Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Four Most (Un)Satisfying Types of Video Game Endings

#4. It Was All a Dream - So you've spent hours playing through a game and finally make it to the end only for it to be revealed that everything you just did was just someone's dream? What?! Games (and movies for that matter) that all take place during a dream are a half-assed way of ending things. Developers are telling their fans one of two things. Either they weren't created enough to actually come up with a gripping narrative or they were lazy. This ending type has been used over and over and over again and by big time games, too. There have been Super Mario, Final Fantasy, and Zelda games that have all been a dream. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

#3. You're Left Wanting More Game - I don't mean you want more game, so you can keep on playing, but you want more game, so you get a new ending. Far too many games have ultimately ended like this; the original Borderlands was this way. The point of the story or so players thought was that there was a something called "The Vault" that contained unimaginable treasures and alien artifacts. However, *spoilers* when you got there some giant monster pops out of it and when you killed it The Vault closed, never to be opened again. When credits appeared after Halo 2's ending, many people were hoping that it was just a joke and that there'd be more after the credits; there wasn't. Sometimes I wonder if developers really don't know that these endings are bad? 

#2. Your Character Dies at the End - As in real life there is death in video games and that is to be expected. However, just like in real life we don't want death to fall upon ourselves or those that we care about. When your character permanently dies at the end of a video game it is as if you and a close friend of died simultaneously. While playing a beloved video game character people tend to connect with them and put some of themselves into them; it's why they are beloved in the first place. As a gamer, the last thing that I want to happen is to pour hours into a game or game series only to have my character die. Whether it is a noble death or not, it's still death and death should never be associated with household video game names . . . like "Commander Shepard."

#1. The One That You Wish Was All Three . . . The Mass Effect 3 Ending - *all spoilers* Mass Effect 3's ending(s) did leave players craving more and their characters did die at the end, which is why some of us wish that the entire series was all just a dream. If the game was a dream then we could at least pretend that Commander Shepard was still alive (or didn't exist), that the ending didn't come down to choosing between red, blue, and green, and we wouldn't have to 'rage quit' the game via turning off our consoles in stunned silence. By the time I was nearing the end of the game I had already heard that the ending was infuriating to most, but I had made sure not to find out what actually happened until I played and I hoped that the ending wouldn't be so bad to me. At first I thought,"OK. What just happened?" I was able to remain pretty calm and even though I didn't like the ending, I didn't think that it was earth shatteringly bad, but time changes things. The more I thought about the ending, the more I re-watched the 'various' endings, and the more time I spent thinking about plot holes (like how all of the members of your crew that you can bring into battle were in London, but somehow made it back onto the Normandy) the more I thoroughly despised the ending with a passionate hate that I normally reserve for things in the real world. The biggest reason why the ending was so terrible is because gamers were lied to. We were all promised "A story that diverges into wildly different conclusions based on the player's actions in the first two chapters" and we got the polar opposite. Nothing that players did factored into the 'choice' that they made at the end of the game. None of the three endings or ending cinematics were fundamentally different. Although there are 'three different' conclusions to the series, they all look and feel exactly the same. No matter what players choose, Shepard dies (or at least loses his/her physical form), the Reapers are no longer a threat, the mass relays are destroyed, and the Normandy crash lands on some unknown planet. After receiving flak from thousands of enraged fans, Bioware has decided to work on "Extended Cut DLC" that will "expand upon the ending." Time will tell if anything really changes or if players will be left with a bad taste in their mouthes and tainted memories of the Mass Effect experience. No matter what happens, gamers will not forget the initial ending that they played through and that's not a good thing.

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