Content of the article: "Great games with one terrible level/mission? (Halo 1, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, etc)"
This game rules. It had nice colorful graphics for its time, likeable human and alien enemies, good atmosphere on some levels, cool vehicles, decent enemy AI, and fun guns like plasma grenades and a pistol do powerful it would make Dirty Harry jealous.
Unfortunately, right around the middle of the campaign you get to see how NOT to design a Halo level with The Library. This level has no marines, no Covenant, no vehicles, no atmosphere due to being Zerg-rushed the whole level (whereas the previous level and later levels did a good job of doling out Flood bit by bit, leaving you guessing where they'd be), Guilty Spark and his drones are boring company, everything looks the same, it drags on and on, its just a miserable experience. This type of level would work in a fast-paced run and gun Id Software game, but Halo established itself as a slower, more tactical game where a single mistake can mean death. The Flood can either be awesome or suck depending on how they are used. The following level, The Two Betrayals, is awesome because its Flood vs Covenant vs Chief, but Flood vs Chief alone is boring. I wouldn't hate this level as much if Halo 1 wasn't one of my favorite games of all time, but because I love Halo, I hate this level for holding it back from perfection.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Another one of my favorite games of all time, and I love it. THIS is how you take an ancient game series and update it for a new decade (and the first of TWO amazing reboots, the next one being The New Order, and don't ask me which of the two I prefer!). It really has all the elements of Wolfenstein 3D, but to update it for the 2000's, they took elements from Wolf 3D's children Quake and Goldeneye 64 and merged them into the Wolfenstein formula. You get the fast-paced, atmospheric shooting of Quake combined with the stealthier and more thoughtful mission objectives of Goldeneye. Its the "thinking-man's Id Software-style shooter". RTCW is at its best when the Goldeneye and Quake sides of the game are merged together into the same mission.
However, one massive flaw is they dropped the ball on the first of two stealth missions: The Forest Compound (the second stealth mission much later in the game is actually pretty fun with minimal bullshit, but The Forest Compound is badly-designed). The Forest Compound will make any fan of Splinter Cell, Thief, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Hitman or Metal Gear Solid have an aneurysm. Its a stealth level where you have to figure out what the developers want you to do, rather than thinking for yourself how to complete the mission. Its very hard to tell how visible you are, how silent your attacks are, or how sharp the Nazis' field of view is. Sometimes they'll seemingly randomly detect you for no reason. Sometimes silenced weapon attacks can kill Nazis without alerting anyone, sometimes the exact same attacks will for some reason. There are several guard towers and you have no way to know if they can see you until its too late.
to help you out, and you can follow it diligently beat-for-beat, and STILL fail the mission for one reason or another.
The real pain is that you need to keep one specific guard at the end alive AND unalerted, and what triggers his alert status seems to vary randomly and unpredictably. The game won't even give you a game over screen if he's alerted; you won't know until you've reached the very end of the mission if he's seen or heard you, and if you can't enter the truck, you'll have to reload a previous save, and pray that it it takes place before you alerted the guard. I had to restart the whole level FROM SCRATCH at times because I saved after I somehow alerted that guard. One theory I've read is that the key is to snipe the guard on the water tower while he's standing at a certain angle (facing left of the main gate), and this will prevent the final guard from being alerted, but I've seen other Youtubers snipe the guard while he's standing elsewhere and somehow complete the mission.
This mission needed more time in the oven or should've been scrapped completely. RTCW's stealth works in small enclosed or urban areas (which is why the second stealth mission is good), but they couldn't figure out how to make it work in a wide outdoor sniper level. I love RTCW and I hate this level for marring its overall quality. Never include a forced stealth level into a game unless you're certain the stealth mechanics actually work well for that level's design.
What are some amazing games that have one awful level?
- Just Beat Halo 1 on the MCC and I’m Very Disappointed
- I finally played Halo: Combat Evolved!
- Recommending RealRTCW, a mod to Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) released on Steam
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