Assassin’s Creed Series
The first Assassin’s Creed set the idea that the evil Templars were trying to find Pieces of Eden to basically control the world and manipulate in a way that suits their needs. This plan slowly began to take the backseat as later games revealed that the true problem was an impending solar flare that would wipe out the planet and leaving only a small number of people left alive. From there, Desmond and his fellow Assassin’s begin to use archives of the First Civilization (or The Ones That Came Before) to try and prevent this catastrophe. Of course, by preventing this destruction of people by using an ancient device, they may have very well unleashed an even greater threat.
That’s beside the point though. What makes this end of the world scenario different than most other games is the idea that this is purely a cosmic event. It’s not created by an outside force or an evil entity. It’s simply nature taking its course. It’s not an evil God tired of its creation, or a super-powered villain trying to take it over. This is something that cannot be stopped but only be defended against. That’s what made the journey to the “truth” so interesting because there really seemed to be no hope for survival. Though the story may have ended anti-climatically and became very choppy later, there’s no doubt that seeing the First Civilization destroyed by the very threat the heroes are facing in the now was thrilling to watch and set the tone for what lay ahead if they failed.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
This is a slightly complicated one to put out because this event both happened and didn’t happen (depending on whether or not you truly believe the timeline presented to us by Nintendo). The event I’m talking about is Ganondorf’s rise to power after the claiming the Triforce as his own after the unknowing Link pulled the Master Sword from the stone. After awakening from his long sleep, Link finds that the once plush, beautiful world of Hyrule has become a desolate wasteland full of ghosts, monsters, and all sorts of vile creations that have effectively stripped every ounce of beauty from the land. Behind all of this is of course Ganondorf, King of the World.
For the first time since this series was introduced we have been able to see a world in which Ganondorf had obtained his wish. Though he lacked the other two pieces of the Triforce it didn’t stop him from conquering Hyrule and becoming its dark lord. Perhaps this wouldn’t have been so harsh if we hadn’t spent so much time before getting to know the different species and kingdoms of the land ranging from the water-folk Zora to the rock eating Gorons. Traveling the green plains of Hyrule field became ripping through a darkened, empty wasteland on Epona, a sense of foreboding all around. The once beautiful lake of Hylia had been effectively drained, the Zoras were trapped under a thick layer of ice, the Gorons were held prisoner in a volcano where they were to be fed to a the evil fire dragon Valvagia. The most stunning evidence of his rule came within the walls of Hyrule Castle Town where every building was a burnt out shell and the zombie like monsters ReDeads prowled the streets looking for souls. And right where Hyrule castle once stood was not an imposing tower surrounded by a moat of lava where dark clouds spun in a vortex above it.
Ganon had officially won and the world was his. Though in one of the apparently three endings this game had, Link defeated him and trapped him away with the help of the sages. But just because that happened doesn’t mean the land magically went by to normal. The deaths that had occurred and the devastation that had been wrought would still be felt, making Ganon’s evil linger still. Of course, there’s still the other ending where Link failed to defeat Ganon, Ganon killed him, and he continued to reign until they were finally able to trap him. Either way the world turned to hell and Ganon won.
In the first Half-Life Gordon Freeman , a scientist under the employ of Black Mesa, was performing teleportation experiments when one went horribly wrong and the causes a resonance cascade that effectively ripped open a dimensional wall and unleashed a horrible alien race known as the Xen. It’s during this event that an alien group known as the Combine invaded Earth and in a matter of seven hours establish complete control of the planet. Under this new regime, mankind is put under this ultimate power’s thumb, a utilitarian rule is established. If that wasn’t bad enough, some of the most horrific monsters fled here to the world and have created certain zones that are complete cesspools of monsters and horrors. The largest one of these are the dreaded Headcrabs that turn people into horrible monsters (not to mention cause horrible heart attacks on players when they explode up from out of nowhere).
