God of War (PS2) | The Path of Hades Cheap? Don't be so weak. Legions of exasperated gamers whined that Kratos' escape from the bowels of Hell - complete with rotating columns of bladey cartilage, platforms of bone and two huge towers of spinning blades - was 'stupid', 'cheap' or 'toohardIwantmymummy!' but we loved it. The combat is uber-tough, the towers of spinning blades unforgiving, the platforming sections nail-biting, and the sense of achievement is massive. Sorry, but did anyone think that cheating death itself would be a cakewalk? Quit the whining and suck up the pain, people, because this section is perfect.
God of War II (PS2) | Atlas If there was one thing that God of War II did especially well, it was creating a convincing sense of massive scale - and nowhere did it do that better than in the Atlas stage. After a miles-long fall (most of which was spent beating the crap out of Icarus for his wings) Kratos finds himself near the center of the Earth, where he comes face to face with the Titan Atlas. Actually, that's not quite true; before Kratos can find Atlas' face, he's going to have to do a bit of climbing. Doomed tp forever bear the world on his shoulders, Atlas is the level, and Kratos will need to delve through his cavern-like veins and glide across the massive chains that hold the Titan in place.
Once that's through, it's time for a playable confrontation with Atlas, during which time you'll need to prevent him from squishing Kratos between his colossal fingers. It's a rare experience, being told off by a whole level, and we've never played through another stage that made us feel quite this tiny and insignificant. Filled with "whoa, wait, is that massive cliff actually Atlas' hand/cheekbone/armpit?" moments, the sheer scale of this level is one of the singular most impressive things the PS2 ever managed to pull off.
GoldenEye 007 (N64) | The Aztec level
This extra-tough, Moonraker-inspired, unlocked-after-you-beat-the-game bonus level was especially memorable for two reasons: first, because it let you get your hands on an ultra-powerful laser pistol for the first time, and second because OH SHIT IT'S JAWS WITH TWO MACHINEGUNS AIIIIGH GET AWAY GET AWAY GET AWAY oh cool he's dead.
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