Assassin’s Creed 3 came out a few weeks back, and it was met with great critical response, even here at GamingBolt. When I played the game, I loved it. I didn’t like it on the same level I like Assassin’s Creed 2, or Brotherhood, but I knew it was a really good game. But then, I started to retrospect, picking the game apart piece by piece, and I realized it was way too flawed. I wrote an article about it a few days back. Just as I stated in that article, I still think Assassin’s Creed 3 is a great game, but I also thought it was disappointing, and that it had many flaws. And one of its biggest failings, in my view, was its ending.
Now, I’m not the kind of person who starts hating on a game and denounces it as “disappointing” or “mediocre.” In my view, it’s more about the journey than the destination. A bad ending that takes up 15 minutes of my time cannot overrule the countless hours of enjoyment I got out of a game till that point. But I do want a good ending. So while AC3’s ending didn’t contribute all that much to the game being a disappointment, it was a disappointment in itself, as an ending.
And that got me to thinking about other games that have let me down with their finales this year, which is when I realized that 2012 has been a really bad year when it comes to endgames.
Halo 4, too got bashed for its ending recently. The script itself ended in a very emotional, thrilling scene, but the final mission was a disaster from a gameplay perspective. There was no climactic encounter between Chief and The Didact, and it all just ended too fast, as if it was rushed through by 343. Master Chief’s return deserved a much better finish, instead it just felt like a generic game ending.
And let’s not forget about the big daddy of controversial endings this year- the Lost of video games, Mass Effect 3. We all know just how big a backlash the ending got, but let’s do a recap for those who don’t know/might have forgotten- Mass Effect 3 was released and met with unanimous praise, including us. Then, fans started bitching about the ending. Then, they started a petition, which resulted in BioWare releasing an extended, modified ending for the game for free. This backlash also made the BioWare founders leave the industry altogether.
Now, I personally don’t have many qualms with the ending of Mass Effect 3, and as you can see through the link above, I awarded it a 10/10 in my review and even said I thought the ending was emotionally moving. But then again, I can see why so many fans were mad about it- the ending does leave a lot of loose ends, a lot of questions unanswered, and I can see why people call the entire sequence with the Catalyst a cop out.
Then there’s Dishonored. Now, a disappointing ending isn’t really a big deal here, since the game is more about gameplay, stealth and the element of choice in how you tackle you objectives, and the game does that very well. It’s an excellent game. But the game had the potential to have a really good story, a potential that was largely wasted, and even the ending was a major letdown. It felt as if, in the end, it didn’t matter what you did all throughout the game. Whether you play in a lethal or non-lethal fashion, the ending remains the same.
Even Final Fantasy XIII-2, a game most of us have forgotten even got released this year, had a very, very infuriating ending. It ended in a frustrating cliffhanger, but it wasn’t even that suspenseful- it just stopped. It didn’t end. A lot like Assassin’s Creed 3, in this respect. And what’s worse is that the game itself, while great in its own rights, wasn’t even all that memorable.
It’s been a recurring theme throughout the year. So many games have come and gone, and while most of them have been excellent in general, their finales have been letdowns.
But I’d like to raise another topic, about something I said a few hundred words ago- can endings really be bad enough to ruin an entire game? If you talk to the average gamer on the forums, they will tell you that Mass Effect 3 and/or Assassin’s Creed 3 are absolutely horrible games because of how stupid their endings are. But isn’t that unfair. Mass Effect 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3 are both great games that offer well over 20 hours of gameplay, and are excellent right up until the end.
Sure, the endings were less than satisfactory, but why exactly do we play games? To be provided with countless hours of enjoyment, or
to see excellent, brilliantly written finales? Obviously, I’d prefer my games to have both of them. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose countless hours of entertainment any day.
But then again, developers need to start taking the final moments of their games seriously. People say they don’t want to see all the time they’ve invested into the games- franchises, even- go to waste because of an ending that disregards everything and just does its own thing. And I can understand that. I can even agree with that.
So here’s hoping that next year won’t be as bad for endings in video games as this year has been. We’re not asking for the brilliance of Mass Effect 2 and Batman: Arkham City. No. But please don’t give us the mediocre endings we have gotten for the most part this year.