Worst Videogame Ending Ever

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Worst Videogame Ending Ever

The guys debate which has a worse ending Grand Theft Auto III or Final Fantasy VII.

Read Full Article

Nice you mentioned FFVII and its bad ending. However, you never mentioned why it was a bad ending. The reason was that wasn't supposed to be the ending. The game was running long and marketing demanding it be published soon. So they pick the latest boss they were working on as the final boss slapped the ending on and went to print. I wish I had the source for this because it was revealed in a inside look interview way back.

FF VII's was horrible because they ran out of time. Even if they hadn't admitted it since it's pretty patently obvious that it's a 'whoops, uh, here's an ending.' On the other hand, then it turned out to be wildly profitable for them since everyone was too busy looking at the graphics and then they could milk the non-ending for a dozen spin-offs and CG videos.

GTA III didn't offend me so much, it just surprised me. 'Wait, that was the last mission? The credits are rolling?' Then I went back to blowing things up.

I have to agree with Dan here. Actively hostile ending ('haw haw you played for 80 hours and here's your payoff') is worse than road-bump non-ending where I didn't care about the plot.

medv4380:
Nice you mentioned FFVII and its bad ending. However, you never mentioned why it was a bad ending. The reason was that wasn't supposed to be the ending. The game was running long and marketing demanding it be published soon. So they pick the latest boss they were working on as the final boss slapped the ending on and went to print. I wish I had the source for this because it was revealed in a inside look interview way back.

oldtaku:
FF VII's was horrible because they ran out of time. Even if they hadn't admitted it since it's pretty patently obvious that it's a 'whoops, uh, here's an ending.' On the other hand, then it turned out to be wildly profitable for them since everyone was too busy looking at the graphics and then they could milk the non-ending for a dozen spin-offs and CG videos.

See, that doesn't make any sense to me, because where was the plot going to go that it didn't go? Was Square just going to include several more failed attempts to get into the crater? I don't feel like they left any questions unanswered, other than why Sephiroth wanted to "become a god." But that answer seems to be "because he's a JRPG villain."

Regarding the whole FF7 issue:

Chris:

The ending is unfairly ambiguous around a plot that already confuses the hell out of me thanks to wonky flashbacks, and to cap it all off I genuinely cared about the characters, only to have zero resolution. I don't give a crap whether the planet survived. I didn't just play an 80 hour game because I had a deep connection to the planet. I didn't spend hours level-grinding the planet's abilities. I didn't watch the planet get stabbed and then told I couldn't go kick some ass for another two discs. Getting rewarded with a time-skip that says "Well, at least the planet is alright" isn't anywhere near satisfying. And if you're under the theory that it was meant to be open for interpretation, then why make so many spin-off games that slowly answer all the questions I was left with?

Here's the thing. FF7 was a Squaresoft title. All those FF7 spin-offs, sequels and prequels? They're Square-Enix titles. They were made ten years after the original game came out, when Hironobu Sakaguchi and a whole load of other developers who actually created FF7 had either been sacked or simply left Square to form their own studios cough*Mistwalker*cough

I remember even years after it had come out, playing FF7 and being wowed by the entire spectacle of the story, ending included. It wasn't until about 3 or 4 years after I'd played the game that Advent Children began the avalanche of FF7 spin-offs, and I was pretty late to the party anyway. Square managed to get all the way to FFX/XI before deciding to turn around and start making more FF7 related media. That, to me, doesn't come across as a group of artists deciding to further elaborate on their original artistic statement. It comes across as a corporate entity wanting to, and succeeding in making a lot of money cashing in on the nostalgia of older gamers, a suspicion I think borne out by the somewhat middling quality of the spin-offs themselves. So, to answer your question, money dear boy. The fact that it was Squenix, not Squaresoft themselves who felt the need to release more FF7 media point to it being less a dying need to make a further artistic statement, and more a somewhat cynical exercise in money-making.

Now, regarding the ambiguity of the ending itself... I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, the characters in FF7 had their resolution before the final battle.

Hell, before they even go to North Crater, Cloud tells everyone to go off and find what it is they're fighting for, and to make sure they're absolutely committed to fighting the good fight.

With all that said and done, what was there really left to explore about the characters? They've worked through all their trauma, they've uncovered all the lies and falsehoods about their pasts, they've united themselves against a common foe and decided to fight him together... what would an extra ten minutes of ending really have brought to the table? Do we really need to see Barrett looking after Marlene to believe he was sincere in his promise to be a father to her? Would the ending really have been that much better for seeing Red XIII return to Cosmo Canyon with our own eyes?

It's my belief that FF7's ending serves as a wonderful summation of the game's environmental themes. By the time the credits roll, all the relevant character stuff has been tied up, and the main antagonist has been resoundingly defeated. The actual plot got its resolution the second Sephiroth got beaten down by the player. Where it remained ambiguous was on the stuff that was bigger than the characters, the actual world. We see Meteor heading towards planet, we see the Lifestream manifesting to defend the planet... then we see the ruins of Midgar 500 years later, overgrown with trees and plants.

If you look at the ending without bearing in mind the themes of the story, then perhaps it will come off as a bit of a crock of shit. But then, that could also be said about War And Peace, Citizen Kane, and any other great story told in the last 200 years. When watching the ending to FF7, you have to remember that the crux of the story is based around themes of environmentalism. When you do that, then the meaning of the ending becomes entirely clear: No matter how badly we mistreat it, the planet will always eventually recover, and it will always defend itself. But when it does respond to the pollution and the abuse that we have put it to, it may well decide (symbolically of course) that humanity is no longer welcome, and in defending itself it may well wipe us out. That is what the ruins of Midgar stand for. The planet is still there, and it is still alive, but it may well be that while the planet was able to survive, humanity was not.

