Roundtable Reaction: Mass Effect 3′s ending was bad; these are worse

Posted on Mar 24 2012 - 11:22am by Tatjana Vejnovic

Mass Effect 32 Roundtable Reaction: Mass Effect 3s ending was bad; these are worse

Mass Effect die hards have played through Mass Effect 3 at least once, with the most hardcore of the bunch having played it through multiple times–stopping short at the last mission so not to relive the horrendous ending BioWare created. Mass Effect 3′s ending left us with no sense of completion, no sense of success, and what Bioware wanted to be a humble ending, instead came out non-nonsensical and plain wrong. In fact, the fan outcry has forced BioWare to re-do the conclusion. Still, there have been worse video game endings. Commander Shepard is not alone in the world of crappy conclusions. Here are some that are actually worse.

tim torres Roundtable Reaction: Mass Effect 3s ending was bad; these are worse

Timothy Torres, Senior Reviews Editor

The 3rd Birthday
If you ever want to see how not to do an ending, take a look at The 3rd Birthday. The whole game’s a confusing, embarrassing mess from the start but woof, man. This ending’s in a league of its own.

SPOILERS: The final moments of Aya Brea’s third adventure are also the final moments of her life. Not only do you, the player, pull the trigger on this once-revered heroine, you find out the enemies you’ve been fighting the entire time, the Twisted, are actually remnants of Aya’s soul that was split apart when her sister-clone Eve “dived” into her to protect her from soldiers who crashed her wedding to kill her for no reason. Really, the entire impetus for the plot rests on “soldiers who crash a wedding for no reason.” Oh, and this all happens in the past by the way, during an event called “Time Zero.” Or something. So you find out that, for the entire game, you weren’t REALLY playing as Aya, but her simpering doormat of a sister, Eve who made the dive into the body of her sis, which just brings up all sorts of creepy connotations, especially when Kyle, Aya’s fiancee, seems eager to go forward with the wedding in Time Zero. Then, to set everything right, Eve is told to kill the real Aya, which doesn’t make a lick of sense since her violent death is what triggered the existence of the Twisted to begin with. Oh, well. Bang, dead. Then Kyle goes off to search for “eternity.” Which might mean he’s going to search for Aya, but look, Kyle, man, I hate to tell you this, but I just killed her.

Nonsensical revelations heaped on the player one after the other, terribly translated dialogue, twists for the sake twists — this is the worst kind of ending to give a game… a game I waited 10 years to play. It’s one thing to kill the main character in the end, but to reveal you weren’t even playing as her to begin with? That’s one hell of a knife twist. This is what happens when you hand the creative reins over to a writer who lacks any understanding of plot. Keep this guy away from pens, chalk or anything that could possibly write a word, Square Enix. This is the absolute nadir of video game storytelling. It makes Metroid: Other M look like Silent Hill 2.

Eric Roundtable Reaction: Mass Effect 3s ending was bad; these are worse

Eric Guzman, Staff Editor

Shenmue
When I think about the worst video game endings, I think of unresolved cliffhangers. And the first game that comes to mind is Shenmue. As much as I love Shenmue, its ending left me baffled. I still remember that winter break back in 2000 sitting in my room having my childhood crushed by this ending or lack there of.

I had just ripped through all 70 members of the members of the Mad Angels, all in hopes of getting my hands on Lan Di, the man who murdered the father of protagonist Ryo Hazuki. Only to be told that the killer had left for Hong Kong.

What made this all the more excruciating and painful was the fact that I had to work at the docks loading boxes for two hours…only to be subject to get the most lackluster conclusion to a video game. It was disappointing, considering that Shenmue was such a beautifully crafted experience. To top it off, I then had to wait two years for the sequel…and Lan Di escaped again.

I’ll admit that Shenmue II answered more questions and was slightly more satisfying than the first, but it still ended on a cliffhanger. And here we are awaiting a sequel that might never see the light of day.

white Roundtable Reaction: Mass Effect 3s ending was bad; these are worse

Tatjana Vejnovic, Managing Editor

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Mass Effect 3 aside, a follow-up to horrendous endings is most definitely Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The ending was so short, so unexplained, that it really made no sense until Revelations came out.. Or so we thought. Even when Revelations did release, the ending still didn’t make any sense what-so-ever.

Without spoilers: Say I called you. And I was in the middle of an extremely important sentence and I hung up in the middle of the sentence, and didn’t talk to you for a year.

That was the ending of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. And Ubisoft had the audacity to not even explain it in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. What the hell?

With spoilers: You don’t just stab some bitch without an explanation.

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Gamer. Photographer. Internet superhero. Commander Shepard. Specializing in urban decay photography and being a gamer since she was two, Tatjana is one unique cookie. Not only does she climb fences and risk arrest for the perfect shot, she's also convinced that she's actually Commander Shepard.

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16 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Vin March 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM - Reply

     In regard to Assassin’s creed, it’s not the same. With Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Revelations we know that more is to come, that the story isn’t over. Mass Effect 3 is the end of a trilogy and we’ve been told time and again that it is the end of Shepard’s story.
    Many people didn’t like the end of Half Blood Prince, but they didn’t complain because they knew more was to come.

