Portal 2

“Call of Duty: Black Ops” has the greatest video game ending of all time? That’s according to Guinness World Records, which polled over 13,000 fans to find the best game ending for an entry in the Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition book.

Sorry, Guinness, but we have to object. Black Ops might be one of the most popular games of all time, but the ending wouldn’t crack our top ten. So instead we’ve gone back through the annals of gaming history and compiled our own list of the most exciting, epic, and entertaining endings of all time

Portal 2 (2011)

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Ok, we’ll admit, the song “Want You Gone” sung by the evil A.I. GLaDOS isn’t quite as catchy as the meme-worthy “The Cake is a Lie” from original “Portal.” Still, the end to “Portal 2” encapsulates the humor and fun that made the game one of the best of last year. Shooting a portal to the moon to kill off Wheatley in deep space was a ridiculously cool unexpected twist, and who wasn’t excited to see the return of the Companion Cube – the most lovable inanimate object in gaming history?

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (2007)

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Part of the reason fans have been clamoring for “Half Life: Episode 3” for almost five years now is that the last entry in the series ended on such a dramatic cliffhanger. We thought after the Combine’s portal was closed that humanity would be saved, but hero Gordon Freeman, and Alyx and Eli Vance are attacked by Combine robots and you are powerless in watching Eli, a long time character in the series, be violently killed. Please, Valve, release a new Half Life so we know how this thing truly ends!

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

PlayStation 2

The Metal Gear Solid series is infamous for its complex narratives and inscrutable plot points, but “Metal Gear Solid 3” wraps up in a way that satisfies both the brain and the heart. Snake learns the secret truth about his mission through a recording left behind from ex-NSA agent and love interest Eva.

Sure, it’s hard not to chuckle a little bit when the President awards Snake with a medal and says the classic line: “You are above even The Boss. I hear by award you the title Big Boss.” Still, little moments like seeing Snake hesitate before shaking the President’s hand and saluting with a tear on his face while visiting the grave of The Boss is deeply affecting.

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

Xbox 360, PS3

The last chapter in Rockstar’s gritty Western isn’t just good for video games. It holds up against the best endings in cinema, television or any other sort of entertainment. Instead of giving gamers a short cinematic to passively watch events that take place after John Marston kills his nemesis Dutch, you actually play several more hours of the game trying to reestablish your old life on the ranch with wife and son Jack. But in a bloody conclusion that the game’s themes has been hinting at from the beginning – the Old West has changed from its rough-and-tumble anarchic past, and there’s no room in this new America for a gunslinger like John Marston. Or is there?

Shadow of the Colossus (2005)

PlayStation 2

“Shadow of the Colossus” comes up often in the now-tired argument about whether or not games qualify as art and the dark and dramatic finale of this ethereal action-puzzler is part of the reason many critics and fans love to cite it in their passionate defense of video games.

Team Ico’s fable cleverly borrows the well-worn tropes of a lone hero saving a beautiful woman from peril and turns it on its head completely. After defeating 16 mammoth Colossi creatures in order to restore the soul of an unconscious maiden, it is revealed that the secret voice aiding the hero is an evil spirit using him to return to the world. During the course of the twist ending, you realize the chilling truth – you’re actually been the villain of the game the whole time.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2003)

PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC

Sorry Jake Gyllenhaal, but you ain’t got nothing on the original Prince. Disney tried to make a movie based on the “Sands of Time” video game, but almost every single thing about the game was better, including the ending. The story makes fun use of a time-travelling mechanic unleashed through Dagger of Time, and the Prince employs it to take back a kiss with Princess Farah that doesn’t go over so hot. (Don’t we all wish we could travel back in time to erase dating mistakes?)

Final Fantasy VII (1997)

PlayStation, PC

A decade and a half later, the Final Fantasy series is arguably still riding on the reputation of “Final Fantasy VII” – still overwhelmingly considered the best of Square’s role-players. If you’ve played through FFVII before, it’s hard to watch the ending again and not feel chills run down your spine seeing the spell that Aerith cast before she died save the world from Meteor. The best word to describe the ending? Epic.

For more from Ryan Smith, follow him on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter

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