Video game endings, like the culmination of most pieces of media, vary wildly from piece to piece. Forget, if you will, about Mass Effect 3 for just a moment. Try and erase it from your mind. Because as heinous as you think the ending may be, it's certainly not a unique beast.
And while it's a personal belief that a bizarre finale shouldn't wreck the complete experience, there have been some particularly jarring conclusions over the years. From unresolved cliffhangers to unsettling revelations, they run the gamut between confusing and just plain absurd.
In the interest of exploring options beyond BioWare's latest hot-button issue, we present five bizarre, shocking, and/or lame endings we could scrounge up.
Offense: Non-Closure/Cliffhanger Ending
Nick Scryer, an amnesiac sent to infiltrate the terrorist organization known as The Movement, was saddled with an impressive arsenal of telekinetic powers to aid in his mission. Squaring off against former PSI-Ops, he was able to paint the walls with their brains, set them on fire, and hijack their bodies to act as his own pawns. It wasn't a terribly deep game by any means, but it was fun in the way only some shooters can be. And after hours of cleaning house with Scryer's impressive powers, expecting some kind of thrilling and explanatory conclusion, players were greeted with the infamous trio of words “TO BE CONTINUED.”
After some particularly weighty content exploring the involvement of special artifacts in some of the world's biggest tragedies (World War II, for example), one would have assumed some sort of closure would have been a courtesy, not Midway's sequel-securing way out. Of course, a sequel at this point is all but out of the question since the company has closed its doors, leaving fans in the dark. What happened to Nick, Sara, and the artifacts so many agents scrambled to recover at the game's climax? The world may never know.
Offense: Anticlimactic Ending
From the first few moments of Borderlands after you've likely heard “Ain't No Rest For The Wicked” a few hundred times (if you're anything like me, walking away from the menu while waiting for a party) cracking into the Vault for endless treasure, riches, and/or some sort of epic revolution after coutnless hours of grinding, Borderlands ended on a very bland note. When you finally arrive to the much-hyped Vault, you're greeted with a very underwhelming boss battle that serves up a smaller challenge than earlier encounters with run-of-the-mill enemies. It could have been an interesting twist, battling the “Destroyer,” but ended up feeling much more like the game ran out of steam after 30 to 60+ hours of aimless wandering. More like “Bore-derlands,” am I right?
Offense: Telling, Not Showing
The followup to one of the greatest Star Wars games of all time was no slouch itself, weaving an engaging tale that encouraged players to make alliances and rely on those around them in the world for help. Upon finally reaching the end of the game (actually quite similar to the Mass Effect debacle) fans are only told what's to become of their friends and allies over the course of the game via Kreia, who spouts all of this information in a bloated conversation, and is then left to die. Roll credits. Rather than experiencing these plot revelations for yourself or interacting in a way beyond clicking through conversational options, you're left thinking about what could have been. It's an unfortunate end to an otherwise excellent RPG.
Offense: Flat-Out Terrible
L.A. Noire wasn't exactly perfect, but it oozed old-Hollywood charm from every single pore. The option to skip through the insufferable action sequences ensured anyone could enjoy the sordid tales of murder and intrigue, and the tale of Cole Phelps, star detective to fallen pseudo-celebrity, was a heart-wrenching one. Who knew investigating the murders of random drug traffickers could be so much fun? It's a shame then, that after witnessing the many injustices suffered by Phelps himself that the tale ended so abruptly with the death of the fallen hero. Adulterous scum he may have been, that still didn't excuse his bizarre and lazily written death-by-rushing-sewer-water.
Offense: Is it really over?
After losing several friends and key battles in the war against the Locust, the Gears of War trilogy comes to a screeching halt. The day is saved. Queen Myrrah is vanquished in a lackluster final encounter that feels much more like a surrealistic sequence than the final stages of a triple-A video game sequel. Are we ever going to unlock the mystery of Myrrah? What becomes of Sera after the final chain of events that unfolded in the last few hours of the game? To put it bluntly, the entire experience felt much more like the "calm before the storm" you see in shounen anime: you think it's all over, the world is saved, but is it really?
The ending felt slightly uncomfortable, like the Gears entered some sort of strange, parallel world in which familiar friends make the ultimate sacrifice and a relatively simple solution saves the day. Sera's a mad world, apparently, and I'm just not convinced this is the last we'll see of it.
Do you know of a video game ending that's even crazier than the ones above? Let us know in the comment section below.