Thursday, 24 January 2013

Top Ten Greatest RPG Endings

For the full list please visit the page here.

In every genre there is one defining aspect which usually makes them stand out and defines them from all others. One specific element above all others which helps them to appeal to a certain audience. In Rogue-like games it’s the potential for failure and the sheer uphill battle you face, with fighting games it’s the ability to break out endless combos and air juggle your opponent through the air for minutes on end, and in RTS titles it’s the potential for how thoroughly you can obliterate them. In RPGs of many subgenres it tends not to be the stats or combat which is the most memorable but the stories driving them forwards. Any story can make or break an RPG, especially in how the ending is handled as Bioware found out not too long ago, so what could be considered the best within the genre?

I was on the fence about this one as it’s not a traditional sort of ending, rather than having a single cutscene it’s a compilation of various stills focusing upon characters and locations of the game with voiceovers. The reason it gets put on the list is due to one specific reason – it provides a much greater level of closure than you’ll find in many other endings. Seeing each specific place you’ve been involved with talked about by its residents and their individual fates helps to give a greater sense of scale to the world and how the future turned out for them. It also gives the added bonus of allowing you to have far more flexible conclusions. Rather than having only one good ending and one bad you can help most people in the game but can still fail to help a few who you met. It’s that added bit of replayability and freedom which makes the Fallout games so great, and it’s New Vegas which does this the best.

You get rid of Ansem, find the king, get Kari back and save the universe but for every victory you have you lose something. The king and Riku are last seen locking themselves inside Kingdom Hearts facing an army of Heartless, Kari is restored but loses her memories of Sora and is separated from her, seemingly trapped where he defeated the final boss. None the less, it’s done in a way which leaves hope for the protagonists, you’ve still halted the villain’s doomsday plan and are alive. There are also hints of larger mysteries and a bigger universe which left the possibility for a sequel without feeling like blatant sequel bait. It’s an odd situation where the conclusion is not completely nihilistic nor does it feel like a kick in the teeth but at the same time you’ve still lost as much as you’ve won.

It impacted on a much more personal level than VII did, which left their fates ambiguous, and unlike X had no one audibly speaking. Meaning the animators had to show rather than tell and it was relying upon animators rather than voice direction to convey emotion. Say what you will about the recent Final Fantasy titles, but let’s face it dialogue isn’t the series’ strong point of late. What’s more is that unlike titles such as those it did give some hope for the future of the side characters; displaying Seifer and Laguna’s lot while the rest were in the academy.  If there is one thing worth criticising it’s that the game doesn’t exactly explain some aspects of itself or how Squall escaped where he was trapped, but I don’t think that’s enough to deny it a place on this list.


For the full list please visit the page here.

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