Perhaps, it’s uncouth to enjoy a map based on an actual wartime battleground where valiant men lost their lives, but seriously, Wake Island FTW! The crescent moon map was the first level released as a multiplayer demo for the full version of Battlefield 1942, and its popularity has shown minimal decrease even as it’s just surpassed its seventh anniversary.
Above: Wake Island, as seen through the modern equipment in Battlefield 2
Of course, part of that is due to its successful inclusion in numerous other editions of the Battlefield series, including a modernized version for Battlefield 2 and a welcome revisitation in the recently released BF 1943. But hey, how many gameplay environments see that kind of longevity and attention that aren’t populated by green pipes and koopa troopas?
Above: WAR! This is what it’s good for
Something about the desperate grasp for consistently fluctuating spawn points over the semi-circular atoll never seems to go out of style. With a bountiful selection of respawning vehicles at the players’ (quite literal!) disposal, beaches to storm, payloads to drop, as well as the occasional instance of long-swim subterfuge, Battlefield’s most iconic map is one of the most frantic and hilarious multiplayer scenarios one can have over the interwebs. It perfectly encapsulates all the best moments from every WWII movie you’ve ever seen in playable, bitesized chunklets so varied most players may never even experience them all.
8. Battle Course 4 | Super Mario Kart
Entry by Brett Elston, Executive Editor
Mario Kart and its genre-defining battle mode first appeared on the SNES, and of the four available maps (all of which were decent), Course 4 was the one we played time and time again. Color-coordinated right angles make it an optimal dueling experience, as you’re able to quickly slide behind the walls to deflect incoming turtle shells or tossed banana peels. An expert driver can literally run circles around a lesser opponent, primarily thanks to the simple but effective design of these playschool-colored structures.
If Mario Kart had a built-in timer, we’re confident our combined time spent on just this map would be measured in months. Every match was stuffed with split-second wins (or losses) due to veering left instead of right, or using a feather to hop over the edge of the level, avoiding a homing red shell altogether. I know for a fact that I spent New Year’s Eve 1993 playing 200+ matches of just this map, and vastly prefer it to anything from the 2000-era Mario Karts.
7. Crash | Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Entry by Tyler Wilde, Features/Community Editor
None of CoD 4’s maps are absolute black sheep. Not everyone likes every map, obviously, but they all have fans, and that makes it tough to determine which should be called the best. I chose Crash because it’s one of the most balanced maps, and it certainly never gets skipped.
Above: The making of our favorite CoD 4 map
It’s my personal favorite, because as anyone who has played with me in one of GamesRadar’s marathons knows, I’m a snipey bitch, and Crash suits that excellently. Not only are there plenty of sexy rooftops for me to pitch my tent on, the balance of the map prevents my assault-rifle-loving friends from bitching that it’s a “sniper map.” No excuses!
Above: No one knows where Crash got its name
6. Gold Rush | Team Fortress 2
Entry by Tyler Nagata, Senior PC Editor
Forget about control points and flags. The cart is all that matters in Team Fortress 2’s Gold Rush. If you’re on the attacking side, you’ll have to work with your teammates to push the cart forward through checkpoints until it reaches the enemy base. If you’re on the defending team, you’ll need to do everything you can to stop it.
It’s a brutal tug-of-war that’s filled with flying rockets, devious backstabs, and deadly turret fire. But even though Gold Rush seems like random chaos, you always feel like you’re playing with purpose. Whether you’re setting up sticky bombs, laying down suppressing fire around the cart, or clearing paths on the sides of the cart’s tracks, it always seems like you’re doing important work for the collective cause.
That’s why Gold Rush is one of the best maps of all time. No matter how many times you died, it always feels like you were the most valuable player on your team. Killing, dying, and feeling good about it - that’s how it should be.
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