Ten Awful Endings That Nearly Ruined Otherwise Brilliant Video Games
It's not always easy to stick the landing and give fans a big finish that delivers everything they've been expecting, especially if those expectations have been drawn out over dozens of hours of investment and emotional attachment. Just ask Game of Thrones fans. For every Breaking Bad that hits the nail on the head, there's a show like Heroes that limps to the finish line a shadow of its former self
Video games are no different, and more than a few otherwise brilliant titles over the years nearly completely screwed themselves by presenting players with endings that felt rushed, unearned, confusing, or straight up against everything the game previously stood for. Below are, in my opinion, ten of the worst offenders.
- Assassin's Creed 3
The first two Assassin's Creed games managed to deliver endings that were emotional, exciting, and satisfying. If nothing else, you have to hand it to Ubisoft for deciding to shake things up with Assassin's Creed 3 by... not doing that.
I won't go into the finer details because I have a word count to stick to, but the game ends with a heavy choice; save the world but ensure humanity loses its free will, or doom the planet, knowing only a few will survive, but they'll rebuild with their free will very much intact.
A big part of the Assassin's Creed games had always very much been about fighting for free will, so it's a bit of an ironically meta letdown that in this crucial moment, we not only don't get to make the choice, but our character decides to vote for the option that does away with free will, which kind of... well, it completely contradicts the entire point of the game.
Borderlands forms an essential bond with every player from the beginning of the adventure by proving that everything the game revolves around boils down to the exact same thing all gamers love. Loot. Lots and lots and lots of loot.
We spend the entire game constantly on the lookout for bigger and badder weapons, mercilessly gunning down down anything that stands between us and a slightly better shotgun.
From the very beginning, we're presented with the exciting prospect of cracking open a vault that's absolutely stuffed to the rafters with exotic treasures and legendary weapons - it's what we spend the whole game working towards because both our character, and we as the player, love us some loot.
It's a bit of a flick to the nipple, then, that the defeat of the final boss ends with the very vault we were trying to get into closing for another 200 years. Fanks m8.
- Mass Effect 3
I would like to point out right off the bat that my inclusion of Mass Effect 3 on this list is in no way an endorsement of the behaviours of those fans who, upon getting to the end of the game, threw their toys out of the pram in such a violent manner that BioWare actually hastily included a new ending.
With that said, it was a pretty bloody awful ending, right? Mass Effect prided itself on carrying all your unique decisions across games to create an incredible immersive experience that felt tailor made for you, the player.
So to have the final moments of the third game in the trilogy simply present every single player with the exact same choice, with every outcome basically amounting to the same thing was a huge kick in the face. It felt rushed, and it broke hearts everywhere.
That still doesn't excuse the massive fit people threw at BioWare though. Just saying.
- Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid 2 might be fairly divisive game, but there's no denying that it's still a tight, tense, action-packed stealth adventure packed with interesting characters and an ambitious plot typical of Hideo Kojima, who at this point had already established himself as gaming's Willy Wonka.
Unfortunately, even Metal Gear Solid 2's most ardent defenders have a hard time arguing that the game's ending was anything less than a big stinky poop. After a thrilling few hours spent sneaking around Big Shell and getting caught up in the tale of political espionage, you ultimately discover that the whole thing was actually a simulation.
"It was a all a dream" is one of the cheapest cop-outs in storytelling, and I don't know who needs to hear this, but just because you've swapped "dream" for "simulation" doesn't mean what you've done is any less lazy or unforgivable. Maybe in Metal Gear Solid 6 Snake can get amnesia or something. That's original.
People love Half-Life because of the way Valve managed to tell a series of immersive stories using nothing but the environment. Without a single word, the developer was able to masterfully piece together a gripping atmosphere, and a world that felt truly lived-in.
What a shame then, that when you get to Xen for the game's climax, all of that carefully designed worldbuilding is thrown out and replaced by bland environments and boring platforming. The whole things feels bolted on, dull, and totally unnecessary, kind of like how I feel at any social gathering.