When you look at the impending threat of climate change, the melting of the ice caps and the rising of the sea levels, the increase in drought and famine across the world, then it is easy to see the poignancy of the game's message. It would be the simplest thing for Planet Earth to wipe out humanity in the course of responding to the pollution and stripping of the environment we are responsible for, and such a cataclysm becomes more likely every day that we leave these environmental issues unaddressed.

The character themes in FF7 were always secondary to the themes of the planet itself, and it is those primary themes which the ending addresses.

EDIT

Lvl 64 Klutz:

See, that doesn't make any sense to me, because where was the plot going to go that it didn't go? Was Square just going to include several more failed attempts to get into the crater? I don't feel like they left any questions unanswered, other than why Sephiroth wanted to "become a god." But that answer seems to be "because he's a JRPG villain."

I thought the implication was always that he wrongly saw himself as the son of a Goddess. He believed Jenova to be the last of the Ancients, and saw her as a divine power. He also believed she was his direct mother. Putting two and two together, he ended up seeing himself as also being divine, and wanted a way to manifest that in himself.

I mean, it's pretty batshit, but then again I'm pretty sure Sephiroth was meant to be portrayed as a few spanners short of a toolbox anyway. Out of all the videogame villains who try to justify their insanity, I think Sephiroth is one of the ones with a better case. Let's be honest, what would you do if you were a super soldier who found out you were the genetic offspring of a weird tentacley thing that fell from the skies?

Lvl 64 Klutz:

medv4380:
snip

oldtaku:
snip

See, that doesn't make any sense to me, because where was the plot going to go that it didn't go? Was Square just going to include several more failed attempts to get into the crater? I don't feel like they left any questions unanswered, other than why Sephiroth wanted to "become a god." But that answer seems to be "because he's a JRPG villain."

I'm not saying that what they did was leave a bunch of loose ends that weren't tied off, but that the ending cut scene and your fight with Sephiroth don't exactly mesh well. Now I'm basing it off of an interview where they said that marketing was pressuring them to actually ship, and if they said "finish this game we ship next week" then you're doing to make a best effort to at least make it look like an ending.

Think of it this way. The main thing I always thought was unresolved was the two remaining weapons that were activated by, what was it, the planets own defenses, and the ending cut scene where you see the city destroyed and in ruins. I couldn't figure out if the city was saved from meteor or not form that last scene.

Since they admitted that the ending was rushed I figure you beat Sephiroth, stopped Meteor, but the Planet wouldn't stop the remaining Weapons and the "Final" boss would have been the remaining weapons and or the Planet. Being rushed all they did was make the last two weapons Optional fights and turned Sephiroth into the last boss. Leaving the player to assume why the city was in ruins in the final scene.

medv4380:
....

I just figured the ending made it pretty clear that even though the lifestream did... something to Meteor (I agree, the cutaway at that moment was a bad choice), Midgar still took quite a beating and was thus left in ruins.

I laugh when people tell me that Mass Effect 3 has one of 'the worst endings in videogame history ever' because they clearly have shorter memories than goldfish.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the first Tomb Raider game on PSX, Soul Caliber IV, Medieval II: Total War, KoToR II, X-Men Legends II, and that's all fairly modern games with unbelievably crappy endings.

And don't even try and argue that it was about ambiguity, because when it's another game that presents itself as more 'arty' you'll defend it to the death. What the fuck is actually happening at the end of ICO, or Shadow of the Colossus? Sure there are fan theories out there and a lot of supporting evidence for some of them in the games, but are we ever actually told what is happening?

Remember Metal Gear Solid 2? Remember the shit storm gamers kicked up over that fucking ending? Did that just suddenly get downgraded from 'most disappointing ending ever' because Mass Effect didn't give each of you an individual blowjob from Jen Hale and a congratulatory handshake from Casey Hudson?

Mass effect 3.

I don't give two shits what anyone says. It IS imo, THE WORST.

Reasons have been stated plenty but I'll say this:

The story fucking mattered. Most other games with shitty endings focused almost solely on combat. This was a game, that was almost exclusively set on story. And it fell short. No, it fell off the end of the world.

MelasZepheos:
Snip

Mick Golden Blood:
Snip

First, its hilarious that these two posts are right next to each other. Second, neither of you actually paid attention to what thread you're posting on, did you? This had literally nothing to do with Mass Effect 3 apart from small mentions in each argument's first paragraph.

OT: I've never really cared about Grand Theft Auto, and even less so about the stories in that series, but my eleven year old mind never really had any issues understanding Final Fantasy VII's ending. I always figured it had a typical "They saaaaaaved the world!" ending and everyone came out okay.

As for other games mentioned in the article, I'd honestly need to go with God of War as my own pick. The series had no reason to exist past its first installment, which was the only time Kratos was even remotely relatable. After that he was morphed into a cartoonish, psychopathic caricature of himself that only existed for once purpose and was, quite frankly, terrible at achieving that purpose. And the fact that yet another God of War game is being released just. . . really makes me sigh.

EDIT: Actually, while we're on the subject of Final Fantasy endings, I'd like to see an explanation as to how VII, which ostensibly ended with "The bad guy loses" is any worse of an ending than VIII's, which essentially threw nightmare-fuel at you and then said "Whelp, it's over!"

I do not see Psi-Ops or Republic commando. People who make cliffhanger game endings and then go out of business should be dragged from their homes and forced to finish the damn story!

