Today, PlayStation Universe kicks off its Resident Evil 15th anniversary celebrations with an area that’s become one of Resi’s defining highlights: big, bad, hulking bosses. Join us now as we count down our Top Seven Resident Evil bosses of all time.
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Based on Umbrella Corp’s desire to cobble together the ultimate soldier, Tyrant – or if you want to get all scientific, T-Type 002 – is every S.T.A.R.S agent’s worst nightmare. Or gamer’s nightmare, for that matter. Sexless, seven feet tall and sporting a whacking great claw on its right arm, Tryant shows up at the climax of the inaugural 1996 horror classic following the “demise” of the traitorous Captain Wesker. Highly resilient to small arms fire, this hulking monstrosity can only be felled by the meatiest of weaponry, and even then it manages to get back up, bust its way through a concrete floor and engage our heroes for a second time. This time around, the stoic stalker sports a far more dexterous attack pattern, leaping and running about the place as opposed to merely lumbering after you. Ultimately, it takes a rocket launcher courtesy of Brad “Chicken Heart” Vickers to dispatch the beast. While not quite as memorable as the likes of Nemesis and Mr. X, Tyrant is nonetheless the quintessential Resi bio-weapon; tough and tenacious to the T, the creature’s final appearance is made even more exhilarating due to the presence of a three-minute time limit. Oh, how we recall obliterating the beast with a mere 5 seconds left on the clock. It doesn’t get much more nail-biting than this.
Resident Evil 3’s leather-glad, rocket-launcher wielding monstrosity has become renowned among fans as one of the most brutal bosses the series has to offer. Towering over the pint-sized Jill Valentine and packing a meaty punch, Nemesis has but one goal: destroy S.T.A.R.S. As such, he’ll follow you about all over the place, jumping off roofs, tearing through doors, bulldozing his way through concrete walls and generally doing his best to shove a tentacle up Valentine’s peachy behind. Oh, and did we mention the rocket launcher? Yeah, that too. Indeed, the gravel-voiced behemoth makes earlier Tyrant models test-tube infants by comparison; in addition his brute strength, he’s insanely fast and soaks up copious amounts of bullets like an ammo sponge. To exacerbate things, Nemesis is a decidedly stubborn bugger, requiring you to drop him not once, but twice to see him off during any given encounter. It isn’t just the hulking stalker’s physical prowess that makes him such a dangerous adversary, either. You never quite know when he’s going to pounce, so if you find yourself using in bad shape using your Shotgun as a makeshift crutch, you better prey he doesn’t rock up anytime soon. To top it all off, Nemesis also boasts the distinction of cropping up more times than any other major foe in the series – three mandatory boss scraps, to be precise. And that’s not counting the many sofa-soiling surprise appearances that punctuate your regular puzzle solving, zombie-capping antics throughout the game. Indeed, you can run, but you can’t hide. Just ask that poor sod Chicken Heart Vickers for proof of that.
DR. WILLIAM BIRKIN (aka "G," various forms)
Poor old Birkin. You work devote your entire lifetime to a company (in this the unscrupulous White Umbrella), working your arse off developing some of your employers deadliest bio-weapons, and what do you get for it? An arm full of lead, it seems. Indeed, this was the fate of ‘ol Bill, who had his “precious” G-Virus pinched by Umbrella operatives before receiving a salvo of sub-machine gun rounds for his troubles. Rather than opting to kick the bucket, Birkin injected himself with a strain of G and transformed into a slobbering, perpetually-mutating beast with a whopping great eye ball on his shoulder. Boasting some of the most aesthetically pleasing monster designs in the series to date, Birkin – known as ‘G’ in his many incarnations – pops up at various intervals to pester Leon and Claire, either by attempting to clobber them with a metal pipe or eviscerate them with foot long claws. Slow and lumbering at first, the former Umbrella researcher slowly succumbs to the lethal toxin, transitioning from a human-like hulk to a towering, multi-armed monstrosity that culminates in a transformation into what can only be described as a gigantic mess. Whichever incarnation you fight him in, though, he’s one tough customer. Even after all these years, I personally rate Birkin’s canine-like mutation at the end of Leon/Claire’s ‘A scenario’ one of the trickiest battles in the franchise to date. Better hope you’ve got that Upgraded Magnum or Grenade Launcher handy, or you’ll soon find yourself on the business end of Birkin’s many razor-sharp teeth.
Resident Evil 4’s fishy foe has to go down in the Resident Evil archives as one of the most unique boss encounters in the series’ illustrious history to date. As the game’s first boss, Del Lago – apparently a Salamander infected with Las Plagas – is battled entirely in its natural habitat, namely a sprawling lake that floppy-haired hero Leon Kennedy must traverse. Kennedy attempts to cross by boat, only to be jumped by the slimy beast and subsequently gets his craft’s anchor caught on its back. As such, you’re forced to fight the aquatic adversary by lobbing harpoons at its massive form as it drags you around the lake like some mutated tug boat. Still, at least your over-sized adversary should make for easy pickings, right? Not exactly. Apart from making surprise attacks at Kennedy by diving under water and charging at you head-on, Del Lago also attempts to ram you into floating debris, whereby even the slightest collision will throw you overboard. Here, the game’s extensive use of QTE come into play as you hammer away at the on-screen button in an effort to swim back to your boat before you’re gobbled up. The more damage you accumulate, the harder it is to swim. Likewise, this also happens if the creature decides to employ its considerable bulk to hurl Kennedy into the chilly waters. Even after you’ve beaten it, the creature has one last trick under its scales – it attempts to drag you down to the depths with it. As if you weren’t already knackered from all that swimming, you’re now forced to haphazardly hack away at the anchor rope with your pocket knife to spare Kennedy a watery grave. Still, that’s the life of a secret agent: One minute you’re battling pitch-fork wielding villagers, the next you’re hunting for the resident Loch Ness Monster. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta do it.
