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#1 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -

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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#2 Posted by EpicSteve (6908 posts) -

Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid.

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#3 Posted by Surkov (1019 posts) -

Braid. Every level had a simple elegant solution. 

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#4 Edited by GhostlyEnigma (272 posts) -
@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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#5 Posted by demontium (5084 posts) -
@bearshamanbro: You're almost factually wrong, but I guess there is a degree of opinion.
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#6 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -
@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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#7 Posted by MysteriousBob (6262 posts) -

Super Meat Boy.

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#8 Posted by ESREVER (2900 posts) -

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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#9 Posted by Smokay (543 posts) -

Super Meat Boy indeed

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#10 Edited by demontium (5084 posts) -
@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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#11 Posted by Gizmo (5467 posts) -

Arkham Asylum and Left 4 Dead come to mind.

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#12 Posted by lemon360 (1231 posts) -
@EpicSteve said:
" Halo Reach's multiplayer maps are solid. "
Far, far from the truth.
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#13 Edited by EpicSteve (6908 posts) -
@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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#14 Posted by Red12b (9360 posts) -


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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#15 Posted by rjayb89 (7811 posts) -

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

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#16 Edited by HitmanAgent47 (8553 posts) -

Oblivion, crysis, just cause 2, mass effect 2

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#17 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -

  @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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#18 Posted by EVO (4029 posts) -

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

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#19 Posted by Hosstile17 (838 posts) -

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

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#20 Posted by ShadowKnight508 (793 posts) -

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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#21 Posted by Heartbreak (294 posts) -

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

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#22 Posted by Valkyr (746 posts) -

Batman AA

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#23 Posted by Meteora (5844 posts) -

Final Fantasy XIII. 
 
Just run straight forward herp derp.

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#24 Posted by Akeldama (4361 posts) -

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

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#25 Posted by csl316 (14153 posts) -

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

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#26 Posted by jmfinamore (1092 posts) -

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

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#27 Posted by iam3green (14368 posts) -

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

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#28 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -

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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#29 Posted by Kjellm87 (1735 posts) -

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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#30 Posted by Doctorchimp (4190 posts) -
@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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#31 Posted by WickedFather (1694 posts) -

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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#32 Posted by Three0neFive (2397 posts) -

Street Fighter 4

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#33 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -
@WickedFather:  I was planning on picking Mass Effect 2 next month, doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement lol.
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#34 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -
@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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#35 Posted by JJWeatherman (14952 posts) -

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

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#36 Posted by Jack268 (3370 posts) -

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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#37 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7598 posts) -
@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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#38 Posted by bearshamanbro (294 posts) -
@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 Posted by Eristocrat (456 posts) -

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 Posted by zidd (1932 posts) -

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 (4266 posts) -

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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#42 Posted by Grissefar (2904 posts) -

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

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#43 Posted by JJWeatherman (14952 posts) -
@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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#44 Posted by mordi (582 posts) -
@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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#45 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5919 posts) -

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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#46 Edited by Skytylz (4140 posts) -
@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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#47 Posted by btman (1114 posts) -

Assassin's Creed.  'nuff said.

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#48 Posted by natetodamax (19466 posts) -
@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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#49 Posted by Pinworm45 (4069 posts) -

Nuketown. 
 
Not Black Ops. Just Nuketown.

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#50 Posted by A_Cute_Squirtle (868 posts) -
@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. "