Lvl 64 Klutz:

See, that doesn't make any sense to me, because where was the plot going to go that it didn't go? Was Square just going to include several more failed attempts to get into the crater? I don't feel like they left any questions unanswered, other than why Sephiroth wanted to "become a god." But that answer seems to be "because he's a JRPG villain."

Sephiroth is one of those bosses you get just before the real boss. I'm fairly sure the 'real' ending would have involved fighting a gigantic Jenova incarnation. And would have showed just how the Meteor was stopped after you fought your way through a space dungeon. Probably on the space ship that Jenova originally crashed into Midgard on a few thousand years ago after Sephiroth re-launches it. That's just the way JPRGs rolled!

I think you can make a pretty good argument that the Sephiroth the party encounters is never the original Sephiroth at all (except in the flashback), just one of Jenova's incarnations, which also explains the drive to 'become' a god (he's an alien god's avatar). So this would have been revealed, cue transformed god-boss fight.

Actually, this whole FF7 thing reminds me that Knights of the Old Republic 2's ending (as shipped) was even worse. A whole tangle of carefully built subplots, characters, and relationships just tossed out the window because they ran out of time.

The only thing that redeems it is that they included the original ending scripts on the game disk and some very dedicated fans released a mod that restored it.

The ending of Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 was pretty bad.

All seriousness though; Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.

MelasZepheos:

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the first Tomb Raider game on PSX, Medieval II: Total War

Those are all very, very bad. I don't think anything could take my mind off how bad the endings were when I played them.

MelasZepheos:
blowjob from Jen Hale

Okay, almost anything.

OT: FF7s was ok, wasn't it? I'm disappointed with most GTA endings.

Neither (GTA 3 and FF 7) were that terrible, IMO. Rushed, yes... Terrible, no.

Games with awful endings are quite often... and no, Mass Effect 3 ending doesn't count. Anyone that says ME3 either: plays one game a year or, has been a game for 2 years.

You want awful endings? How about Borderlands, Rage, Ghostbusters, Bionic Commando, Ghosts & Goblins?

How about Half Life 2: Episode 2? You know what is worst than an underwhelming ending? One that was set as a huge cliffhanger, NEVER to be answered again.

MelasZepheos:
Remember Metal Gear Solid 2? Remember the shit storm gamers kicked up over that fucking ending? Did that just suddenly get downgraded from 'most disappointing ending ever' because Mass Effect didn't give each of you an individual blowjob from Jen Hale and a congratulatory handshake from Casey Hudson?

Thanks.

Conglaturation!

You Have Completed A Great Game. And Prooved The Justice of our Culture.

Now Go And Rest Our Heroes!

Well, with RAGE it took me a while to realize that I was actually watching the end clip. That was the moment I really did feel some rage creep up on me, and I thought that was really meta and artsy.

I expected some sort of DLC, though. It never came.

Most games these days seem to have crap and rushed endings.

Take Driver: San Francisco, a game I truly enjoyed -

shrekfan246:

MelasZepheos:
Snip

Mick Golden Blood:
Snip

First, its hilarious that these two posts are right next to each other. Second, neither of you actually paid attention to what thread you're posting on, did you? This had literally nothing to do with Mass Effect 3 apart from small mentions in each argument's first paragraph.

-snip-

EDIT: Actually, while we're on the subject of Final Fantasy endings, I'd like to see an explanation as to how VII, which ostensibly ended with "The bad guy loses" is any worse of an ending than VIII's, which essentially threw nightmare-fuel at you and then said "Whelp, it's over!"

Did you not see the constant references to ME3 through out the video? It was clearly aimed at qualities of the ME3 ending without coming out and saying it.

I remember really liking the ending to 7 and was confused when it was called bad in the video. I think he just missed something. Personally i loved FF8, never understood the hate, with the exception of selphie all the characters are both balanced yet flawed giving them greater depth then 7's characters. The story becomes overly complicated like most FF games but it innovated in game play and the card game was fun. The game was balanced too<with the exception of the "armageddon fist" combo of zells>, staying challenging without making me scream foul.

O.T. wait... what was the topic again? o yea.... GTA 3's ending was worse then FF7's.

Not sure what issue people took with FFVII's ending. Made perfect sense to me. Aerith's death was not in vain, Cloud can move on......until that movie sequel came out and had to fuck that sideways. 200 years later, Midgar is covered in forest, showing that the planet would survive.

The severity of an ending depends on the build-up involved. This is the core reason for Mass Effect 3's controversy, five years is a long time.

MelasZepheos:
snip

Mick Golden Blood:
snip

And here we see the another aspect. It depends how well invested you were in the story and how good you thought it was.

The way I see it, me and others were willing to forgive Bioware's gameplay hiccups as long as the story was good. I recall after ME2 I said to myself that Bioware was the best of Western videogame storytelling. But obviously not everyone felt that way, there were those who felt it was "just another sci-fi game."

Of course in today's videogame market, expecting a good ending from any game is akin to hoping that gravity will go away. ME3 was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

For the record, I liked MGS2's ending and would take it over any recent game ending.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Regarding the whole FF7 issue:

Chris:

The ending is unfairly ambiguous around a plot that already confuses the hell out of me thanks to wonky flashbacks, and to cap it all off I genuinely cared about the characters, only to have zero resolution. I don't give a crap whether the planet survived. I didn't just play an 80 hour game because I had a deep connection to the planet. I didn't spend hours level-grinding the planet's abilities. I didn't watch the planet get stabbed and then told I couldn't go kick some ass for another two discs. Getting rewarded with a time-skip that says "Well, at least the planet is alright" isn't anywhere near satisfying. And if you're under the theory that it was meant to be open for interpretation, then why make so many spin-off games that slowly answer all the questions I was left with?

