You ever found an in-game location you felt had an incredible atmosphere, looked stunning, had a lot to do within it or just seemed like the kind of place you wished you could visit IRL if it were real? This is the topic for these locations. It can be one particular level, a bunch of levels in a single zone, a tiny place within a huge game world, or even an entire game world if you want. If you thought the place was awesome, then it fits. So here's my personal Top 10 In-Game Locations, one per series: 10. Skyloft in Skyward Sword for me was a good example of how important first impressions can be. I've always found the starting zones in Zelda games to be rather underwhelming in every other Zelda game I've played, but Skyloft I thought looked pretty awesome right from the start. For one thing, the place is a bunch of islands floating above the clouds; enough said there. Secondly, the place seems to have much more to it than most of the other starting zones. Ocarina's starting zone was bland and dull to me, and while Wind Waker's looked nice there really wasn't a whole lot to it. Skyloft however looks very good, has a lot of stuff in it and actually seems to be a useful place throughout most of the game, rather than just being "The place where you start." 9. Johto is my favourite Pokemon region of the lot, even beating Hoenn by a fine margin if only due to the fact that I just liked Gold/Silver far more than Ruby/Sapphire. The region's oriental style was something I found unique and interesting in a game when I first played Pokemon Gold as a kid, and while this may be a bit of a nostalgic addition I still feel Johto deserves a spot here at the very least. It beats out Skyloft for being an entire region rather than just the starting zone. 8. Mission 8: A Renewed Fear in Devil May Cry 3 sees Dante get swallowed by the Leviathan circling the Temen-Ni-Gru tower, and thus the entire mission takes place inside the Leviathan's body. The atmosphere here is dark, ominous and creepy, rightfully so since you're inside a monster's body, but what earns this level a place is a simple graphical distortion effect that somehow makes the entire place seem that much more menacing. It's not the first time Devil May Cry has used a graphical ripple or blur within a level to make it seem more frightening, but considering you spend parts of this level being chased down by a gigantic demon worm, this level comes off as being more frightening than the other levels that employed this effect, if only due to the others simply looking terrifying but otherwise not being all that threatening gameplay-wise. 7. Icon of Sin is the name of the level containing Doom II's final boss, who is also named "Icon of Sin" unofficially by fans of the series. There's not a whole lot to the level really since it's just two rooms, one of which contains the boss. That second room is a brilliant example of "simple yet effective" though, since the darkened room itself gives the final boss an intimidating aura of power and makes you feel like you're up against something far more dangerous than anything you've faced before. It's a simple level, but it does what it needs to do perfectly. 6. Facing Worlds is the classic Capture the Flag level of the Unreal Tournament series, and if Icon of Sin is a great example of "simple yet effective" then Facing Worlds defines that expression. The entire level is basically two large towers joined by a long, straight stretch of rock, all of which is floating in the middle of space. Each team starts in one of the towers and has to run along that strip of land to get to the other tower and take the enemy's flag. The end result is usually a massive all-out brawl in the middle of the map, while snipers in the towers score headshots against both the people on land down below and the enemy snipers in the opposite tower. With a whole bunch of people playing these levels are amazingly good fun to play as both as a defending sniper and as a ground attacker, and I honestly wouldn't pick any other map in UT for a Capture the Flag game. 5. Asian Town is MadWorld's parody of China Town I guess, even though it parodies mostly Japanese stereotyping. For this level to even make it on this list at all is impressive considering MadWorld's, well...sparse use of colour to say the least, but what it lacks in colour it makes up for by being hilariously funny at times, having a ton of ways to torture and murder your enemies, and for having some of the best music tracks in the entire game. Put simply, this place has a mechanical giant that ends up eating one of the level bosses with its chopsticks, a tour bus coated with spikes for the single purpose of impaling enemies onto, and finally a cutscene containing such a blatant and stupid sterotype it manages to be one of the funniest I've ever seen in a game. It may not look like much, but Asian Town is one MadWorld level I'll never, ever get tired of playing through. 