The Top 10: Elevators In Games

Yep, you read that title right. It’s the little things that make a game great, and there’s nothing more insignificant than a lift (or an elevator, of you’re one of them…). So, by that flawed logic, which game has the most iconic lifts? We’ve looked high and low (get it?) for games with memorable metal transport boxes in (there are very few), and complied a list of the best, and possibly only, 10. You need never be without lift-based trivia again, thanks to GOONL!NE.

We’ve tried to equally disperse the ‘lift’ and ‘elevator’ word usage, to please both sets of Anglophones.

10: Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow


During the second of Sam Fisher’s many outings, you wouldn’t expect him to just ditch the whole stealth thing and take the lift up, would you? Well, after attempting to in the final LAX mission, the power is cut and Sam is left dangling in a metal box, hundreds of feet above the Earth. Instead of just sitting there, you must open the vent above you, climb out, and navigate through the dark, dank and dangerous passages of the elevator shaft. There there’s not much in the way of stealth, or shooting, it’s a thrill to jump from lift to lift, narrowly avoiding rising and falling boxes, all culminating in a brilliant, but slightly broken showdown with Soth, the rouge CIA agent.

9: Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway


An odd one, this; when trying to find the AWOL Nick, the young Dutch runaway child, Matt Baker and his team have to fight their way through a disused factory. As if the gameplay wasn’t fun and solid enough, the next part sees your team take an elevator up to the next floor. However, showing off the frankly brilliant cut-scenes, the calling of the lift sends a buzzing noise to the floor they will arrive on, alerting Germans to their arrival. “Oh, God, we’re stupid, we’re really bloody stupid” panics Dawson. All the team press themselves against the wall and prepare for their slaughter. It’s pretty tense, especially when juxtaposed (yeah, we’re bringing out all the big words now) with the fact there are no Germans on the next floor (until you meet all those guys with bazookas.)

8: Left 4 Dead


No, not the slightly disappointing elevator leading out to a floor of flames in the first level of Left 4 Dead 2. We’re going retro here, back to Bill, Zoey, Francis and Louis in the superb No Mercy. When making your way to the top floor of the hospital, one set piece involves calling a lift and waiting for it to arrive, ploughing through hordes of zombies in the process. It’s fast, brutal, bloody, scary, and pretty funny when it all goes wrong. If that wasn’t enough for you, get in the elevator in Versus mode – you can head the Hunter’s scream and the Smoker’s cough above you…

7: Half Life 2: Episode 1


Having escaped the hellish Citadel and zombie-infested underground, all that separates Gordon and Alyx from freedom and fresh (kind of) air is a quick lift ride upwards. Unfortunately, the power’s out. Trace the power cables back to the mains box, flip the switch, and prepare to die. All you have to defend yourself in the infinite black is the grav-gun and 6 pistol rounds, with a torch that you have to turn off to conserve battery power lighting up the wave of undead headcrab zombies stumbling towards you. It’s not only terrifying, but very hard on the higher difficulties, especially with a ‘Speed Zombie’ thrown in.

6: Modern Warfare 2

Possibly the most contentious elevator in gaming (Wow. Just read that back, and try not to laugh) is the most popular, according to our imaginary poll. Yes, Makarov, his band of merry troops and undercover Pvt. Allen have to get to the airport to massacre innocent civilians somehow, so why not take the lift? After getting through the doors by hiding guns and vests in bags, the first teaser trailer for Modern Warfare 2 was, would you believe, set mostly in that fateful lift. Well, seen through an oscilloscope (go on, learn something today, we dare you).

5: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City


“What? GTA: Vice City didn’t even have planes, let alone elevators!” Calm down, dear reader. It did, albeit just the one. While you could use the lift on foot, it was much more fun to ride to bike up – then, when at the top, point yourself at the window and hit the gas. It was very…last-gen, but that didn’t detract from it being really, really cool. You’d then land in the middle the most stupidly designed building ever – it was still cool. Oh, we almost forgot – “Say Goodnight, Mr. Diaz!”