Here's the thing. FF7 was a Squaresoft title. All those FF7 spin-offs, sequels and prequels? They're Square-Enix titles. They were made ten years after the original game came out, when Hironobu Sakaguchi and a whole load of other developers who actually created FF7 had either been sacked or simply left Square to form their own studios cough*Mistwalker*cough

I remember even years after it had come out, playing FF7 and being wowed by the entire spectacle of the story, ending included. It wasn't until about 3 or 4 years after I'd played the game that Advent Children began the avalanche of FF7 spin-offs, and I was pretty late to the party anyway. Square managed to get all the way to FFX/XI before deciding to turn around and start making more FF7 related media. That, to me, doesn't come across as a group of artists deciding to further elaborate on their original artistic statement. It comes across as a corporate entity wanting to, and succeeding in making a lot of money cashing in on the nostalgia of older gamers, a suspicion I think borne out by the somewhat middling quality of the spin-offs themselves. So, to answer your question, money dear boy. The fact that it was Squenix, not Squaresoft themselves who felt the need to release more FF7 media point to it being less a dying need to make a further artistic statement, and more a somewhat cynical exercise in money-making.

Now, regarding the ambiguity of the ending itself... I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, the characters in FF7 had their resolution before the final battle.

Hell, before they even go to North Crater, Cloud tells everyone to go off and find what it is they're fighting for, and to make sure they're absolutely committed to fighting the good fight.

With all that said and done, what was there really left to explore about the characters? They've worked through all their trauma, they've uncovered all the lies and falsehoods about their pasts, they've united themselves against a common foe and decided to fight him together... what would an extra ten minutes of ending really have brought to the table? Do we really need to see Barrett looking after Marlene to believe he was sincere in his promise to be a father to her? Would the ending really have been that much better for seeing Red XIII return to Cosmo Canyon with our own eyes?

It's my belief that FF7's ending serves as a wonderful summation of the game's environmental themes. By the time the credits roll, all the relevant character stuff has been tied up, and the main antagonist has been resoundingly defeated. The actual plot got its resolution the second Sephiroth got beaten down by the player. Where it remained ambiguous was on the stuff that was bigger than the characters, the actual world. We see Meteor heading towards planet, we see the Lifestream manifesting to defend the planet... then we see the ruins of Midgar 500 years later, overgrown with trees and plants.

If you look at the ending without bearing in mind the themes of the story, then perhaps it will come off as a bit of a crock of shit. But then, that could also be said about War And Peace, Citizen Kane, and any other great story told in the last 200 years. When watching the ending to FF7, you have to remember that the crux of the story is based around themes of environmentalism. When you do that, then the meaning of the ending becomes entirely clear: No matter how badly we mistreat it, the planet will always eventually recover, and it will always defend itself. But when it does respond to the pollution and the abuse that we have put it to, it may well decide (symbolically of course) that humanity is no longer welcome, and in defending itself it may well wipe us out. That is what the ruins of Midgar stand for. The planet is still there, and it is still alive, but it may well be that while the planet was able to survive, humanity was not.

When you look at the impending threat of climate change, the melting of the ice caps and the rising of the sea levels, the increase in drought and famine across the world, then it is easy to see the poignancy of the game's message. It would be the simplest thing for Planet Earth to wipe out humanity in the course of responding to the pollution and stripping of the environment we are responsible for, and such a cataclysm becomes more likely every day that we leave these environmental issues unaddressed.

The character themes in FF7 were always secondary to the themes of the planet itself, and it is those primary themes which the ending addresses.

EDIT

Lvl 64 Klutz:

See, that doesn't make any sense to me, because where was the plot going to go that it didn't go? Was Square just going to include several more failed attempts to get into the crater? I don't feel like they left any questions unanswered, other than why Sephiroth wanted to "become a god." But that answer seems to be "because he's a JRPG villain."

I thought the implication was always that he wrongly saw himself as the son of a Goddess. He believed Jenova to be the last of the Ancients, and saw her as a divine power. He also believed she was his direct mother. Putting two and two together, he ended up seeing himself as also being divine, and wanted a way to manifest that in himself.

I mean, it's pretty batshit, but then again I'm pretty sure Sephiroth was meant to be portrayed as a few spanners short of a toolbox anyway. Out of all the videogame villains who try to justify their insanity, I think Sephiroth is one of the ones with a better case. Let's be honest, what would you do if you were a super soldier who found out you were the genetic offspring of a weird tentacley thing that fell from the skies?

See, i always believed that, by the end, Sephiroth was perfectly aware of his true origin and what he was trying to accomplish. Sure, he went mad in Nibelheim, but after that he was merged with the Lifestream.

He had access to all the information the planet had ever accumulated and made the conscious decision to carry out his "mother's" original plan.

In my eyes, he was the epitome of a genuinely Evil character, with a capitol "E", in the fact that he was fully aware after his blending into the Lifestream, despite his insanity beforehand.

The Lifestream cured his mental instability, and he decided that he would attempt genocide regardless.

You raise some excellent points, and i only quibble with my personal opinion.

God, i love geek chat :D

Lovely Mixture:
And here we see the another aspect. It depends how well invested you were in the story and how good you thought it was.

The way I see it, me and others were willing to forgive Bioware's gameplay hiccups as long as the story was good. I recall after ME2 I said to myself that Bioware was the best of Western videogame storytelling. But obviously not everyone felt that way, there were those who felt it was "just another sci-fi game."

I admit, I'm definitely part of that camp. For me, ME is done. Outside of achievement grinding and going through the game to get a final "canon" playthrough, what's done has been done. Besides, there are far more holes in the ME mythos than just the ending to the 3rd game (like the whack-ass in-game reason for that thermal clip nonsense). So it was fun for what it was, but I don't have the same level of emotional investment that you or some others have (that goes to Jade Empire).

