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Endings mean different things to different people. One person can glean completely different interpretations from a scene, and someone else can see something completely different (cough indoctrination). Here are 10 titles that, despite our differences, we can agree ended well.
10. Metal Gear Solid 4: After years of unraveling conspiracies and trying to figure out plots within plots, after enduring Raiden and Colonel Campbell's gibberish and taking down an army of Metal Gears with ridiculous names, after enduring over 6,000 hours of cutscenes, the tale of Solid Snake finally comes to a close in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. What a conclusion it is. The tales of Big Boss, Liquid and Solid Snake, Revolver Ocelot and so many more characters may be a bit on the complicated side, but as far as epic storyline conclusions go, Metal Gear Solid 4 delivers.
9. Halo: Reach: While Halo: Reach wasn't the cinematic evolution of storytelling, it did feature an ending that stuck with me for quite a while. Noble Six did a certain other Spartan proud I would think, selflessly risking his (or her) life to ensure humanity's last hope gets off of Reach intact. After rescuing Cortana and delivering her to the Pillar of Autumn, Noble Six decides to stick back and hold off the Covenant forces long enough for them to escape. I've faced plenty of life-or-death situations in games before, but that last Reach mission really struck an emotional chord, something no other Halo game has ever done to me.
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Let's be honest: We all probably knew Captain Price was going to get his hands on Makarov at some point, and we knew it was going to be brutal, but the end of MW 3 blew away all expectations of how to kill a man in the most violent way possible. More importantly, MW 3 really brought forth the toll of war on people, using Captain Price as a perfect example. Everything the grizzled soldier has faced: the death of Soap, a Russian gulag, and two world wars, among other things, still hasn't numbed him to the pain of battle. You get the sense that, as Price lights up that last cigar, the war isn't quite over for a man like price. Maybe it's never really over.
7. Final Fantasy X: Final Fantasy games have always placed an important emphasis on story, but Final Fantasy X took a different route with their tale: instead of focusing on a worldwide rebellion or evil empire, FFX took a personal approach by focusing on the relationship between Yuna and Tidus, and their personal trials. Besides featuring one of the best formed romances in gaming, FFX also manages to pull the heartstrings in significant ways with its ending. The story of Sin and the High Summoner's role at banishing him is well-told, and features some great twists in the form of Jecht, Braska and Auron's roles in the story. The real nail in the coffin, however, is Tidus's abrupt departure, and all the questions surrounding him.
6. Chrono Trigger: Hey, not only did Chrono Trigger have a great ending, it had like thirteen of them. While managing them could be a bit of a ***, actually finding and achieving them is such a satisfying gameplay mechanic, and was really unheard of for its time. From beating Lavos without Cronos or Magus to meeting the programmers in one hard-to-get ending to changing the whole world into Reptites; all of the myriad endings change the game in fundamental, yet entertaining ways. I'm just waiting for the patch that allows the Synthesis option...
5. God of War 3: Spoiler alert: Kratos does angry things to people in God of War 3. He's kind of an angry person. I can't exactly say he has went through a ton of character development, but he undeniably channels the whole "revenge" vibe perfectly, and after fighting your way through an entire pantheon of gods, you come face-to-face with Zeus (again). This time it's for real though, and after the epic fight between the two, Kratos gets a chance to blow off some steam in most Freudian fashion: by beating his father's face into the ground until he literally gets too tired to continue. Deciding when Kratos's blood rage ends is an awesome choice the player gets to makes, and we finally see the tortured soul get some closure.
4. Portal 2: The original Portal was a game that took me absolutely by storm. I was completely sucked in by the puzzles and atmosphere, and of course I couldn't help but fall in hate with GLaDOS. Portal 2, despite my unreal expectations, delivered in every way possible, but really knocked it out of the park with the ending. The whole Wheatley sub-plot genuinely took me by surprise, and of course the whole GLaDOS team-up came out of left-field. However, things really hit the ceiling of epicness with that final portal. I don't want to ruin it if you haven't played it, but let's just say Jackie Gleason would be proud.
3. Red Dead Redemption: I've always felt that Red Dead Redemption brought cinematic storytelling to a whole new level. While the game itself was an exercise in awesome, that whole ending sequence was just so brilliant, so captivating, that I was literally speechless as I took control of my new character. Everything I had ever thought about story and video games had to be reconsidered, and I was drawn into the world like few titles have been able to do ever. Revenge, or closure, has rarely tasted sweeter.
2. Fallout: New Vegas: Another title with multiple endings, Fallout: New Vegas scores massive points with the totality of its endings. Every decision you made, every faction you helped or spurned, and every seemingly innocuous decision comes back in the end to completely shape the ending. Throw in the four major factions you can align yourself with and the various decisions you can make within their hierarchy, and you have an ending that is absolutely controlled by you, the player. I'm pretty sure I've seen every possible way me and Yes Man can take over the world.
1. Braid: What is Braid about? Is it about a boy trying to retrieve his princess from the clutches of evil? Is it about the themes of loss and regret? What about the atomic bomb? Braid has plenty of theories surrounding it, but the final (or first) stage bombshell completely changes the way you look at the game, and its protagonist Tim. If you can find the "true" ending, one of the most cleverly hidden secrets ever, a little light is shed on what might have happened, but either way Braid was one of the most emotional finales I've ever seen, and gets my nod for the best video game ending ever.