You may or may not remember a feature we did some time ago titled the Video Game Level Hall of Fame, where we showcased and discussed some of our favorite single player missions or levels from video games. That got such a huge response, and I have no idea why I never followed up with it. Maybe because I am often too busy snacking on Fail crackers, or something. Who knows?
Anyway, I thought I’d remedy the situation by bringing a Hall of Fame feature back in full force, this time branching over into solo’s sister, multiplayer. Today, we’re taking a look at some of gaming’s best multiplayer maps of all time. Now, as before, this isn’t an end-all list, and it is not in any particular order. There will be several iterations of this feature, all highlighting different entries.
The first inductees into the Multiplayer Map Hall of Fame:
Mario Kart 64: Block Fort
If you were anything like I was back in the day, Mario Kart 64 was like some sort of bizarre drug addiction, constantly calling you back to partake in its hallucinogenic embrace. Battle mode was the sweet sauce that kept the game fresh again and again, and I remember drinking deeply of it every night of long and lazy summers with my friends. Every time I think back to these days of youth, Block Fort is the map that is burned into my memory, and I remember racing around those colored blocks and taking out foes with many a shell, no matter the color. Something about the simple layout along with the tiered altitude made it a perfect fit for four player split screen battles, with accusations of screen peaking galore.
Left 4 Dead: No Mercy
Zombies. Video games are full of them, and Left 4 Dead was the pinnacle of the walking (or running, if that’s your thing) dead experience. Valve’s team-based shooter was most memorable for one particular campaign, whether you were undertaking it in a co-op or multiplayer setting: No Mercy. This hospital of death level certainly lives up to its name in either instance, culminating in the epically insane rooftop battle while holding out for the helicopter. Smokers? Try your cheap glitch when I come out of the vent. Tank? Punch me off the roof. Either way, I’m going to have lots of fun battling it out as we do our damndest to get to the chopper.
Quake 3 Arena: The Longest Yard
I remember being a huge fan of Quake 2. Even on my crappy dial-up connection, I would join into servers and lag everything to pieces when I used cluster and nuke nade mods. People would yell at me, but I didn’t care. Doing this could only hold my interest for so long… until the arrival of Quake 3 Arena, and one of the coolest multiplayer maps I’ve ever played. The Longest Yard was the first map I ever saw for the game, and I remember being fascinated by its sheer velocity, its simplicity, and really awesome man cannons that catapulted players into vicious air jousts of total annihilation. If I still had this game, I would probably log on just to see this beauty in action again.
Halo: Blood Gulch
I know this is the terribly obvious thing to pick, but come on, you have to include it. Blood Gulch is probably the most iconic map in the iconic console FPS, and there’s an awesome reason for it: its size, and consequently, its vehicle combat. Sure, we had played with some great vehicle mechanics in Battlefield on our PCs, but Halo was something different. Blood Gulch was as expansive as it was fun, and consoles had never had anything like it. I still remember huge warthog and tank battles from college, plus LAN parties with capture the flag games that ran long into a school night. There was nothing quite like the exhilaration of pulling off a clean pistol headshot kill at long range to save the game, and few things still compare. Blood Gulch, we salute thee.
Battlefield: Wake Island
You thought I was going to leave this one off when you saw Blood Gulch, didn’t you? Sometimes I am a tricksy Hobbit. Anyway, you can’t talk about beautiful displays of multiplayer gaming masterpiece without talking about the Battlefield series. Battlefield is the first multiplayer game I can remember to bring enormous and very realistic huge battles to the table in a way that was so fun, accessible and chaotic. Wake Island’s vehicle encounters are some of the most enjoyable things I can remember to date. Who doesn’t remember running towards a capture point with planes flying over head, boats racing full of soldiers and sheer mayhem leaving the once peaceful isle in ruins?
Again, this was another obvious choice, but we might as well go ahead and get out of the way. Plus, I know it’s the second Valve map in the feature, but it certainly won’t be the last. Whenever I think of Counter-Strike, which still rates as my favorite multiplayer shooter of all time, I always think of De_Dust. This is the map that introduced me to CS, and it was the map that I always longed to play more of. I remember joining 24/7 De_Dust servers and playing this for hours on end in college, paying no heed to real life friends or my responsibilities. Every clash in those superbly designed tunnels was memorable, no matter how many times I continued to play it, and there are fewer highs in gaming so sweet as a successful bomb plant as one of the Ts. Sure, De_Dust2 was probably a better map. But this one was my favorite for a much longer period of time.
So there you have it, our first inductees into the Multiplayer Map Hall of Fame. Have you guys played the maps/games on this list? What are some of your favorite multiplayer maps for future consideration? Go!