Many comments reminded Chris that ambiguity is not necessarily a bad thing, such as the ending moment of Inception. But is the ambiguity of the FF VII ending appropriate? I would say it goes against the manner in which the rest of the story is conveyed, definitely.

Since I was one of those people, I suppose I'll defend my position. The difference between an ending that is ambiguous because the creator willed it so and one that is ambiguous because the creator ran out of time and just slapped whatever is indeed something that cannot be quantified and only by looking at each work specifically you can tell what is the case, although it is usually quite unambiguous which case it is. (Ha!) Personally, even if the FFVII ending was abrupt, Chris didn't argue that, he argued only that it was bad because it didn't 'explain everything', and the fact that the game earns this criticism does not mean this argument can be excused.

Furthermore, I find the tendency of gamers in general to demand that everything be explained to be irksome and counter to our interests. Taking the ME3 example, there are two camps that embody this. Those that demand that the ending explain everything and refuse to come up with their own explanation, and those that flat out deny Indocrination Theory because they say Bioware has to say it's canon, which is just not how narrative analysis should work (if your theory fits the work, then it's a valid interpretation, the author be damned). These are small camps within the Retakers movement and not the reason why I dislike them, which is not what they demand but rather that they demand something at all, and more emblematic of a general endemic problem with gamers than with the ME3 brouhaha specifically.

To elaborate, there is a profound lack of symbolism and subtletly in games, and it arises, I feel, mostly from the idea devs have that gamers are dumb and that it's better to insult smart gamers to make sure the dumber ones get the story than to force people to think a little to understand stuff. Ever notice how every plot twist in a game is either telegraphed so hard your character has to be a complete moron not to realize what's going on or coming so out of the blue that there was no way you could have figured it out ahead of time? This is because devs can't do subtle, which is what you need for a good plot twist, and without subtle they either outright tell you what will happen or don't tell anything and the surprise falls flat. And this is the most basic of basic stuff; when you get to things like symbolism it gets even worse. What is the last time you saw actual symbolism in a game? The only recent, mainstream title to do that was Bioshock, in which an objectivist isolacionist society was symbolized by... an objectivist isolacionist society. Games never dare to make us read something between the lines because they hardly trust us to be able to read the lines themselves.

I find that to be a massive problem, and one of the ways gamers can help the industry to come out of this funk (other than the probably simpler solution of grabbing Gamemaker and making a game more subtle than the mainstream could dram of) is to show themselves to be able to decode things that aren't obvious. To jump in defense of the obvious and of the well explained as opposed to the ambiguous is anathema to what I think we should be doing. I personally haven't seen FFVII's ending, but from what is described the problem is not that it doesn't explain anything, but rather that it was jarring and left you unfilfilled. Why not identify that as the problem instead of phrasing your complaint in such a way that your problem appears to be that the game won't do your thinking for you?

GTA's ending can't be as bad in comparison to ME3, nor can any other game that is not *story-driven*. The main problem lies in the disparity between the Mass Effect player's role of choice within the story, and the ending. The ending took away any sense of choice built up over three games, through a series of lazy, non-nonsensical cut-scenes. ME3's ending may not be the worst in the world, but it certainly ranks high.

MelasZepheos:

And don't even try and argue that it was about ambiguity, because when it's another game that presents itself as more 'arty' you'll defend it to the death. What the fuck is actually happening at the end of ICO, or Shadow of the Colossus? Sure there are fan theories out there and a lot of supporting evidence for some of them in the games, but are we ever actually told what is happening?

Another person who has no clue what they're talking about being snarky.

1. ICO and SOTC had vague, hazy and obscure themes, atmosphere and stories throughout. The endings kept the tone of the entire games - and both end in a way that is clear and satisfying for the characters in relation to the rest of the story.

Mass Effect dramatically and suddenly shifts its tone, central mechanics and themes completely in the final 10 minutes.

Everything the player has learned about the universe, every choice they have made, every conflict they have resolved in all 3 games and even the character of Shepard himself is abruptly nullified, violated and rendered void by a nonsensical and new character that appears from nowhere at the final moments and introduces so many questions and plotholes it would take a whole new thread to list them all.

It literally feels like the last ten minutes is from a completely different game and story. That's why it's so bad - not because it wasn't 'happy'.

The Random One:

Why not identify that as the problem instead of phrasing your complaint in such a way that your problem appears to be that the game won't do your thinking for you?

Because when people do start thinking about the ending they realise how utterly nonsensical and game breaking it is.

Full of plot holes, inconsistencies, self contradictions and most importantly a series of idiotic, never explained acts of stupidity by Shepard and his squad that go against everything the characters stood for and that the player has no way to prevent. We are robbed of the game's central mechanics and themes at the most crucial moment of the entire series.

It is also not a satisfying way to conclude a 100 hour story that, until that final ten minutes, was never vague or 'symbolic'. It was a jarring tonal shift.

Peoples' problem with the ending is not that it makes them think or that they can't see the 'symbolism' in it. They see it alright, they just think it sucks and is broken and it makes the entire story fall apart.

The Random One:

To elaborate, there is a profound lack of symbolism and subtletly in games, and it arises, I feel, mostly from the idea devs have that gamers are dumb and that it's better to insult smart gamers to make sure the dumber ones get the story than to force people to think a little to understand stuff. Ever notice how every plot twist in a game is either telegraphed so hard your character has to be a complete moron not to realize what's going on or coming so out of the blue that there was no way you could have figured it out ahead of time? This is because devs can't do subtle, which is what you need for a good plot twist, and without subtle they either outright tell you what will happen or don't tell anything and the surprise falls flat. And this is the most basic of basic stuff; when you get to things like symbolism it gets even worse. What is the last time you saw actual symbolism in a game? The only recent, mainstream title to do that was Bioshock, in which an objectivist isolacionist society was symbolized by... an objectivist isolacionist society. Games never dare to make us read something between the lines because they hardly trust us to be able to read the lines themselves.

