4. Chamber of the Flame Mortal Kombat 2011
Since the beginning of Mortal Kombat history, there has been one ruled that has stayed true throughout the years: You play MK for the gory fatalities.
The stage fatalities are satisfying enough (who can forget the first time you uppercut Scorpion causing him to fly like Charlie Brown missing the punt into a pit of spikes?), but when MK2011 introduced Kratos' stage, the gang at NetherRealm really kicked it up a notch. In fact, you could say they kicked it up three notches.
Earning a fatality gave you the option of picking one of three ways to send your opponent on the fast track to the underworld: impaling them with Olympian spears, burning their limp skeleton to a crisp, or their severed body parts being smashed to smithereens by three separate pillars.
A stage truly worthy of the Gods.
3. Gold Rush Team Fortress 2
Valve got it right straight out of the gate. Gold Rush was the guinea pig for a new style of payload gameplay: RED team tries to stop the other team from pushing a mine cart full of explosives through a deserted mining town to reach the other side of the map. This is another one of those rare, near-perfect balanced multiplayer maps rounds with equally matched teams can spend hours volleying back and forth for position.
Every class has a role to play and feels like they are actually contributing, whether it's the Scout obnoxiously running laps around the bomb-cart or the Heavy covering the lil guy's ass by sacrificing his grizzly bear physique to take a brunt of Sniper arrows. Gold Rush demands that everyone pulls their weight or else risk exploding in a shower of your own giblets.
2. Facing Worlds Unreal Tournament
Sometimes the simplest maps make for the best maps. And it doesn't get a great deal simpler than Facing Worlds, a map like Team Fortress 2's 2 Fort and Halo's Blood Gulch that could be boiled down to two bases and not much in-between (except some bitchin' theme music). Two bases, one victor, no pussyfootin'.
And best of all, everyone seems to have their own personal memories of this level that defined some of their earliest gaming days. Most of the time, we would play it on low-grav servers so you could leap off the huge tower and headshot the unfortunate in mid-air. You could snipe someone during a slow fall, bunny hop to the other base and be back to yours before your Bagel Bites were finished nuking in the microwave. The very essence of multiplayer productivity.
1. Archives with Rockets GoldenEye 007
This is it. Everyone seems to have their own choice for best scenario in GoldenEye some will say it's the Complex with Remote Mines, some with say it's the Library with the Golden Gun, while some horrible jerks say Caverns Slappers Only. They're wrong.
The eminent, lurking danger of The Archives was unparalleled. Narrow hallways and tight corners caused enough anxiety that the controller would slip from your slick, sweaty palms. And if that wasn't stressful enough, you introduced rockets to the mix. You would round a corner and the shrieking, high-pitched whir of a rocket would instantly cause an involuntary shriek, that would rival a banshee, to escape from your throat. Shit was intense and more fun than you could shake a Golden Gun at.
Taking cover in an office, barely missing a rocket whizzing by your face (or over your head if you're one of those rat-bastards who played as OddJob) while glass shards exploded all around made you feel like John-fucking-McClane. It doesn't get much better than that.