Best single level/section of any game

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This question is not a broad "which game is best," but what sections really stood out to you in a game for being particularly excellent? It could be an amazing part of an otherwise terrible game, or the pinnacle of a good one.
For instance, my favorite section of any game is Surface Tension from the original Half Life. That part is pure adrenaline mixed with "thank God I'm finally freaking outside."

The section in Vanquish where you fight two Argus robots at once. That section is fucking amazing. Also the fight against the Gryphon at the Colosseum in Dragon's Dogma, awesome fight that is.

Splinter Cell Conviction was an alright game, but it didn't really feel Splinter Cell-ish. That is, until you break into Third Echelon and blow the place sky high. From the tension of the insertion into the parking garage, to the intensity of running into the halls and getting past the guards after the alarms went off, to the final rage of the building coming down around you, it was a perfect thing for Sam to be in at that moment. It really showed how unchained he was, and how intense his training from his former employer had been, since with that he brought down his former home. It felt like an end of an era.

Anyone who's played The Walking Dead knows this scene by its music (don't read comments to avoid spoilers)


So fucking cool.

Also while Bayonetta has its fair share of cool moments this one takes the cake:

The Temple of the Sun in Klonoa Door to the Phantomile.
Sooo good, Words can not express.
Watch for yourself.

The Brothel sequence in Planescape is probably good enough that I could even stretch that to an 'of all games' thing. No combat, you just enter a building with 10 people in it and you run from person to person uncovering layer after layer of mystery, using each new piece of information to get more information out of the next person...
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Then in Metal Gear Solid 4, all levels aren't equal and for me my favourite level was the dark raining one where you had to follow someone. It was a nice break from normal stealth play whilst still being stealth based and it looked amazing in that rainy setting. The challenges were really interesting, you're following a resistance member and suddenly some people try to arrest him, what do you do? Do you risk him being arrested or do you try to help him out? (But remember you can't allow him to know you're following him etc). And then later on he changes into a guard uniform and you have to track him by a whistling habit you need to note in an earlier part of the game.

Very atmospheric
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In the same series, I haven't completed Peace Walker yet, but the first level with the camouflage guys really impressed me. The MGS series really knows how to have variety as well as stealth. In this level, all of a sudden you#re not trying to avoid patrolling guards, but the enemy have sent in camouflage specialist who just hide themselves in the forest waiting to ambush you. And it's not fake invisi camouflage or anything either, they're just wearing appropriate uniform that makes them really hard to pick out in a forest.

It's tense, and the feeling is amazing when you look closely at a tree and realise that that bit of bush is actually the outline of a man with a gun waiting for you. And it gives a really good feeling when you manage to outflank a camo guy and get the drop on them
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Finally, emotionally, the Malik level of Deus Ex:Human Revolution (Got a bit of a stealth bias today. Maybe because I'm laying Alpha Protocol at the moment?), the strongest storypoint in the game and it doesn't even happen in a cutscene.

The end of the last level of Bastion, the section with Zulf...yeah its kinda awesome

Jupiter Underground in Call of Pripyat. Made it through the first time without losing anybody.
So. Goddamn. Tense.

ShinyCharizard:
The section in Vanquish where you fight two Argus robots at once. That section is fucking amazing. Also the fight against the Gryphon at the Colosseum in Dragon's Dogma, awesome fight that is.

Damn, those are two games I really want to try and play, along with Bayonetta again.

OT:
In CastleVania: Lords of Shadow. I loved the walk to the Vampire Castle. It just looked huge and beautiful.
The World Ends With You: The Final Boss Battle with that awesome music playin' in the background.
Shadow of the Colossus: I think it was the third or fourth Collosi, fighting on top of a giant disc in the air after climbing up? It was awesome.

Half Life 2. Our Benefactors. I get to do what was crossing my mind all throughout the game. Flinging combine soldiers around with gravity gun. No middle man like tables or toilets. Just me , my gun and the scum

I really love the sections in Gears of War where you have to stay in the light to avoid being devoured by the Kryll, it spiced things up and mixed up the pace really well. I missed the Kryll a lot in the sequels, throwing more enemies at you just doesn't have the same effect. This includes the final boss fight as well.

Also in Halo 3 my favourite section is the part where you get to fly hornets and drive scorpions and you take on two scarabs at once, I really love the vehicle sections in Halo games and that mission was just really epic with the large scale battles.

Ravenholm was really cool in Half Life 2, I've always been a big fan of horror themed things and the emphasis on using the gravity gun to manipulate your environment against your enemies instead of using conventional weapons was really cool. Very creepy atmosphere throughout the entire level.

The Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2

Everythings coming together, the choices you made previously in the game and the choices during the mission MATTER. The music Rises, Speeches are given, and shit gets real.

