eGamer Mini-Awards 2012: Most WTF Ending
If there’s anything about this year that has been a running theme, it has been weird endings. Whether it’s a certain foretold Mayan apocalypse that resulted in the biggest anti-climax since the Cold War, or a game that ended in a way you quite didn’t expect, there’s been some strange and bizarre endings all over the place.
While it’s not usually kosher to reward a game for having a strange or bizarre ending, what we can at least do is draw attention to those games of this year which had endings that just left us all sitting there going, “…… What the fuck?” And so the Most WTF Ending award was created, so that we might discuss these games and explain why they were noteworthy. If anything, it’s a means of showing you which developers dared to do things differently, and how they managed to do so.
Keep in mind that because we are discussing endings, there is a minor spoiler warning attached, so you might wish to skip ahead if you don’t want a certain game’s ending spoiled for you. With that, let’s get underway.
Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III is basically the fifth game in a series of games which has had cliffhanger ending after cliffhanger ending, with each successive game becoming more and more WTF, but for the most part in a good way. The first Assassin’s Creed showed the bleeding effect while Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood introduced the Ones That Came Before. But Assassin’s Creed III took WTF endings to an entirely new level by handling the over-arching character Desmond’s story in a very bizarre and almost stupid manner. You see, for the first four games we were led to believe a certain group of core tenets. Then in this fifth game after mildly discussing it over the duration of the adventure, our protagonist decides fuck all of that and completely betrays those tenets, effectively siding with the beliefs of the enemy and leaving any say in the matter completely out of the player’s hands. We don’t even know if he survived that, but it’s pretty clear that such a WTF ending was Ubisoft setting up for more expansions to the existing Assassin’s Creed III storyline.
Mass Effect 3
You’ve spent two games being told that an apocalyptic clash with an ancient race of synthetic creatures known as reapers is coming your way and you have limited time to prepare. Now in the third game after the reapers have invaded Earth (having come to fear humans) and forced you to evacuate, you make all the necessary preparations and rally the universe to your cause, taking the battle to the reapers. You fight your way onto the platform that will engage the ultimate weapon for combating the reaper threat. And then a childlike apparition walks up to you and engages in conversation… because it’s not as if the world is about to end or anything. What Mass Effect 3 did was introduce a jarring sort of ending that left many gamers going, “What happened to all my choices, why don’t they matter?” The ending itself effectively boiled down to a choice of three possible outcomes, upon which the player must decide. The fate of the entire galaxy rests on this choice and it’s basically the first Deus Ex all over again.
Spec-Ops: The Line
I’ll admit, I haven’t yet played Spec-Ops: The Line, although I do hope to. But the eGamer team are agreed that it had one of the most mind-fucking endings of anything else this year. Here’s what AG has to say on it: Spec Ops: The Line delivered one of the most harrowing and emotionally engaging narratives of the year and certainly put other shooters to shame with the gravity it imbued your actions with. This all came to head in a masterful conclusion that not only horrified with the revelation of the true nature of your actions but also no matter which of the four endings you chose, they served as chilling and in some cases unexpected endings to one of this year’s biggest surprises. The ending to the game left you actually hating yourself and for the first time regretting the actions you had committed in a game. The conclusion came so far out of left-field with the mix of emotions it hit you with that anybody who has finished the game will agree that it literally leaves you dumbfounded and speechless.
Occurring more or less parallel to the events of the first game, Darksiders II wasn’t a sequel in the strictest sense. While it added on a lot more to the experience, it barely really continued the story at all. What it did that was even stranger, however, was build up to some sort of climactic final battle with a nephilim as powerful as Death himself, yet the battles leading up to these were far more entertaining. Concluding those lead-up fights, I thought to myself, “Well now, this is all really awesome, I can’t wait to see what’s next.” And of course, when I saw what was next, my only response was, “… is that it?” In truth, the game had an ending that was lacklustre at best but more importantly, felt entirely detached from anything else in the game. There was no contextual build-up, no reason to be there and the fight itself lasted mere minutes before some cutscenes played out and the game ended. In all, it was a break from the otherwise excellent story up to that point. And I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated about it.
Game Of Thrones RPG
Here’s a game that was done in true Game of Thrones fashion. Or A Song Of Ice And Fire if you’ve read the books, and really, you’ll want to have read the books to acquire full understanding of everything you get to experience in this game. Penned by none other than George R. R. ‘I like onions’ Martin himself, the story was easily one of the best this year and while it started slow like all of his books do, it quickly picked up the pace until the ending screamed along at you. There were twists and more twists and the ending itself could have had multiple outcomes depending on your choices. What was amazing was that none of them were entirely happy, because of course just like in real life, there is no perfect outcome. Each one had an element of bitter-sweetness with one particular ending revealing the full truth: that you were just a pawn the entire time. This ending also shows where Varys aka ‘The Spider’ shines as a character, never revealing his true allegiance but being helpful to everybody and nobody. Truly an enigma in this lore. Game of Thrones RPG’s endings all showed that it doesn’t matter how hard you try or how much you do, sometimes you just don’t get what you want. And that’s life.
It wasn’t Game of Thrones RPG because while the endings were honest and brutal, they weren’t on the same level of others where the player sat there wondering what had just happened.
Spec-Ops: The Line presented a compelling argument but in the end (no pun intended) it was a well-received ending that many endeared towards, again not leaving many as taken aback.
It wasn’t Darksiders II which might have had an abrupt and jarring conclusion but wasn’t in itself a great disservice to player understanding.
Finally, the biggest debate came down to our winner and Assassin’s Creed III which went against everything the previous games stood for and left the player completely dumbfounded afterwards, with more questions than answers. What was even more insulting was that the decision was made regardless of what the player wanted, and so we were all made to feel like passengers rather than active players of a game. Still not quite as bad as:
No other game has received as much of a backlash in the history of gaming, regarding something as simple as its ending. While there were some (including me) who were actually quite happy with the ending, or some who were otherwise indifferent, the sheer number of people who hated the ending or could not understand the deus ex machina style of conclusion resulted in an unparalleled uproar on the internet, eventually forcing BioWare to put out an entirely new downloadable content add-on for the game that expands on the original endings and provides some understanding and closure. Even then, some weren’t appeased, but most were. Mass Effect 3 is easily one of the best games this year, do not for a second doubt that, but the sheer furore that the ending caused could not go ignored and that is why it gets the award for Most WTF Ending of 2012. Pineapples.