Author Topic: Just finished Prince Of Persia - what do you think about game endings? (SPOILERS)  (Read 14294 times)

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Offline JonLeung

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SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY!



So I only just recently finished Prince Of Persia (2008).  After months of "video game abstinence" while making maps of Metroid Dread, I was behind on my games, so though I'm a fan of the previous three Prince Of Persia games (known as The Sands Of Time Trilogy), it would still be several months before I would see the controversial ending of this must-play game.  Collecting the remaining Light Seeds, which I plan to do, won't change the ending, but rather just unlocks Jade (from Beyond Good & Evil - play that game!) as a playable "skin" for Elika.  (As I played the PC version, I do not have the option of downloading the Prince Of Persia: Epilogue that continues the story for another couple hours.)  Likely you have already seen the ending yourself, or heard all about it...but it's still fresh and new to me, and I feel like talking about it.



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In this game, the "Prince" (a thief, not the same character as in The Sands Of Time Trilogy) and the princess, Elika, traverse a kingdom tainted by "Corruption".  The game begins shortly before the King releases the dark god, Ahriman, by cutting down a magical tree in a temple meant to contain Ahriman.  As the duo progress through the game, healing the lands, the mostly-optional dialogue (though why would you not initiate it?) between the Prince and Elika shed as much background on the story and of the two characters as you choose to hear.  There are some moments of romantic tension between the two - but not as much as there could have been, especially considering the ending...



At the end, with the King defeated, Ahriman rises to fight the two heroes.  In an interesting "battle", seen from the perspective of Ahriman, the Prince and Elika use their acrobatic feats to scramble around the room, using Elika's magic to "heal" the area and seal Ahriman back away.  Elika then uses her own life to complete the tree's seal.  The Prince carries Elika's body out of the temple.  But in the most extensive "play the ending" sequences I've ever seen, the Prince recalls that Elika was earlier brought back to life by the King's request to Ahriman, and reopens the temple and cuts down the tree, releasing Ahriman.  Upon bestowing the life energy to Elika, she asks "Why?" to which the Prince doesn't respond.  Then he is seen carrying her away, as the temple collapses in the background, and darkness fills the world again.  Ahriman's face (which alone is most of all you ever see of him) is seen in the darkness as it flows outward.



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I can't say I necessarily liked the ending when I saw it.  And I can't say that I still do, in terms of what it means for the main characters.  My gut reaction was "but I spent all that time trying to seal Ahriman, just to release him again, and more fully into the world?"  But I did find it unexpected and challenging, which is, in a strange way, refreshing.  (I also read about the ending of the Epilogue - the Prince and Elika part ways, so the Prince doesn't even get the girl, which is what he doomed the world for in the main game's ending.  But he saves the world.  So he either gets the girl or saves the world, but not both.)



"Hollywood" endings are nice.  It's comforting when the main character of a movie becomes a hero, defeats the bad guys, saves the world, gets the money, gets the girl, and everything is okay.  When you spend about two hours with a movie character, you want to leave with that sense of resolution.  With a video game, you typically spend a lot more time, maybe a few dozen hours, but in the end of course things are great and you feel like you earned it, as you were involved in taking the character (or characters) through their journey.



I do like some game endings where maybe things aren't 100% perfect in the end.  Besides keeping things open for potential sequels, I think there's a streak of humanness, or reality, or something to that effect, when the hero is still kept humble.  Take, for example, the Tex Murphy games.  (Incredible adventure games.  Ahead of their time.)  Tex Murphy, a bumbling P.I. in future San Francisco, saves the world a few times over, yet it isn't from any obvious threat, so only a handful of people know, and he remains an unsung hero.  But even if he doesn't get the riches or recognition, he's still a hero - and probably triumphed personally - or something - and in a good position to save the world yet again.  I guess as the game player, we were never going to get the glory or the girl anyway, but at least we shared in the adventure and perhaps that's the whole point.



Looking at UbiSoft's other Prince Of Persia games, maybe I shouldn't be surprised at an ending that makes the goal of the adventure become moot.  In a climactic moment in The Sands Of Time, the Prince sticks his Dagger Of Time into the Hourglass, thereby having enough Sands Of Time to rewind not just mere seconds, but rather all the way back to before the adventure began, thereby preventing all the trouble the Vizier caused in the first place.  And in the good ending of Warrior Within, the Prince does not kill Kaileena, which means the Sands Of Time were never released, further overwriting the events of the previous game and setting up the events of final game, The Two Thrones, with a still-alive evil Vizier.  (But at least he was eventually defeated by the end of the trilogy.)  We remembered the adventure, and that's what should count, right?



Now I think the ending was good in retrospect, at least in the sense that it made me think - a perfect ending wouldn't have made me take the time to write all this.  And perhaps even if it seemed "bad" at the time, the ending wasn't badly written.  Perhaps I personally wouldn't doom the world just to save the life of one girl (maybe I don't have a romantic bone in my body?) and if the recap of the Epilogue I read is correct, it is fitting that Ahriman does indeed get defeated but Elika does have to leave the Prince.  Then he could have a new adventure that doesn't have to feature Elika if UbiSoft feels she shouldn't return.



Sure, I'm overanalyzing.  (I may have even lost my point along the way, but it's all about the journey, right?)  Are there any endings of games that made you think?

Offline marioman

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Personally, I get tired of games which have loads of storyline.  It really irritates me when I have to sit through 10 minutes of dialogue/cutscenes just to play toward another long story interlude.  My philosophy is that video games and movies should be two totally separate entities.  If I want to watch a movie, I will watch a movie.  However, if I want to play a video game, I would prefer to do just that without being forced to watch a movie.  Just give me a minimalist storyline (save the world from the bad guy is fine) and let the gameplay begin.  Also, my opinion is that story-driven games tend to be inferior because emphasis tends to be given to storyline to the neglect of gameplay.



With that said, I do not like endings that completely defeat the story that has been (obviously) overemphasized throughout the game.  If I am saving to world, I expect to actually save the world after I spend hours to defeat the bad guy.  Otherwise, I think that it just creates a sense of disappointment.

Offline Revned

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You should probably avoid the Metal Gear Solid series, marioman.

Offline JonLeung

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LOL, I remember playing some Metal Gear Solid 2, and I was constantly thinking, "when can I play again?"  There were points where you'd finish a lengthy story sequence, just walk down the hall, and have to sit through another one.



Prince Of Persia is pretty good in the sense that you can choose how much you want to talk to Elika about things.  Simply keep pressing the Talk button whenever prompted if you want to know more, and if you really don't care about backstory and such, you can just ignore her throughout most of the game.



I really enjoy story-centric games, but when there's such an emphasis on the story, many of them are hard to consider replaying.

Offline DarkWolf

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Off the top of my head Dark Savior (Sega Saturn) had really good endings (game had a parallel story-line system).  The one I least liked was Mario 2 (US).  I didn't like the cliff-hanger ending of Shenmue after Sega decided not to release the sequel for Dreamcast in North America.  Oh they released it eventually for X-Box, I think, but by that point I kind of lost my faith in Sega.  But that's really the fault of the Sega of America, not the guys who designed the game.

Offline JonLeung

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Ah, but DarkWolf, how many Mario games truly have endings?  It wasn't until Super Mario World that they even had credits!  In Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3, you save Princess Toadstool/Peach, and then what?  Nothing!  Technically, Super Mario Bros. 2 at least has more of an actual ending...even if it is a bit of a cop-out.