Fodders Favourite: Ending

Crossing_the_finish_line

From observing peoples gaming habits, it’s clear to me that many of us have different key motivators when it comes to playing our much loved games. Sure, it will differ somewhat depending on the particular game, but I have definitely seen some patterns in behaviour. Some people get deep into the games story, some people are completionists that strive for every achievement, whilst others will jump straight into the multi-player sections, rarely touching the main campaign at all.

My key motivators appear to be simply game-play and the sense of achievement that comes with “beating” a game. I attribute this to my old-skool arcade roots, where games relied on these factors to keep you engaged. They tended to all have punishing difficulty to stop you from beating them (and keep you feeding those coins in), so when/if you eventually did, it was the only reward you needed.  The trouble with this is, I’ve noticed that even today, once I’ve beaten a game, I sit back basking in the game-beating euphoria, rather than paying much attention to the games ending.

"Just a couple more levels lads; I reckon we've got this!"

“Just a couple more levels lads; I reckon we’ve got this!”

This means that as I think over the various games I’ve beaten, I struggle to recall many that really stand out. Most are a case of; World saved, well done, group hug…blah, blah, blah (well, that’s what I usually take away from them anyway). A worthy mention was the videos you’re rewarded with in Tony Hawks Pro skater. However, these skater profile and bail video’s feel more like “unlocks” than actual game endings per se. That said, it could be argued that my actual choice is really more the credits than the game ending, but I still think that’s all part and parcel of it.

The choice I speak of is Portal, Valves little masterpiece of a game, which originally came bundled with The Orange Box collection of games. The first part of the ending see’s you come-to outside the test facility as parts of GLaDOS, the games robotic antagonist, rain down on you. Dumping you in what appears to be the parking lot, right by the main gates, is a simple yet profound visual representation of your freedom – the fact you made it out*. The photo-realistic backdrop adding an extra layer to the sense of escape; out of the game and back to reality.

Literally making it out

Literally making it out

The scene that unfolds next is one that plunges back deep into the depths of the facility. A storage room, full of personality cores, the companion cube and in the middle, a lit black forest cake – which is referenced heavily in the games narrative. It’s mere existence provides yet further evidence of the sadistic personality of GlaDOS. As the personality cores come to life one by one, a robotic arm reaches down and extinguishes the candle on the cake, before the second, more memorable part of the ending kicks in: the credits.

As the credits roll, GLaDOS delivers her final test report, via the medium of song. Evaluating the test as a huge success and indicating that she is very much “Still Alive“, this song is a work of pure genius. Its light hearted melody perfectly encapsulates the dark humour of the game, whilst the lyrics serve to conclude the game in a way that’s as unprecedented as it is unmatched. It speaks volumes when people who have never even played Portal – so are listening to it completely out of context – comment on the acoustic quality of the song as a stand-alone piece of music. It truly is the the icing on the cake.

*a patch was subsequently released, where the character is dragged backwards – it was included as part of the PR surrounding the announcement of the sequel; Portal 2.

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  1. Fodders Favourites | Fodders Gaming Blog

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