4. Inside Sin from Final Fantasy X is...well, exactly that; you're inside Sin, the giant monster you've been working all through the game to defeat. Unlike the leviathan that swallows you in Devil May Cry though, "Sin" appears to contain a large, misty sea that you can somehow walk on the surface of, a massive but empty city (besides all the monsters that attack you of course,) a very weird and twisted location containing a rather simple mini-game, and finally an illusion of the ruined Zanarkand. It's an odd yet very dark and forbidding place that manages to build up to the final climax of the game extremely well. 3. GFS Valhalla from Metroid Prime 3 manages to do all that even better than FFX though. You hear about an attack on this ship right at the start of the game, and the discovery of the ruined ship is quite a surprise mid-way through the game. When you arrive there to investigate exactly what happened, you're treated to quite possibly the best example of a sci-fi ghost ship in any video game ever. All the ship's crew are dead, and the disintegrating bodies of several of the attacking space pirates can be found as well; the only living creatures on the ship besides yourself are several Phazon monsters and a lot of Metroids, all of which love to ambush you in packs from out of the walls. The eerily dark, blood red hue of the ship's interior adds to the fact that you know something terrible has happened here, and the ship is still very dangerous even now. As you progress through the game, gradually restoring power to the Valhalla to access more of the ship, you eventually come to realize that the events that took place here were more terrible than anyone realized, as explained by a final message left by the ship's missing Aurora Unit in the last room. Did I mention the music in this place? It's awesome, and adds a ton to the level's already very sinister atmosphere. GFS Valhalla honestly couldn't have been made better. 2. Aperture Science Laboratories in Portal 1 - all of it - is a perfect example of how a game environment can end up being so much more than the sum of its parts. Portal 1 to me is a rather modest game that simply existed to put over a unique and interesting game mechanic in the form of the Portal Gun. The levels are simple and rather bland and featureless besides the puzzles at a glance, but when actually playing the game this seeming blandness becomes an unsettling emptiness that makes you feel the place is hiding some kind of terrible secret. The fact that the only other sound besides your own footsteps and the Portal Gun firing is a set of seemingly pre-recorded messages that direct you through the test chambers adds to the cold, empty nature of Aperture...and then you realize those pre-recorded messages were not only not pre-recorded, but are also trying to murder you. Yup, that was GLaDOS speaking the whole time, and with her sinister, computerized voice being your only company within the empty, lifeless laboratories, you'll end up feeling even more isolated when that company turns out to be an insane murderer who wants you dead. In Portal 2's attempt to flesh itself out and make itself feel like more of a "full game" than Portal 1, it actually lost this atmosphere almost entirely in the process, with only Old Aperture really coming close to achieving the atmosphere Portal 1 had, so unfortunately only Portal 1 can lay claim to this spot despite Portal 2 taking place in the exact same location. 1. Outland wins No.1 here by a mile. For those that don't know, it's the third continent in World of Warcraft made available in the Burning Crusade expansion. First of all, the buildup; the Dark Portal leading to Outland had been in World of Warcraft since the start, but was completely impassable at first and guarded by a powerful demon boss, so even then the game made you wonder just what lay on the other side. The answer is the most beautiful in-game environment I've ever seen, despite (probably because of, actually) the fact that "Outland" is the shattered and ruined remains of a world once named "Draenor." You're greeted instantly upon crossing the Dark Portal by an army of Alliance and Horde troops battling together against an army of demons led by a Pit Commander, arguably the largest creature in the entire game at the time not including any raid bosses - awesome first impression right there to say the least. After that, you're left to explore the best-looking zones in the entire game, by far; from the ominous and sinister Hellfire Peninsula where you start to the equally dark Shadowmoon Valley, both of which show just how utterly broken this world is, to the beautifully relaxing Terrokar Forest and Nagrand zones that give an idea of just what Draenor might have been like before it was torn apart, Outland manages to excel at both ends of the spectrum. Not to mention the place contains some of the best raid bosses in the entire series, with the Kael'thas fight at Tempest Keep being considered by many players to be the most fun raid encounter in the series so far. Words really can't do Outland justice, the entire continent looks absolutely amazing and it seems obvious to me that a ton of work went into making it that way. I just wish Blizzard would give the place more attention than they have done recently; Outland has been all but forgotten since Wrath of the Lich King, and even that expansion's main zone Northrend was brought back in a big way for the final raid of Cataclysm. With Mists of Pandaria featuring a whole new continent (named Pandaria, oddly enough) it doesn't look like Outland will be getting the attention it deserves anytime soon, but one can hope that the place will be thrown back into the spotlight once again because it definitely deserves another opportunity to shine.