Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Video Games SUCK at Endings

In 8 days, March 6th, 2013, it will be the anniversary of me "swearing off" video games. The game was Mass Effect 3 and the ending killed all interest in gaming.

The Mass Effect Trilogy was a lot like The Matrix Trilogy in that it had a strong opening and a weak ending (which is an understatement). If you've played the ME trilogy, you will know exactly what I'm talking about and how it relates to the Matrix Trilogy, including the terrible "Child God of the Machines" (which I'm fairly sure is where Mass Effect writers got the idea).

Despite my "swearing off" video games, I decided I wanted to give another game a try, that game was Dishonored.

I first fell in love with this game when I saw an amazing CGI trailer that made the game look like a dystopian steam punk story had a hot drunken threesome with Assassin's Creed and a wizard, then the next morning she was knocked up with twins. The tag line at the end... "Revenge solves everything" caused chills to run down my spine.

I love a good revenge story.
My first run was a blast. I chose to play the "High Chaos" way which meant I killed, a lot. Even though it's a game, I still play with my own set of morals, so I only killed people who were in my way and were armed. Not a single civilian died.

Regardless, I got the bad ending.

I liked the fact that I thought I was at the end, then a few of my allies, up until that point, betray me, leaving me for dead. When I fight my way back through the city to our old base, I find out they assassinated about half of our team and re-kidnapped the Empress. The final mission is a stormy, futuristic, Shinra-like Lighthouse that I must fight my way up to save the Empress and to make it worse, they've turned on each other. Oh, and my boatman was pissed I was so "evil" so he lights off a flare after dropping me off to get me killed.

The very final scene was great. I'm at the tippy top of the lighthouse. The final bad guy has the Empress and he's standing at the edge, ready to throw himself and her off. I kill him and dash to the edge to grab the Empress' hand before she plummets to her death.

I was very psyched.

Then I got treated to a 30-second cut scene telling me how, despite saving my daughter, the Empress, everything still went to shit. So I restarted the game to do a "good" run.

This is where the game fell apart and made me realize why I hate video games. Technology isn't to the point that we can truly offer choices and a sandbox environment in a game. Give gaming about 30-40 years and we will have interactive games at that level.

In my good play through, the differences were few. The game was easier because I had to deal with less rat swarms and "weepers" (zombies), the final level was sunny instead of rainy, and I didn't get treated to an epic confrontation at the top of the lighthouse. Instead the final bad guy just "gave up."

My first issue wasn't with such a lackluster ending, but with the quality of the writing. The bad guys had no motivation for what they did.

In the evil run, the bad guys motivation was as follows:

"We helped a deadly assassin escape prison who has then gone and murdered hundreds of watch guards as well as most of the cities leadership all in the name of revenge for his lost love. If anyone finds this out, we will be hanged! Lets fake his death and claim we rescued the Empress and restore our empire to its glory!"
That's obviously some great motivation.

In the good run, the bad guys motivation just doesn't work:

"We helped Lord Protector Corvo escape from prison and, with his help, exposed and brought to justice (not killed) every conspirator responsible for the murder of his love, Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, and kidnapping of his daughter, Empress Emily Kaldwin. If anyone finds this out, we will be hanged! Lets fake his death and claim we rescued the Empress and restore our empire to its glory!"

Uh... What?! I guess it's better than Red/Blue/Green endings, but not much. Maybe next year, when I buy a PS4, Watchdogs can make me remember why I used to love video games.

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