Fair Warning I'm about to spoil the endings to MGs 3, god of war, Valkryia Chronicles, Final Fantasy X,XII, Warcraft 3 the frozen throne Lost Odyssey, and Halo Reach. If you are not ok with that, don't continue. You've been warned!
Most of the time, I hate cookie cutter endings. The 'Happily ever after' rarely sits with me as a good
ending. Perhaps it's the thought of all the loose ends being tied up with nothing left else to do or solve, or the fact that there was almost no consequence to the grand journey i just witnessed. But having everything 'good'
makes a 'bad'
ending. Take Lost Odyssey as an example. Kaim, reunited with his long lost wife, are able to finally settle down with their grand children. His friend Jansen marries his love interest, Seth(while technically gone) is now this essence that is 'watching over' everyone. Everyone is happy, and everyone can live in peace.
There needs to be a 'if' in these situations. Something needs to of come out of these stories, that makes you say 'wow'. Hell, the last 2 hours ish of Mass Effect 2 have a 'wow' moment every 10 minutes.(Yes I actually finished the game finally). The ending of a game needs to stick with you. There has to be a huge final turning point. People need to become more after their adventure, not less, like in the case of Kaim. Even in FFX, a somewhat boring ending, there was this constant...hope, that Tidus was coming back. If he did, that probably would have killed the ending. But that nagging question, that little voice that is begging him to be ok, is just what the ending needed to go from good, to great. Yuna is left distraught and alone, (We are not going to talk about X-2, which was way better gameplay wise then people lead on) and it makes for a somewhat tragic ending to a rather cookie cutter conclusion.
And it's those little things that make you remember a games ending. I love FFXII, it's bar none, my favorite Final Fantasy game, way above any other. But I'll be dammed if I can remember what happens at the end. Every one gets their wish. People are happy, Penolope changes clothes or something... that one kid gets a ship. That's about it.
An Ending doesn't need to be Grand either. Grand in the sense of a huge plot twists that sets up events to follow. But grand certainly can work. Like the closing moments of The Empire Strikes back; *taken from wikipedia* *Meanwhile, Luke arrives at Cloud City and falls into Vader's trap. Luke and Vader engage in a lightsaber duel, which leads them over the central air shaft of Cloud City. Vader gains the advantage and severs Luke's right hand, disarming him. With Luke cornered, Vader tempts Luke with the offer to rule the galaxy alongside him, making the revelation that he is in fact Luke's father. Horrified and shocked, Luke nevertheless refuses Vader's proclamations, choosing instead to throw himself down the air shaft until he reaches a tube system that ejects him onto an antenna attached to the underbelly of the floating city. He makes a desperate telepathic plea to Leia, who senses Luke's distress from aboard the Falcon and persuades Lando to return for him. With Its hyperdrive finally functional thanks to timely repairs by R2-D2, the Falcon escapes. Luke is taken aboard a Rebel medical frigate and fitted with an artificial hand. As Luke, Leia, R2-D2 and C-3PO look on from the medical center at the galaxy, Lando and Chewbacca set off on a journey to free Han, who is being kept on Tatooine at Jabba the Hutt's palace.*
That is a hell of a way to end a movie. Everything leads up to the next. Answering questions, but raising so many more. It's a great way to end anything. The expansion to Warcraft 3 does this incredibly well. The entire game, is just epic amounts of build up, a race against time to stop the once prince, Arthas, from ascending the frozen throne. The night elves are split, one side chasing Illidan without remorse, thinking he is the primary enemy. While the other mends the lands scorched by the events of the previous game. Illidan himself is siding with the Naga, another evil he brought on the world, with only intentions of stopping Arthas. The other factions are fighting eachother, and the night elves resources have been mostly exhausted tracking Illidan. However, Illidan planned all contingencies, and has erected a defensive around the frozen throne. But it is fruitless, and Arthas ascends the stair, and gains the power of the lich king, by wearing his armor. Every race is in dismay, no armies are ready to defeat Arthas. Who well stand up to him? Did he kill Illidan? What well happen now that he is the lich king? Everything was laid out for an incredibly tragic fourth installment. These crescendos of plot and story are a great way to end a game, a book, or movie, leaving so much un-answered, is a great way to keep interest in the sequel.
Then world of warcraft happened, and that's another issue, for another blog.