While I do emphatically agree with your post, I do think perhaps you're overlooking the output of the small number of developers who do at least try and include thematic and symbolic content in their games. Bioshock is certainly not the only recent mainstream game to have tried to do such. Atlus have been doing this for a long time with the Persona series, and most recently (and perhaps effectively) with Catherine. Remedy managed this with both the Max Payne games and Alan Wake. Obsidian have been including symbolism and subtext in their games since day one, and I'd say they nail it better than pretty much any other western developer out there. Even New Vegas, an open-world sandbox, managed to incorporate a lot of lofty ideas and symbolism into its narrative.

Hell, personally speaking, I'd put the entire Final Fantasy series up there too. Say what you will about the direction the series has taken, but Square has always known how to include deeper ideas and themes that bubble away under the surface.

Broadly speaking, though, you're absolutely correct. There is a critical lack of games that provide food for thought. I think we may differ on the reasons why, however. You seem to believe that it is because most developers could give us richer, deeper content if they wanted to, but don't feel like it would be worth the risk. My personal belief is that most developers themselves have a criminally poor understanding of narrative, and wouldn't be able to create deeper content even if they wanted to. After all, most developers are programmers, not writers. They specialise in numbers and algorithms, not literary techniques and philosophical ideas. Most developers simply don't understand storytelling. If you want proof of this, look at games like Crysis 2, where the developers bring onboard well-known writers as if that is somehow a magic bullet for nailing an interactive story. Most developers don't understand why great stories are great, and simply follow the logic that if they get a professional writer to tack a story onto their already in-production game, that will make a great story too.

Look at any game with a great story and thematic subtext, and you can be practically guaranteed that the developers not only understand the mechanics of good narrative design, but also the importance of including the story in production from day one. Most developers even today focus on gameplay, graphics and level design first, and shoe-horn the story in at a later date. We can't expect mainstream gaming to achieve a level of narrative brilliance comparable to Hollywood or the publishing industry at its finest when the majority of developers still don't understand how or why the most basic narrative techniques work the way they do. Focus on remedying that, and hopefully we will get richer, more rewarding stories as a result.

Y'know, Final Fantasy VII's ending wouldn't have been better if you got to choose Red lifestream or Blue lifestream in place of the standard Green, because pretty much all the complaints made about it in this article are exactly the same as people are making about the ending to Mass Effect 3.

Except at least in FFVII you got to Omnislash Sephiroth in his smug face. Which means it is automatically +1 better than the ME3 ending.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Now, regarding the ambiguity of the ending itself... I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, the characters in FF7 had their resolution before the final battle.

The main ambiguity surrounding the FFVII ending, and I've been around the nets long enough to remember this from when it was pretty fresh stuff, was whether anyone actually survived at all.

There was a significant faction within the fandom whose interpretation was that the Lifestream's solution to the problem was to kill all humans, leaving only Red XIII's people alive. This was supported by the final scene of the world's most significant human artifact, Midgar, abandoned and reclaimed by nature.

I'd also disagree that the story of the characters was secondary to the story of the Planet. The story of the Planet was only important because of the way it shaped the story of the characters and their relationships.

The fact that the ending doesn't focus on the characters is one of its key failings. (NB: Again, this criticism is equally true when applied to both FFVII and Mass Effect 3)

GloatingSwine:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Now, regarding the ambiguity of the ending itself... I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, the characters in FF7 had their resolution before the final battle.

The main ambiguity surrounding the FFVII ending, and I've been around the nets long enough to remember this from when it was pretty fresh stuff, was whether anyone actually survived at all.

There was a significant faction within the fandom whose interpretation was that the Lifestream's solution to the problem was to kill all humans, leaving only Red XIII's people alive. This was supported by the final scene of the world's most significant human artifact, Midgar, abandoned and reclaimed by nature.

I'd also disagree that the story of the characters was secondary to the story of the Planet. The story of the Planet was only important because of the way it shaped the story of the characters and their relationships.

The fact that the ending doesn't focus on the characters is one of its key failings. (NB: Again, this criticism is equally true when applied to both FFVII and Mass Effect 3)

I'm pretty sure I addressed this already, but perhaps it's worth saying again.

The ambiguity of the ending, specifically regarding whether humanity survives or not, is a deliberate reflection of the same situation we find ourselves in regarding the environment. FF7 is a game where environmentalism dominates the themes, symbolism and imagery.

When Square left it ambiguous about whether humanity survived or not, they were making a statement. Civilisation in the world of FF7 grew based on the misuse and abuse of the natural world and its resources. In the end, the planet itself was forced to respond to the cataclysms brought upon it by humanity, and in doing so it's implied that it may well have wiped out humanity in the first place. We are now in a position where our own abuse of the environment may well be our own undoing, as climate change, melting ice-caps and general environmental unrest all threaten to destabilise the very foundations of our global civilisation.

We will never destroy the planet, or all the life that lives on it. Life is too numerous and the planet too big for us to ever make such a grand claim. What we are risking, however, is unbalancing the scales of nature to such a point that when the planet responds, we will ourselves be wiped out. That is where the true threat of pollution and climate change lie, and that is what the ending of FF7 hints at. If humanity was wiped out in the end of FF7, it was only because their own abuse of the planet had rendered them unfit to live on it.

