The Top 7… games with fantastic flashbacks that give amnesia the middle finger

1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

The level: All Ghillied Up/One Shot, One Kill

Just like Robert De Niro told us as we were wistfully staring into his ice cold eyes in The Deer Hunter, the ‘One shot’ rule is a pretty good way to live. Namely, do everything perfectly the first time you try it or you’re royally screwed.

Above: If it's good enough for Bobby, it's good enough for us

This is something a young Captain Price clearly took to heart in Modern Warfare’s incredible Chernobyl flashback missions, when he takes evil Ruskie Imran Zakhaev’s arm off with one bullet. Or eh, several if, like us, you f*cked up the shot fourteen times on the spin.

Sniping your target from the best part of a mile away, though, is just a small part of what surely has to rank as one of the best paced FPS levels ever. Set in 1996, when Price was but a humble leftenant, you’re guided through Chernobyl’s grassy fields and wastelands by the most awesome man in Scottish history not to go by the name of Rab C. Nesbit.

Above: Sorry Rab, our hearts belong to the captain

Captain MacMillan doesn’t just look good in a ghillie sniper suit. He’s also a soothing, admittedly murderous, presence as he guides you through treacherous enemy terrain. He tells you when to hide in long grass. Informs you when you should take a shot. And mostly importantly, shouts at you to eat dirt when you both get accosted by a small army packing tanks.

Above: We sooo could have taken them

Of course, you could simply ignore his advice and do things your own way. After all, you’re Captain goddamn Price, owner of the finest military moustache ever to fight in any video game war. What could possibly go wrong?

On second thoughts, we’ll stick with the Scottish bloke.

Why it’s a fab flashback: Simply put, they're among two of the best FPS levels ever.

Pacing. That’s the key to COD 4’s best two levels. Radically different to any other part of the game (and arguably the franchise up until that point), the stealth-driven assassination mission is a master class in level design and scripting.

Unlike Black Ops, you always feel like you’re in control. And even though both levels are heavily scripted, the action remains incredibly tense, because it’s easy to screw things up at anytime. When you have to crawl past all the guards and tanks. When you have to take the sniper shot against Johnny Terrorist. When you desperately defend your position at the big wheel. It’s all brilliant heart-in-mouth stuff because Infinity Ward perfected the balance between player freedom and cinematic scripting.

Above: From the attempted hit to your eventual extraction, this is COD at its most breathless and thrilling

It’s not all spectacular helicopter chases or rappelling from exploding buildings, either. All Ghillied Up, in particular, is packed with small, quiet moments, which pay tribute to Chernobyl’s nuclear tragedy. No moment sums this up more eloquently than when you’re staring out at the deserted city from a dilapidated building. As MacMillian comments that ‘50, 000 people used to live in this city, but now it’s a ghost town’, you hear the faint, ghostly laughter of children on the wind. It’s a scene which shows Infinity Ward can nail small cinematic moments just as well as blowing shit to a kingdom named Come.

Above: Hey, we can appreciate the quiet moments... we just like the 'shooting men's spleens' moments more

Although, to be fair, the helicopter chases and rappelling bits do send our thumbs all a quiver with their awesomeness.

Above: Our thumbs are shaking as we type

So there you have it, our favourite flashback ever. Now, lets raise our deep-fried Mars Bars in honour of MacMillan’s heroics.

Dec 6, 2010

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