Will stick out in my mind as the best ending level in gaming (at least for me)

I think I'm in a minority on this one (my friend certainly disagrees with me, at the very least), but in the first Halo, my favourite moment comes at the very end, when you're driving your Warthog away from the imminent explosion of the ring, trying to get to the ship to get away. Something about that moment is just endlessly enjoyable for me. Likewise, in the third game, there's a similar moment, which I also enjoyed, but, again, my friend hated it.

But, as I've said before, my all-time favourite moment in any video game ever is in Ocarina of Time. The very first time you leave the Kokiri Forest for Hyrule Field, and you're gifted that scrolling, panoramic shot of the area. First time I saw that was the moment that ensured I'd be gaming for a long time. No other moment has resonated with me like that one did.

Really tough call, I tend not to remember sections, rather I remember moments. It would probably have me going way back to 1998 or something. The ending sections to Resident Evil for instance.. really pulse thumping.

By sections do you mean literally a linear section of gameplay? Most classic games didn't have those, and you were not thrust into a scene on rails. If any section applies, then probably the Silent Hill school, or Silent Hill 2 Hospital sequences.

I reckon Black Reach was awesome in Skyrim. It has a really nice atmosphere, and it's interesting hunting monsters and battling bosses in there. It was the only part that felt special in that whole game. I am disappointed with Skyrim, but this still deserves some love.

- The beginning of Super Metroid is still the greatest intro I've ever seen in a game.
- One of ther Colossi in SotC likes to chase you in a sand pit and that was very thrilling.
- I found this awesome boss named Ograoum Papas in Mr. Nutz (some classic games probably no one here ever played), and it's amazingly creepy. The music was great for the particular boss as well.

I can't give you an answer on some games. Metroid Prime and Half-Life 2 have too many great area's. I need to play them again.

Priority: Tuchanka. Starts off by giving you one of the most awesome weapons in the game, sends you into ancient krogan ruins, has excellent firefights against Reaper forces, and culminates in a frantic race to outrun Brutes and avoid a Reaper-Destroyer's legs from stepping on you so you can unleash a massive freaking thresher maw on it, followed up by one of the best scenes in a masterpiece of a game.

Ravenholm in Half Life 2.

Fucking creepy section with fast zombies and crazy shotgun-wielding preachers. Don't think any single other area has captured my mood or attention as well as that place.

Xdeser2:
The Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2

Everythings coming together, the choices you made previously in the game and the choices during the mission MATTER. The music Rises, Speeches are given, and shit gets real.

Will stick out in my mind as the best ending level in gaming (at least for me)

Aww I was going to say that.

Even though the level itself was just a slightly different iteration of the same old shooting galleries the whole game had revolved around it still somehow managed to create its own sense of apprehension and awe didn't it?

Like you said yourself as a culmination of your choices and experiences throughout the game they don't come much better than this.

And just so I have something different to bring I'll put forward...

The chapter in which you play hide and seek with your brother in Heavy Rain.

The Suicide Mission from ME2. The entire game was leading up to it, and it freaking delivered.

The airport level in Max Payne 3 should have won some kind of award, especially the part in the terminal because of the very fitting music.

Ravenholm is also a great one, however it isn't as memorable the second time through because you know where some of the spawns are, first time through it is a horrible and fun experience.

Also, being the last good part, Priority Earth from ME3 is a great sequence.

The boss fight on level 15 on Hotline Miami is a good one, although very frustrating, has great music.

Fighting Piggsy in Manhunt was also a great and horrible experience

Edit: Almost forgot, the beginning of Darkness 2 is good, the diner sequence and then the part when you first release The Darkness

I thought Saint's Row the Third, Mission 5 was toxic strength fun:

There's a level in ZOE 2, about 4-5 hours in, that consists of 5 warships and a boss-battle with a giant laser-shooting disco-ball. I hate the rest of the game except for a couple boss battles, but that level is what I want to see in a giant robot game that still hasn't been redelivered. Taking out multiple targets in any order you want (I think), and the level serves to introduce the wave-motion cannon of the game.

The first one that springs to mind is the Tranquility lane mission in Fallout3. It was so awesome, such a different feel from the rest of the game.

crimson sickle2:
There's a level in ZOE 2, about 4-5 hours in, that consists of 5 warships and a boss-battle with a giant laser-shooting disco-ball. I hate the rest of the game except for a couple boss battles, but that level is what I want to see in a giant robot game that still hasn't been redelivered. Taking out multiple targets in any order you want (I think), and the level serves to introduce the wave-motion cannon of the game.

I was gonna say the massive battle just before the final boss gauntlet, where you've got Vic Viper and 20 red shirts backing you up and there are so many enemies around it turns into a giant clusterf*ck.

