Just because it’s the year’s biggest game doesn’t guarantee it a place on our coveted Top 7 lists. No, Cliffhanger makes it this high for strong, demonstrable reasons that come across easily when captured by the cold, unforgiving stare of screenshots.
Above: Begins with you and Soap kickin’ it on a cliff, ready to infiltrate a snowy mountain base
Above: Whoa! You lose your grip, only to be nabbed at the last second. Scary, sure, but check out all the powder collecting on your jacket and his face
Above: An incoming storm blocks you from view, bringing in drifts and high winds that rustle these flags in a convincing display of winter tech
Above: Hard to see, right? The wind really sells it here, ripping across this runway like a banshee, making life miserable for you and those poor dudes walking in the distance
Essentially, it’s the most “wintery” of anything on this list. Cliffhanger is just one mission in a game choked with content, but it’s easily one of the most memorable. From scaling the walls in the opening to the blizzard-cloaked infiltration, the snow and wind pierce the fourth wall with their relentless onslaught of below-zero torture, making you feel just as cold and worn out as your in-game counterparts.
Above: Oh and you ride this kickass snowmobile
Need more snow-minded slaughter? Check Contra: Shattered Soldier’s opening level, in which you scream down a mountain on a hoverboard while being chased by a giant worm. In any other game that would sound overboard… but for Contra, that’s just a miniboss.
Up to this point we’ve been considering snow levels and the authenticity of their wintry experience. Metal Gear beats them all by not just having a snow level, but an entire snow state, as the untamed Alaskan outdoors are one of the most prominent figures in the entire game. True, they get lost in the shadows of characters like Psycho Mantis and daring missions involving walking nuclear tanks. But if you stop for five seconds and appreciate what’s on display, you’ll find a desolate, uncompromisingly harsh environment.
Above: First stop – this blustery base, kicking snow and wind all over
Above: Right from the start you’re dealing with extreme conditions
Above: The snow doesn’t let up for boss fights, either
And that’s just the first hour. Every new area houses another standout gameplay experience bolstered by the expertly crafted Alaskan wilderness. We asked “what’s a great snowy moment in MGS?” and realized there isn’t one… it’s the whole game.
Above: Though this is certainly a contender
Next to no one remembers Bomberman 64. That’s the primary reason we’re giving its topsy-turvey White Ice level a shout out – because who else will?