4: Dead Space


A good horror game has ebbs and flows; often, you’d find yourself sprinting across Dead Space’s haunted floors to order to reach the only safe place you knew; the elevator. When inside, you knew you were safe – nothing could get you. It also turned out to be a pretty handy weapon – at the start of the game, unarmed, a necromorph sticks his ugly head in the closing lift doors only get get his torso chopped off. The one point, late in the game, where one of those alien-zombie things actually drops down and attacks you IN THE ELEVATOR (the holiest of places!) is truly shocking.

3: Mirror’s Edge


Mirror’s Edge did a lot right. It also did quite a bit wrong. For a game based on speed and running, it seemed a bit stupid to involve lifts. And it was stupid – there was some half hearted¬† ‘News’ scroll, but it was much more fun to sprint across rooftops and jump from building to building than it was to press for floor 30.

2: Metal Gear Solid


We’ve got two instances from easily the best MGS in the series, providing a double blast from the past. The first is the shocking Codec call from Otacon when in the elevator tell you that, hmm, his stealth devices have been stolen. I wonder who- “SNAKE! THEY’RE IN THERE WITH YOU!”. His face pressed up against the Codec screen – it was (We hate to admit it), a massive shock, so much so that we jumped (Hey, everyone did crazy things in the 90s). You’re left to quickly dispatch the invisible bad guys using your thermal goggles. The second lift-lovin’ comes when you need to ride a large cargo elevator down to fight Raven (who, shamefully, never appears in the other MGSs. A real loss). It’s just you, the cold air, and a few birds. For about a minute. Even by PS1 standards, it was eerie and incredibly moody – just another example of Kojima’s genius. Oh, and if you were fast enough, you could shoot the birds. But you needed to be, like, a cyborg to do that.

1: Mass Effect


Many have praised Mass Effect. They call it one of the best RPGs ever, pointing out the great gameplay and superbly realized worlds. That’s odd. When we put our copy in, all we got to play was ‘Elevator Tycoon 3’. There were so many annoying, tedious, unskippable, needless, non-interactive¬† lifts, we actually thought it was a joke. A little spark of humour in the serious sea of plot. We were wrong. We don’t hate Mass Effect because of it, but…we just don’t think we’ll ever trust it again…

Well, wasn’t that a blast? You’ll never look a lift in the same way again, all thanks to GOONL!NE. Leave your passionate love letters in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Twitter. Or we’ll follow you home…

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14 Responses to “The Top 10: Elevators In Games”

  1. toxic-inferno Says:

    Lifts in Portal stcik out a lot for me…

    • Chris Hawke Says:

      True, but they were more ‘loading points’ than actual parts of gameplay. Plus, they were quite short.

    • Lifts in Mass Effect are also loading points and not actual parts of the gameplay, yet they still included it in the list.

      What’s even weirder is the omission of the New Mombasa orbital elevator from Halo. You don’t ride it, but you have to admit it’s quite impressive

  2. no silent hill 2 or 3??

  3. no silent hill 2 or 3?

  4. Fail! No Alma from the original F.E.A.R? Best elevator sequence in a game EVAR!

  5. …elevator action, or even elevator action returns?
    Hello, noobs that started out on p2?
    Also honorable mention to the elevators in final fight, sfa2 and countless other capcom games. LIST EPIC FAIL.

  6. an interesting flash game Elevatorz 2 :>

    http://tonlinegames.com/elevatorz-2/

  7. David Macphail Says:

    Really? REALLY? The best ELEVATORS in games, really?

    Slow news day?

    BTW, the lift in Uncharted 2 was awesome simply because of the joking reference Drake makes to the first game when he searches for the generator, “Great, power’s out and a woman’s trapped. I swear to god if there’s a zombie around the next corner……..”.

  8. What no Doom 3 elevators? No only did it make them look, you never knew what was gonna be waiting on the other side, at the time it was released and with the lighting it used, it created an atmosphere better than any other at the time.

  9. I remember the elevators in ROTT, or Rise of the Triad. And the muzak, or elevator music, that would play sometimes. Remember back in those days, like Wolf 3D, when the goal was to get to the elevator to finish the level?

  10. Where can you find parts for this kind of setup? How much does it cost?

  11. “My father bought one of those T.I. pocket calculator back in 72. The highest functions were multiplication and division, and it had memory.
    Cost in 1972: $200.
    That equals roughly $823 today.”

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