Let's talk about Assassin's Creed 3's ending (SPOILERS, duh)
I know you can read this bit on the main page so I'm gonna write a bit until I think I'm past it. Obviously, again, spoiler warning. Okay and I think that we are now just about in the clear. Gonna type just a bit more here. How you all doing? Who you voting for? I'll tell you one thing, I am certainly not voting for that jackass named- and I think we're good.
"Hey, is this another blog where SeraphimBlade bitches about an ending he doesn't like?" Yes! Yes, it is!
First off, people who flipped out at Mass Effect 3: I owe you an apology. I'm dead serious. I'm not taking back anything I said about the quality of the original or extended ending. I still vehemently disagree with the rhetoric of "taking it back" and "making sure they get it right." But, I'm pretty sure I made some broad generalizations about you all being hypocrites and disrespecting the rights of artists. For that, I apologize. Maybe it was just because I didn't hear about how bad it was ahead of time, but I think I'm as pissed about AC3's ending as a good number of you were about ME3's.
No, it does not bog down the whole game. I'm not metacritic bombing it anytime soon, I'm too cool for that. I still highly recommend it, and most of the story is possibly the best I've played all year.
But the ending sucks. Bad. And we're gonna talk about it. I don't have the capacity for rage that some gamers obviously do, but I'm gonna criticize the hell out of it.
Things first start going downhill with Connor's first attempt at killing Charles Lee. Lee is nowhere to be found and Connor ends up fighting and killing his father Haytham, in a rather disappointing boss fight I might add. (though I LOVE their last dialogue. Probably my favorite part of the story) This is like if in Ocarina of Time, you ended up fighting Ganon in the Spirit Temple, and then you had to go to his castle and just fight the mini-bosses. The pacing is completely ass-backwards and it feels unnecessary.
There are two ways that could have worked:
1. If Haytham were a historical figure. As many liberties as AC takes, it does time the deaths of major players right. (correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that's the case)
2. If catching up with Lee were part of the epilogue. A lot of sandbox games have endgame missions like that where the story's over, but you can get that last, satisfying bit of closure. Red Dead Redemption is a great example.
Anyway, so cut forward a few days when Connor confronts Lee, who steals Bane's "you have my permission to die" speech by the way. (I'm assuming they wrote the script earlier though. I like to picture an AC writer watching Dark Knight Rises in a theater, standing up and yelling "SON OF A BITCH!") Cue a really contrived chase (hey, what happened to stealth? remember stealth? stealth was cool) ending with a weird scene where he finally kills Lee in a frontier bar after sharing a drink. I want to like this scene, partially because it goes back to the world's most gentlemanly murder at the start of the game. Here's the thing though, the game humanized the Templars so much more than its predecessors, but Lee was the ONLY one that was really depicted as monstrous. Yeah, everyone was racist back then but he was downright mean-spirited and explicit about it, vowing to burn down Connor's village. Why the hell are they sharing a drink? And Connor hates the guy so much, he puts on war paint and shaves his head into a mohawk (which I'm assuming is a going-to-war thing for his tribe.) If I were writing this I'd have had Connor just look him dead in the eye and stab him. Or maybe if he caught him in the chase, turn him into swiss cheese like Ezio did to his first kill. Actually, I wouldn't have done any of that, 'cause I would have let you actually sneak up on the guy during Haytham's funeral instead of walking out in the open like a moron. You know, to kill him suddenly and secretively, like... uh... uh... dammit! There's a word for that, I can't think of it!
That all, however, is forgivable. Worth criticizing, but only a lukewarm ending at worst, not worthy of sane fanboy outrage. We haven't invested five games into Connor's story, after all. Most of us are here to see the ending to the "real" story which is Desmond and Co. unlocking the secret of the First Civilization to prevent the apocalypse on December 21, which is coincidentally the day the Mayans chose to arbitrarily end their calendar and make no connection to their apocalypse myth whatsoever. But I'm sure you all understood that. So Desmond finds an amulet, hidden by Connor two-hundred-some years before that opens the final door in a First Civ ruin. It leads to... well, stop me if you heard this one before:
-The hero enters a room with a big glowing object in the center.
