After skimming through multiple blogs on WordPress, I happened to stumble upon a tag for gaming enthusiasts, and the topics seemed interesting enough. I’m always looking for good subjects with which I could write a midweek post in between reviews, so I thought this could be an interesting change of pace. Now that the introduction is out of the way, let’s get started.
We are now in the second half of my 100th review special! A 6/10 isn’t a terrible grade on my scale. It means that I have reservations recommending the game in question, but it ultimately does more right than wrong. Furthermore, as per my rules, a 6/10 is the highest grade a game with a weak ending can receive. A few of the following entries are indeed titles that would otherwise deserve to be on higher tiers. I feel not enough creators realize how important it is to stick the landing. After all, the ending is the last impression you have a work; if it’s bad, it almost doesn’t matter if the material leading up to it was good. Rest assured, from this point onward, we’ll be discussing games that are worth a try.
Regardless of the medium, a bad ending is one of the worst flaws a work can have. It’s one of the few mistakes that the author cannot recover from without resorting to sequels and extensive retconning. I am, and always have been, a stickler for endings. Indeed, I’ve made it a rule when critiquing that any work with a lackluster ending is not worthy of being deemed a classic and the highest score it could ever hope to get is a 6/10, which roughly translates to a B- in my book. While discussing the nature of story progression with my fellow games enthusiast, Aether, he perfectly illustrated why I insist on holding this belief.
“A weak ending is one of the few things that can retroactively lower the quality of a story, turning sour all the good memories of what you’ve been reading, watching, or playing.”
This is especially crucial for video games; you want to reward your audience for overcoming a challenge and having the tenacity to see your work through to the end. Depriving them of a good ending is one of the worst insults any development team can dish out. In all of the games I’ve played over the years, three stand out as having endings so bad, the good memories I had of them were almost completely erased. They should be studied by writers as what to avoid when crafting and structuring their stories. In order to demonstrate my points, I will have to resort to spoilers, so if you are at all interested in playing the following games, feel free to skip those sections. Don’t worry though, should I mention other games in the following sections, I will be sure to include spoiler tags if needed.
System Shock 2 is a PC game originally released in 1999. It was co-developed by Looking Glass Studios and Irrational Games. The former company would fold less than a year after this game’s release. Fortunately, the latter company remained intact and would go on to develop the BioShock series with many key developers of System Shock 2… and then that company would fold less than a year after the release of BioShock: Infinite and fifteen years after their original collaboration with Looking Glass Studios. Despite not initially making a significant impact in the public eye, System Shock 2 is now touted as one of the most original and scariest games of all time. It’s an impressive pedigree considering that this was only three years after Super Mario 64 was released, a commonly-cited benchmark in the medium’s history due to its pioneering three-dimensional environments and gameplay.