Not so long ago we featured a top five of the Top Boss Battles. Those fights we can look back on with a certain degree of pride, knowing how tough and how hard fought they were. We can look back with a rueful smile at seemingly insurmountable odds that we overcame.
However, there are also those games that we look back with a little less fondness. We pick up games like the Devil May Cry franchise and Dark Souls knowing exactly what we are in for, but there are games that throw us into boss battles that are just unrewarding and to a certain extent, just plain unfair for whatever reason. This is this week's TA Top Five list of those boss battles that have caused me to despair, groan, and bemoan the fairness of the situation. These are not happy memories.
Now, there are those amongst you that will expect to see Dark Souls somewhere on this list. Advance warning: it's not. Simply put, as tough and as brutal as those boss fights are, they are balanced, well thought out, and generally fair. No cheap tricks, no spam moves, and no cheating. Whilst they might want to make you punch puppies or kick kittens, we still like and admire them, and for that reason, they are too good to be on this list.
Kraken - Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Achievements
One of the few games that I kind of regret having on my list. I thought it would be an easy title to boost my gamer score (and essentially it was), but half way through the game there was a boss fight that almost made me put the title on the shelf and leave it there. It was a multi-stage fight against some tentacled beast. Firstly you had to avoid the raging tentacles whilst waiting to hit them in a vulnerable spot. You had to do this whilst fighting off space marines that were teleporting in to the battle. You were constantly running out of ammo, and were forced to collect it from fallen marines, leaving any safety spot you might have. Then you had to shoot the tentacles again, which provoked them to pick up a mine (from who knows where), requiring you to shoot them before the mines were thrown at you. Again, all of this was happening while more space marines were teleporting in around you. It was as ridiculous as it sounds, and even more ridiculous and annoying to play. It was just plain tedious.
Scroll through to 6:30 to see the tentacle fight in all its frustrating glory.
Convicts - Dead Rising (Xbox 360) Achievements
Maybe not strictly a boss battle but these guys really annoyed me on my first run through of the title. I actually stumbled into this battle accidentally after getting lost in the mall. It was early in my first run and I was unprepared. My first attempts all ended horribly, it seemed futile. They had a jeep, they had the 30mm cannon, and I had a pistol, a baseball bat, and was surrounded by zombies. I couldn't outrun them, I couldn't shoot them, and the baseball bat was useless. Somehow after a few attempts, I actually figured how to take them out and keep the jeep intact. I then proceeded to mow down numerous zombies before heading back into the mall. I thought I was done with them, but I was wrong. I had to return through the park, battered, low on health, and a string of survivors following me, and there they were again. They'd respawned and I didn't have a chance. For the record, I abandoned that run and started a new game. Surely it can't be fair to respawn a boss fight after you've already defeated them, right??
Alien Queen - Aliens: Colonial Marines Achievements
At the end of the game, the player confronts one of the most terrifying and iconic sci-fi monsters. It should provide a fitting climax to the game. It should challenge the player. It should leave the player on the edge of their seat, tense, terrified of the enormous alien killing machine. We've all the seen the movie. Sadly, and in keeping with the rest of the game, all that was required of the player was to run around, activating a number of switches, and it was adios muchachos for the Queen. I could be kind and say that it was a rushed ending, but really, it was just lazy. It was a horrible, anti-climactic, missed opportunity that came across as totally pointless. I still feel annoyed at being deprived of what should have been the mother of all alien encounters. Tedious and dull.
5. Deathshead - Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One)
Wolfenstein: TNO is a great title and an absolute blast from start to finish. After a fairly lengthy campaign, the player finally comes face-to-face with Deathshead, the chief antagonist in the franchise, in what is expected to be a tough final battle. Whilst the first part of the battle seems pretty much a standard affair, out in the open, within a closed arena, without cover, and scrambling to disable the power source, it's the second part that gets annoying. The player has to face Deathshead in a small hanger type area which in the course of the ensuing battle becomes choked with flames and smoke, severely reducing the visibility in the enclosed arena. You can't see jack! Now I don't mind facing off against a psychotic Nazi scientist in a huge mechanized exoskeleton, but really, I need to be able to see the target. In such a short time, it's nigh on impossible to get a good fix on the target whilst Deathshead himself never seems to miss a shot. Add to this burning flames, destructible cover, and nowhere to hide. All good fun, but ultimately this felt like a boss fight with blind fire. Now come on, that's just not fair.
