Video games are a strange medium. Gameplay is paramount and story usually takes a backseat to fun. Sometimes, though, endings can bolster an otherwise lackluster experience into something worth venturing through.
That is the case with Suda51’s “Shadows of the Damned.” While not a bad game by any means, the gameplay is fairly conventional. Influenced by Shinji Mikami of “Resident Evil” fame, Shadows plays almost exactly like “Resident Evil 4,” with the improvements EA made with “Dead Space.” It’s fun, but it lacks creativity and originality.
What really sells the experience is the plotline and its ultimate ending. Not to spread too many spoilers, but when Garcia finally accepts his fate and the player is left powerless to change the outcome, the game comes full circle and you truly feel sad.
This contrasts with “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest film I saw this weekend. I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about the movie, but suffice to say the ending is a complete disaster. Certain elements I was taking away from the film become null and void when the cop-out ending occurs.
I’m really not going to spoil that, but if you find yourself more intrigued by the Bruce/Alfred dynamic like I was, you’ll leave the film completely disappointed. Nolan throws a completely idiotic and ridiculous twist at the last second and it ruins all emotional build-up that could have saved the lackluster movie.
From everything I’ve read on “Mass Effect 3,” I can understand why people feel so angry about Bioware’s failure to capture a climatic and cathartic conclusion. Investing so much into the characters and their fates and seeing nothing come of it is just frustrating. I wish Nolan stuck to the red herring he planted instead of giving us the “Hollywood” ending.
One of my favorite series from last generation, “Splinter Cell,” did something very similar in its second outing, Pandora Tomorrow. During the climax in the airport, Fisher runs through a gauntlet of terrorists guarding a bomb that will decimate the airport. Once he finishes them off and confronts the bomb, he realizes that he cannot disarm it.
So what’s the only option left? Well, planting it in the middle of the airport and letting the police deal with it. In an unexpected turn of events, Fisher isn’t required for the ending and the player feels completely useless. Why did Fisher even go to the damn airport? Third Echelon should have just called the police and let them deal with the problem.
As for ending that improve the drab parts of the movie, Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” is a shining example. I am not a fan of that film. The movie is typical Tarantino self-indulgence and most scenes linger on for 15 minutes longer than they should. Still, the movie is pretty much redeemed by the ending in the movie theater.
Seeing the Basterd’s plan come to fruition, even with failures from the group, is just thrilling. The unadulterated violence and cleansing feeling of seeing bad guys getting eviscerated is unparalleled. I’ll still argue with you that the film isn’t worth a watch, but bombastic endings like that really make it hard to stand by my own stance.
I’ve heard the counter-argument that the journey through something is better than the ultimate outcome. The only thing I’ve agreed with that on is the Bill Murray film “Broken Flowers.” Still, encapsulating everything that works with a film or game during the final minutes really sells a product for me.
So what if some of the set-pieces are dull or the game isn’t “innovative?” If your journey ends on the highest note possible, isn’t everything worth the struggle? Doesn’t that kind of reflect life, as well? My trips with shitty customer service at restaurants are sometimes worth it when the food is exceptional.
While this blog is pretty unfocused, I just wanted to share some of these thoughts. Endings, to me, are the alpha and omega of an experience. Maybe I shouldn’t put so much emphasis on conclusions, but I prefer having my media end in a grandiose fashion instead of fizzling out.