-A holographic intelligence of some kind appears to him, telling him the purpose of the device
-the hero receives a vision of a possible future, should they make a certain choice
-the hero makes his choice, sacrificing his life in the process, followed by a really uninformative cutscene with little to no closure
-Credits roll, player asks what the f*** he just saw
-Player goes on N4G to make critical blog post about it
Yeah, kids. It's Mass Effect 3 all over again in more ways than one. One important note here: ACIII is the end of Desmond's story, not THE story, and it was never advertised as the series' conclusion. An all-too-brief scene in the credits makes it clear the plot still has places to go, and the epilogue suggests that someone else has started using the Animus for their own goals, (which may or may not tie into the story in multiplayer.) HOWEVER, it is the end to the conflict that his been building the whole series and hoo boy is it underwhelming.
What's weird is that the aforementioned vision is of what happens if Desmond had made a different choice. He goes with something else. Like killing Haytham before Lee, it's bizarre and out of place. I am almost willing to bet you that that was the original ending, but then they decided they wanted a sequel. (DO NOT QUOTE ME ON THAT! I will NOT be that guy who started a stupid rumor) Whether they wanted sequel bait or what, it's just confounding that you would show us the pretty, detailed, and completely hypothetical ending before showing what really happened which is boring. For God's sake! If I had just seen some last scene with Shaun, Rebecca and William I wouldn't be half as mad as I am. All we get is an audio news report explaining how the Earth was saved from the solar flare by some freak weather phenomenon, followed by Juno foreshadowing that she has plans.
The problems lie in two places. Firstly, the lack of closure I mentioned. Seriously, just some freaking audio clips of Desmond's crew figuring out what they're going to do next would have sufficed. Pretty much how the last three games ended. The worst part of it all is it gets your hopes up with these weird epilogue missions, getting you thinking maybe there's a "true" ending to unlock or something. But these don't even add anything to the story. You can unlock some mysterious code, but if they honestly hid the real ending away on the internet in some kind of ARG, they deserve to have me get mad at them anyway.
The second problem is just basic narrative. It was never really clear what was going on with the First Civilization's "gods" anyway. So what does the game do? Announce "oh, that one's evil by the way." Turns out that saving the world with her help will bring her back to power, which is bad! Because....................... .............. not even the characters know why! If it left on a straight-up cliffhanger like the first game, that would be fine. Instead we have the worst kind of sequel hook, the kind that doesn't offer any kind of insight into what happens next! Just.... something bad! You should only keep the story going if you have ideas, but that is a really. bad. sign. Hell, you didn't even need to leave room for a sequel! These games can be set at any time in history. You don't NEED someone in the animus, and nobody's gonna call you out on any thing short of an alternate reality setting.
I play fair, so here's something I liked about the ending: in the end, the Assassins' plight went unnoticed by society, just like their whole conflict had been. That's a really good reason not to have anything flashy, and I think that IS what they were going for with the minimalist ending. But that's still no excuse for the lazy sequel hook and the lack of closure with the main characters. If you want an example of an "unsung hero" ending being done well, Brutal Legend does a great job with it, though that could be because the hero is still alive and lands one of the best girlfriends in video game history.
So... what can we expect from this? Since it isn't THE ending, I don't think we'll see an "AC3 Extended Cut." But maybe future DLC will flesh things out a bit. They weren't above putting a vital plot point about Lucy in Revelations' DLC. And like I said all it really NEEDS is a few lines. I'm not even making this because I'm angry so much as I am incredibly confused and disappointed. In fact more of the fans I saw seem more pissed off at the fact that Connor never puts his hood back on in the epilogue.
And given the choice, yeah, I'll actually take the hood over the marginally improved ending. But I'm not gonna rant about artistic integrity this time if you do get me a new ending.