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MathewRD avatar 10:30 AM on 11.01.2012  (server time)
Endings: Sometimes Least is Best

I'll go ahead and let you know there will be spoilers for “I Am Alive” and for the movie “Looper”.

I picked up I Am Alive during the halloween sales on Steam, because it looked like a game that genuinely intrigued my interests. I was never a really big fan of Prince of Persia games, which is how I Am Alive plays, but it was for multiple reasons. I didn't like the PoP games because of their story, their boring atmosphere, and when you took the gameplay and mixed it with that, you were left with a mediocre mess.

I Am Alive does it well. Okay 3D platforming gameplay, amazing atmosphere, music that makes your heart race, and a narrative done relatively well. The FPS element to it is what really blew me away. If you haven't played the game yet, essentially, you only ever have a few bullets and you have to watch how you use them. Enemies will react to guns more like actual people than standard CoD bots. If you point a gun at them, they'll back off and hope that you won't hurt them.

At one point, there were two guys both with machetes coming at me. I pulled out my gun and pointed it at them. I shifted my aim left and right to make sure they both knew that I would shoot. I was contemplating who was the bigger threat a little too long, when one of the enemies said, “He's too afraid to shoot!” and charged at me.

At another, I had two guys having my gun pointed at them. They were starting to back off, but I accidentally fired my gun without any bullets in it. “His gun's empty!” they shouted and came after me.

My biggest problem with the entire game isn't in the game itself, it's how people received the ending of it. The entire game is about the main character filming his journey throughout the destroyed city looking for his wife and daughter. He ends up rescuing a different mom and her daughter and getting them out of the city. Right afterwords, you cut to see a woman watching the video recorder's playback, only to start crying. Behind her is all of the gear the main character carried around.

Now what kills me is that this ending is perfect. Not all stories have happy endings, and that's one thing society needs to grow up and understand. The main character had already gotten incredibly lucky having gotten as far as he did. He scaled a building, slid down a building, crossed a train that was hanging off of the edge of a cliff, scaled up a building on its SIDE, and managed to rescue a woman and her daughter. That's probably the best irony of it. He didn't end up even getting close to rescuing his loved ones, but he made sure that another family was brought back together. It was an apocalyptic world he was living in. You're not always guaranteed to find anything. The ending was perfect, and in no way, could be any better.

Now as for Looper, it ends with the main character shooting himself to kill his future self right then and there. This is what happens when you get the response “I Am Alive” got. If the entire movie would have cut to black right after he shot himself straight through the chest, I would have left the movie theater ecstatic. But they realized that even if it may be considered a good ending by a few, the large population would be against it. They stretched out an ending that didn't need to be.

I guess, what I'm trying to say, is that developers need to start focusing more on the telling of the story rather than the reception to it, and that people should focus not so much on the fact that it cut to black immediately, but focus on why it did. Some movies and games are best with a split-second ending. It leaves interpretation valid and it closes the entire game or movie with a second's notice. And depending on the story, that's sometimes necessary.

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