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It’s a shame these games couldn’t stick the landing. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today, we’re counting down the top 10 most disappointing final levels in games.
For this list, we’ll be looking at final levels only, so we won’t be including boss battles or ending cinematics.
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#10: Hoover Dam “Fallout: New Vegas” (2010)
After spending countless hours making decision after decision regarding which factions you would or wouldn’t be siding with, turns out it wouldn’t make all that much of a difference in the end. Though the gameplay itself of the game’s climactic battle on the Hoover Dam is altogether fine, the fact that the game’s finale felt so bland was a punch to the gut. It’s well-known that the development of New Vegas was unfortunately rushed, and it's likely that this lackluster final battle was one of the biggest concessions made by the team. It’s a shame we’ll never see what could have been. Well, unless we use mods.
#9: Rocket Rush “Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble” (1996)
At the end of the secret final world in Donkey Kong Country 3, a platforming game starring Dixie and Kiddy Kong, players are forced to pilot a rocket barrel vehicle for the first and only time in the game. The rocket barrel sequence features a baffling control scheme, with reverse directional controls, and an overly difficult cliffside navigation. The margin for error in this level is so small that if you miss even one fuel tank, you probably won’t even be able to finish. Why, Rare? This was supposed to be a game for children!
#8: Meat Circus “Psychonauts” (2005)
Game director Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions brought us Psychonauts in 2005, a wildly imaginative and engaging journey through a summer camp for psychics. The game was an immensely fun platformer and adventure game, but the final level is so insanely hard that many players couldn’t even be bothered to finish the game. Players are sent into a mental meat circus to help fellow camper Oleander recover his bunny. The platforming section of the level is unforgivably hard, not to mention the frustrating escort section. Thankfully, the difficulty has been adjusted in further releases of the game, and we’re excited to see what Double Fine has in store for Psychonauts 2.
#7: The Great Journey “Halo 2” (2004)
Despite being the favorite game in the franchise for many players, the final level of Halo 2 was a huge disappointment. It’s bad enough we had to play as the Arbiter at all during the game’s campaign, but Bungie made the strange decision to have the story conclude from the new Covenant hero’s perspective. Many fans were not too pleased with this. The mission itself is fine, if somewhat bland, but why wouldn’t you let us complete the game’s story with the franchise’s actual hero? Master Chief still functions in the ending, so there was never really a reason to keep him out of players’ hands in the final fight.
#6: Xen “Half-Life” (1998)
The final level of this breakthrough first-person shooter is really a nightmare. It begins when Dr. Gordon Freeman is sent over to the dimension of Xen to stop the aliens from continuing to make their way onto Earth. The controls in this section are unbearable, with low-gravity space platforming and annoying bosses. Games should never feel like a chore, but Half-Life’s final section sure comes close. The game’s ending feels like a grind, which isn’t usually a descriptor you want out of an FPS. Thankfully, the rest of the game is so damn good that we’ll let its terrible ending slide.
#5: Wagon Chase “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” (2011)
It’s a shame that the end of Ezio’s time as protagonist of Assassin's Creed had to come in such a disappointing way. The game decides to thrust players into a bad wagon chase with wonky physics. Whose decision was it to end the game with an extended chase sequence featuring an awkward horse-drawn carriage and a poorly animated glide? If you managed to avoid throwing your controller and shutting off the game in annoyance, you were treated to an abrupt cutscene that ended the game in a quick fashion. Ezio was always the best assassin in the series, and what an unfortunate anti-climactic finish he was given.
#4: Hades “God of War” (2005)
Here’s a terrible idea: ending your fantastic hack-and-slash action game with a slow-paced level full of unnecessarily hard platforming elements. Despite the epic music accompaniment, the level doesn’t feel epic at all. It avoids playing to the games combat-heavy strengths, and instead has you maneuvering across a series of literal platforms and rotating beams to fight the occasional enemy. Don’t even get us started on that awful climbing section. The original God of War didn’t have the smoothest of controls, so forcing players to navigate difficult platforming sequences to get to the game’s final boss just seems cruel.
#3: Malachor V “Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords”
Obsidian’s second game on this list suffered from some of the same development woes as Fallout: New Vegas, leading to another rushed ending, with large chunks of the game scrapped. The sequel to BioWare’s massive Star Wars RPG Knights of the Old Republic comes to a close with the player character confronting the remaining Sith in an almost-empty temple on the barren planet of Malachor V. It’s bare bones and straight to the point, making it clear just how much of a time crunch the development team must have been under. If you’re interested in seeing what could’ve been, there are mods out there that completed the unfinished game.
#2: The Final Mission “Mass Effect 3” (2012)
Though the game’s ending has plenty of its own controversy, the final level that leads up to it isn’t any better. The final level of Mass Effect 3 saw Commander Shepard and his crew make their way to Earth to take the planet back from the Reapers. The result? A meaningless, boring series of combat encounters that featured none of the strategy or nuance of the previous games. The final level amounted to an extended shooting gallery version of London. It’s truly a shame that this overall excellent trilogy found itself limping tiredly to the finish line, which makes this final level all the more painful.
#1: This Again? “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” (2015)
This one hurts all the more because we already had to play this terrible level at the game’s beginning. We enjoyed Phantom Pain, it’s not a bad game. The story even comes to a satisfying conclusion. We all know the Metal Gear series has its… eccentric qualities. But making players retread some of the same tedious levels is a cruelty that no game should be able to subject its players to. Before giving players the ending they deserve, Konami forced us to complete Snake’s hospital escape sequence again, and we’ll never forgive them for that.