  2. Eli March 24, 2012 at 1:29 PM - Reply

    I didn’t see anything wrong with Brotherhood’s ending. Unlike ME3, it was a cliffhanger, and we knew the next game was only a year away.

  3. Aiddon March 24, 2012 at 1:59 PM - Reply

    Oh GOD, 3rd Birthday. That had to be one of the unintentionally creepily sexist games I’ve ever seen. I mean, holy crap, they use ANY excuse to sexualize the violence in that game and Maeda comes off as a sex offender. Toriyama is one of the worst writers I’ve EVER seen and to think they let this guy direct and write FFXIII and its sequel. From what I understand he’s always had a history as a pervert and it disturbs me at how Kitase has basically taken him as his protege. He was also the guy who wrote Front Mission: Evolved which drove THAT series into the core of the earth. He HUMILIATED one of the most interesting, dignified, and sexy heroines in gaming. It is something that I will NEVER forgive him for.

    • Tim March 24, 2012 at 6:19 PM - Reply

      The amount of control and leeway that guy gets is indeed disturbing. Like, sickeningly so. I guess at Square Enix you just fail upwards.

      • Aiddon March 24, 2012 at 6:26 PM - Reply

         no kidding, it’s just baffling. He gets to do whatever he wants while truly talented people like Yasumi Matsuno get frustrated with TONS Of executive meddling (see FFXII’s cluster**** development) and just end up leaving. I literally can’t name a SINGLE talented developer still working at Square. The Enix side is top-notch, but the Square side is just a cesspool of hacks

        • Tim March 24, 2012 at 8:28 PM - Reply

          Takashi Tokita, who directed Parasite Eve, Chrono Trigger and Live A Live, is still there. He also directed 4 Heroes of Light, which was really good. Akitoshi Kawazu (the SaGa games) is also still at Square. And Nomura, when he’s not busy dragging Kingdom Hearts through the mud, can do great work like The World Ends With You. I’m really curious to see how Final Fantasy: Type-Zero turned out as well if it ever comes out here… even though Hajime Tabata (3rd Birthday) directed it.

          There’s still hope. They just happen to give all the big gigs to the hacks in the house…

          • Aiddon March 24, 2012 at 9:06 PM -

            Tokita does next to nothing in the company, so he’s pretty ineffectual. Kawazu’s track record is also…mixed, to put it kindly so it’s debatable if he’s in the good section. And Nomura at this point seems to let himself become complacent considering how much he’s been playing with himself during vs XIII’s development. At this point the hacks outnumber the talented and what talent there is  so it’s pretty safe to say that Square is a washed-up, has-been developer who drove all its talent away due to atrocious management.

  4. FyreFlyeRush March 24, 2012 at 2:02 PM - Reply

    I think the worst ending I’ve experienced is “Dreamfall: The Longest Journey”. SPOILERS: After killing every major character, the game fails to resolve anything and just ends in a huge cliff hanger leaving you to wonder WTH just happened.

    With ME3, you have ending something like this: At Mount Doom, Gollum tells Frodo he can keep the ring for himself, merge the Uruk-hai with the races of middle Earth, or destroy the ring also killing the Uruk-hai, elves, dwarves, and Hobbits. All the endings will kill Frodo, and trigger a planet killing event. As Frodo makes his choice, Aragorn says, “For Frodo,” inexplicably quits the field of battle, and suddenly ends up in Rivendell with Sam. Then, the screen goes black with an advert suggesting you buy the Director’s Cut for more of Frodo’s adventures.

  5. Corbin Allen March 24, 2012 at 2:35 PM - Reply

    Mass Effect 3′s original endings will undoubtedly go down in history with the worst endings of all time.   That said, while these are some great NEWER examples, if you go back in time a bit, it just gets worse. 

    I don’t remember what shooter it was, I incorrectly remembered it as CyClones but that wasn’t it…but you fight through the whole game on the orders of your commander against the cliche horde of cyborgs, being a human altered similarly, only to be told at the end “thanks for the good work, but now we have to activate your self destruct”; the commander points the remote at you and bam….you’re dumped out to DOS. 
    Syndicate for DOS/SNES was another one.  A blimp that says “Welcome to a new world order” and that’s it. 

    Konami’s Castlevania II:Simon’s Quest and half the games LJN ever made for the Nintendo all had time limits, trying to mimic the success of the time scoring on Metroid.   Unfortunately, unlike Metroid, it wasn’t whether or not you got a Samus in a bikini; it was whether or not it all proved futile and you died anyway. 

    Ghostbusters for NES had one of the most laughable endings ever. 

    One thing none of these had in common with ME3, though, is that all of these exhibited the same level of production quality as the rest of the game. ME3 is the first game ever to put itself up on a pedestal of being a conclusion to a game series that is one of the best ever made, only to take a head-first dive from that pedestal into an empty swimming pool. 

