Why it's a brilliant boss battle: OMFG! Katanas for the chuffing win!
Pretty simple one this. Said fight lets you wield a great bloody big sword. Great bloody big swords are fun to wield. Class dismissed.
Alright, so it's not just the awesome weapon, smartly mapped to the right stick. The fight is also a master class in learning demanding attacks patterns, with a satisfying payoff (that would be twatting arch evil doer Solidus' spine with a five foot blade). It takes a brave game to throw in brand new mechanics for the player to learn right at the death. But Sons of Liberty's brief sword fighting is assured and polished. Oh, and fighting on top of Federal Hall in Manhattan kicks all kinds of ass, too.
Above: We're not sure about the eye patch, but damn
if that windswept look isn't mega sexy
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater bosses (PStwo, 2004)
Why it's a brilliant boss battle: It spits in the face of convention and requires nerves made of reinforced titanium.
An hour. A shitting hour. That's how long it took this content editor to beat this geriatric gunsman first time through. An astonishing test of endurance, the battle with the sniper sticks two fingers up to conventional boss battle thinking, which usually revolves around testing reactions and twitch gaming. Here, your biggest enemy is your own impatience. Jump the gun, by running wildly or not paying constant attention to your surroundings and you're cooked.
Above: Don't underestimate Polly Wants a Cracker. He can give your position away to his arthritic owner
Of course, while you could use the game's directional microphone to try and find the old timer's location (especially chilling if you've got a surround sound system), you don't have to go the time-sapping sniping route. Can't be assed playing the waiting game? Simply turn the internal clock on your PS3 ahead a week and the End bites it from old age. You can even kill with a single bullet hours before the fight by sniping him right after a cutscene.
Pioneering and ludicrously atmospheric; it's probably the defining boss fight of the entire series. One that showcases a level of innovative thinking that we'd love to see more often from the Gear's competitors.
Why it's a brilliant boss battle: It's just so dang touching.
More than anything, this is (to use a horribly wanky phrase) brave. More specifically, the bit where you put Naked Snake's mentor out of her misery with one lonely bullet. In other games, besting a boss is normally followed by a smart-ass quip from the hero or an explosion that could level a small country. Here, though, the battle ends on a sobering moment of self-reflection.
Above: God, we still feel guilty about offing Snake's teacher
Yeah, we know we sound like massive douches trying to flex our online thesauruses. But when you finally put the murderous MILF's lights out, it forces you to reflect on death to a level rarely seen in games. This isn't you, the conquering hero, taking out some alien asshole with a flamethrower, while eating a steak and making googly eyes at your sidekick with the big tits. This is a moment where you pull a trigger in agonising slow-motion, against a helpless woman begging for death.
It's disquieting and more crucially, concise, in a series that's massively prone to losing the run of itself during 40 minute cutscenes. If more titles gave in-game death this much gravity, it might mean our conscious would become as tested as our trigger finger. And, all this self-important wankiness apart, that can only be a good thing.