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PSU's top ten PS3 boss battles of all time

7 September 2009

Let’s face it – everyone appreciates a good boss brawl. From Sonic’s duel with a mechanized Dr. Robotnick at the climax of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, to Naked Snake’s arduous confrontation with legendary sniper The End in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, boss battles have provided some of the most memorable encounters in videogames over the past two decades. They continue to push the innovative boundaries and generally become even more outlandish as the technology available to developers evolves.

As you’d expect, Sony’s black box of tricks has played host to some particularly grueling encounters since its inception in November 2006, and as a result, PSU decided to endeavor to pick our top ten boss battles available on the console, plucked from a variety of both first and third party offerings. We’ve also included footage to illustrate each battle for your viewing consumption, though be warned – spoilers are in abundance throughout this feature, so view at your own discretion. As ever, feel free to post a comment below the article and let us know your own personal favorites. Without further ado, let’s get started.

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10) Fallout 3 / Super Mutant Behemoth (Galaxy News Radio appearance)

Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic romp Fallout 3 is chock full of some memorable boss duels, though none of which impressed us quite as much as the ubiquitous, hulking chaps known as the Super Mutant Behemoths. Our pick focuses on the confrontation with one of these inexorable beasts at the Galaxy News Radio establishment, where the creature makes a decidedly dramatic entrance by crashing through a nearby wall to ambush you. Behemoths live up to their name in every respect, standing 30 feet tall, boasting tons of HP, immense strength and highly damaging attacks, making for a grueling battle. If this one particular fight wasn’t enough, there are many other Behemoths waiting to scrap it out with you throughout the course of the game.


9) Portal / Chell Vs. GLaDOS

Despite Valve’s turbulent relationship with Sony and controversy surrounding the PlayStation 3 version of The Orange Box, we couldn’t overlook the intriguing gem that is Portal, and its unique boss battle in the shape of GlaDOS. As you’ll see from the video below, this particular duel is highly idiosyncratic of your traditional boss fight, with players not actually required to dish out any physical damage to your foe in the typical manner. Instead of brute force, you’re required to use your head and disable your foe by doing what Portal allows you to do best - employing the talents of your trusty ASHPD.


8) Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots / Metal Gear Rex Vs. Metal Gear Ray

Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece makes its debut in our top ten in the form of the iconic clash between metal monstrosities Metal Gear Rex and Metal Gear Ray on Shadow Moses Island. Make no mistake, this gargantuan clash is an all-out epic brawl evocative of the series’ past boss battles, albeit this time instead of Snake attempting to take down the marauding nuclear battle tank on foot, he’s jumped into the pilot seat. While not a particularly tricky duel, players have a chance to unleash an assortment of attacks, utilizing Rex’s memorable missile payload and shredding machine gun against Ocelot’s Ray unit, who also boasts his own array of equally destructive attacks. In short, a Metal Gear aficionados’ wet dream – it’s just a pity it’s all over too quickly.


7) Heavenly Sword / Nariko Vs. King Bohan

A frequently overlooked gem, Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword nets itself a well-deserved spot in our top ten thanks to the stellar duel against King Bohan (voiced by the utterly brilliant Andy Serkis) at the game’s climax. Accompanied by a sweeping orchestral score, the fight takes place on a sprawling battlefield crammed with dozens of sparing warriors, where flame-haired protagonist Nariko and the Raven King (aka Bohan) duke it out with each other amidst a field of corpses – needless to say, these credentials lend the battle a decidedly epic feel to say the least. Interestingly, the fight is in part evocative of Link’s duel with Phantom Ganon in The Legend of Zelda, requiring you to reflect Bohan’s attacks back at him to stun your enemy, allowing you to get up close and personal to deal out some serious punishment. Given Heavenly Sword’s penchant for QTE’s, it should also come as no surprise that there’s a couple of context sensitive attacks you’re able to pull off providing you’re quick enough. Oh, and did we mention Andy Serkis?


6) Resident Evil 5 / Chris Redfield & Sheva Alomar Vs. Ricardo Irving

Capcom’s venerable zombie franchise has become renowned for its mammoth (and at times, ostentatious) boss encounters, from RE1’s nimble and dexterous Tyrant to the huge, lumbering El Gigante found in RE4, so it should come as little surprise to find Resident Evil 5 making an appearance in our feature. While there are ample pickings to be had, PSU ultimately plumped for the battle against Ricardo Irving, which sees muscle-bound Chris Redfield and fiesty sidekick Sheva Alomar duke it out with the crazed, mutated bio-weapons dealer aboard a ship in the middle of a raging storm. Taking the form of a gigantic Kraken-esque behemoth, Irving is a quintessential Resident Evil boss fight, requiring players to exploit the creature’s weak point while evading an onslaught of attacks using QTE’s and some quick reflexes on your part. To even the odds, you’re also given the opportunity to utilize some heavy artillery in the form of the ship’s own mounted rocket launcher/machine gun pods to deal out some substantial punishment to your relentless adversary. It’s not a walk in the park, though – both players must cooperate efficiently if you’re to get a shot in at the creature, or risk being crushed to a bloody pulp by your foe’s massive form. The battle is somewhat reminiscent of Leon Kennedy’s duel with the water-bound Del Lago in Resident Evil 4, albeit on a more ambitious scale.


