8 of the Coolest Set-Pieces in Video Games

8 of the Coolest Set-Pieces in Video Games

These eight set-pieces are some of the best we've seen in videogames.

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Watching yourself get turned into a Strogg in Quake 4, including having your limbs sawn off and replaced with mechanical ones. God of War 3, flying up and down that chain, and actually being in control instead of just making it a QTE. 4000 Degrees Kelvin.

I'd also nominate:
The final level of "Painkiller". One of the coolest depictions of hell I've ever seen, where you go through various horrible moments throughout history (WW1, the Crusades, the atomic bomb, etc.). Really memorable and cool.

The first time you set foot in Anor Londo in Dark Souls.

The Chaos Sanctuary, Diablo II. A hellish and perverted version of a Cathedral, super cool looking and appropriate for the final battle.

The Garden of Eden, Darksiders. Easily one of the coolest environments I have ever seen in a video game.

Fallout 3 had a few; Deploying Liberty Prime, the UFO battle (Zeta expansion).

THQ's Space Marine where the spire was suspended in mid air by the Warp portal.

Should have appended the title with "in recent games," I'm sure there are other amazing setpieces/sequences from previous games that could have made the list. (Also I thought "setpieces" referred to the environments, not cutscene sequences)

So let's see...Off the top of my head...?

The first "mini-boss" fight of Transistor. It's the first time you encounter a Jerk. Right after having the first bit of exposition about Red's voice, you fight a few waves of enemies and your first Jerk to the haunting sound of Red singing "The Spine." It's an absolutely beautiful little sequence that makes for a great hook into the game and still gets me, even on replays. (Also the ambush by the second Jerk is still one of my favourite little jokes in the game, just when you think you can leave to the next screen it chases you back into the arena!)

If we're including cutscenes: The very first cutscene encounter with Dark Samus in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Seeing your own silhouette appropriated so suddenly, then following it into an even stranger scene: a swirling purple sky, phazon, the other you, and the weird spidery Ing loitering around...It really shocked me the first time, a genuine WTF moment that really drew me in. It also teases the future environments and enemies nicely, and serves the Metroid perennial purpose of robbing you of all your good gear early game.

That's all I've got for now...

I'd like to ask around what people consider to be set piece moments, actually. For instance, I wouldn't call the entry from MGS4 one because that's more or less a regular bossfight: you can try out different tactics, will have to master some skills if you want to beat it on anything other than easy and such.
I always thought set-piece moments are barely playable sequences that you can hardly fail, if at all, and that have only one exact possible way to the end. Or where player input doesn't matter at all.

Silent Hill 3 had a couple that I still remember, like the big mirror room, the carousel or the long hallway with the ascending and descending gates, forcing you onto one path like a rat in a maze.

If you like nuclear blasts so much, how about F.e.a.r ending?

If a longer time is allowed, i would say the ocean hotel in vampire masquerade: bloodline. I can't remember if you could die, but it was creepingly good staged.

The HL2:EP2 Portal Storm at the start of the game and subsequent bridge collapse is a rather cool set piece considering that just a few minutes ago you were on that very bridge after a derailment. Watching that shockwave head towards you from the ruins of the citadel really rams home the point that some SERIOUS stuff is about to go down.

Another good setpiece moment would be the final battle in that game, driving around the map and trying to hold off what can only be described as a nearly suicidal assault by an army of striders, hunters and combine foot soldiers.

truckspond:
The HL2:EP2 Portal Storm at the start of the game and subsequent bridge collapse is a rather cool set piece considering that just a few minutes ago you were on that very bridge after a derailment. Watching that shockwave head towards you from the ruins of the citadel really rams home the point that some SERIOUS stuff is about to go down.

Another good setpiece moment would be the final battle in that game, driving around the map and trying to hold off what can only be described as a nearly suicidal assault by an army of striders, hunters and combine foot soldiers.

How about playing hide-and-go-seek with a Gunship as it blasts away the roof of the attic that's serving as your cover?

"Jesus, Gordon, you're a real terror!" You said it, Alyx.

The Rogue Wolf:

truckspond:
The HL2:EP2 Portal Storm at the start of the game and subsequent bridge collapse is a rather cool set piece considering that just a few minutes ago you were on that very bridge after a derailment. Watching that shockwave head towards you from the ruins of the citadel really rams home the point that some SERIOUS stuff is about to go down.

Another good setpiece moment would be the final battle in that game, driving around the map and trying to hold off what can only be described as a nearly suicidal assault by an army of striders, hunters and combine foot soldiers.

How about playing hide-and-go-seek with a Gunship as it blasts away the roof of the attic that's serving as your cover?

"Jesus, Gordon, you're a real terror!" You said it, Alyx.

Yeah, that's another good moment.

I just thought of another one - the hoverboat helicopter chase in HL2.

K.ur:
If you like nuclear blasts so much, how about F.e.a.r ending?

If a longer time is allowed, i would say the ocean hotel in vampire masquerade: bloodline. I can't remember if you could die, but it was creepingly good staged.

You can. Getting clipped by the elevator is an instant death. You can be burned to death by the steam pipes. I think you can die in the kitchen and boiler rooms, but I'm not 100% sure about those.

Amen to the Trench Run. Rogue Squadron II was the game that PERFECTED the cinematic Star Wars dogfight- not as in-depth and technical as the likes of X-Wing or TIE Fighter, just sheer, balls-out, arcadey, "you are really there" thrills. The assault on the 2nd Death Star from the same game, an event so big it had to be split into 2 seperate levels (Battle of Endor and Strike at the Core) was almost as good, although they didn't quite spark the same magic as the flawless trench run conversion. Strike at the Core was particularly insane, especially if you tried it with the Falcon rather than Wedge's X-Wing (one thing's for sure, it gives you a new respect for Lando Calrissian's piloting skills).

As far as other game set pieces? The Garden War from Final Fantasy VIII. Balamb and Galbadia Gardens, both taking to the air and clashing in a huge war sequence. Galbadian bikers launching a coordinated jump to land on Balamb Garden, running through an active FMV warzone where SEED students clash with Galbadian soldiers, the two Gardens ramming into each other, and the desperate race against time to save Rinoa from falling to her death. Thrilling. I don't think any other FF game has equaled that sequence at any stage. Although the bit where your party use the airship to crash Yuna's wedding in FFX by skating down the boarding cables was pretty wild.

Or for the TRULY retro, the first encounter with the Cyberdemon at the end of the 2nd episode of DOOM- the Tower of Babel. An army's worth of weapons and powerups waiting for you at the start. The corpses of Barons of Hell nailed to the doors leading out of the starting area. A single, huge, hexagonal open-air arena with the titular tower in the middle. A few scattered Lost Souls to deal with. And then... KA-SHUNK, KA-SHUNK, KA-SHUNK, KA-SHUNK [I]*ROOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAR!!!*[/i] Hell has come for you, armed with a rocket launcher. The Spider Mastermind just couldn't compare.

 

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