An all-time classic Resi boss, the Yawn – named so for its conspicuously huge gob appearing to ‘yawn’ when it closes in for the kill – is encountered twice in the series’ first instalment, and can only be killed outright on your second scrap. Despite the advance in technology rendering the PSX version of the beast looking somewhat like a huge sock puppet, Yawn is as deadly as they come, and will gobble up any critically injured character in a single bite. Its huge bulk takes up the majority of the battle zone, and it’ll use its slithery nature to wrap around its prey, trapping it indefinitely. The first encounter is particularly tricky as it guards a valuable item, the Moon Crest, and is fought in the claustrophobic mansion attic. As such, the Snake has ample opportunity to trap you amongst the wooden pillars. In the case of Yawn, it’s bite far deadlier than its bark, or should we say hiss. Once it sinks its fangs into you, you’ll be subjected to a health-zapping poison that only the Blue Herb can remedy. Furthermore, each chomp packs a mean punch, and it’ll only take a few direct hits to have you knocking on deaths door. The Yawn’ eventual demise has become something of a favourite in-joke among RE aficionados’, however. When playing as Jill, if you dispatch the creature quick enough and examine the hole it busted in the floor, bumbling Barry Burton will rock up and kneel down in front of the decaying carcass. A quick switch of the camera angle shows Bazza’s backside right on top of the melting purple mess, which emits a strange gas-like substance that makes it look like poor old Burton had one too many curries the night before. Seems old Yawn had the last laugh after all.
After inexorably stalking your character through the meaty ‘B scenario’ campaign, Mr. X seemingly gives up the ghost after taking a lava bath towards the climax of Resident Evil 2. However, that’s not the last you see of him. Nope, X pops up for one last scrap during your efforts to escape the soon-to-explode Umbrella laboratory, only this time he’s shed his trench coat, sprouted two whopping claws and is able to dart across the screen in a blink of an eye. And that’s not the worst part – you’ve only got a couple of minutes to see X off before the lab goes boom. Accompanied by a frankly stonking score, Mr X’s final battle is tense, gripping and outright cruel. Totally invulnerable to conventional firearms (basically, everything you happen to possess), the pasty-faced pursuer is alarmingly quick off the mark, and will calve you up quicker than an onion on an infomercial with its razor-sharp talons. Don’t think about running, either – the Tyrant will effortlessly close the gap with a blindingly fast uppercut. Echoing the final battle in Resi 1, your only hope of survival rests on a meaty rocket launcher dropped by a mysterious female (later identified to be that of sultry spy Ada Wong): one direct shot, and its barbequed Tyrant chops for breakfast. Unfortunately, you don’t have any time to utter the obligatory expletive-heavy victory rant over your adversary, as the whole place is just about ready to cave in on your head. Essentially a regular Tyrant on steroids, Mr X remains one of the most memorable and above all cherished boss battles among RE fanatics worldwide, and I for one would love to see Capcom resurrect a similar enemy for future instalments.
It had to happen. After years of blonde-haired baddie Albert Wesker acting the puppet master from behind the curtains, it was about time he got his hands dirty and stepped up to the plate as a boss. Not just any boss, though – the final boss of Resident Evil 5. Fortunately, Wesker was spared the Resi cliché of mutating into some hideously deformed beast, and despite assimilating with the deadly Uroborus plague, managed to retain more than a modicum of humanity. Well, he still looked like Wesker at least, even though his vocabulary became limited to uttering a booming “CHRRRIIISSS” every five seconds. Still, let’s not kid ourselves – the fight wasn’t exactly that difficult. Wesker basically stood about flinging his arms all over the place like an obstreperous child who has been devoid of his sweet treat, occasionally stopping to taunt our heroes. Plus, the fight offers one of the most excruciatingly embarrassing moments in the series’ history, when Chris Redfield proceeds to beat the unholy crap out of a giant boulder – a boulder, we might add, that’s smack bang in the middle of a raging volcano. Yeah, right. But that’s beside the point. More pertinently, it’s what Wesker's battle with Mr. Bulging Biceps represents that I’ve opted to include him in this list. It represents the culmination of over a decade worth of storytelling, a bitter rivalry between two men that started in that infamous mansion, later taking us to Rockfort Island, a Russian base, Spencer’s sprawling European holiday home and finally, the sun-baked plains of Africa. A showdown between the pair was inevitable – or should we say rematch, seeing as how Wesker duffed up Redfield in Code: Veronica – and that’s exactly what we got. And despite its simplicity, it still remains abundantly gratifying to fill the arrogant bugger full of lead before shoving rocket-propelled grenade up his backside, blowing him to kingdom come. Having said that, I, as I’m sure will be the case with many fans, still miss Mr. Perpetual Sunglasses after all this time. It’s been fun Wesker – see you on the other side, mate.
Tune in again tomorrow as we continue our Resident Evil 15th Anniversary festivities here at PlayStation Universe.