By Rick Warren / Gfn2112
Endings are often the difference between a good story and a great story. While it doesn't erase the great adventure that came before, a bad ending can leave a sour taste in the mouth of the player (Halo 2 is an example of this for me). On the other hand, a great ending can tie together the entire journey or deliver a huge twist that leaves a lasting impact. This week, I'll be sharing five great endings that left a lasting impact on me. As you'd expect, there are huge spoilers below, so if you haven't finished one of these games skip over the entry!
5.) Batman: Arkham City
When discussing the best Arkham games, it often comes down to a preference of open world or linear gameplay. Arkham City has another advantage, though: its great story. The game is filled with great moments, adding to the seemingly endless list of classic Conroy and Hamill performances to boot. Thanks to them, along with some great writing, the game's ending is unforgettable.
While the Clayface fight was a clever surprise, it's Joker's death that makes the game's conclusion as special as it is. It's interesting to finally see the Joker die, but even more interesting that it was by his own hands and not Batman's. The silent reaction from both heroes and villains as Batman carries Joker's lifeless corpse out of the theater is the perfect conclusion to the greatest superhero game ever made.
In the fourth spot, the final appearance of one of PlayStation's best characters...
4.) Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Uncharted 4 was different from the other games, as it chose to focus on character development and storytelling instead of supernatural creatures and huge setpieces. This huge change of pace likely would have failed if the game was made by any other studio. Instead, thanks to Naughty Dog's talent, it worked. The game gave fans the perfect conclusion to Nathan Drake's story and made his final adventure a classic one.
I loved the ending so much because it's exactly what Nathan Drake deserved. He never tried to be a hero, but he still saved the day countless times and always did the right thing. He truly earned his fairy tale ending with Elena and Cassie. It's rare to see such an upbeat and happy ending nowadays, and when it does happen it usually feels cheesy. Yet in a series that's (intentionally) filled with action movie tropes, this ending didn't come off as one of them... even though it technically was.
Next up, a modern tragedy...
3.) Final Fantasy XV
The entirety (or majority, if you hate chapter 13) of Final Fantasy XV is a blast to play, but the game's final moments are amazing. An older version of the memorable cast come back together, and a duo of great fights follow. The first is against Ifrit, which ends up as a flashy battle between the Summons. Minutes later, Noctis battles Ardyn in a fast, brutal, and exciting fight. Completing these final two boss fights leads to a near-perfect barrage of cutscenes.
From the final sacrifice that Noctis makes, to the use of a specific photo I chose earlier, to an extremely sad post-credits scene, it's all tremendously well done. What makes this ending so memorable for me, though, is that the villain won. Noctis dies, the royal family line is destroyed and Ardyn himself was finally killed, something he was seeking for years. It's a rare thing to see the bad guys win, and even rarer for that type of ending to be satisfying. That uniqueness is why it takes my #3 spot.
In second place sits a finale that is beloved by some and hated by others...
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Yeah, yeah, I get it; nanomachines. The problems of Metal Gear Solid 4 are as apparent as the many strengths... but I love this game regardless. It was a game made for Metal Gear fans, and I enjoyed every minute of those cutscenes deemed "too lengthy" by many gamers. The entire game provided closure and great boss fights, like a Metal Gear game should. It's the final hour, though, that gives it a special place in my heart.
An armless Raiden taking out a group of enemies. Snake pushing through the microwave hallway. An amazing fight between Liquid Ocelot and Solid Snake that pulls in names and music from the entire series. Finally, the graveyard conversation between Solid Snake and Big Boss. The choice to end on what basically became a plot summary shows Kojima's brilliance in storytelling and cutscene direction. Big Boss's final salute and death (with Here's to You playing in the background) was beautiful, and the scene manages to let both of the two greatest Snakes win their final battles.
Finally, in the top spot, my favorite ending of all time...
1.) Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite's final moments are perfection. Kicked off by the death of Songbird, Elizabeth and Booker begin to explore the infinite realities that surround them. With these visits (including one to the amazing city of Rapture), only one constant remains: "there's always a lighthouse, always a man, and always a city".
The twist that follows is, in my opinion, the greatest in gaming history. One piece of the reveal would have been a good ending on its own, but it's the combination of every detail that makes it special. From the true meaning of wipe away the debt, to the explanation behind Elizabeth's missing finger, to Booker accepting his fate, everything is so masterfully created that Bioshock manages to top itself. The "Would You Kindly?" scene is only outdone by the conclusion of this final Bioshock story, and the ending is what defines this tremendous game.
That's all everyone! What's your favorite video game ending? Leave it in the comments, and be sure to check back next week for my five favorite soundtracks!