Whether in a well-storied Hollywood film or a game like Red Dead Redemption, most of our hearts stop beating when a hero falls. Such was the case with John Marston, a man who tried to atone for his past life of crime, sacrificing himself to save his family. Of course, the game didn't end there. We got to pick up a few years later as John's son Jack, who hunts down his father's killer. However, in exacting that revenge, Jack became the one thing his father tried to save him from becoming: a killer.
Every ending of every Half-Life game has been climactic and incredible, but none have ever left us with a fully resolved plot. Episode Two's cliffhanger nearly had us throwing our controller at the TV for leaving us hanging after such a short campaign. Ever since, we've been praying for cryogenic freeze until Episode 3 is released. I'm not giving away any spoilers here. If you haven't played the entire Half-Life series, start from the beginning and get ready for an amazing thrill ride with some of the greatest characters ever created.
Shadow of the Colossus was certainly a rare gem that deserves as big a spotlight as the colossi we were tasked with destroying in the game. As each boss was destroyed, we found the protagonist growing paler and more overwrought. In a stunning finale, the line between savior and nemesis was revealed, and our jaws dropped with shock when we learned which side of that line we'd been on the whole time.
It may not have had the cinematics that made later entries stand out in terms of graphical quality, but Final Fantasy VI (III in North America) had a huge cast, each presenting a unique personal story and their own reasons for joining Locke, Terra, and the rest of the crew. After an epic, hour-long final battle with Kefka, we were treated to an equally lengthy epilogue, where each character was showcased and got closure to their private struggle. With one of the best musical scores ever composed to carry us through the credits, we never once asked when it would end, hoping that it wouldn't.
Portal 2 is most recent game of the list, and its ending was mind-bogglingly unbelievable. Who would have thought a puzzle game—in which the protagonist never said a single word and the rest of the cast was comprised of voice recordings and artificial intelligence—could elicit such emotion? GLaDOS was one of those rare villains that we loved, hated, and pitied over the course of the game. Right up until the end, we never knew what her final play would be. After all, being stuck to a potato for half the adventure probably did some crazy things to her artificial mind. The epic space-sucking finale didn't disappoint, and GLaDOS surprisingly chose the path of a savior—at least for Chell. (Poor Wheatley.) Her final farewell, a song from a throng of turrets with perfect pitch, sent us out of the Aperture facility, perhaps this time for good. The credit roll and GLaDOS' personal goodbye song won't be forgotten anytime soon.
Date: January 11, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*