The 8 worst video game endings that are actually kind of awesome
When it comes to endings, gamers can be a fickle bunch. After all, we did invest significantly more hours of our time into reaching a conclusion than is required by something like a movie or an episode of a television show — or that story that your Crazy Cousin Bill told you at your family’s latest Hannukah party. The story was only five minutes long, but it felt at least three times the length of Mass Effect, and that’s counting side-quests. Anyways, some games manage to deliver endings that make you moan with ecstasy (or maybe that’s just the vibrating controller on your lap), while others make you shake with rage (which, considering that gamers are already constantly vibrating with rage, isn’t as impressive of a feat). Some of the games in this later category, however, get a worse rap than they deserve.
The endings on this list certainly aren’t perfect, but hey, who is? Even that annoying guy that lived down the hall from you in college (you know, the one whose dorm earned the nickname ‘The Asylum’) had some good qualities (like his hilariously antiquated slang, which I still use). What this article seeks to do is highlight those good qualities in the video game endings that you love to hate, to give you some perspective on how there is always something to enjoy — even in a disappointing ending — and finally, to stop myself from thinking about all of the stuff Crazy Cousin Bill told me, ‘cause seriously, that guy’s nuts.
(SPOILERS and such, obviously)
Mass Effect 3
Why it supposedly sucks: This one is a bit of a hot topic right now, but few games have inspired devotion to a storyline like the Mass Effect series. So when the final installment delivered an ending that seemed to ignore all of our choices throughout the series, gamers were understandably upset. Also, the final cutscene didn’t really make sense, and the final setpiece of the game was a conversation with a holographic, all-powerful 8-year-old, which feels like something out of a David Lynch film.
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: While many probably would have been content with Shephard saving galaxy and then a quick montage of what happened to the characters depending on the choices we made throughout the game, you at least have to respect the f**king balls it took for them to end their epic trilogy with a conclusion so bizarre that the entire gaming community flew into a rage. Would I have preferred that my choices have a bigger effect? Sure. But there’s something so gloriously off-the-wall about this ending that it almost feels like an experiment in avant-garde sci-fi shenanigans. “Oh, there’s an army of robot gods destroying the galaxy? Well, here are three choices, each of which has very specific pros and cons.” “Wait... is this some sort of weird parable?” “... Maybe. What do I know? I’m a hologram of a third grader.”
Beyond Good and Evil
Why it supposedly sucks: The ending of Beyond Good and Evil (which, if you haven’t played it, we are not friends) is pretty awesome for the most part. And then, when you beat the last boss, it drops the bomb that you’re some sort of weird space-messiah. Alright, you may think, that was kind of out of left field, but it seems to have passed by without much mention, as you settle in for what appears to be a fairly standard happy-ending conclusion. And then they shamelessly set up for a sequel, at the expense of everything you’ve just accomplished as a character. (SPOILER: Your pig-uncle turns out to be infected by an alien virus. It sucks, apart from the ongoing hilarity of the fact that your character’s uncle is a pig. Insert joke about ‘bringing home the bacon’ or something. I dunno.)
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: BECAUSE IT SETS UP A SEQUEL TO THE COOLEST GAME EVER. Yes, it does it in a pretty shameless and hackneyed way, but it doesn’t matter. By the time this game ended, all I could think about was how I wanted to play more of it, which I was immediately promised by the end of the game. And then, years and years passed, and it never happened. If you hear about the developers of this game dying under mysterious circumstances, it certainly wasn’t me. I was, um, out of town. Yeah, that’s it. I was out of town.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Why it supposedly sucks: In a game notable for its fun, fast-paced, and original combat, bad boss battles stick out like a sore thumb. It was the biggest weakness of this game, and nowhere was it more apparent than in the finale, where instead of attempting to kill you with some clever ploy, the Joker turns into a giant murderous Venom-monster, and tries to punch you to death. Because that’s in character.
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: Think about it like this: The Joker loves jokes, right? So what’s funnier than throwing aside his whole gimmick, and going after Batman in the last way that he would expect? Also, I dunno about you guys, but that buffed up Joker was awesome-looking, so there. Was it perfect? Not at all. The ending boss fight is still the game's biggest weakness, (which is a problem they fixed for the sequel, Arkham City, which had awesome boss fights, including one against Freeze where you are basically just given the task of ‘Be Batman') but it’s impossible to deny that there was a certain cool-factor to it.
