Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.
This is part of our ongoing series about games and trends of one of the most longest-lived eras in gaming’s history — the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation.
We’re slapping a huge spoiler warning on this one, so read at your own risk! Below, we recall some of the best stories and endings from this video game generation. Chances are you’re still talking about them. Or maybe they’re so bad, it’s better to try to forget. In that case — sorry!
We might as well get this one out of the way first because I know you’re all thinking about it. The mysteries of BioShock Infinite had everyone sharing their theories and interpretations. We’re still waiting for designer Ken Levine to explain it to us.
GamesBeat Summit 2023
Join the GamesBeat community in Los Angeles this May 22-23. You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.
Say what you will about the violence, but few stories in the past six or seven years managed to elicit such thought-provoking responses like Infinite did. Seriously — how much did it blow your mind? Lighthouses and Rapture, man.
Batman: Arkham City
I still can’t get over this one. Batman has toyed with the idea of letting the Joker die before, but he always saves him and throws his butt back in Arkham Asylum, and so the dance continues. But Paul Dini and the other writers devised a clever way that Batman could remain a hero and still put an end to Gotham’s ultimate madman. More than 70 years of comics have never been so bold.
It’s a shame we probably won’t get to see what happens next as Batman: Arkham Origins, under the care of Warner Bros. Games Montréal, moves away from the story that former developer Rocksteady Studios created.
Prince of Persia
Every fan probably fumes at the very memory. Prince of Persia (the remake) is somewhat unremarkable except for its ending. Developer Ubisoft Montreal even released downloadable content to try to smooth over any resentment, but it’s pretty much a slap in the face when all your efforts to save the world are underdone, and it’s the protagonist’s fault. Because he’s in love and stuff.
While the original Portal is also a great contender, it’s hard to forget the awesomeness of shooting a portal on the moon’s surface and then blasting Wheatley into space. It was pretty satisfying.
Besides, who doesn’t like to top off hours of puzzle-solving with a good Jonathan Coulton song about the artificial intelligence GLaDOS’s hatred of the main character, Chell?
Mass Effect 3
BioWare got a lot of hate for its endings to Mass Effect 3, which made players feel like their choices didn’t matter all. They were so infuriating that they prompted a whole Internet campaign to “Retake Mass Effect,” along with legal complaints of false advertising.
Ultimately, this controversy led to the free downloadable content pack Extended Cut, which expanded on the finale for those who were unhappy the first time around.
Red Dead Redemption
Some have called the ending to Red Dead Redemption one of the best in video games. Others seem to hate it. But it’s certainly emotional.
After protagonist John Marston reunites with his family, they try to put their lives back in order — and players undertake that task with them. Then it all comes to a painful end as Red Dead Redemption does what few games dare to: kill the hero. For real.
The Walking Dead
The five-part The Walking Dead showed us the true horror behind a zombie invasion: the difficult choices people have to make to survive. It’s even harder to watch a child learn that lesson as she does with her parents and, later, Lee. She can either walk away and leave him to his fate alone or … well, you know.
Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line isn’t a traditional first-person shooter. It prompted a lot of different responses to its take on violence in video games, especially our participation in warfare.
Surprisingly, you’re supposed to feel bad. This is one game that aims to make you feel horrible for doing horrible things.
Deadly Premonition is probably most deserving of being on this list simply because so many people overlooked it early on. Hey, maybe we just didn’t “get” it. That happens. Or maybe we finally calmed down enough about its bad gameplay to realize the characters and murder mystery surprises were actually pretty enjoyable.
And face it: You want to know who “Zach” is … .
The Last of Us
Gamers adored The Last of Us, but the ending in particular is an interesting twist. When the human race is close to a cure for the Cordyceps infection, Joel chooses to save Ellie instead of sacrificing her for the sake of a vaccine. Isn’t that exactly what every other “zombie” game or movie tells us not to do?
GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.