D-District Prison [Final Fantasy 8]
Final Fantasy 8 doesn’t have much of a cohesive story, but it delivers when it comes to PS1 era spectacle. Every sequence is memorable, and the impressive D-District Prison blew my elementary school mind back in the ’90s. The D-District Prison isn’t really a building — it’s a giant set of interconnected drills in the middle of the desert.
In the old Playstation days games had pre-rendered backgrounds that were usually static — basically, it was CGI that didn’t move. Final Fantasy 8 upped the ante with full motion backgrounds that transitioned as you moved around. This was totally new territory! We were really impressed! Okay, most people will watch this prison sequence today and think it’s pretty quaint compared to modern standards, but this prison escape was on the cutting edge of cinematic presentation once upon a time.
Ascend From Darkness [Call of Duty: Black Ops]
The bloody escape from Vorkuta Prison in the Soviet Union is one of the most memorable missions in the Call of Duty series — so it fits perfectly into our list. As an American Prisoner, you work with returning character Viktor Reznov (voiced by Gary Oldman, bonus) to escape a brutal work camp. As you progress, the prisoners and Reznov chant each step of the process as if it’s been perfectly planned.
That includes fighting out of the mines and charging the camp machinegun towers. It’s a brutal scene where dozens of prisoners die before commandeering the armory and shooting down choppers. After navigating the killing fields, you flee on a motorcycle as the level smoothly transitions into a chase. It’s a quick little level that’s 100% set piece. You might not have to plan the scheme yourself, but it’s so much fun we don’t even care.
Execute your master escape plan with more prison breaks on the next page.