And I very much disagree with you on the importance of the overarching plot vs the importance of the character plots. The Lifestream wasn't there to suit the needs of the story of the characters. The characters were there to further the needs of the story of the planet. Everything the characters go through, every challenge they overcome, every goal they reach, is all in service of trying to save the planet and undo the damage caused by Shinra and Sephiroth. When a character in FF7 overcomes their tragic past/false memories/etc, it's not so that they can live happy fulfilled lives as mentally stable individuals, it's so they can carry on the good fight for the Lifestream with a clear conscience and an optimistic outlook. FF7 used strong characterisation for the time, but it is not a character study. It is fundamentally a heroic epic where the story hinges on the fate of the world that the characters live in, not the fates of the characters themselves.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

I'm pretty sure I addressed this already, but perhaps it's worth saying again.

The ambiguity of the ending, specifically regarding whether humanity survives or not, is a deliberate reflection of the same situation we find ourselves in regarding the environment. FF7 is a game where environmentalism dominates the themes, symbolism and imagery.

Whether it's deliberate or not doesn't mean it's not a shitty ending.

Here's the thing, plots are about characters. Going by Forster's definition in Aspects of the Novel that's pretty much the defining element of a plot, that it is driven by characters and motivations. Without that it's just a bunch of stuff that happens. If the ending stops worrying about the characters in favour of stuff, it's not an ending to the plot, it leaves the plot hanging (and even if the characters have achieved resolution before the ending, that is rendered meaningless if they are shoved offscreen in favour of stuff in the ending. The plot is about characters, in order to be an ending, the ending must also be about them.

This is why if you randomly sampled players of Final Fantasy VII about what the most memorable thing in it was, the overwhelming response would be what happens at the end of disc 1, not what happens at the end of disc 3, because that was about characters, and redefined characters and motivations for the rest of the game.

If your plot blows its narrative load halfway through, to the extent that nothing that happens in the second half can achieve notice above that halfway element, and your ending can't even be bothered to address the plot because it's about stuff, you've done it wrong.

GloatingSwine:

Whether it's deliberate or not doesn't mean it's not a shitty ending.

Here's the thing, plots are about characters.

Nope. That's your first mistake right there.

Plots do not need to be about characters. They can use characters if needs be, and they can be about characters, but there is no law of narrative that says they must be about characters.

To give you an example: Alan Moore, he of Watchmen fame, recently wrote a novel called Voice Of The Fire, which isn't about any characters. Instead, it's about Northampton, and 4000 years of history of the Northampton area. It's a work of fiction, and therefore couldn't in any way be called a history book or a reference novel. But it is a work of fiction that is about the idea of Northampton, not about any single characters.

Narratives do not have to be defined by something as simple as characters. Many of the greatest stories in the world aren't about characters, they're about ideas. Animal Farm, for instance, is not about Nelson or Snowball. It is about the rise of Stalinism, and the blatant hypocrisies at the heart of the Soviet Union. At The Mountains Of Madness is not about William Dyer. It is about humanity learning that it lives in a chaotic universe, and is only ever a heartbeat away from annihilation by forces far greater than we can comprehend.

Characters are tools used by writers to explore themes and ideas. If they are sufficiently complex then they may be worthy of exploration themselves, but there is no rule of writing that says this must be so.

Without that it's just a bunch of stuff that happens.

All stories are stuff that happens. An inclusion or lack of characters does nothing to change this.

If the ending stops worrying about the characters in favour of stuff, it's not an ending to the plot, it leaves the plot hanging (and even if the characters have achieved resolution before the ending, that is rendered meaningless if they are shoved offscreen in favour of stuff in the ending. The plot is about characters, in order to be an ending, the ending must also be about them.

Nope. Go watch the Sopranos. One of the greatest endings to a TV show in the history of television, an ending that has lead to dozens of different interpretations and ideas... and an ending that specifically leaves character threads untied in order to provide ample room for viewer interpretation.

It is not the job of the writer to tie up everything in a neat little bow for the audience. In a truly great story, the audience is expected to do some of the legwork in order to get the most out of the story. If you routinely expect films, tv shows, books and games to spell out everything for you and leave everything nicely resolved, then you are in for some damn homogenous entertainment.

This is why if you randomly sampled players of Final Fantasy VII about what the most memorable thing in it was, the overwhelming response would be what happens at the end of disc 1, not what happens at the end of disc 3, because that was about characters, and redefined characters and motivations for the rest of the game.

Completely anecdotal. I could argue myself that the most memorable part of FF7 is the iconic battle against the angel formed Sephiroth, the absolutely legendary One Winged Angel music theme, and the Omnislash beatdown that Cloud gives to Sephiroth right before the last cutscene, and I'm sure many would agree with me.

If your plot blows its narrative load halfway through, to the extent that nothing that happens in the second half can achieve notice above that halfway element, and your ending can't even be bothered to address the plot because it's about stuff, you've done it wrong.

Conversely, if you decide once the ground work storytelling has been done to take the narrative up a gear, and to explore loftier themes and ideals while allowing players room to interpret both the overall outcome of events and the meaning of the themes, then you've done it very right indeed.

Once again: there was nothing left to explore in the characters of FF7. They all had their relevant plots tied up before the final act of the game. Done. All finished. Meaning that the game's ending needed only to conclude the larger themes of environmentalism that had run throughout the story in order to be an artistically complete statement. Squaresoft did this. They addressed all the character plots, then left one large, overarching message at the game's end to act as a summation of the game's themes. There is nothing wrong with that form of storytelling.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

GloatingSwine:

Whether it's deliberate or not doesn't mean it's not a shitty ending.

