In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Five Game Endings the Developers should have Changed that are not Mass Effect 3
So far this year Final Fantasy XIII 2 has been lambasted for its “to be continued” ending which many saw as inconclusive and abrupt. Then the internet went slightly madder than usual over Mass Effect 3’s ending. That debacle has seen $80,000 and 402 cupcakes donated to charity as the vast majority of gamers urged Bioware to change pretty much everything that happened during the entire last hour of the game.
Changing endings because of fan reaction has been done before. 2008’s seminal RPG was undoubtedly Bethesda’s Fallout 3, a huge game that would take enormous dedication to see everything that was on offer. The problem, as most of you probably know was that once you completed the main storyline the game just finished. If you wanted to explore the rest of the Capital Wasteland you had to start a new game or revert to an earlier save.
Bethesda listened to the feedback and issued the Broken Steel DLC, thus “fixing” the problem and providing one of the game’s better expansions (although Liberty Prime did not deserve to get blown up).
One of most famous examples of an artist responding to fans requests, or rather demands, is actually in literature. Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his famous detective Sherlock Holmes in the Final Problem only to bring him back in the Adventure of the Empty House because of the ensuing uproar.
And of course we all know the mistake of letting George Lucas anywhere near one of his classic franchises.
So what other games should fans have hassled/begged/threatened the developer into change the ending of? Obviously, there will be spoilers, I will only warn you once. Here’s the list in no particular order.
Considering what happened with Fallout 3 I was surprised when I led my Securitron army over the Hoover Dam, talked down Ceaser Legion’s Legate with my speech skill prowess, and forced the NCR to back down only for the credits to roll and the game to end.
Now the battle for the Hoover Dam and its consequences for the Mojave were always going to be more dramatic than the events that transpired in the Jefferson Memorial at Fallout 3’s conclusion but I still would have thought Obsidian, and certainly, Bethesda would have given you the option of continuing post main quest.
New Vegas was at least as big as Fallout 3 and players were just as unlikely to do all of the countless other tasks and missions that were available before the final push for the Dam. The game really should have loaded after which you woke up, possibly in Doc Mitchell’s office (just for the sake of narrative fulfilment or something) with all the stats and equipment you picked up at the battle for the Dam and off you go to finish all those other unfulfilled quests clogging up your PipBoy.
I’m not even asking to see the aftermath of the battle just for the chance to keep playing the game without having to start again and lose everything. In saying that seeing all of your decisions roped together in a montage that sometimes contradicted itself was rather frustrating.
There are two major problems with the end of L.A. Noire, first and most annoyingly, the game falls into that ridiculous situation were, after spending hours getting to know Cole Phelps you have to finish by playing as somebody else.
L.A. Noire is a big game, it takes time to finish, you get to know Phelps, you mightn’t like him but you know him, togehter you’ve probably racked up enough traffic violations that he should really be in jail for life, you mightn’t approve of the things he’s done but you understand why he did them.
And yet Team Bondi puts you in the shoes of an insurance broker for the finale. Okay, so Jack Kelso and Phelps were off in the war together and the game’s vaguely annoying flashbacks flush out the story between them but come on, there really was no reason for this.
The second problem with L.A. Noire’s conclusion is that having spent the entire game telling you that war is an awful, awful thing they basically say “there’s a bunch of guys coming to get you so here’s a flamethrower because weapons like this are really common in sewers.”
Yes there is a reason the flamethrower’s there but it goes against everything the game has told you up to that point. You can’t build up a theme throughout your game only to discard it for a big shootout at the end, especially not when the combat in L.A. was always a bit clumsy.
John Marston’s one man stand against the entire U.S. army is brilliant, it closes the loop perfectly, it’s the final nail in the coffin of the Wild West. Civilisation, or what is supposed to be civilisation, has won.
Then you’re stuck playing as Marston’s freckled son Jack. Of course a lot of Westerns have revenge as a driving motivation for the characters but redemption is in the name of this game. There’s nothing redemptive about Jack’s duel with Edgar Ross, the government agent responsible for his father’s death. Sorry Jack but pa’s not coming back.
This whole section feels unnecessary, after the deceptive calm of the farm missions and then that stunning moment when Marston walks out of the barn to meet his fate there’s really no need for it. Of course, you should be allowed to keep playing but you should be able to do it as John Marston, who, like Cole Phelps in L.A. Noire, you’ve gotten to know over the course of many hours and unlike Phelps you probably like Marston to boot.
Arkham City had an incredible ending. Arkham Asylum not so much, after what was probably the best licensed game ever (until City anyway) you were finally going to square off against the Joker. In the first game that ever truly made you feel like Batman this should have been an utterly insane fight, instead it was bog standard boss battle.
The Joker injects himself with the Titan formula and grows, so what? Big deal Rocksteady, huge bosses are nothing new. The developer, to their credit, seems to have learnt from their mistake for Arkham City but even so boss fights like this one should either evolve or die. Everything else in gaming has changed massively over the years (imagine going back in time and telling your younger self ten years ago about Onlive or PS Vita when all you had was an Xbox and Snake on your phone) so why not boss fights?
The Joker wouldn’t exist without Batman, and vice versa, this should have been a psychological struggle as much as anything else. Batman should have been pushed to the limits of his mental endurance, but he wasn’t. There had to have been a better way to do this, as well as other boss fights in general.
A lot of people complained about Fable 2’s ending (it was a virtual dog people) but Fable 3’s was even worse. At least in Fable 2 Lucian had a reason to push a kid off the top of a tower and build the Spire, basically he had a reason for being a jackass. But the Lost-like black goo or whatever it was in Fable 3 seems to want to destroy all life in Albion just because it can. The Nightcrawler should be evil for more than just the sake of being evil.
And as for Walter’s possession well you knew it was going to happen long before it did, it just wasn’t a surprise, and if it was then you weren’t paying attention. Fable 3 has that unfortunate problem so many games seem to suffer, an abrupt ending, no real closure and a poor boss fight to top it all off. In saying that at least you were able to keep playing and Lionhead didn’t take away your character and make you play as some random character. And of course your dog lives.
The End for Now
There are plenty of other examples of game endings that the developers should have changed, Assassin’s Creed for instance. Having spent the entire game avoiding big fights you’re forced to confront about forty Templars at once and combat in the first Creed was not exactly brilliant.
If any developers are reading this try to put more thought into how you finish your games, you won’t be able to satisfy everyone of course but there has to be a way to bring closure, please fans, and perhaps more importantly give your game the ending it deserves. So what game endings were you unhappy with? Comment below.