Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Top Ten Bosses (Original)

While we already posted our Top Ten Bosses list at TGR, I figured I'd use this venus to show what my own, personal list was. It was rejected due to lack of diversity (which is fair enough, hence the new, group effort we put up on TGR that I am rather pleased with), but I figured I'd share it here, with you all.

10. Cerberus: Devil May Cry 3
Often games let you live out your best movie fantasies, like destroying the Death Star, for example. DMC3 does you one better and lets you do what Harry Potter never got the chance to; fighting the dreaded three-headed hell-hound, Cerberus. And dreaded he is. Facing him as early as the third level, Cerberus represents a huge difficulty spike, with a huge variety of attacks. Do you want to play things safe (er, safer), staying away and chipping at his ice armor with your guns, or get in there with your sword for MASSIVE DAMAGE!? Either way will present a huge challenge, but beating him is entirely satisfying. Plus he just looks damn cool taking up half the room, covered in ice, shackled to the rear end of the room.

9. Phalanx (i.e. Colossus #13): Shadow of the Colossus
Hardly even a "boss fight" per se, as this "boss" never even attacks you (I don't believe it's even possible to die in this sequence), Phalanx is amalgam of all that is cool about videogames. You get to ride around on a horse through a gigantic desert region, shoot your bow & arrow (while riding said horse), and jump from your galloping stead onto the wounded, fleeing creature. Even the games' usually wonky camera manages to behave here, adding for amongst the most cinematic boss battles ever conceived. The creature design is amazing as well, creating a creature that is both majestic and powerful without succumbing to the usual ploys of say, googley eyes, for example.

8. Vaati: The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap
People like to take a shit over Minish Cap for some reason, probably because it's too easy. And for the most part that's true, but the final boss is a tricky bugger. You'll have to use just about every tool you've acquired through the game to beat him and it'll take a bit of brain work to figure out what you need to do for each of his several forms. He also represent the only times I've died in that game.

7. Krauser: Resident Evil 4
In an already fantastic game, fighting this mutant sonuvabitch in a ruined pueblo had to be the highlight. The way he'd disappear, then reappear right next to you for some close quarters combat made for many a tense moment as you'd run about collecting stone tablets. There's a slight intermission between his phases where you go about destroying defense sentinels, only to face him again, in a stronger, mutant form with a ticking time bomb in the background. The way it mixed traditional gunplay with quick-time button presses was first introduced in RE4 and Krauser, with his quick agility, left you no place to hide. Word of advice: there is a cheap tactic to killing him that the designers left in as something of an easter egg, but I'd recommend not using it if you want a challenge.

6. GLaDOS: Portal
The fact that Valve managed to come up with any kind of boss fight in a simple puzzle solving game with no weapons is already impressive, but the fact that they made one so multi-tiered and a worthy puzzle unto itself is an even greater achievement. This sequence also contains some of the funniest dialogue in the game as GLaDOS attempts to convince you that you are a bad person and that no one likes you. Even after defeating her you'll likely want to reload just to hear all the bits of dialogue you may have missed regarding her talking loose bits. There's even a full fledged recipe for cake in there. What other bosses can you say that about?

5. Quadraxis: Metroid Prime 2
Here's a boss that really takes advantage of everything you've learned in the game. With three different phases of battle, you'll have to use: ball form, boosting, bombs, x-ray vision, spiderball tracks, and your choice of ammo, in this epic, multi-tiered battle. Perhaps a tad on the easy side, Quadraxis still manages to take great advantage of everything the Metroid Prime series does well. Why these games don't include a boss rush mode is beyond me.

4. The Boss: Metal Gear Solid 3
The Boss is a truly epic final boss encounter utilizing one of the greatest setpieces seen in gaming. Taking place is a field of white flowers blowing in the wind at sunset, The Boss finally has a chance to utilize her space age sneaking suit. There are different ways to fight her including secret hidden CQC techniques and stealth. There's also the added threat of a time limit, something I usually hate, but only adds to the tension here. The way the theme song slowly starts playing midway through the battle is a real treat as well, making it among the greatest final boss battles I've ever seen. And the interactive cutscene following the fight where you have to pull the trigger yourself- genius!

3. Echidna: Devil May Cry 4
The She-Viper is not only an amazingly cool boss design, but she plays extraordinarily well too. With a wide variety of attacks at her disposal, it'll take a long time to figure out how to successfully avoid her on the harder difficulties. Better yet, playing as Dante nets an all new challenge as your old tricks won't work anymore and you'll have to go about discovering a whole new strategy. Playing her on Dante Muste Die initially took me close to two hours to conquer with each protagonist, and it was never, ever, dull.

2. The Fury: Metal Gear Solid 3
Rarely have I ever played a boss that allows for so much variation on how to go about killing them. The Fury, an insane otherworldy cosmonaut who went into space and came back something else, flies around an underground concrete maintenance tunnel with a jetpack and flamethrower. Things get especially intense when half the room is ablaze and you're desperately trying to shake him. Fighting him in a series of dark corridors allows for an unspeakable amount of variation as you go about sneaking up on him, hoping he doesn't get the drop on you. I must've spent over two hours fighting him initially, experimenting with a tranquilizer gun, a sniper rifle, an AK47, claymores, exploding barrels, thermal goggles, night vision goggles, and a host of camping spots as I'd try to work out a strategy for hunting him down.

1. Crying Wolf: Metal Gear Solid 4
In essence, Crying Wolf is a brilliant reimagining of two of the Metal Gear series' best boss battle: The End and Sniper Wolf. It combines the free roaming environment employed in MGS3 with The End with the setting (quite literally the EXACT same courtyard) and character used for Sniper Wolf in the first Metal Gear Solid. Both those battles were really good, but too simple. With THE END you could easily cheat the game by tracking his footprints with thermal goggles. The same is true of Crying Wolf, but now you have the added element of guards to deal with. I'd recommend not spoiling it for yourself and killing the guards (or opting for the hiding under the truck cheat that I'm sure was included on purpose for those who just wanted to see the story and don't like fun), and if you're truly hardcore, go for no alerts as well. And if an intense sniper duel with an squad of elite acrobatic soldiers set in a blizzard wasn't enough, Crying Wolf's also able to stampede about and pounce on you if she catches wind of your scent. When this happens, the camera switches to her point of view and you're given a split second to react and stop her in her tracks. It's wonderfully tense, epic stuff. In a series known for wonderful boss battles Crying Wolf really takes the cake.
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