Crafting a great game is all about design; ensuring that players can smoothly navigate the world you have created in a manner that is fun and sufficiently challenging. It’s harder to get right than you think, and this accounts for the glut of forgettable titles that pass through our hands in any given year.

To craft a truly memorable video game level, so many things have to be factored in – aesthetics, difficulty, pace, cinematic quality, shock factor, and in some of these cases, just some outright bonkers flourishes we would never have even thought of.

Whether they’re breathlessly exhilarating, heart-poundingly tense or just downright epic, these gaming levels have provided some of my most memorable gaming experiences to date, and I’m always on the lookout for another to burn itself into my mind.

Here are the 10 best video game levels of all time…

 

 

10. The Lost Valley – Tomb Raider

Playing through the new Tomb Raider recently got me thinking about the original game released on the PlayStation in 1996, which helped to redefine the 3D adventure game and make it what it is today.

Tomb Raider was a revolutionary title and this was made clear within minutes of picking up the controller, but there’s one mission early on that cemented this fact – the famed Lost Valley, which gets you to grips with some of the game’s tougher enemies.

Lara enters a cave and hears footsteps; is it another bear perhaps? No, it’s a velociraptor, who you promptly have to dispatch, but don’t let your guard down, because the best is yet to come.

Running forward towards the jungle reveals a giant T-Rex lying in wait, and if you were smart, you ran to the nearest alcove where you could fire at the beast from relative safety. Still, the combination of the terrifying music and the shock factor of having to face off against a big-ass dinosaur makes for one of my favourite gaming levels.

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This article was first posted on March 7, 2013