Though this technically wasn’t a large plan by an outside force and more of a flux of coincidental string of bad events, it doesn’t change the fact that the world was utterly changed and not for the better. In fact, even at the end of Half-Life 2 though defeating Wallace Breen doesn’t effectively change the world at large. The mysterious G-Man is still pulling strings and the Combine is still the ruling hand despite attempts of raising a rebellion. How the story unfolds has yet to be seen as many of us are still waiting for a true sequel where perhaps the final fight will be shown.
Gears of War
Taking place on the planet of Sera, players take control of Marcus Phoenix, a COG soldier released from prison to help defend what little of the human race there is from the monstrous Locust Horde. Living in the post-apocalypse world where humans are a now minority after the events of E-Day (Emergence Day) where the Locusts rose out of the ground and effectively went to a devastating war against the humans, we see this small band of soldiers in a seemingly impossible situation of having to defeat these monsters.
It may be true that we don’t actually see the master plan in action as they took over the planet but the effects are clearly shown in the all of the burnt out cities and hopelessness felt throughout the game. Though the game ends with a bittersweet but overall happy ending, it doesn’t change the horrors and pain the world, and the characters, went through to get there. Even through the course of the game though, the sense that all could end horrible doesn’t go away and that is through the simple fact the game doesn’t ever give you a semblance of real hope; only hints that things may only get worse before they get even a little better.
Final Fantasy VI
Picking an apocalypse in a Final Fantasy game is hard pressed. Each game has effectively raised the ante on each story and villain. Though some have been duds (Ultimecia; the whole of Final Fantasy XIII) others have had some of the iconic and relevant (Sephiroth, Kuja) all of them have been impressive to look at and all have had their own special plans to either take over or destroy the world. The biggest debate though amongst fans though have been which villain has been the worse (in a good way, of course). The two that are usually the most debated are Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII and Kefka from Final Fantasy VI (3 in the states). Both of these villains had plans that would result in the destruction of the world and the devastation of its people. Sephiroth had plans to summon the ultimate destructive black magic Meteor. Upon its summoning it would collide with the “Earth” effectively destroying it and when the planet would gather it’s life force the Lifestream to try and heal itself, Sephiroth would put himself in the middle of it and become a God that would travel planet to planet doing the same thing over and over. Though he managed to summon Meteor and nearly succeeded in his plan, he was ultimately stopped by the hero Cloud and his allies.
Despite how this played out and the groundbreaking things Final Fantasy VII had accomplished, it doesn’t change the fact that Kefka, Sephiroth’s predecessor, beat him out simply because Kefka created a plan, went through with it, and actually succeeded in it. Kefka was an almost crude outline for what Sephiroth would become but it doesn’t change how great a character he is. He was a failed experiment of trying to infuse a human with the power of an Esper to give them magical powers. Effectively driving him insane, Kefka became a monster that drew pleasure from killing and torturing, even going as far to poison an entire kingdom just to win a battle. He then effectively killed a the great Imperial General Leo, betrayed and murdered his own Emperor, and obtained the power of a God by misaligning the three Gods of old and taking their power as his own. Upon obtaining this power and accomplishing his plans, he completed changed the structure of the world, reshaping it into something completely different than what it was. He then set himself up in a tower of his own creation where he looked down from on high and systematically rained destruction with an attack called the Light of Judgment that could destroy a town in a matter of seconds.
Though he is eventually taken down, it doesn’t change the fact that he is responsible for singlehandedly destroying and taking thousands of lives, changing the world into what he wanted, and succeeding at everything he set out to do; a feat that is not easily boasted by other villains. More so, upon Kefka’s ascension, the game basically becomes a part two where you have to go through and recollect your old allies and build from the ground up a new way of playing the game unraveling a new story in a new world created by the villain of the game. Though Kefka is not my favorite of villains of the Final Fantasy series (though he is very close) it doesn’t change the fact he succeeded. Go Kefka!
Honorary Mention: Fallout
I have never played a Fallout game myself but I know enough that it is a smash hit with praises from fans and critics alike. From what I know, you play as a survivor of a nuclear fallout after the Great War and you range from finding a new home for survivors to trying to find your missing father in a world where resources are growing ever scarcer. Though I have yet to play it, I had to mention it if only to show that I am aware of it and will definitely be giving it a shot a soon.