A good boss battle is like a fine wine. Refined, elegant in it's exectuion and quite likely to kill you fourteen times on the spin. Wait, scratch that last one. Unusally, 2010 has seen a string of games with bosses that not only didn't suck, but actually proved to be some of the biggest highlights of their titles. So if you're keen to go back and reminisce about fighting feral tigers in casinos or popping a deity's eyeballs like juicy grapes, keep on a reading.
God of War III
The brilliant boss: Poseidon
What better way to start an epic Greek adventure centred around murdering your mythical old man than by fighting the God of the Sea? The answer, younglings, is squashing said sea god’s eye holes to bits with your revenge-obsessed thumbs.
Above: Here's one we mutilated earlier
Before Kratos treats Poseidon to a bit of impromptu eye surgery, though, the pair embark on the game’s most epic battle. Aided by the titan Gaia, Kratos must first beat the seaweed out of a bunch of water crab, horse… eh, things, before the H2O-lover will show himself.
It’s the sheer scale of the fight that makes it so memorable. Clambering over Gaia while you avoid Poseidon’s attacks as the titan scales Mount Olympus should be Webster’s new dictionary definition of epic. And previously mentioned eye-gouging should probably get a nod when the book gets to ‘Ewww’.
Above: Hulking great blades of death beat glorified, horse-shaped puddles every time
The brilliant boss: The spider
If we were handing out an award for the best boss introduction of 2010, Limbo’s horrific arachnid would win ‘horrendously spindly legs’ down. So here, have a smiley face sticker, spidey. While its legs sprouting from a tree and trying to impale you is unnerving, it’s got nothing on what’s to come. Over the spell of 20 minutes the eight legged freak pursues you with all the determination of a hairy T-1000.
When it finally catches you, it spins you up in webbing, seemingly leaving your haunted-eyed boy to meet his virtual maker. Thankfully, you manage to break free of your sticky cocoon. Of course, like anyone with a restraining order knows, perseverance is key, and it’s not long before the beast tracks you down again. Each time it does, it’s low reverberating score chills our spine like it’s been coated in liquid nitrogen. Still, the product of all our worst childhood fears or not, it’s ultimately no match for a kid that knows how to wield a shitting big boulder.
Dead Rising 2
The brilliant boss: Snowflake
Now, before you accost us in the streets and try to mutilate our faces with boxing gloves that have had pocket knives cellotaped onto them, we’ll concede that most of the psychopath battles in Dead Rising 2 are pretty miserable. Hell, even fighting Snowflake, an escaped performing tiger, ain’t exactly a hoot and a half. But come on. You’re fighting a frigging tiger in a casino full of zombies… usually with a bloody big burning stick. How could we leave out a fight with such a badass concept?
We’ll admit to being a tad disappointed with the colour of Snowflake’s coat. After all, any self-respecting, man-eating stripey bastard that turns up in a Vegas-style resort should be white. End of. We’ll move past our colour complaints, though, because this is the only boss on the list where you’ve got the option of saving the soul you’re beating on. If your inner WWF enthusiast is having a squirm at the thought of putting the hurt on a innocent animal, Chuck can simply win the beast over with a few tasty steaks. He can then escort it back to the warm embrace of the safe house, and even give it to his kid as an appallingly negligent pressie.
The brilliant boss: The Argus robot
In spite of what Batswana duelling midgets might say to the contrary, size is important. Why, one could even say it matters. And one would be correct if one was talking about blowing the mechanical bits off a screen-filling monstrosity like Vanquish’s Argus robot. A droid dastard of such towering proportions, not even a Predator-style minigun can scratch its surface, only Sam and his Matrix-shaming suit can stop the artificial a-hole.
And stop him he does. Capturing our hearts in the original Vanquish demo, the staggering scale of the fight warrants the first Argus battle a mention. Switching forms like the world’s most unwholesome Japanese Transformer, the best moment comes when Sam blows its arms to bits by shoving its own missiles back up through its hands. But as we’ve learned from Jason Voorhees and other sociopathic professional stabbers, video game bosses rarely do down quietly into the night. And later in Vanquish you’re attacked by two Argus robots.
Above: Time to break out the Batswana duelling midgets, we’d say