Videogame endings are hugely important – but these were the finales that somewhat soured otherwise great videogame experiences.
A good video game carries it’s audience through many twists and turns. Ups and downs. It’s story an enjoyable experience that lasts long after a games end credits have rolled. Sadly the way some video games end you feel more like you’ve just survived torture. Whether it be lazy writing, limited time or just poor execution – bad endings can sour an otherwise great experience. For the purposes of this list, we’ve decided to only consider endings in their original form. Any changes made by DLC or expansions are ignored; because that’s just cheap.
10. Fallout 3
Fallout 3 was a great re-introduction to the Fallout universe. You play as the Vault Dweller; a poor soul pushed out the door of Vault 101 and launched into the Wasteland. In between following in your fathers footsteps and scavenging like a kleptomaniac; the game introduces you to a wide variety of colourful characters and fun moral choices which colour the man (or women) you are; just ask the people of Megaton
Sadly for all the great choices you can make, it’s the decision to end the game on such a damp squib that hurts the ending to this classic. When The Brotherhood of Steel aides you in purifying the waters around Washington DC, the fight into the Lincoln memorial promises much. Sadly no final boss battle and a simple choice of sending yourself into the machine to die or your friend feels underwhelming in a game as open as this. To add insult to injury, the game only offered up a brief slide show of still images with voice over to explain how the players choices had affected the world, before being kicked back to the main menu. DLC fixed this – but we don’t think gamers should have been made to wait for their endings.
Like any good comic book, thirteen had plenty of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. Sadly also like many comic books, it had it’s eyes mainly on the future when the story was being written. In the game, you have amnesia and the president of the United States has just been assassinated. You must fight your way through various levels to try and uncover the intrigue surrounding this and ultimately prove your innocence.
You find out at the very end of the game that the man you’ve been looking for the entire time has actually been helping you and worse still, shit is about to hit the fan in a big way. Unfortunately for video gamers that was intended to be the setup for the games sequel. The game just ends on a mammoth cliffhanger and gamers were left to wait for the sequel which never came. No resolution. Just loose ends. It’s made worse by the fact that the sequel was canned in 2005 – meaning gamers never got the resolution they were hoping for.
8. Fable 2
Peter Molyneux. What can you say about a man who promises real-time growing trees then delivers disappointment? With Fable, gamers were promised an open experience where they could choose how they wanted to play, and for the most part the game delivers (Sort of). So why is it that at the end of Fable 2’s story; the choices mean so little?
A final boss fight that ends after one shot and then the gamer being offered what seems to be 3 choices but in reality mean nothing. Did our family really have to left out of the “Everyone comes back” wish? The choices offered up are laughably thin, awkwardly running against some of the bigger narrative moments within the games. The endings biggest flaw though is trying to paint you as a bad guy for wanting to save your family.
Again, DLC came to fix this ending but that doesn’t excuse lacklustre endings to the game and a final boss battle that was horribly ill-thought out.
It’s somewhat fitting that Crysis, a game famed for it’s stunning graphics, falls somewhat short in the story department. After hours of battling North Koreans on a tropical oasis, gamers are suddenly forced to fight through hordes of aliens in a grey, bland and unappealing flip on the previous local.
The promise through all of this is something bigger lurks on the horizon. Sadly this results in a sub-par fight on board a US navy cruiser, a scene where the survivors escape on a helicopter only to receive transmissions and the main character declaring “We have to go back”. Cue the fade to black and credits.
6. Knights of the Old Republic 2
When gamers got their hands on the original Knights of the Old Republic, they were finally granted the opportunity to experience the Star Wars universe in a way that truly captivated the imagination. Sadly the rushed arrival of Knights of the Old Republic 2 left a lot of that games content on the cutting room floor. Despite this, the game is still hugely enjoyable.
However it would be the ending that proved to be the final insult. Gamers had spent hours getting to know their squad and following the choices that brought them to the stories conclusion; except it really didn’t matter. Kreia, a side character for much of the game, shows up and explains what happens to you in the form of dialogue. All instead of you know; showing what happened. Cue the credits, the game ends and the gamer is left with a sense of disappointment. What an epic let down.
Borderlands is a game that sets you a massive task – open the illusive vault. You spend a good chunk of the game working towards this – with a final boss battle unleashed that could be best described as tepid. But hey, if you get to go into the vault and enjoy the spoils of victory, what harm can there be? Turns out quite a lot actually.