- DOOM 2
DOOM 2 is one hell of a first-person shooter, pun intended, but it suffers from an incredibly anticlimactic ending. After making your way through a tense maze of demons, death, blood, and gore, your final challenge is... a wall.
Okay so it's a wall with an evil demon face on it, but it's still essentially just a wall with a bit of face on it that you shoot until it dies. Not exactly an inspired final fight, is it?
Before you push up your glasses and go all "WELL ACTUALLY" on me, I'm fully aware that designer John Romero's head is infamously hidden just behind the wall impaled on a stick, but given that it's impossible to see that without cheats I condemn it as a stupid idea that's just way too in love with itself.
- Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor
I absolutely adored Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I thought it was a genuinely terrific game built around a fluid combat system and an ingenious Nemesis mechanic that meant even if you didn't pursue the game's story, there was still plenty of fun to be found in running round murdering Uruk-hai.
The entire game slowly, agonisingly builds towards a final reckoning with the Dark Lord Sauron himself, and we're to assume that there's going to be some kind of reckoning, given this is the guy responsible for the brutal murder of your wife and kid at the start of the game.
Obviously we know Sauron doesn't die, this is a Lord of the Rings prequel after all, but the idea of going toe-to-toe with one of the biggest bad guys in fiction, with such an incredible combat system no less, was insanely exciting.
Unfortunately, what the fight with Sauron boils down to is a quick-time event followed by a tease for the game's sequel. I was so angry I nearly gave myself a nosebleed.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a truly wonderful title that centres around an intense, often terrifying game of cat and mouse between the Dark Knight and Joker.
The clown prince of crime puts together a meticulous plan that revolves around trapping Batman in an asylum surrounded by his deadliest enemies, and it's up to the caped crusader to use his brain and his detective skills just as much as his fists and gadgets to outwit his arch enemy and win the day.
This, to me, is why the final fight with Joker is such a massive shame. It goes against everything the game has been building towards, as the battle of wits between Bats and Joker descends into a boring punch up when the clown decides to pump himself full of Titan and transform into a generic monster.
Thankfully, both Arkham City and Arkham Knight learned from this, and offered much more suitable final battles for Batman to face. That doesn't really take the sting out of this one though.
- Halo 2
Halo 2 is a perfect sequel in every single way, right up until the moment that the game makes the odd decision to just... stop, rather than offer any kind of satisfying climax for the players who'd just invested hours in Master Chief's battle against the Covenant and their attack on Earth.
As the game cuts to a scene of Master Chief returning to Earth's orbit and promising to finish the fight, players everywhere were convinced they were heading into the epic climax the game had been building towards. Instead, we got a fade to the credits, and the agony of a three year wait until Halo 3 carried on the story.
It's rare that I feel a game has played me, but Halo 2 mugged me off royally, and I'm still not sure I've fully forgiven Bungie for it.
- Dark Souls
Dark Souls is one of the finest RPGs of the last 20 years - a punishing, intricately designed gauntlet set in a labyrinthine world of interlocking corridors and secret areas. The game gives you no quarter, and every victory, revelation, and bit of progress is hard earned by you and you alone. And maybe a walkthrough if you're really stuck.
Once you finally make it to the end and conquer the incredibly difficult final boss, you're rewarded with a choice: rekindle the fire of men or usher in a new dark age. It doesn't really matter what you decide to do though, as the game immediately takes you back to the start to play through from the beginning.
I get that simply getting to the end of Dark Souls is a reward in itself, and that if you really dig into Dark Souls lore you'll get more out of the ending, but not all of us have the time and energy required to penetrate the ridiculously convoluted lore FromSoftware created, so I'm calling this ending out as a confusing, unsatisfying mess - especially relative to the effort required to obtain it.
I guess if there's one thing we can take away from this article, if you really think about and take into account all the mitigating factors and variables based on each game and the year they released, it's that good endings are
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft/BioWare