Monday, December 01, 2008

Don’t cheap out on endings!

Just recently, I finally got the chance to play Bioshock. I know, what kind of gamer am I, finally playing this game a full year after release? It won like 900 awards ranging from “Game of the Year” to “World’s Best Grandma”. It was enormously entertaining throughout, fantastic storyline, some of the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen in a game, blah blah blah, obviously the game’s fantastic, you don’t need me to tell you that, it’s evident from reading literally any review you might stumble across.

But, there’s one aspect of the game that I haven’t seen any review touch upon: the ending. Now, the actual ending sequences—the FMVs, and the events directly leading up to them—aren’t necessarily bad. They wrap things up pretty nicely, though the FMVs are pretty brief. My main beef is what happens after the FMV sequences:

The game boots you directly to the title screen.

No credits list, no ”Thanks for playing!”, not even a fade-in to the title screen. Just an abrupt “BLAM!! Here’s the title screen!” This was a very jarring for me, like being unexpectedly whacked in the face. Literally two minutes ago I was in the midst of fighting the last boss of a relatively lengthy adventure, and now I’m back here.

I understand if it wasn’t in the time or monetary budget for 2K Boston/Australia to create longer ending sequences. Those things were pretty fancy looking. But it can’t have been that difficult to throw together a cut to credit sequence, and maybe play some epic credits music for the player to go out on. Presentation-wise, that would have made the game a lot more complete, for me at least. As it stands, my last impression of the game is a sudden boot to title screen. I actually would have preferred being booted back to Windows. Being booted to the title screen in this manner is kind of like saying “..Oh! Hey!.. Yeah, the game’s over, that’s it. It was pretty fun, eh?.. No, no there isn’t any bonus content or unlockables or anything, you’re just kinda back here.. Why? Well, um… I guess you could play the game again now, if you wanted to. Even though you just finished it once. Yeah I guess.. hey, you know what, why don’t you, just click Exit and get out of here, there’s really nothing else to see.” I actually heard this in my head after finishing the game, causing me to fear for my well-being.

Anyways, I just felt that this was something that could have been dealt with in some way that didn’t take a whole lot of developer resources. Instead, it wasn’t dealt with at all. Which is odd, considering how generally great the game’s presentation was otherwise. In the grand scheme of things, what happens post-ending is a pretty nitpicky detail, but to see the game end on this note and not leave an impression representative of the rest of the game’s quality is disappointing.