But, that is obviously not the only way to make a stellar plot. A subtle reveal, can be so powerful, it can push the main ending aside. Metal Gear Solid 3, the game I hold to the highest regard above all, has such an ending. This game reveals, that after all is said and done, after you've destroyed the Shagohad. After you've flown away to safety, saved the world, defeated the bad guy, it reveals a twist. A tiny inconsequential twist to the plot. That The Boss, your mentor, the person, and one of the few Snake actually trusts, has been working for the American government the whole time. Volgin launched the miniature nuclear warhead against his own soil, and pegged The Boss, as a traitor against America, and at fault for the entire incident. Snake is sent to take her out. Once he does, it is revealed, that The Boss, the person that the player thought had simply defected to the soviet union, was
actually a plant by The American government. Her missions was to fake a defection to join Volgin, and discover the location of the Philosopher's Legacy(A vast sum of money). But, when Volgin blew up his own soil, her mission extended. She was ordered to die with honor, at the hands of Snake, to clear America's name against the Soviet Union. And Snake, Killing what was the closest thing he had to a mother, unknowingly doing it because the government had ordered it. He is given the title of Big Boss in front of a bunch of suites, and you can see, as he accepts the award, how distraught he is. How betrayed he is. How alone he is. The Boss is a tragic hero, without a doubt(And non consequently, this is by far my favorite kind of protagonist). Snake is a tragic hero as well. Letting his loyalty to the government lead him to kill the closest person to him, which ends up bringing emotional tragedy to his life. And only in the final moments of the game, are all of Snakes character traits fully brought out. It's a fantastic way to end the game, and easily ranks my number 1 favorite ending for any game.
The original God of war had an insanely amazing ending, that I can appreciate from two different lights. One, is the obvious, the way it's meant to look. You've suffered so much, conquered all in your path, and it brings you to your lowest low. Even after you've killed a god, something no other mortal can attest to, you decide to cast yourself from the tallest cliff you can find, Thus ridding yourself of the nightmares of you killing your family forever. Then, you're saved, and granted the seat on Mount Olympus, as God Of War. The ultimate redemption. Or so the designer's want it to look that way. But think about it. This is the worst thing that Kratos could have hoped for. Becoming a god, brings immortality. He can never die now. The one thing he wanted more in life, to rid himself of the nightmares he's been having, well now never come. Ever. He's is forced into an eternity of mental anguish. All the build up, all the triumph, and overcoming huge obstacles, and still, Kratos is forced into everlasting torture, something he fought so hard to rid of, going as far to kill himself. Thats a crazy good ending if you ask me.
The best ending, in a pure video game sense, from what i've seen has been Halo Reach. Over the course of the game, there is the inevitable knowledge, that you're not going to make it out of here alive. From the first shot of the players helmet lying barren, alone, in a wasteland, to all your teamates getting gunned down one by one. It's clear this isn't a winning mission. Even as you complete your mission, and your last ally dies, and you have the chance to run and fight another day. You don't. You do your best to let your teamates escape. Once that is said and done, you alone with an army at your back.
Instead of some amazing looking cutscene. Instead of mountains of dialogue after the credits role. The game simply keeps the players in the boots of a spartan, and the words survive roll on screen and that it.I'ts so somber and depressing. It's so simple. It's a perfect example of infusing story with gameplay, and it works incredibly well. At this point, your adrenaline is at maximum overdrive. After securing a safe path for ally ships to esacape with a gigantic gun, your slapped into the sudden depressing realization, it's all over. It's this immediate change of dynamic, that makes the impact of "you're going to die"
all the more meaningful, compared to any other regular mission before it. This blend of gameplay and story, rare, but when it works, it works brilliantly, and Halo Reach is a prime example of it working.
There are allot more awesome video game endings, movie endings, book endings. But some of these points I've picked out, Whether it's the build up from God of war, the subtle reveal and twists from mgs3, or the lead on to the next installment from Warcraft 3, all of them do what FFX did as I pointed out right at the start. They all have that hook. That 'something' that you remember them by. The event that you say to your friend "OMG, how crazy was it when You found out Eva was a spy! Remember how her gun was a Chinese model? Aw, should have seen it coming!". Or "Tidus, you knew he was a dream, but I was totally hanging on for something to happen where he could stay!". Those moments, those events, the ones that force you to subconsciously remember them over the years. That is what makes a truly great ending to a video game.
Now, I ask you, what makes a great ending in your opinion, and what are some prime examples?
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