because there aren't many games that simulate such a good looking world with dat draw distance while also looking good.

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WinterSnowblind

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#37  Edited By WinterSnowblind
@Doctorchimp:  My thoughts exactly.  Oblivion was mind meltingly dull.  Shivering Isles almost makes up for it, but I still wouldn't consider it mind blowingly well designed. 
Ditto for ME2.  As much as I loved the game, one thing I did prefer about the first was the area design.  Everything was too boxy and closed off in the second. 
 
I'd probably vote for Mario Galaxy, but the first one.  Again, I prefered the bigger environments you had more room to explore and find multiple hidden stars in each world.  The second games levels were much more straight forward and only had two-three stars, max.  It did have more levels, but I prefered the format and design of the first.
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bearshamanbro

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#38  Edited By bearshamanbro
@JJWeatherman: I'm sure it is, it looks amazing. It looks like I'm going to have to pick up another Wii (haven't had one for a year and a half). They have really released a lot of great games since then.
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#39  Edited By eristocrat

Both Super Mario Galaxy games and Portal.  There are some levels in each of those do such an amazing job of subtly showing you what you should be doing which allows them to do spectacular, crazy shit that would be far too confusing in 90% of games.

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#40  Edited By zidd

Super meat boy because each level is meticulously designed so that they are beatable with every character in the game.

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#41  Edited By RobotHamster

What comes to mind is Uncharted 2, Batman, Super Meat Boy, Portal, and I'm playing through Super Mario Galaxy 2 right now and it is amazing.

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Grissefar

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#42  Edited By Grissefar

God of War III - Poseidon fight
Uncharted 2 - Train levels

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JJWeatherman

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#43  Edited By JJWeatherman
@bearshamanbro said:
" @JJWeatherman: I'm sure it is, it looks amazing. It looks like I'm going to have to pick up another Wii (haven't had one for a year and a half). They have really released a lot of great games since then. "
They have. Kirby's Epic Yarn and the new Donkey Kong are almost as good as Mario. You should get those too.
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mordi

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#44  Edited By mordi
@EpicSteve said:
" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "
I disagree here. Halo 2 had great maps. Halo 3 had some great maps. I feel like Halo Reach does not. The recent DLC-pack was great, though.
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FancySoapsMan

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#45  Edited By FancySoapsMan

Hitman: Blood Money
 
Okay, technically it's a last-gen game that was ported over to the 360, but it still has some of the best levels I've ever seen in a game.

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Skytylz

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#46  Edited By Skytylz
@GhostlyEnigma said:

" @EpicSteve said:

" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "

I disagree. I'm a Halo fan, but the maps in Reach were poorly designed. Most of them were copy-then-pasted from the single-player, which I find lazy on Bungie's department.  On subject:  I say the Super Mario Galaxy series have the most creative and expertly designed maps of this generation. "
I'm pretty sure nothing else ever has came close to the design in Galaxy 1 and 2.   
 
@Mordi said:
" @EpicSteve said:
" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "
I disagree here. Halo 2 had great maps. Halo 3 had some great maps. I feel like Halo Reach does not. The recent DLC-pack was great, though. "
Yah, I couldn't get into Reach at all because none of the maps were very fun to play.
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btman

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#47  Edited By btman

Assassin's Creed.  'nuff said.

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natetodamax

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#48  Edited By natetodamax
@EpicSteve said:
" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "
Eh..... a lot of them are just pieced together in forge world.
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Pinworm45

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#49  Edited By Pinworm45

Nuketown. 
 
Not Black Ops. Just Nuketown.

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A_Cute_Squirtle

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#50  Edited By A_Cute_Squirtle
@GhostlyEnigma said:
" @EpicSteve said:

" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "

I disagree. I'm a Halo fan, but the maps in Reach were poorly designed. Most of them were copy-then-pasted from the single-player, which I find lazy on Bungie's department.  On subject:  I say the Super Mario Galaxy series have the most creative and expertly designed maps of this generation. "