Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut is out now, changing up the game’s controversial endings, but in reflection, were they really all that bad? Here are five sci-figames more deserving of outcry and protest.
Before we dive in, be aware of spoilers – there’s a ton of them here. Consider yourself warned, and please do chip in with your own suggestions for naff endings below.5. Gears of War 3
The COG head to Azura to find Adam Fenix and unleash his anti-Locust death machine before Queen Myrrah and her cronies spoil the fun.
Marcus activates the device, sending a wave of blue energy across the planet, killing every Locust on the planet. Marcus then sits on a rock feeling sorry for himself. Why it’s worse than Mass Effect 3:
The old ‘shockwave of doom’ is a plot device that’s been used in other games to tie up everything neatly. In Gears of War 3, humanity has no way of winning the war using military action, so the fate of the planet rests on a man going somewhere, and then pressing a button. That’s it, war over.
The shockwave kills every Locust on the planet, bringing about instant, guilt-free peace, and instant victory for humanity. There is no mention of how humanity will rebuild, no overview of the ruined world. Nothing.How it could be improved:
Kill the humans – not just some of them, but all of them, as they are actually the bad guys in all of this. Humanity essentially invaded Sera, native planet of the Locust, and warred over its resources.
It was hinted that humans were turning into Locust through collectible journals found in Gears of War 2, but nothing ever came of that suggestion. That would have been a perfect ending.
Imagine Marcus and company realising that humanity has no way of winning and just accepting their fate and joining the ranks of the Locust as failed heroes. It’s like the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend.
In I Am Legend, the human race has been turned into vampire-like creatures and the last human alive Robert Neville is trying to make a cure to save the world. But he quickly realise that in the eyes of the majority he is the freak – the ‘legend’. He accepts his fate and is executed.
Apply that ending and Gears of War 3 and Epic’s ending would have been initiated into the halls of absolute classics. Instead, all we got was to see Marcus without his bandana on. Nice one.4. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsThe ending:
Solid Snake brings down the Patriot’s, halts Liquid Ocelot’s insurrection, and saves Raiden while Meryl and some guy with bowel problems get married in a the back of a plane.
There’s a monkey with a nappy, Denis Rodman drinks a beer, and then Snake visits a graveyard only to be confronted by his dad who convinces Snake to keep on living. So he does. Why it’s worse than Mass Effect 3:
Besides the fact that it lasts about 29 hours, the Metal Gear Solid 4 ending we got is actually different from the version Kojima wanted. Like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, this is one of those endings that explained way too much.
Kojima leaves no stone unturned, but did we really need to see Meryl and Johnny getting married? The only ending arcs worthy of note were of Otacon, Snake and Raiden.
Big Boss showing up thanks to some massively retrofitted rationale made the Metal Gear Solid 4 ending a bitter pill to swallow. After the stunning gut punch ending of MGS3, this was simply too much to bear. How it could be improved:
Go with the original ending. The entire Metal Gear Solid series is founded on the idea that soldiers are tools, blindly following orders and dying for the interests of their motherlands, rather than their own personal gain.
Big Boss realised this, and that’s why he created Outer Heaven in the original 1987 Metal Gear. His military group “Militaires Sans Frontières” (Soldiers Without Borders) is an idealistic group that gives soldiers a place they can work without being used as government tools.
Kojima’s original ending saw Snake and Otacon saving the world from Liquid Ocelot, then turning themselves in for war crimes. They are both captured and then executed as traitors.
The saviours of the world branded as deserters and killed by their own government for war crimes. This is the embodiment of everything Kojima tried to establish throughout the series, but he fell at the final hurdle, which is a real shame.3. Killzone 3The ending:
Another one to file under the “convenient shockwave” category, Killzone 3 sees a nuke spreading Petrusite energy across Helghan, presumably wiping out the planet’s inhabitants.
Meanwhile, the ISA troops who instigated the tragedy sit back from orbit and seem slightly down about causing the mass genocide of an entire planet’s population. All in a day’s work, right lads? Why it’s worse than Mass Effect 3:
Another one of those endings that purges the plot of its main opposing force by creating a huge shockwave – which is green this time by the way – all in time for dinner and a nap.
Genocide wouldn’t go unpunished either. In combat, military forces adhere to Rules of Engagement. It’s a code that stops soldiers from using excessive force – like nuking an entire planet.
In the American version of these rules, section C reads:
“When U.S. forces are attacked by unarmed hostile elements, mobs and/or rioters, U.S. forces should use the minimum force necessary under the circumstances and proportional to the threat.”
See that word there, “minimal”? That doesn’t apply to nuclear weapons. Sure, the Helghan is attacking the ISA from all sides, but what about unarmed Helghast who didn’t support Stahl’s regime?
Defectors, conscientious objectors, and those who simply didn’t believe in what Stahl and his crew were doing were all vapourised. Yeah, cheers ISA.How it could be improved:
Show Sev and his ISA buddies having real sympathy, or being brought to task for excessive use of force. It’d be grim, but why not show the ruined Helghan streets, as dying innocents stumble around trying to save themselves?
You’d feel really horrible, but the ending would be more memorable for the experience. Think about some of the game endings that had a real emotional impact.
Shadow of the Colossus is a good example, in which you realise – after it’s too late – that you’ve been the selfish and evil one all along. This would have had a much greater impact in Killzone 3.2. Bionic CommandoThe ending:
Nathan Spencer swings into action to save Ascension City. But before that, he learns that his missing wife is actually his bionic arm. Wait, what?
Spencer’s own organisation kidnapped and murdered his wife, and put her brain in his new arm, because for bionic limbs to function – they must be created from someone close to the host, namely, a loved one. Utter. Unfiltered. Crap. Why it’s worse than Mass Effect 3:
Remember when Bionic Commando used to be a colour fun adventure game? Yeah, those days are dead now. Welcome to the world of reboots.
Grin’s Bionic Commando didn’t sell well, but it wasn’t that bad, but you really have to suspend your disbelief to run with this ending.
Even ex-Capcom director Keiji Inafune felt confused by the ending, as he explained in an old interview with Joystiq, "I don't even know what happened there”. Whatever happened, the ending is awful. How it could be improved:
Can it be improved? Perhaps if Nathan found his wife alive and well at the end, or at least learned her whereabouts to set up a sequel. Why have the wife subplot at all? Either way, gritty and emo isn’t fun – it’s boring with bad hair.
1. Deus Ex: Human RevolutionThe ending:
Like Mass Effect 3, the ending of Human Revolution throws out all of your decisions, pinning everything on one final choice, showing live-action footage and Jensen talking about the ills of augmentation. Yawn. Why it’s worse than Mass Effect 3:
Your choices don’t impact the ending. This is also where things get tricky, because some people are fans of ambiguous endings. Films encounter this all the time.
On one hand, you have films like Fight Club and Inception that don’t really explain what is going on or how the actions of the protagonist have altered the world. The answer is whatever you make it.
This is the same Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman, a man with no voice or personality, because it’s up to you to decide who he is, and how he thinks. In this instance, ambiguity does work.
But many gamers paying top dollar don’t want a cop-out ending – they want results. It was BioWare’s fault for saying that the actions of every player would accurately mould the ending, because that’s impossible. How it could be improved:
Give us more. Human Revolution didn’t need to go down the Kojima route and tie up every single detail in its endings, but it did need more than some stock live action footage and a boring man talking about boring things.
Don’t just talk about the ills of augmentation, show us how augmentation impacts on the world. Don’t just tell us that Jensen’s DNA is to be used in the creation of the Denton brothers, show us it being done. It’s a missed chance by Eidos Montreal.