You’ll Never Beat me! – The Ramblings of an Endgame Obsessed Maniac
July 23, 2008 § 4 Comments
I’m hard pressed to think of a completion message as infamous as “You’re Winner!” from Big Rigs. Not that it was a popular game, or even a good game, but rather it had a weird habit of letting you win every single time, even if you didn’t actually start the race. It was truly a magnificent ego boost I can tell you.
Award for the most off-topic introduction goes to me of course because I’m amazing, but I’m also a sucker for a good ending, one which can simultaneously give you closure on all that has gone before, whilst teasing you ever so slightly with what is to come. It’s beginning to grate on my now that in this generation where every game is pitched as a franchise to publishers, that so many are now skipping that first crucial step and massively hugging the second. Notable perpetrators of this annoying habit include last year’s Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six Vegas and Ratchet and Clank Future, all of which had conclusions which just screamed “To be continued!” at you before flipping the bird and riding off into the sunset. I don’t want to have to invest in every single game to get one decent story out of a franchise – if I play a game for the story, it damn well better be resolved at the end, and no, a thirty second cinematic is not going to cut it.
It’s not as if the step games have taken from single adventures to trilogies or even sagas even require endings such as these. There were three Ps2 Ratchet and Clank games, and each of them told a completely self contained story. Sure there were recurring characters from previous games, but I never reached the end of the credits thinking to myself “Damnit! What will become of Captain Quark!!” I was satisfied with just playing one game, and then when others came along I was happy to continue with the franchise.
I have no problem with a long, all encompassing story arc however. The Metal Gear games have always managed to walk this tightrope rather well, going back to the days of the first Metal Gear game on the MSX2 computer system. You destroy Metal Gear D and then Big Boss in turn before escaping Outer Heaven as it explodes into a million pieces. Only once the last designer’s name fades off the top of the screen do you get a small post-script from the legendary soldier himself reminding you that he is of course still alive(yes an off topic link I admit). Oh and Portal from Valve did this magnificently as well, I want to play the next games, but if I don’t there’s nothing that I desperately need to know.
At the same time though, I want some sort of fanfare when I actually make it to the end of a game, and this leads me on to my rant about genres I just don’t get, namely fighters and sports games. Not surprisingly part of my dislike for them stems from the fact that you never reach any satisfying conclusion. When you’re playing a first person shooter or a platformer there’s always a point when you finish the story and you feel like you’re done with the game, but fighters in particular aren’t designed with me in mind. There’s always some other challenger you can face off against, and even if you make it the entire way through the core arcade battles you never reach anything more satisfying than a ten second cutscene of a character’s death. Hence the reason why I never touch fighters (that, and the fact that I can never progress very far beyond the levels which sympathize with my button mashing tendencies).
Am I alone in my quest for some closure and reward? Statistics say I must be when eight million odd people pay a monthly fee to complete an endless series of quests in World of Warcraft, but if they decided to end WOW tomorrow and have an epic story conclusion bringing the entire history of Warcraft together would that excite you? Or would it just merely piss you off that your favorite money sink needs to be replaced? It will come as no surprise to you that MMORPG’s are another genre that I “just don’t get.”
It’s always hard to draw a satisfying conclusion from a seemingly endless rant, but if I can squeeze anything from these last few paragraphs it’s that a somewhat lengthy conclusion can often be good for a game. It provides some closure to the story, and can justify the hours it takes to reach it. Above all though the final cutscene is often the last part of a game that the player will experience, and a bad ending inevitably leaves you with a sour aftertaste.