My Top Ten: Tense Times

I have been struck with a case of “unimaginitis” today so I really struggled to write anything. Luckily, a few of my TSA team-mates have got my back and chipped in with some suggestions for the list! This week we’re listing our top ten tense moments in gaming, whether they’re scary or just highly-charged. These are the top ten moments in games that got our heart pounding.


  • Dead Space – early on when you’re just finding your way onto the USG Ishimura and you catch a glimpse of your first Necromorph scurrying round a corner. I think in this game it’s as much about the scary sound as it is the visual.
  • Resident Evil 2 – the corridor with the glass windows, get halfway down and suddenly the windows burst in with a flock of crows. This was the first time I’d ever seen a video game as something that could play on those darker emotions rather than just be fun.
  • Bioshock – Locked in the Bathysphere and keen to see the world you’re about to enter you press your viewpoint up against the glass. A splicer bursts into view and tries to attack. It made me jump more than once…
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum – No spoilers from me but there is a level themed around Scarecrow which is quite psychological and extremely well done. There are a few tense moments and it’s played on brilliantly.
  • Mirror’s Edge – This one was suggested by Lorcan who says he was unable to cope with the chase scene. I thought the whole game was one big chase scene but I agree; there were moments of real tension in this title.
  • Super Stardust HD – Obviously another suggestion from Davs since I have no hope of ever reaching this stage. Getting up to 14 bombs so you’re just one more bomb away from the trophy and trying not to colourfully expire before you get there.
  • FIFA 09 – You’ve got ten minutes to go in the Champions League final against Barcelona. You’re one-nil up thanks to a fortunate goal that went in off the post and they’re throwing everything at you. The controller is slipping in your palm-sweat. Can you hold on?
  • LittleBigPlanet – Not a game you’d usually find in a list like this but bear with me. The bit in the last level with the huge rotating wheel that you have to jump around the inside of. There is electricity and the margins of error are miniscule.
  • Trials HD – All the levels after “Hard” are supremely tense and finely tuned but if I have to pick a moment I’d say trying to beat some of Liam and Davs’ times on the early levels. Such short levels mean the margin for error is in the milliseconds and those two have really nailed their times.
  • Call of Duty 4 – This one from Liam but I had the same feelings on the PC version. Mile high club (bonus section) on Veteran. There is a 20gamerpoint achievement for completing it on Veteran difficulty. It’s a mad rush getting to the end of the section and the tension ramps right up when you are given just seconds to shoot a terrorist in the head as he holds a hostage for a shield. After all the struggling to reach that point it’s really tense knowing you have to get the shot off before the plane blows up!

Thanks to Lorcan, Davs and Liam for their help when I had a brainfail…