That's my favourite part, especially when the solid line of enemy contacts appears on the radar.

tf2's hightower is magnificent except for the lag
castle crasher's necromancer fight is brilliantly difficult
hl2's renowned ravenholme is the ultimate in making me respect religious people
the lobby scene in half-life
the kitchen in octodad

Nazulu:
I reckon Black Reach was awesome in Skyrim. It has a really nice atmosphere, and it's interesting hunting monsters and battling bosses in there. It was the only part that felt special in that whole game. I am disappointed with Skyrim, but this still deserves some love.

Yeah, I was pretty staggered by the sight of it. I think a lot of that was due to the dull surface level stuff; I was so bored of seeing tundra and caves, this level completely caught me off guard. It happened at another point as well, where I went into a cave that turned out to have a beautiful enchanted forest glade inside.

Oh, and OT: the answer is the Thieves' Highway from Thief 2. There is a whole variety of game play to be had, from robbing a bank, listening to spats about party invitations, breaking into a super cathedral, and seeing two groups of guards argue each other to death. In fact, most of Thief and Thief 2 qualifies for top level design.

maninahat:

Nazulu:
I reckon Black Reach was awesome in Skyrim. It has a really nice atmosphere, and it's interesting hunting monsters and battling bosses in there. It was the only part that felt special in that whole game. I am disappointed with Skyrim, but this still deserves some love.

Yeah, I was pretty staggered by the sight of it. I think a lot of that was due to the dull surface level stuff; I was so bored of seeing tundra and caves, this level completely caught me off guard. It happened at another point as well, where I went into a cave that turned out to have a beautiful enchanted forest glade inside.

Oh yes. You're right. There was more. That's the part where nature turns on you after doing some thing, doesn't it?

Overall? The last bit of Bastion with Zulf, as previously mentioned.

More recently I got a huge kick out of Antichamber when:

I just sort of stared at the screen for a moment, then did it again and again.

to me, Priority: Tuchanka in ME3, especially the krogan ruins in the middle and the final rush
and then Card Castles in the Sky from Alice Madness Returns
I love the damn game, and that section is one I always look forward to being in whenever I play the game

Resident Evil 4 is filled with these memorable and fun sections:
- The opening village survival sequence
- Holding up in the cabin against zombie invasion
- Introduction to Regenerators sequence

Dragon Age as a series has it's share as well:
- The Landsmeet
- Dragon Age 2's Act 2 finale

While for certain people it might not be something you instantly admit to be mindblowing, I would label Tallon's "Overworld" from Metroid Prime to be the most most amazing section of any game. And by Overworld I mean the entire area around the place you land, not necessarily the very close ruins or the underwater levels. It's simply what you feel - the moment of leaving your ship, then walking and witnessing the endless beauty of everything you can see, hear and "touch" - that makes this certain area so outstanding.

If not for Metroid Prime's post-opening levels, I would either choose the entire last stage from Bastion, or the moments after the defeat of the second to last boss in Ys: Origin (using Yunica Tovah). Both sections use the most kickass music possible in the most perfect way possible and make you simply think NOW I MUST NOT FAIL... I CAN NOT FAIL.

Halo 3 - Fighting two Scarabs and multiple ground and, air vehicles with your choice of either a Hornet, Warthog or, Tank (or on foot if that's more your style)

Halo: Reach (or then entire franchise in my opinion) - Space Combat.

Final Fantasy: Crisis Core - The finale.

That's all I've got off the top of my head.

I nominate the first Runner Cop chase in Mirror's Edge. RUN FASTER! FAAAAAAASTERRRRRRRR!

I also nominate The Milkman Conspiracy from Psychonauts... all of it. Or the Water Chase from the Meat Circus of the same game.

Or the Kayaking bit of Tomb Raider III. Or the minecart sequences.

Or The Precipice from Rayman II.

HELP! THERE'S TOO MANY EPIC MOMENTS!

iwinatlife:
... last level of Bastion ...

bafrali:
Half Life 2. Our Benefactors. [...]

These good men speak the truth. The former for making me feel feelings, and the latter for making me feel like a total rampaging badass. Good times.

For my own contribution, I would say the "All Ghillied Up" sniper mission of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Say what you will about the game's successors, but that level in particular was an adrenaline rush. I know people overuse "literally" in day to day conversations, but when I say that my heart was literally doing double time, I mean it. Still one of my all time fondest gaming memories.

Let me list them now:

Far Cry 3: The weed burning mission. Dat mission.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Groznyj Grad (assuming I spelled that right) after getting tortured. Its pretty damn hard to sneak through it without detection WITH gear. Without it, however, its damn near impossible.

FTL: The random encounter where you are given a choice: Do you want to battle without oxygen, shields, or weapons? That is always fun.

Dishonored: There isn't really any "better" level, but I quite enjoyed the Hound pits pub mission.

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