The good guys don’t always win. Although video games often represent an idealised version of life, where good triumphs over evil and everyone ends up happy, there are several notable examples where the bad guys definitely ‘win’. I’m not talking about possible scenarios where the baddos come out on top--these are games where it happens every time. There are no jolly alternate endings to be found here.
This Top 7 also (mostly) makes reference to specific games. I know that, throughout the course of most series’, the good guys usually win--and they do in several of the franchises referenced here. But in these specific games, evil triumphs… and there’s nothing you can do about it. On that cheery note: onwards! Oh, and SPOILERS...
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
In Singularity you have a choice, right at the end. You can shoot Demichev (the scientist who invented the Time Manipulation Device), Barisov (the military guy who wants it), or both. What? Alternate endings? But didn’t I specifically say that games with alternate endings don’t qualify here? LIAR! Well, let’s look at all 3 endings, shall we…
Shoot Demichev, and Barisov eventually recovers the TMD, which he uses to enslave the world. Bad. Shoot Barisov and your character (Renko) allies with Demichev to rule the world. Several years later, Renko and Demichev grow suspicious of each other, and a bloody civil war ensues. Bad. Shoot both of them and… Renko uses the TMD to enforce his will on the now chaos-gripped world. He essentially becomes Hitler. Bad. The lesson here? When you have three assholes dictating the fate of the world, getting covered in shit is inevitable.
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
Format: Nintendo 64
Most Castlevania games end in either a draw, mutually-assured destruction, or a very slender ‘win’ for the powers of good. Take Lords of Shadow for example. Yes, Gabriel defeats Satan, but he becomes Dracula. He’s unlikely to get a painting in the Uffizi for his efforts. However, it’s Legacy of Darkness that takes the prize as the Castlevania game with the biggest bad-guy win.
Throughout Legacy of Darkness, Cornell is on a quest to save his sister, Ada, from being sacrificed in a ritual to resurrect Dracula. The end of the game sees him defeating a weakened Dracula and saving his sister. Hurray! Actually, let’s not bust out the party poppers and champagne just yet. You see, to defeat Dracula, Cornell is forced to give up his ‘beast’ powers… and that’s exactly what Dracula wants all along. Ada’s kidnapping is a decoy to force Cornell into sacrificing his own supernatural abilities, which is what Dracula really needs to resurrect himself in his full form. And he does exactly that at the end of the game. D’oh.
Transformers: Fall of Cyberton
Format: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, , Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Things started off poorly for both the Autobots and the Decepticons in Transformers: War for Cyberton. By the end, Megatron’s infected Cybertron, the living machine planet that’s home to all transformers, with Dark Energon polluting all life in the process. Optimus Prime and the Autobots are just trying to save what life they can. In the sequel Fall of Cyberton, though, things get even worse.
What happens to the heroes and badguys alike at the end of everything? Optimus’ crew sails off into deep space, hoping to find a new home because Cybertron is now totally unlivable. Megatron’s crew chase after to kill them, because it’s not enough that they made their home planet unlivable. That is just evil.
Format: PlayStation, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Blizzard likes to make the player feel like they’ve won, even when they often haven’t. The whole Diablo series is perhaps the best example of bad guys winning the overall war, while the good guys snatch pyrrhic victories at the end of each game. In the original Diablo, for example, the hero sacrifices himself to try and trap Diablo in a soulstone forever; to stop him over-running the world. However, Diablo 2 quickly reveals that this is a futile move.
Why? Because Diablo merely possesses the hero and carries on with his demonic business. Things seem to go well in Diablo 2 too. The heroes defeat Diablo in Hell, and destroy the soulstones belonging to Diablo and Mephisto. However, in the epilogue Marius gives Baal’s soulstone back to... er, Baal himself, who promptly kills Marius and sets his prison cell alight. And guess what? Diablo returns in Diablo 3, so it turns out that he still hasn’t been properly defeated. Meanwhile, demons are flooding through portals left, right, and centre. Which is bad, right? Yup.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One (backwards compatibility), PC
Ok, on a personal level the good guys snatch a victory in Modern Warfare 2. Shepherd dies, Price lives. Happy times. Sadly, that’s one small win in a world full of losses. Before passing away (violently), the corrupt Shepherd manages to trigger a devastating war between America and Russia, one that has already killed thousands of civilians and demolished the White House.
What’s more, Price is forced into hiding and Makarov escapes, a double kick to the nuts for Team Good. The whole of Modern Warfare 3 is spent attempting to clear up the mess left by the bad guys in MW2, and the world is a much shittier place after the US / Russia war. The good guys do ‘win’ in the end, but MW2 is the classic Empire Strikes Back middle-story, where evil is very much on top. Anyone else feel as if Price should have been frozen in Carbonite at the end of MW2? No? Just me, then.
Red Dead Redemption
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One (backwards compatibility)
John Marston just wants to leave his past behind him. Sure he was an outlaw in the past, but he’s a family man now. Throughout the game, he tries to do the right thing, to make amends for his past deeds: he’s a good guy. So, when he gets gunned down at the conclusion of the main game, by Edgar Ross and a bunch of his men, the bad guys are definitely winning.
Ross is clearing up his own corruption, having blackmailed Marston into tracking down his old gang members in the name of ‘justice’. When Marston refuses to work for Ross, he becomes a liability, and therefore signs his own death warrant. So the actual ending of the game is a victory for evil. Even the epilogue, where John’s son Jack avenges his death is… ambiguous. Sure, the player gets revenge, but it comes at a huge cost. John never wanted Jack to take the law into his own hands--to make the same mistakes as he did--yet the post-credit events see him doing just that.
Format: Xbox 360, Xbox One (backwards compatibility)
Noble team is doomed from the start of Reach. We already know that the Covenant destroy Reach and pursue the Pillar of Autumn to the Halo ring-world, triggering the events of the original Halo. And we know that, ultimately, humanity wins the war. However, that doesn’t make Reach’s ending any less crushing.
Six has seen his / her team picked off one-by-one in a doomed attempt to keep the Covenant forces at bay by the time he / she takes a final stand at the helm of the mass driver gun. The final battle is impossible to win, and eventually Six is overwhelmed. The Covenant wipe out the remaining humans on Reach and bomb the planet into a wasteland. It’s a big victory for the bad guys, and a huge loss for humanity, even though the good guys eventually win the war.