The 10 Worst Game Endings
We recently did a rundown of our top 10 favourite game endings after trawling the depths of gaming history. During our research, we also revisited a lot of absolutely terrible endings.
10 Fallout 3
Bethesda’s apocalyptic epic was massive, easily warranting anywhere between 20-60 hours of gameplay if you factor in the five expansion packs. You really did feel part of a decaying world, carving out its new future through your actions. As a reflective, engaging experience, it hit the nail on the head. Where it fell apart however was the entirely non-committal ending.
After the lone wanderer reaches the water purifier at Project Purity, he or she can make a pivotal, potentially earth-shattering choice. You can save The Capital Wasteland by purifying the natural water supply or condemn it by infecting the water with a deadly toxin. Either way, your character dies and is given a lazy eulogy by The Narrator (Ron Perlman), totally devoid of closure, except a few very sketchy details about what happens next.
Sure, we realise that the Broken Steel expansion elaborated on the ending and showed what happened afterwards, but giving us proper closure that should have been part of the main game via DLC? That’s just weak Bethesda. Ending aside, it’s an amazing game.
9 Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
It may seem unfair to single out this trash heap of sloppy game design, bargain bin production values and the utter bastardisation of a classic Nintendo license, but it stinks so bad it simply has to make the cut.
For starters, Ganon looks like an odd toad creature and is defeated when Zelda simply throws the Wand of Gamelon at him. Gruelling stuff. What follows next is a poorly animated, horrendously voiced animated sequence with less flair than a Saturday morning cartoon in the 80’s.
The conclusion makes no sense, the bad guy merely gets sentenced to scrubbing all the floors in Castle Hyrule and the bit the end where Zelda and the king start laughing is just plain terrifying. We’d like to know what Nintendo were thinking when they licensed the series out to developer Animation Magic. Clearly they lacked any magic whatsoever.
The original Contra game is a true classic, there’s absolutely no dispute about that. But the ending of Gryzor is a massive middle finger to the player after toiling through one of the most hardest games in existence.
Bill Rizer and Lance Bean have waded through bullet hell, gunned down a nation’s worth of enemy soldiers, tussled with an alien race and defeated a giant, pulsating heart. All in a day’s work really. Did we mention that the game is joystick smashingly difficult? Then the real kick in the stones is delivered. An end screen shows earth floating in space above the words: “Congratulations…You have saved the Earth from the evil alien threat. Unfortunately…Destroying the heart activates a self-destruct mechanism which blows up the planet. How sad.”
7 Gears of War 2
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! Ok, ok, so the Lambent Locust are fighting the normal Locust and it seems like humanity is actually the real villain in this chess game of kerb stomps, testosterone and 20 shades of brown. This ending is going to be awesome! We can overlook the on-rails Lambent Brumak fight that requires very little in the way of skill to complete. We can even overlook how similar this ending is to the decidedly much better ending of the first game. But what we can’t excuse is how little is disclosed that we don’t already know.
Okay, so Jacinto is destroyed but we knew that was going to happen, the Locust have fled as we thought they would and, as usual, Marcus is having difficulty getting through to Anya. Then we get another smug monologue from the Locust Queen about how the humans are going to lose and how the Locust are going to win. Gears of Déjà vu? Pretty much. The only saving grace is a post-credits line of dialogue from who we can assume is Marcus Fenix’s shadowy father. Everything else is bland.
6 Halo 2
We know, we know; this ending is a topic of serious debate among fans, with some saying it perfectly sets up the third chapter and others who felt utterly short-changed. We’re leaning towards the latter.
The key revelation is that the rest of the Halo rings have been activated and can only be activated from the Ark, we get that much. But then the cutscene focuses on Master Chief who simply tells Hood he is ‘Finishing this fight’. Fade to black, roll end credits.
We know old 117 isn’t much of a talker, but come on, seriously? This abrupt ending almost feels as if Bungie were banking on gamers being so desperate to learn what happens next that they would soil themselves in anticipation. The reality was that many gamers were left with that same feeling you get when an ATM machine swallows your bank card, or when you realise you’ve locked your keys inside your own house.
