Thursday, February 7, 2013

Best and Worst Video Game Endings

So the academic semester has kicked off; working at a school and taking grad classes mean I'm kept fairly busy. Recent changes in the work place have also effectively doubled my work load... and there's no guarantee more changes won't occur, so if I'm posting a touch less frequently, my apologies!

I'm also trying to work on a blog related to my creative writing -- since I'm already having to write for my classes, it shouldn't take too much more of my time and, by the end of the semester, I'm really hoping to be close to finished with my first novel (well, a draft of my first novel, I suppose).

That being said, I'm here to talk about some of my favorite video game endings. As a bonus, I'll post my top three least favorite.

The trick to this is that I've actually had to FINISH the game, which is not something I always do...

Oh, and in case you were wondering... HOLY SPOILERS, BATMAN!

The Good

Red Dead Redemption
I'm a fan of Westerns and found that Red Dead Redemption was an amazing homage (or addition) to the genre. The ending fits in very well: our hero, John Marston, goes through heaps of trouble to save his family. He succeeds  only to be killed in an epic shoot out (very Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) by the government men he'd been working with. He manages to save his family one last time and, like any good western, it doesn't end all rosy.

Then we even get a nice epilogue mission set a few years later, in which we play his son getting revenge, which, besides allowing the game to continue indefinitely, gives a good amount of satisfaction when you finally hunt down the man responsible for John's death.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Being a Bioware game, there are of course multiple endings. The canon one is the light side story (shocker!). A climactic final battle with Darth Malak (for the fate of Bastila) rounds out a wonderful game. Due to the history you learn, the fight feels that much more climactic, and at the end there's even an award celebration (similar to the end of A New Hope). It's got a nice Star Wars feel and you feel as if your time with your companions amounted to something. There's a sense of accomplishment some games leave you without...
I saved inFamous for last because, while the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, I really enjoyed the way the story comes to a close: you find out that Kessler is actually you -- Cole's powers evolve so much that he's actually able to travel back in time to try and prevent the Beast from destroying everything. The fact that Kessler put Cole through so much is amplified by the fact that it's all preparation so that things don't end the same way. And the way it is unveiled  as a complete surprise during one of the artsy comic book cut scenes was perfect.

It's dark and deals with an interesting time travel twist -- that has my name all over it.

... I had a really hard time completing this part. There are a lot more games who have endings I enjoyed, so I distilled this into games that I really enjoyed, were different, and had relatively unique endings. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker JUST missed this list, simply because of the moment where you get to plant a sword in Ganon's head... Maybe I'll do a boss battle in the future.

Now, for my least favorite endings. These aren't necessarily bad games (I DID play to the end), but the resolution just wasn't worth the effort.

The Bad

Mass Effect 3
I can't imagine anyone would argue with me about this one, but for those that do, my reasoning is thus:

You play three long games, cover a lot of ground both in the universe and with your many relationships, and all you are rewarded with is an array of endings (three, to be exact) that are NOT that much different at all (even though you could play the games VERY differently) and, worst of all, didn't even bother to give you an information as to what happens to your companions or, really, the universe at all.

And then wrapping it all up as a story being passed from grandfather to grandson was just cheesy.

Three games. TONS of choices you can make, and in the end they really didn't matter. That's an issue I actually had with the series, in the end, but it is especially felt at the end of the third game. I've seen people praising them doing something unexpected... but it would need to be a much higher quality to satisfy the thirst they built.
I loved this game, the story, and the major unviel that Atlas and Ryan are the same person. The game really should have ended there. That it didn't was its first mistake, and pretty much everything post that continued to detract. It wasn't terrible, per se, but sometimes you just need to know when it's over, when you've reached your peak. The foolish final boss and ending cutscenes weren't worth it, in the end.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
This is another popular one to be despised. Similar to the first one, you have a sweeping story with multiple interesting characters that you develop relationships with over the course of the game. The scope is a bit less sweeping than the first, but that's ok -- the characters are a bit more interesting to compensate.

Until the ending, that is. You fight with Kreia, who's been your mentor/guide for the game, because she turns out to be the last Sith lord. The fighting is nowhere near as interesting as the fight with Malak, but that's not even the worst. By way of closure, Kreia narrates the future of your companions before she dies. It's all text, no scenes thrown in to underline the events to come. Then Kreia dies and it's over...

As a writer, I really can't support any medium that "tells" instead of "shows" important story elements, much less a visual medium such as a video game.

This wasn't as difficult, though I am pretty lenient with any game I was compelled to beat.

I have some comics I'd like to rush through in a brief Pull List Review (assuming I find the time), and maybe I'll do some favorite movie/novel endings soon too.

Also, I'd love to hear your favorite and least favorite endings in the comment section!

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