Everyone knows that water levels are rubbish. As soon as any games takes itself beneath the waves, it’s a sure sign that trouble isn’t too far away. On the other hand, if you freeze that water, not only do you turn your game into a winter wonderland, you get some pretty memorable set pieces too. Here are five of our favourites, let us know yours.
Cliffhanger – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 is the proud owner of one of the most ridiculous narratives in videogames. In one of its subtler, more subdued set pieces, you have to break into an airbase and steal back a technological maguffin for the good of the American people. Cue lots of jumping over precipices, sneaking around in blizzards and an absurdly implausible snow mobile chase. This is FPS action gaming at its explosive finest, and set Infinity Ward out as masters of cliched, army man fun.
Hoth – Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II
Some people might tell you that recreating the Death Star assault from the end of A New Hope is the best part of Rogue Leader. These people are fools. Hurtling over the icy planes of Hoth is the real star of the show, dragging down AT-ATs with your grappling hook. As the battle for the planet rages below, your snow speeder takes out walkers and infantry alike. Nothing looks better than the flash of red laser over pure white snow, except the satisfying Imperial explosion at the end of it.
Ice Cap Zone – Sonic The Hedgehog 3
The level that set the tone for ice based platforming. It has everything you’d expect: snowboarding, avalanches, spiky ice crystals, evil robot penguins and more snow than you can shake a stick at. Ice Cap Zone features everything that made Sonic great, from break neck speed sections to pixel perfect platforming and fiendish hidden power ups. NB: Image by Nahte.
Snowboarding – Final Fantasy VII
Despite its heavy ecological overtones, sudden character deaths and overwrought emotional rollercoaster of a central narrative, FF7 did find some time for moments of levity. Probably because it was so bloody long. One of the best is the snowboarding section just after Shell Village. Plummeting down a mountain, your spiky hair remaining remarkably intact, it’s a moment you can replay over and over thanks to the arcade machines in the Golden Saucer. It doesn’t make up for Aeris’s death, but it beats breeding Chocobos for hours on end.
Sniper Wolf – Metal Gear Solid
The snowy climate surrounding Shadow Moses makes for some interesting gameplay mechanics, but there’s something poignant about having a snipe-off in the middle of a snowfield. Kojima always manages to make characters of his villains: you’re not just trying to kill another identikit soldier, you’re trying to kill a person. Here an old fashioned duel is replaced by a patient, long range battle of wills, all framed by a crisp coating of the white stuff. War is hell, and in Metal Gear Solid, hell is freezing over.
Like this? Then check out our Christmas films which should be games article