5) Infamous / Cole MacGrath Vs. Kessler 

Sucker Punch’s PS3 exclusive super-powered spectacular inFamous muscles in our on top ten with its gripping conclusive face off with Kessler. Taking place on bleak waste grounds, players engage in a high-octane duel with the game’s white cloaked antagonist, utilizing MacGrath’s electricity-based powers to dish out punishment to your adversary while engaging in some fancy, fast-paced foot work to dodge incoming attacks. While the basic principle has you running around and unleashing electrical Armageddon on your opponent, Kessler will employ numerous tactics to punctuate the action, keeping you on your toes – and more importantly – the action fresh. There’s also a modicum of interactive sequences thrown in for good measure, requiring players to hammer away at the X button frantically in order to extricate MacGrath from Kessler’s lethal grip. Overall, it’s a somewhat messy, yet ultimately challenging conclusion to one of the PS3’s most enjoyable offerings of 2009.


4) Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune / Drake Vs. Navarro

Naughty Dog’s treasure hunting action odyssey may have only featured one proper boss battle, but that hasn’t stopped it from securing a place in our feature among some stiff competition. The fight in question is, of course, the gripping climatic battle where cocky hero Nathan Drake faces off against the unscrupulous Navarro and his rabble of armed goons. Based around Uncharted’s duck and cover sensibilities, Drake’s battle with the Navaro combines gun combat with a subtle injection of strategy, forcing players to utilize what limited cover points are available to outlast an onslaught of gunfire from your foes. Concurrently, Nate must also compromise his adversary's own safe spot, forcing him to retreat before repeating the process. Run out of cover and it is game over for our reckless hero. The battle culminates in a game of fisticuffs with your enemy via a series of QTE’s – miss a button press and Drake is introduced to the business end of Navarro’s Shotgun. While were hankering for something a little more substantial, Uncharted nonetheless deserves a place in our top ten for its use of intuitive cover mechanics and moody battle atmosphere (the latter of which can be attributed to some particularly gorgeous weather effects) Still, we have a feeling the sequel will trump its predecessor in this area come October.


3) Killzone 2 / Colonel Radec

Killzone 2 remains unequivocally one of the console’s most celebrated releases thus far, so let’s not kid ourselves here – Guerrilla Games’ PS3 exclusive masterpiece was always going to secure itself a spot in our top ten. As you’d expect, the FPS plays host to an ample selection of grueling boss battles, and in the context of our feature, we ultimately plumped for the final duel against Colonel Radec. Hard as nails and ready to drive a rather sharp object through your eye socket, Radec isn’t the most complex of boss battles – requiring you simply to run around dodging his attack sand filling him with hot lead – though still remains one tough cookie to dispatch, especially on higher difficulty settings, where the fight can last upwards of 20 minutes (though we admit we’re probably a bit rubbish at the game in all fairness). To make matters worse, your adversary can also teleport around the arena in an effort to strike you unaware, forcing you to keep on your toes at all times. At the end of the day, while it won’t win any prizes for originality, the encounter with Radec gave us more than our fair share of headaches and easily cemented its place among the PS3’s toughest boss battles we’ve had a crack at thus far.


2) Resistance 2 / Nathan Hale Vs. Leviathan

What do you get when you cross Godzilla, Chimera and set the action in Chicago? Resistance 2’s mighty Leviathan boss fight, of course. Quite frankly, it would be disingenuous to give this battle of gargantuan proportions the cold shoulder, as it encompasses the very essence of what makes for a gripping boss battle – a near invulnerable opponent of epic size set against an equally stunning backdrop. And naturally, your character – in this case the perpetually silent Nathan Hale – is the only individual capable of downing the beast. Cue Hale, hopping across the Chicago skyline, dodging his opponent’s mighty attacks and shoving the occasional rocket-propelled grenade down its throat in an effort to subdue the beast, while you figure out a way to finish it off for good. Needless to say, the fight remains one of our biggest (no pun intended) highlights of the game.

1) Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots / Old Snake Vs. Liquid Ocelot

MGS4’s climatic battle is one of those decidedly simple yet immensely memorable encounters. There’s no fancy battle schematics here, no massive metal monstrosity to take down – just two battle-weary old blokes scrapping it out in a game of old fashioned fisticuffs atop a massive structure overlooking a vast ocean. The fight is accentuated by some particularly effective camera work, with brutal close-ups and sweeping views lending the duel a decidedly cinematic quality, which, combined with the game’s stunning graphics, makes one of the most aesthetically pleasing and emotionally charged battles we’ve ever witnessed. As such, these qualities ultimately transcend any initial gripes we may have had regarding the overall complexity of Snake's final battle, which is fundamentally a fairly bog standard game of fists and feet (with a healthy dose of grappling and head-butting thrown in for good measure, naturally). Elsewhere, there’s also a whiff of nostalgia thrown in for good measure, with iconic tracks plucked from the first three Metal Gear titles accompanying the fight as you trade blows with your tenacious arch nemesis. From the first few licks to the last moments as an exhausted Snake lands the final blow on an equally knackered Ocelot, MGS4’s final battle will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable boss fights on PS3 to date. It’s a fitting and emotional climax to an extraordinary game.

Be sure to let us know your own personal top ten in the comments section below. Remember, this feature is merely our opinion, nothing more -- chances are, you'll have wanted to see something else make the cut, so don't be afraid to let us know!


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