It’s been a grind. You fought–tooth and claw–to get to the last stage, the End Stage. This is the level that will test everything you’ve learned about how to play the game. It will usher you to the Final Boss, but not before beating you down and punishing you for even getting this far. They can also be some of the most fun and memorable parts of any game. Mega Man’s nemesis, Doctor Wily, knew exactly how to surround himself with a treacherous last stretch, but he wasn’t the only one. Lot’s of games have great End Stages, and everyone has their favorite!
Without a doubt my favorite video game end stage is from Halo 3. My 2nd favorite installment of the franchise, just behind the 4th, there’s so much to love about the game. Great story, tense action, great visuals, all coming together for a truly great epic adventure. But what really stands out is the “smack you in the face” end stage.
As soon as the end stage starts you know you’re in for some serious hell. Nothing can prepare you for being dumped in a Warthog and asked to navigate an especially non-linear landscape of enemies, explosions, and falling floor panels. Even as you begin to memorize the general path and pattern you’re so pumped up from it being the end of the game that mess up over and over again before you make any real headway.
Checkpoints help mitigate the mayhem, but only a little. The frantic pace and constant sense of impending doom is enough to keep you making mistakes along the way. Twitch your thumb a smidge in the wrong direction and you’re done for. With hairpin turns, impossible jumps, and steadily increasing chaos all around you, it’s one of the most memorable and satisfying end stages you’ll ever play!
When was the last time a robot threatened to kill you and then told you all the cake was gone? It was Portal for me, one of my favorite games and by far my favorite end stage of any video game. All of the previous stages were in a controlled sterile looking environment and then in the final stage you breakout of this into the innards of Aperture Science on your way to meet GLaDOS and get some cake.
Once you get out into the bowels of Aperture Science the overall feeling of Portal changes. When you are working your way through these deserted corridors and service tunnels the overall feeling of the game gets dark and a little chaotic. Prior to this when you are working your way through the game, doing science, if you get stuck you can take a moment to look around and figure out the correct path. Once outside the controlled environment of the test chambers it takes a little more diligence to work your way through the stage to meet GLaDOS.
The overall feeling of the game gets desperate as GLaDOS tries to deter you from seeking her out for the final boss battle and to get some cake. Or maybe it is just another very well put together robotic scheme to end you, yup that’s it. Portal is a great platform puzzle action first person shooter; I think that is what it should be called. It has been a long time since I have played it and I think it may be time for a quick play through.
Whether you called it Death Mountain, Level Nine, or Spectacle Rock, it amounts to the same thing. The last dungeon that leads to the ultimate monster, and the fated meeting between Link and his goal: the rescue of Princess Zelda. By far the largest dungeon in the game, Death Mountain is a trying and costly gambit for even the most seasoned Legend of Zelda players. Even if you got the master key from Level Eight, simply opening doors is not going to get you past this skull shaped monstrosity.
This dungeon is packed with rooms filled with horrific enemies. You breathe a sigh of relief to find a room filled with red knights, only to patiently clear it and move to the next challenge which drops you in a room filled with blue Wizrobes; clear that and you run into enemies that were bosses in previous levels! On top of that, previous dungeons had one, maybe two tunnels, but no, Level Nine has five, and that’s not counting the tunnels that get you to the Red Ring and Silver Arrow. This dungeon is fiendishly clever, containing tons of rooms, bomb-able walls, passages, mini-bosses by the score, and Wise men. If you didn’t come in here with the Red medicine of double health you may as well not walk through the door, and go back to the damp cave where the old man gave you a wooden sword because that’s all you’re probably good for.
The best method to survive Death Mountain is a map! I remember in the days before you could just download one, my father actually made one. Each room lovingly represented on printing paper, 2” X 2” wide, descriptions of enemies, tunnel entrances and exits clearly marked, and the whole thing on an alpha-numeric scale so each room could be identified: Gannon’s chamber was C-5 incidentally!
I have always been a big fan of FPS war games and Call of Duty 3 is one of my personal favorites. Also, the final stage of this game is, in my opinion, the most intense.
The Germans, while on the brink of defeat, have fallen back to the town of Chambrois, where you and the rest of your platoon awaiting their arrival to put an end to the war. Like I said before, I love this ending so much because of its intensity. Your squad is pretty much outnumbered 4 to 1 and all you have to hide behind are some sand bags and a couple of completely destroyed buildings.
The mission is to simply defend this narrow passage from what seems like an endless onslaught of German soldiers. As you make progress and continue to push the enemies back, you find yourself at the edge of a large field where the rest of the axis army is charging right at you. There are about a hundred troops and a half-dozen tanks breathing down your neck while you frantically attempt to pick them off one by one and prevent them from taking over your position. You can hear the drone of screaming soldiers and feel the ground shake as they get closer. A lot of time is spent dodging bullets whizzing by your ears, and the only type of protection you have is a few stacked up sand bags.
Once you’ve defended your position and every last dirty kraut is dead you feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment. This was one of the most fulfilling endings to a game I have ever played.