Here's the thing, plots are about characters.

Nope. That's your first mistake right there.

Plots do not need to be about characters. They can use characters if needs be, and they can be about characters, but there is no law of narrative that says they must be about characters.

You should have picked up on the second part of that sentence, and gone on to research the specific essay I named, Aspects of the Novel. See, plot and story are not the same. A story is just a list of events in the order they happen, and all it can do for us is make us want to know what happened next. A plot, on the other hand, concerns causality and the reasons why things happen. Meaning, in other words, and meaning requires agents to appreciate it within the story.

To give you an example: Alan Moore, he of Watchmen fame, recently wrote a novel called Voice Of The Fire, which isn't about any characters. Instead, it's about Northampton, and 4000 years of history of the Northampton area. It's a work of fiction, and therefore couldn't in any way be called a history book or a reference novel. But it is a work of fiction that is about the idea of Northampton, not about any single characters.

Have you even read Voice of the Fire? It's all about characters, it's a sequence of short stories, each about a character or group of characters going through a plot driven by their nature as characters. The evolution of place is a theme which runs through the sequence of stories, but each of the stories is a plot driven by a character or characters. (It's also not recent, it was first published in 1996)

Narratives do not have to be defined by something as simple as characters. Many of the greatest stories in the world aren't about characters, they're about ideas. Animal Farm, for instance, is not about Nelson or Snowball. It is about the rise of Stalinism, and the blatant hypocrisies at the heart of the Soviet Union. At The Mountains Of Madness is not about William Dyer. It is about humanity learning that it lives in a chaotic universe, and is only ever a heartbeat away from annihilation by forces far greater than we can comprehend.

Again, plot and story are different. Story is about stuff happening, plot is what it means, and meaning implicitly requires agents capable of seeking and appreciating meaning driving the plot with their motivations and desires. Remember, you can have a story without having a plot, but you can't have a plot without having a story.

Nope. Go watch the Sopranos. One of the greatest endings to a TV show in the history of television, an ending that has lead to dozens of different interpretations and ideas... and an ending that specifically leaves character threads untied in order to provide ample room for viewer interpretation.

The ending of Sopranos is explicitly about Tony Soprano. The hanging ending in that series is indicative of the fact that Tony Soprano, the character, will never feel safe or secure. He doesn't get an "ending", he gets endless paranoia where anything might be his number finally coming up. It's a great ending because it is about Tony.

Once again: there was nothing left to explore in the characters of FF7. They all had their relevant plots tied up before the final act of the game. Done. All finished. Meaning that the game's ending needed only to conclude the larger themes of environmentalism that had run throughout the story in order to be an artistically complete statement. Squaresoft did this. They addressed all the character plots, then left one large, overarching message at the game's end to act as a summation of the game's themes. There is nothing wrong with that form of storytelling.

Evidently fucking not, because Square have managed to spin an entire industry out of doing exactly that.

This didn't occur to me until the end of the article, but in a sense, GTA3's ending wasn't completely pointless. You end up killing the woman who betrays you in the beginning of the game.
Still, I agree that it wasn't well-executed. Blowing up her helicopter rather than fighting her on the ground made it a lot less personal, and the rescue (followed by execution) kind of distracted from the fact that Mr. Leather Elvis may have wanted revenge above all else.

MelasZepheos:
I laugh when people tell me that Mass Effect 3 has one of 'the worst endings in videogame history ever' because they clearly have shorter memories than goldfish.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the first Tomb Raider game on PSX, Soul Caliber IV, Medieval II: Total War, KoToR II, X-Men Legends II, and that's all fairly modern games with unbelievably crappy endings.

And don't even try and argue that it was about ambiguity, because when it's another game that presents itself as more 'arty' you'll defend it to the death. What the fuck is actually happening at the end of ICO, or Shadow of the Colossus? Sure there are fan theories out there and a lot of supporting evidence for some of them in the games, but are we ever actually told what is happening?

Remember Metal Gear Solid 2? Remember the shit storm gamers kicked up over that fucking ending? Did that just suddenly get downgraded from 'most disappointing ending ever' because Mass Effect didn't give each of you an individual blowjob from Jen Hale and a congratulatory handshake from Casey Hudson?

Well...I was going to point this out (maybe leave off the BJ part), but here you've done it for me! Particularly how on this very forum people are defending FFVII's ending tooth-and-nail, but apparently there's ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for the ending of a more modern games. And God forbid you try to actually defend the ending, then it's all "FINGERS IN EARS LALALALALALA YOU'RE WRONG WRONG WRONG!!" Because everything was better fifteen years ago forever. The only decent attack I've seen is that the ending represents a major tonal shift. I'd disagree somewhat (see also: the Geth collective, the Indoctrination sequence from the first game, Project Overlord to some extent), but that's at least more valid than the blind, frothing rage that so often gets spewed.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
[quote="GloatingSwine" post="6.372664.14391988"]
Once again: there was nothing left to explore in the characters of FF7. They all had their relevant plots tied up before the final act of the game. Done. All finished. Meaning that the game's ending needed only to conclude the larger themes of environmentalism that had run throughout the story in order to be an artistically complete statement. Squaresoft did this. They addressed all the character plots, then left one large, overarching message at the game's end to act as a summation of the game's themes. There is nothing wrong with that form of storytelling.

You could say the EXACT same thing about ME3. Pretty much the moment you enter the Cerberus base is the "ending." You talk to your surviving squadmates, you settle your affairs, you bid them farewell in case you never see them again. I'd go over how each of them has changed and achieved their goals, but the list is too long and the game is still new enough that spoilers are a no-no.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here