Not the modern game, but the NES original. Ghostbusters is a shoddy tie-in at best, absolutely bereft of finesse or coherency. But even if you do manage to wade through the confusing micro-management elements and the irritating looped soundtrack, you won’t be rewarded for your efforts, simply punished further.
After you show Gozer how you ‘do things down town’, you are treated to a single screen of poorly translated text that reads, “Conglaturation!!! You have completed a great game. And proved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes!” Let’s say this twinkie represents all of the anger coursing through a typical gamer’s veins at any given time. Based on the ending of Ghostbusters on NES, it would grow to be a twinkie…35 ft long weight approximately 600 pounds.
That’s a big twinkie…
4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
On its own, there’s actually nothing wrong with this ending, except for that fact it plays out almost identically to the ending of the first Modern Warfare, only less satisfying or conclusive. You can smell it coming a mile away when the boring on-rails boat chase scene begins. The smell gets even stronger when Soap Mactavish is beaten to the floor by Shepard and stabbed in the chase. The smell becomes overpowering when the overly-familiar slow motion killer blow occurs.
It completely apes the final pistol showdown in the first Modern Warfare, capped off with the very short reappearance of Nikoli saying ‘I know a place’. Where? What place? Are there treats in this place? Can I get closure here? Where damn you, where!?
3 Metal Gear Solid 2
The sword fight is pretty cool, but Metal Gear Solid 2 really was taking the biscuit with its cut scenes and seemingly-endless pages of codec chatter. Raiden slightly redeems himself at the end after cutting down Solidus with his Katana, but the following live-action monologue is a total joke.
It’s basically Snake talking to Raiden while live-action scenes of the New York city streets play out in the background. Snake prattles on about keeping your identity, the importance of holding onto things you care about and other lines from every cheesy action movie ever made. Like Gears of War 2, the end reveal about the Patriots being dead for hundreds of years is pretty neat, but everything else is absolute pomp. It was a toss up between this ending and the ending of Metal Gear Solid 4. While it also had redeeming features, it had way too many false endings and moments of further elaboration that simply numbed the mind.
2 Knights of the Old republic II
Bad ending design 101: Don’t give your game an ending at all. While the game itself was superb, the ending left a sour taste in the mouths of some gamers. The final battle against Darth Traya and her floating lightsabers of doom is pretty cool, but after you finish her off once and for all, you are treated to a 15 second cinematic of Malachor V either being destroyed or being rebuilt depending on your allegiance. What a way to end a massive game guys, well played.
The short cinematic almost ends as if there is about to be another scene but you can sit and stare at your TV all you want, it’s never, ever going to happen. It’s comparable to the excruciating wait until George Lucas decides to stop tampering with the Star Wars movies. That’s enough now George…
And so here we are at quite confidently the worst game ending in existence today. To recap, an ending must give closure, it must tie up all the loose ends, it must be satisfying, if there is a final boss fight, it must be a damn good one and if there is to be a sequel, it should set it up nicely. WET does none of these things and out of all the countless things wrong with the game, there is one that stands out above this horrible, disgusting pack – lead character Rubi. She’s easily the most insipid, unlikeable lead character in gaming, with no redeeming features, a scant backstory, horribly embarrassing attitude and the mannerisms of a poisonous snake in a sack of mice. So by the end of the game it’s hard to really care what happens to her. But for the sake of clarity, we’ll digress. Rubi battles her way to an old mansion where she comes across a freaky looking woman who looks like she step out of a sci-fimovie. She only cropped up about two-thirds through the campaign so it’s also unclear who she is or what she wants.
The entire final battle with this freak is played out entirely as a quick-time event and not even a good quick-time event, a painfully dull quick-time event. Once you’ve pressed a few buttons Rubi confronts an old man we don’t know talking about some things we have no interest in, giving us an ending that fails to succeed on any level. Truly horrible.