Time to revisit our favourite, and not so favourite, videogame endings once again. In this second volume of climactic conclusions and failed finales, we'll remember titles which wrenched on our heart-strings, spiked our adrenal glands and itched our annoyance receptors. But beware, spoilers ahoy!
Good: Mass Effect 2
Ignoring the awful Reaper fetus showdown, the climactic level of Mass Effect 2 is a surprisingly emotional experience. The knowledge that members of your team who die remain dead, is shocking, especially when you consider the effort you invested to recruit their service and loyalty. Once you blast that Terminator wannabe into the abyss, and cast your eyes over the shattered remnants of your squad, you're reminded of the sacrifices of war.
The final scene, of an army of Reapers descending upon your galaxy, just makes the wait for revenge that much harder!
What's disappointing about Bioshock, is that a perfectly fitting finale is included in the latter portions of the game. Your showdown with Andrew Ryan, the discovery that you're his genetic heir and an unwitting pawn in his feud with Fontaine, would have been a bold, unconventional way to end what was already an original experience.
So maybe you should just stop playing Bioshock after that point? It's not like the game ends with a cheesy boss-fight against a steroid-infused Gears of War reject, is it? Oh.
Good: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
As far as subtitles go, Metal Gear Solid 3's a winner. It's also, in my humble, entirely unbiased, well-judged and astute opinion, the best iteration in the Metal Gear Solid series, both in terms of gameplay, story and emotional investment. No scene demonstrates this better than the final shot of Snake placing a bouquet of flowers and a pistol on The Boss' unmarked grave. Even badass soldiers with eye-patches can shed a cyclopic tear.
But it's not over. With the credits rolled, and your hand extended towards the PS2, finger poised over the power-button, Ocelot can be heard on the phone to the CIA director, revealing his wonderfully twisted, triple-crossed plans have come to fruition. Epic.
Bad: Gears of War 2
So not only do you endure a painfully simple final boss-fight with an Imulsion-pumped Brumak, which is a shame considering the epic tunnel crawl atop the hulking beast, mowing down the fleeing Locust horde and wrestling Corpsers. But then, as Jacinto's foundation collapses and the city plunges into the ocean, it all ends. Is any explanation given for the paradoxically human Locust Queen? Or just what those tentacle-writhing beasts were in the AI-controlled laboratory?
Nope. But we do get to see Marcus and Anya exchange simmering looks from across a helicopter. Yeah. That's exactly what I play Gears of War for. Sexual tension between a Duke Nukem wannabe and a Cortana ripoff.
Good: Uncharted 2
While the penultimate clash with Lazarevic was a clumsy cat-and-mouse chase with explosive jungle blisters, the end of Uncharted 2 is a perfect example of how Sony's franchise gets its story. While I found the actual gameplay of Uncharted 2 to be average at best, even with the spectacular vistas and animation, it's the well-told and well-directed story with its understated dialogue that truly establishes this nascent series as a future hit.
Nata and Elena, alone on a Tibetan cliff-side, exchanging trademark quips as the camera slowly focuses on the setting sun, is a fitting end to a game packed to the brim with Hollywood set-pieces and epic moments. It didn't need an explosive conclusion or tantalising hint-hint at the inevitable third game. It's characters received some much-needed and well-earned rest.
So you've successfully eliminated all of Pacific City's scattered gang-leaders. How exactly the metropolis' economy and industry survived in the face of such widespread criminality is another question entirely. Throughout Crackdown, you've been the Agency's Employee of the Month for so long, you'd expect some sort of ceremony, or at least an FMV to celebrate your success.
But no. Instead, you're told it was the Agency who allowed the gang's to run riot in Pacific City. The Agency funded them, the Agency supplied them with weapons, the Agency probably did their washing when the dry-cleaners was closed. It essentially renders all your efforts meaningless. Forget the talk of 'preparing' the populace for a totalitarian regime, that's just a downright awful plot-twist. Like throwing a rotten egg into an otherwise delicious recipe.
I thoroughly enjoyed Infamous, and the stylish cutscenes and over the top action were a perfect recipe for a superhero game. Despite niggling story issues, I found the ending to be very satisfying and intriguing. Kessler reveals that he is Cole, but from another universe, where a powerful foe laid waste to the city and eventually his family. Kessler traveled back in time and through dimensions to find his younger, alternate self, and prepare him for the imminent destruction.
While it's execution could have been better, it was a most unexpected plot-twist of the best kind. It puts Kessler's actions in perspective, and serves to make the story seem far smarter than it actually is. Lost fans would have a field-day picking it apart for clues, metaphors and religious allegories.
Bad: Assassins Creed
The latter portions of Assassins Creed in general are a confusing mess. Endlessly repetitive objectives, exhausting brawls with armies, and a final boss-fight with a frail old man wielding a Faberge egg. To make matters worse, you're forced to return to Desmond's plodding shoes, in what appears to be a Apple store renovated by neo-Templars. Interest is piqued when Desmond, after touching the Piece of Eden Altair successfully recovered in the Animus, witnesses strange markings and symbols painted on his cell wall in what appears to be fluorescent blood.
And then it's over. No explanation, not even an ominous sidetrack to a chuckling businessman, stroking a cat on a leather chair. Roll credits, cue groans.
So we've slogged our way through eight entries, four delightful finishes and four not so palatable conclusions. Tune in next time for another edition of Best (And Worst) Videogame Endings, with an old-school retro vibe!