Enslaved: Oddysey to the West
Why it supposedly sucks: The whole game is about our protagonist, Monkey, and his insanely attractive sidekick, Trip, thwarting an evil slaver organization, only to discover that the slavers are trying to help the slaves. The game abruptly ends with Trip freeing them anyways, with the remarkably thick sexual tension between the two left unresolved. I have no problems with ambiguity in my endings, but in Enslaved it feels at odds with the light-hearted adventure tone of much of the rest of the game. Not to mention, Andy Serkis pops up as a third character at the end, and there’s no reason to stroke that dude’s ego any more than we already have. (Although, he is kind of the coolest.)
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: Because, as I may have mentioned, Andy Serkis is the coolest. If he wants to pop up randomly at the end of the game as a third character, then you know what? Let him. If there’s ever a sequel to this game, I’m sure the inconclusive ending will feel less weird and abrupt, but who knows. And in the meantime, this is a game where you get to ride around on a giant robo-spider monster near the end, so I’m willing to forgive quite a lot.
Why it supposedly sucks: In an open-world exploration game like Fallout 3, there’s sort of an expectation that you can continue exploring once the main quest is complete. At the end of Fallout 3, however, you’re forced to sacrifice yourself (just like your dad, Liam F*cking Neeson) by entering a toxic room to enter a code and save the world, despite the fact that you have a character with you WHO IS IMMUNE TO THE TOXICITY OF THE ROOM, AND DOESN’T HELP BECAUSE, ESSENTIALLY, HE THINKS YOU ‘NEED TO DO THIS ON YOUR OWN.’ Thanks a lot, man.
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: Hey, if sacrificing one’s self is good enough for Liam Neeson, then it’s damn well good enough for me. And while I wish there was more of an internal logic to the moment itself, I do like the idea of a heroic sacrifice as a capper to a game like this, cause it just feels like it fits the tone of the story. Gameplay-wise it was a bad move, but if this were a movie about a wasteland-dwelling badass bringing down a corrupt baddie (who would still be played by Malcolm Mcdowell), I would expect nothing less than a heroic sacrifice. The only thing that would make it cooler is if you could then start a New Game + as your own ghost.
Why it supposedly sucks: Not only does the ending of Halo 2 leave the game’s primary protagonist, Master Chief, perched on the edge of a precarious cliff-hanger, it forces us to play the last mission of the game as The Arbiter, who most people agree is lame based primarily on the fact that he’s not Master Chief. Also, between the cliffhanger and the short running time of the game, many players felt like they were getting jerked around until the release of Halo 3.
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: I may be in the minority on this, but the Arbiter is awesome. He has badass armor, frequently wields a laser sword, and is voiced by none other than Keith ‘Don’t F*ck With Me’ David. If you don’t know who that is, look him up and prepare to have your mind blown. Anyways, my point is that many people were upset because the finale of the game ‘forced’ them to play as a badass alien samurai lizard warrior, which I thought was something that gamers have been clamoring for since the dawn of time. Just sayin’.
Why it supposedly sucks: Players spend the entirety of Borderlands searching for the Vault, an ancient alien stockpile said to contain oodles of badass weaponry and gear, only to arrive and find that it’s actually a prison for a giant tentacle monster. Perhaps you have to defeat the monster to get all of that awesome loot you’ve heard so much about? Nope, the only thing in there was the monster. Everyone’s really thankful, though, and isn’t that the only reward you need? It’s like following a treasure map only to find that the treasure at the end is friendship. F*ck that noise.
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: Yes, there probably should have been some awesome guns in the vault as well, but it seems to me totally in keeping with the ‘Screw you’ spirit of the game to dangle something in front of you the whole time, only to jerk it away and replace it with a giant monster at the last second. Also, the reveal that the ‘Angel’ who has been guiding you the whole time is actually a satellite is really cool, not to mention the fact that despite the ultimately disappointing reveal of the Vault contents, the last mission of that game has you shooting alien angels out of the sky while fighting your way along a treacherous mountain pass, so let’s just all be grateful that we got that experience, ok?
Why it supposedly sucks: Because after spending the whole game searching for his wife, Spencer, the robo-armed commando of the title, discovers that his robo-arm WAS his wife all along. Oh and she’s dead, kind of. I mean, she’s an arm now, so you know. In the immortal words of Tracy Jordan: Twist!
Why it’s actually kind of awesome: Were you even reading that last paragraph? That’s the craziest twist I’ve ever heard. Now, I said ‘crazy,’ not ‘good,’ but I can’t help but feel like in a better game, and if better executed, that sh*t could have blown people’s minds. My arm is my wife? In the immortal words of Darth Vader: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.