Really guys? Really?

February 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

Oh.  Oh.  You have got to be kidding me.

Not sure what I’m talking about?  Does this help? “Guiness Voters Select Black Ops As Greatest Ending In Gaming History.

Ergh.  Now, who am I to judge other people?  Who am I to say that they are objectively wrong, that their opinion is terrible, and that they should be banned from ever playing First Person Shooters ever again, forever and ever?  I’m just some guy who writes occasionally.  Although here’s the thing, I know about games.  This list doesn’t even read like “The fratboy douchebags guide to gaming.”  It reads more like “oh shit, what Games have I heard of?”

I’ll start with something less douchebaggy.  There are four Mario games on that list.  Now, I like the Mario games, but, prime examples of storytelling they are not.  Spoiler warning, here’s the ending to all of those Mario games:  Mario finds Bowser, he beats him, he goes to Peach, curtain call.  That’s it. That is not an ending worth noting, no matter how nice it is that the internals may tell a story of a trapped girl looking for release, or that Mario just really wants some cake.

Now, onto the big one.  Call of Duty:Black Ops.  This game has an ending?  That’s, nice.  I guess.  I couldn’t really tell given how much it meanders around.  Anyway, spoiler warning, I guess, if you care.  At the end of Black Ops, you find out that some character is fictional, that you’ve been programmed to kill other people, oh, and according to Wikipedia, that you still followed your original pre-programming-programming, and so you assassinate JFK.  Oh yeah, and this happens:

Watch those first thirty seconds, and if you don’t feel like being a little sick, then I congratulate you.  Fuck yeah, America won!  We fucking killed those fucking commies and shit.  And fuck all that.  AMERICA!  Well.  Uhhhh.  What?  That counts as the best ending?  To any game, of all time?

*Sigh*  So, to make some comparisons, let’s look at some endings which were definitely better than BlOps.  It should go without saying, that there will be major spoilers here.  This list was mostly generated with the help of twitter people, so cheers to them.

Half Life 2, Episode 2(43rd on the list): This is, no question, my favourite ending to any game I’ve played.  This ending proves how a pitch perfect delivery can make something.  There is no real warning that this will happen, it is sudden, and brutal, and that’s what makes it so affecting.  If you haven’t played Episode 2, then I beg you not to continue reading this entry.  This ending feels to me, like the culmination of everything the game had been building towards.  You have spent hours with these characters.  You’ve grown close to Alyx, you enjoyed the jokey banter with her, and with her father.  You’ve seen just how much they care for each other.  Then this happens:

And cut to credits.  You can’t believe what you just saw, how quickly it ended.  And that’s it.

Red Dead Redemption(6th on the list):  This game’s a little weird, in that it essentially has three “endings”, and, depending on who you’re talking to, you might get a different answer about which one’s the best.  The “first” ending, involves the resolution of the main plotline of the game.  Marston meets up with Dutch, after having chased him here, there and everywhere.  Dutch monologues about the futility of life, and how fighting gets you nowhere, before jumping to his death.

Now, your family is returned to you, so you spend some time winding down.  Living your farm life, trying to catch up to a world that has left you behind.  But, the government won’t have that.  You know too much, you’ve done too much.  You’re probably still a criminal, deep down inside.  So…

Then, finally, your Father died to the government, your mother could barely live without him.  You know that Edgar Ross is to blame for all of this, so:

Now, the last ending is easily the weakest of the three here,  but it doesn’t really matter, because as it goes, it’s still stronger than the endings for the vast majority of games out there.  Yet again though, these are endings that are built off the entire game.  They are conclusions that actually conclude.  Something that so many games seem to lack.  Going back to Episode 2, it is obviously open for a sequel, it was designed with that in mind, but, it never feels like a sequel hook.  It feels like an ending.

Bioshock(35th on the list):  OK, I’m actually putting this one in here, despite the fact that the only mention I got of it was “NOT Bioshock.”  If he’d asked whether I’d kindly do it, then maybe I would have listened, but, as it is, I’ll ignore that piece of advice.  The important thing with this one, is that’s it’s not the ending, well, not exactly.  The ending itself, is “you beat the bad guy, you have either a good or bad ending based on what you did to the Little Sisters.”  That itself is fairly weak, but, the more important preceding developments are good enough that I’ll post this here.  Everyone and their dog seems to know about the twist to Bioshock.  But I’ll repeat it anyway.  Your character has been conditioned, so that you have to follow orders which are preceded with “Would You Kindly.”

As such, it explains why your character acts like a standard video game moron, and does whatever is asked of him.  The best part of this twist is that the hints for it are there throughout the entire game, but unless you’re paying attention, on your first run-through you probably won’t notice them.

KotOR(49th on the list):  Speaking of twists that aren’t really at the end, but which make the “ending” of the game, Knight of the Old Republic springs to mind.  In this case, you’d spent the whole game hearing about the exploits of Darth Revan.  You spend spend it tracking down his apprentice, guided by visions that lead you to the Star Forge.  Near the end, though, you find out the truth.  You are Revan, your shattered mind rebuilt into one that is loyal to the alliance.  You defeat Malak, and then have the choice, do you continue what you started, in your first life, and bring your power to bare on the galaxy, or do you embrace your new life, and leave the Star Forge shattered and destroyed, and move on to more light side things?  Either way, the twist helps to bring a sense of ambiguity to everything you do, and helps to justify your character as a blank slate, perfect for that style of RPG.

 

So, thus far at least, I’ve talked about games that have at least appeared on the list, so, at least the list isn’t completely terrible.  I really only disagree with what came first, and the order of things there.  Other games that I think work, and from the list include Halo:Reach(poignant(or trite) ending, that talks about how just because you died, it doesn’t mean that life ends.  Dramatic shot of your helmet sitting in the ground.), Super Metroid(Just as you’re about to be destroyed, the Metroid that imprinted onto you at the end of Metroid 2 sacrifices itself to save you), Portal 2(GLaDOS, knowing that the Caroline part of her couldn’t live without you, deletes it, sets you free, as you are serenaded off by the turrets, followed by a song that is probably actually sung while you’re unconscious, just before the end),

MGS3(Finding out that The Boss did everything for the benefit of the US, Snake goes to her grave, salutes, and sheds a single tear).

Actually, looking at this, this will probably where I leave it.  Maybe I’ll come back later, to talk about some more games, which aren’t on that list.  I probably won’t though, I’m good at not keeping promises.  But for now at least, we have a few games that should have been ahead of Black Ops.  And about half that list anyway.

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