Final bosses get too much credit. While an extravagant one on one battle to finish off a game can be incredibly satisfying, its often a well-crafted final mission that resonates with players more than a single showdown with any specific character. After all, it's never about the destination, but the journey, right?
Acting as a culmination and final challenge of all of the skills you've acquired over the course of a title, last levels have the ability to pay off narrative elements and gameplay mechanics that have been developing over an experience potentially tens of hours long. Aided by a full arsenal of skills and a thorough understanding of how the game works, final stages give the developer the ability to throw everything at the player, testing their ability at every moment with insane set-pieces and even better moments of player-driven anarchy.
Throw in more sophisticated elements such as a beautifully orchestrated score, a narrative hook or even an inventive gameplay twist and a game's final level has the ability to leave players with a jaw-dropping emotional last impression.
Whether it's the bombastic climax of Halo: Combat Evolved or the unassuming twist at the end of Red Dead Redemption, there are just some last levels no gamer will ever forget playing through.