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Gaming endings: Not always what you deserve

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 29, 2014

 It would appear, my friends, that we have reached the end of our friendship. It is with a heavy heart that I write this, my final video game column. I hope that I have done my best to highlight the challenges the gaming industry faces today and, with any luck, perhaps inspired you to find a greater appreciation for this amazing medium.
Fittingly, I decided the subject of my final column would be a discussion about video game endings: the good, the bad and the truly unforgettable.
There are many games whose endings are frequently cited as among the greatest of all time. Titles including "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater," "Batman Arkham City" and "Super Metroid" fit into this category. These endings manage to surprise the players with unexpected, if not clichéd, moments of excitement that successfully wrap up the plot and provide the player with a true sense of both accomplishment and satisfaction upon their conclusion.
Some games are known for notoriously poor endings. These endings can often ruin the entire experience of a title for gamers as players of "Mass Effect 3" and "Rage" can attest. Not only do they feel rushed and inconsistent - especially when part of an otherwise exceptional product - they fail to resolve plot holes and leave players with a sense of feeling "cheated." Poor endings are often a result of being the last part of a game to be developed. Video game development is often hectic and publishers, ignorant of the consequences of prematurely releasing a product, will force a title out the door to capitalize on a set release window. Additionally, a lack of creative collaboration between developers, especially among established studios, can lead to this result.
And then there are the best endings, those that are truly unforgettable. Titles including "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," "Bioshock Infinite" and "The Last of Us" will find themselves in this category. Endings such as these are special because they are well planned deliver players an experience which they truly did not see coming, initially leaving players on a bittersweet note.
These are the endings that are neither universally praised nor panned. They are equally lambasted and glorified. They are the endings that reject the status quo. Often, a player might feel betrayed after pouring countless hours upon hours of time into a beloved title, only to not receive the reward they had wished for. However, unlike when you experience a "bad" ending, you leave these experiences ultimately satisfied, yet disappointed because the ending didn't turn out quite like you'd have wished it to.
Eventually though, after the initial scorn or shock settles down - be it a week, a couple of months or a few years - you realize something that was simply impossible to see at the time - that was a better ending than one could have ever hoped for.
 


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