    • Jeffrey L. Wilson March 24, 2012 at 2:54 PM - Reply

      Agreed. The 8-bit era had some brutal endings, but at the time, I was usually so overjoyed with beating a hard as nails boss that I was able to overlook it.

  6. Tedsini March 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM - Reply

    There seems to be a notion in recent games that killing important characters and even the main character at the end of a game is somehow more artistically honest.  Because the hero often dies in “real life”, we should learn to accept our death by proxy with good grace and then move on.  The problem with this is that one of the reasons I buy games is to escape from reality.  I’ve had friends die in wars in Vietnam and in Iraq.  My best friend dropped dead while walking a couple of years ago – heart attack.  Reality?  Who needs it?

    Knocking off main characters isn’t something that’s limited to video games, either.  George R. R. Martin certainly doesn’t shy away from killing off characters that readers might otherwise think essential to his stories.  Joe Abercrombie does absolutely terrible things to his main characters.  I’d hate to come back, in some Twilight Zone reincarnation, as a character in one of his books.  Still, both these authors are terribly popular, and for good reason.  Their books are excellent and the deaths of their characters makes sense in the context of the stories.  

    And this is the crux of my problem with the ending of ME3 – after driving home the point that choices matter for three excellent games, the player is give a non-choice at the end.  First, Shepard dies no matter what you do.  That’s OK, up to a point.  After all, Bethesda killed the Lone Wanderer at the end of Fallout 3 (Broken Steel non-withstanding) and it was wonderfully done.  He could have let Sarah turn off the machine, but he chose sacrifice, and that made all the difference.  Then you see a few very effective slides telling us what happened to the rest of the cast.  

    I’m not saying that Bioware should copy Bethesda.  Far from it.  I just think that if you can charge people ten dollars for a “meh” character in a “DLC” on day one, you should get off the artistic soapbox and give a nod to the people paying (in effect) $70 for your game.  

    Finally, stop giving snarky answers to the gamers who are asking for change.  We are asking for consistency and an honest ending – not necessarily a happy ending, just an honest one.  There were several moments in the game where a difficult moral/ethical decision had to be made.  Betray the Krogans? for example.  Stop couching the debate in terms of “artistic game creators” versus “cretins who wouldn’t know art if it fell on their head.”  We deserve better.

  7. Landi March 24, 2012 at 5:04 PM - Reply

     Shenmue’s ending was one of the great cliffhangers of video game history, hopefully we will face Lan Di aside the mountaintop

  8. Shannon McLean March 24, 2012 at 5:58 PM - Reply

    Does anyone really need a reason to get stabby, though?

    In all honesty, I gotta say, ME3′s ending is still the worst experience in video game history for me.  Or fictional history as a whole, in fact.  Not because it’s actually the worst ending possible if you look at it on its own (though it’s pretty crappy in general), but because I enjoyed everything leading up to it so much, the baffling cop-out at the finish line was such a shock that I literally had to go throw up.  And I’m not the kind of person who cries at books or gets upset when they have to shoot Old Yeller, here.  Normally I’m just like ‘welp, that’s sad’.

    But ME3?  Sick to my stomach.  I dunno, maybe that’s what the writers were going for, but if BioWare is going to become the vomit house of creativity then I think I’ll pass on any future investments.  Why do video games, of all things, seem to really like constantly blue-balling their audience?  It’s like they’re always going ‘ha, you bought the game and played it!  You can’t return it, so I can slap anything I want to at the finish and there’s nothing you can do about it, you moron!’  As if their industry isn’t predicated on granting people easy-to-access feelings of accomplishment or something.

  9. Kerome March 24, 2012 at 8:20 PM - Reply

    Well… I have to say the ME3 ending is probably worse than any of the three presented. The 3rd Birthday sounds like it somewhat immunised it’s players to poor writing over the course of the game, while Shenmue’s ending sounds disappointing but not exactly counter to the ethos of the game or characters. The Assassins Creed Brotherhood ending is little more than s genuine cliffhanger with some shocks.

    ME3, now, succeeded in both making me feel shocked, a little ill, confused, baffled and genuinely betrayed by going counter to the convention of the series and characters, being partial nonsense, and doing it out of nowhere in a grand betrayal of the player-designer contract, after what was otherwise a genre game of fine quality.

  10. BLM March 25, 2012 at 9:34 PM - Reply

    Err, the end of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is explained… heck, it’s
    explained in Brotherhood itself. If you do all the glyphs in the game -
    and let’s be fair, it’s your own fault if you don’t – then they make it
    pretty clear that Lucy (*SPOILER* *SPOILER* who you are forced to kill
    at the end of Brotherhood) was actually a double agent with Templar
    loyalties.

    But, erm, even if you don’t do the glyphs, it STILL alludes to this in
    the ending. Just because something isn’t spelled out in really obvious
    terms like you’re a 4 year-old, doesn’t mean it’s a bad ending.

  11. ColdMetalicSoul April 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM - Reply

    Honestly Mass Effect 3′s ending sucked plain and simple, this is why idiot artists should not put artistic vision into anything otherwise they will make it a ending that no matter what choice you make just makes you hate em.

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