Don't believe me? Scroll through to 14:30 to see how much you can see.
4. Hulk Zek - Singularity Achievements
Another good game that features a couple of interesting boss fights, but it was battle with the Hulk Zek that kept me up to the small hours of one morning trying to defeat it on one of the harder settings in the game. I refused to go to bed before I had defeated the boss, but ultimately I had crawl into bed so late that I managed two hours sleep before having to get up for work the next morning. The difficulty in this particular battle was the fact that the Zeks could teleport instantly, disappearing and reappearing in a flash. Just as you had your sight on the target, the enemy would disappear. If this wasn't enough, it became a multi-stage battle as minions would rush in and attack you with the same teleport trick, whittling away your health before the big boss reappeared again. It was fast and furious, massively disorientating and downright annoying. It was a case of "What the?", "Where the?", and "Goddammit" all night! Ultimately I loved the game, but the sleep deprivation that week near killed me.
3. Argus Robot - Vanquish (Xbox 360) Achievements
I love Vanquish. It's a fantastic game; an adrenalin-rush from start to end, and that's partly the problem. At the end of the very first mission, you're thrown into a pitched battle and up until this point it has all been fairly fair. However, the next moment you find yourself facing off against a robot that is the size of a small apartment block with an arsenal to rival nations of superpowers. The frustrating part of it all is that this is at the end of the very first mission. You're still learning the controls. Your character hasn't had any suit or weapon upgrades, and yet you're faced with one of the most massive bosses straightaway. To add to the annoyance factor, this fight turns out to be a multistage battle, requiring the player to aim at strategic points to reduce the health of the robot, which then transforms into an even bigger and more aggressive mech, and to cap it all off, you have to quick time events to hasten its demise. All at the start! It took me months to get past this point; I would put the disc in, make a few runs, inevitably fail, and then play something else. I eventually won; I don't know how long it took but I did it. As much as love the game, I'm never going to forget that first encounter.
2. Bob Barbas - DmC: Devil May Cry Achievements
Going into a DMC title you generally know what to expect, some of the toughest boss battles featuring demons of all shapes and sizes. During the title you'd already faced off against some vile demons, but the battle against Bob Barbas was something a little different. Reflecting his position in the media empire, the boss battle took on a Tron-like appearance and was fought inside a virtual world. Initially, it appeared to be a simple fight, but then it became a multi-stage battle. After chipping away at the first health bar, you went sent off to a virtual news clip to fight Bob's minions. After that you were brought back to face Bob again, only this time Bob had ranged attacks which he spams you with, and area attacks when you got up close. Again after chipping away at his second health bar, you were whisked away to fight more minions, and then brought back for round three. Yes, Bob had three health bars for you to beat, and the third stage of the fight involved range attacks that were like moving walls. By this stage, it was tedious. It felt overly long and the question was just when was this going to end. For a DMC boss fight, it felt strangely out of place, and the amount of spam moves was ridiculously annoying. A great game nonetheless, despite Bob.
1. Senator Armstrong - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Achievements
Another quite brilliant game, but the final boss battle against the Senator... really where can you begin with this? The length of this fight was phenomenal. Joss Whedon has had TV series that have been shorter than this. The annoyance factor came from many levels; the multiple stages, the ridiculous sword strokes that you had to pull off, the spam moves - that shoulder slam, the flames obscuring the vision - and the quick time events. Add to all that the fact that this was a damned tough boss, too, with multiple life bars that you had to chip away at. The saving grace was that the game automatically saved between stages, and I ended up playing through this fight over a couple of nights. Admittedly, I loved the game and I will pick up the sequel if it ever appears (fingers crossed it will), but this had to be the longest, most arduous boss battle that I have ever encountered. For those doubters, the video included is 28 minutes long, and this guy didn't even die once. 28 minutes!!! There were times it felt more like 28 days.
The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!