The game abruptly ends, leaving gamers with little closure to the adventure they were just embarking on. Perhaps most disappointing of all – it failed to offer any kind of satisfying reason to dive back in again – the story just ends and the game hand waves the promise of a vault with the vague hint of a sequel. Luckily the sequel manages to stick the landing better – helping to ease the frustration the first game ending left in gamers minds.
4. Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid is a series that prides itself on deep lore, political intrigue and suspiciously placed cardboard boxes. Solid Snake, Metal Gears and…. Raiden? For the most part the game goes off well, toeing the line between political intrigue and gameplay well enough to keep most people engaged. Then came the games ending.
The ending see’s Snake and Raiden reunited after the game begins breaking the fourth wall in as many ways as possible. Rather than letting you fight against Fortune, a character the game has been hyping up since near the beginning, Raiden is kicked upstairs and forced into a rather silly fight against unmanned Metal Gear’s. From here the plot kind of unravels. The baddies reveal their motives, Fortune dies in an exceedingly anti-climactic way and Ocelot goes a bit crazy. There’s no point in really trying to understand what happens because even after this, the game throws enough political waffle at the audience to keep third year politics students busy. There’s 9/11 imagery. There’s lots of political talk and then it ends. Players would have to wait many years until Metal Gear Solid 4 hit before any attempt was made to clear up the mess that Metal Gear Solid 2’s ending left in its wake..
3. Mass Effect 3
The Mass Effect series came from nowhere in the last video game generation to steal huge acclaim for it’s expansive yet deep story telling. Gamers were granted real choices. Who dies? Who lives? Do you bed the sexy Miranda or go for the mysterious Garrus? So when Mass Effect 3 was announced, gamers expected to their decisions to come full circle and bring their Shepherd to a conclusion they wanted.
Sadly while the game itself offered more of the choices people wanted; the endings al lot less impressive. An epic encounter quickly gives way to an awkward discussion between and man and his ghost child? To make matters worse the final choices presented to the gamer felt lazy, underdeveloped and completely devoid of the choices wanted to make. You either got to massacre everything, turn them into hybrid cyborgs or kill the Reapers.
What of your crew? Ambiguous 5 second cut scenes left more questions than answers and for a game touting itself as the end of a trilogy was truly heartbreaking as questions piled and answers didn’t come. So bad was this ending, Bioware had to expand it with free DLC just so people didn’t feel completely robbed of experience; but the damage was already done. Video gamers expected more from Bioware and EA.
2. Halo 2
When a video game as revolutionary as Halo rolls around, people notice. The Xbox’s original star player provided an excellent story wrapped in all the tropes of a top-tier game mixed with Hollywood’s finest. So when Halo 2 was announced, gamers expectations were through the roof.
A campaign mode which cut time between The Arbiter, a character with levels so dull you’ll wish for them to end quickly and Master Chief already had gamers divided. So when the campaign set up the return of Master Chief to an Earth that is being attacked by the Covenant; gamers delighted at the fights to come. “Finish the Fight” Master Chief declares. Then the screen cuts to black.
The ending’s become the stuff of legend within the industry. Development woes meant Bungie had little option but to end the game in such a abrupt way – but that doesn’t make the ending anymore enjoyable or satisfying. It would be 3 years and one console generation later that gamers could finish that fight – leaving us with one of the most infamous endings in videogame history.
Bioshock is without question one of the greatest first person shooters to ever grace gaming. Seeing Andrew Ryans dystopian bathtub cannibalise itself in such vivid fashion made the experience memorable. So when gamers finally get to confront Ryan; they are handed one of gaming’s truly greatest twists – they are the one being manipulated by a narrator who’s been pushing them along with mind control. This leads Ryan to order the gamer to kill him with a golf club. This would have made a logical ending for the game.
Rather than end the game there though, the player is forced to play on in what is arguably the games weakest segment. Playing defend the little sister proved dull and when faced with a final boss so pathetically poor; Gamers had to wonder if the game would kindly end. Painting you as a complete and utter monster or walking saint, it robs the game of the spectacle it had created and sullies the experience of an otherwise legendary game. Endings should be a solid bookend to a great experience – in Bioshock’s case – it’s a sign that the game was trying a little too hard to deliver endings that didn’t fit the tone of the game.