Your Favorite Planet-Side Levels

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Post Aug 6th '12, 15:42

I'm bored. So here. Which of Bungie's original and of the third-party scenarios are the best terrestrial levels? Essentially looking for any level that is built on or below the surface of a planet â?? water, lava or even sewage texture set. Looking for nice geology, and integration of artificial with natural environment. Plenty to choose from, here. Let's round off this thing.

From Bungie's original trilogy:
Poor Yorick and Confound Delivery would be the obvious first choices for good terrestrial levels in Marathon Infinity. The facility feels well integrated. The architecture is complex and interesting, and the combat is challenging. With the ambient life bobbing around here and there, these two levels, along with the visual connection, feel like a real place. It's a pity a large (and important) section of Poor Yorick can be missed entirely, but oh well. These two have always held a special place.

Son Of Grendel is perhaps one of the most unsung levels of Marathon Infinity. It's an obscure level, but what's not to love? The level is full of clean and crisp architecture. The aesthetics are proof-quality. The way the level slowly comes together is a neat trick I'm not sure I've seen elsewhere â?? I'm always a fan of structured combat. The combat is intense but not difficult, per se, but the selling point for me is simply how beautifully this level was made, obviously with a lot of care and hard work. It shows. The level is believable; it seems integrated and purposed. Kudos on the designer.


From the third-parties:
Sodding The Logs and Wading In Vitriol, at least off the top of my head, seems to be the only Pfhor Prime levels that actually tip over into brilliance. Sodding The Logs is just so well presented. It seems like a believable place, with a purpose. The combat is wholesome, and the architecture pleasing. Wading in Vitriol certainly earns its place as the Pfhor topper. The level is presented powerfully: the architecture is grandiose and believably alien. Although for most of the level the combat is unsatisfying, the Throne Room makes up for it easily. So freaking awesome. On TC, the level as a whole really comes together as a worthy challenge and climax to the Pfhor plank.

Although Phoenix has a number of terrestrial levels, a couple do stand out above the rest. Count Of Tuscany is rightly universally applauded. The level is challenging and entertaining. The architecture and aesthetic presentation are top-notch, contrasting both open-air and cavernous, and natural and artificial. A tour de force. Neo New Mordor is another flagship Phoenix level, frankly massive and brimming with exploration prospect and fantastic design. What is more, the level seems like a real place, with purpose and care in its construction and integration with the natural stage. A Change Of Seasons and The Face Of Modern Gaming, which both follow similar architectural schemes, are two more quiet favorites of mine. Aside from engaging combat (on the latter especially) and aesthetic attention, how they are pulled off as believable places is what cinches it for me. They seem real, and how they are offset against the ubiquitous natural architecture is always something I try to emulate. Exercise in Excess and Holy Wars, again, play off sentient architecture against natural environment well indeed. Both are firm favorites. And the combat isn't so bad, either. :)

Tempus Irae's cornerstone level design has always been terrestrial, but then again, there are failures and successes in equal measure. My favorites (places designed with clarity, excellence and purpose) are Gates of Delirium, Downward Spiral and Brain Damage, all of which are well designed, complete and believable levels. A somewhat necessary accolade, considering the majority of TI is set on Earth. Fuck that switch-pillar, though. My first TI gaming experience ended right there.
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Post Aug 6th '12, 16:07

Tempus Irae and Rubicon had the coolest terrestrial levels simply because the planetside texture sets they had wasn't the snooze fest that was L'howon. Can't name a map off the top of my head. I liked Eternal's "Incredible Hulk" even though I think it took place on a moon or some other body, not a planet.

Post Aug 6th '12, 16:15

Marathon Phoenix/TGI levels.

Very naturalistic feeling architecture.

it had a real planetary feel to them, and alien-earth like.

The environments actually feel completely different from the rest of the trilogy.
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