What other games should learn from Metal Gear's boss battles

Boss battles usually blow. Your average one normally elicits all kind of disagreeable emotions. And by ‘disagreeable emotions’ we mean makes you drop loads of F-bombs, throw a pad through your plasma TV, followed by copious amounts of totally manly weeping in the foetal position. The Metal Gear Solid series is different, though.

Ever since 1998, Hideo Kojima and his talented team have been giving us awesome boss encounters without fail. Seriously, their batting average is ridiculous. Whether trying to best Snake Eater’s ancient sniper in an hour long battle of endurance or switching pad sockets to psyche out Psycho Mantis, Snake’s epic scraps have constantly punched through the fourth wall. Below, we’ll recap some of the best ones and look at what other games could learn from the Gear’s boss-battling master class.

Metal Gear Solid bosses (PSOne, 1998)

Psycho Mantis

Why it's a brilliant boss battle: It's got the ultimate fourth wall-screwing moment.

Man, this guy. This is the guy, right here. A homicidal psychic with a big, fat boner for mind control, his showdown with Snake in the original MGS is arguably the most inventive boss encounter ever. He's like a one man band of psychic trickery... except with mind-scarring telepathy instead of drums and a monkey.

The pale psycho can read your memory card, giving sly shout outs to any Konami saves that might be on there.  He can tell how often you've saved or been spotted. Hell, he can even physically move your pad with the power of his mind... or eh, the DualShock's rumble.

Above: Mantis was rocking the Helghast look long before those trend-stealers every tried to enslave humanity

Reading your every move before you make it, the only way you can smack the freak down is by plugging your pad into a different socket so he can't predict your actions. A brilliantly self-aware moment, blurring the lines between real life interactions and their on-screen consequences, it shows the kind of imagination all other game's boss fights should aim for. That and the evil gas mask look is sooooo back in this season.

Metal Gear Rex

Why it's a brilliant boss battle: Technical mastery. That, and he's shagging huge.

Scale. That's the key to this fight. Pre God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, most gamers simply hadn't seen anything close to the size of this towering mechanical monstrosity. Considering it was running on the then ageing PSOne, it's a miracle Kojima Productions managed to squeeze the bipedal bastard into the game. And it showed a level of technical ambition that all games should aspire too.

Above: Rex is the size of a dinosaur, but comes with an advanced ballistic system instead of a brain the size of an cocktail olive

Despite what Sir Gary Coleman and Hungarian fighting midgets might say, size definitely does matter. Acting as a prelude to all of Kratos' megaton showdowns with massive Greek beasties (especially the Minotaur Guardian and Colossus of Rhodes) and Devil May Cry's showpiece spectacles; the fight's legacy shouldn't be underestimated.

Message to all GamesRadar-loving Hungarian fighting midgets: please don't track us down and beat us to a bloody pulp.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty bosses (PStwo, 2001)


Why it's a brilliant boss battle: It's hugely cinematic.

Alright, so nowadays bullet time is about as hip as spending your Saturday night playing Scrabble and drinking ginger ale with your granny. But in 2001 when Matrix fever had yet to be completely inoculated, seeing Snake dodge gunfire in a torrential downpour, all in glorious slow-mo, was cool like having sex with the other side of the pillow... and by 'pillow', we mean Jessica Alba.

Above: Seriously luv, Gillette: it's the best a Russian insurgent can get

Aside from tipping its hat to cinema with the cutscene before the battle and just being downright f*cking awesome, the fight itself was also richly inventive and rewarding. Like most of the encounters in MGS1, Sons of Liberty's first fight could be tackled from different ways. You could throw ammo clips to distract the Russian vixen. Shoot out lights to blind her. And even aim for the rope holding down a giant tarpaulin to blow her cover. 

Smart, sexy (well, aside from the armpits), the Olga tanker battle showed an awareness of other mediums that all modern, story-driven titles should strive for.

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  • Ganonpork - June 7, 2010 9:44 p.m.

    The loved boss of GOTP was interesting. also in gotp vamp was annoying but very unique and cool.
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - May 3, 2010 3:35 p.m.

    @Satu She says that about 200 hundred times in the game, I'm actually really glad I forgot. Stupid bitch.
  • darkdispatch523 - May 1, 2010 11:08 a.m.

    For the TRUTH go to::
  • Metroidhunter32 - May 1, 2010 12:55 a.m.

    After the fight with the Boss a lesser dev would have done a cinimatic camera spin and do a close up on snakes face as he pulls the trigger. Hideo gives you the controler. There is only one option, but it makes the fight memorable.
  • bioboy725 - April 30, 2010 11:48 p.m.

    In the end boss battle i got kind of annoyed because i had no clue how to find his sniper spots. i just stayed down hiding or running like a lunatic until i saw him or he saw me and gave himself away.
  • AbigCAT - April 30, 2010 8:42 p.m.

    Yes, MGS is awesome, butGR, have you heard any news about the new raiden based game. i think its subtitled lightning bolt action?
  • BlueCroup - April 30, 2010 5:36 p.m.

    Great article Meiks I always remember the section with SniperWolf in MGS, but the series had some truly epic encounters, mad eup for all the bullshit
  • philipshaw - April 30, 2010 1:30 p.m.

    Great article and I just beat MGS3 last night for the 3rd time. MGS3 has the best run of boss battles in the series
  • AgentHonor - April 30, 2010 7:11 a.m.

    Dont forget the battle with the Hind D in MGS. that was a "Oh Crap" moment for me. I also liked the Young Ocelot battle. Although not really a boss battle, the Raiden vs Vamp while you shoot at Gekkos is really cool.
  • shinigamiDude - April 30, 2010 6:34 a.m.

    How about the crocodiles from MGS 3?
  • TheWebSwinger - April 30, 2010 4:36 a.m.

    god I f*ckin love this series, and this article by association. Seriously, I friggin bleed Metal Gear.
  • BlackElement17 - April 30, 2010 2:21 a.m.

    Loved all of those battles, if they just refined the mechanics for the final Guns of the patriots battle it would have been a perfect end to the series.
  • masterj2k11 - April 30, 2010 1:09 a.m.

    I love the mgs series. It stands out cause for the first two years it was out I didn't get it. I could never even get to the elevator in the begining. But I kept coming back and my dad finally showed me its a sneaking game and when I got to that elevator I was hooked. This is one of the best crafted video game series of all time. The story is a little far fetched. Some cutscenes are long. But every ounce of gameplay is perfection. The boss battles are epic, though a little too repeticious in mgs4 (except for rex vs. Ray). This is how all games series should be done. It is like a tarintino movie. For fans only and dosent take itself too seriously. Well I guess that is enough kojima ego stroking and mgs fanboyism for now. Ill go back to whacking it to peace walker screens.
  • iJizzLots - April 30, 2010 1:08 a.m.

    Rex vs Ray was one of the most sluggish, broken and down right boring boss battles I've ever played. Sure the experience was cool, but the gameplay didnt hold up. You want robot vs robot? Buy Armored Core, if you can get over the mediocre reviews from people who bitch about "too much customization," you'll find yourself in one of the best mech games this gen
  • Cyberninja - April 30, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    i think you just sold another copy of mgs colletion
  • Satu - April 30, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    @sithlord4 It's the anniversary of the day Raiden and Rose met and the day George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the U.S. in 1789 at Federal Hall.
  • 510BrotherPanda - April 30, 2010 12:05 a.m.

    I'm glad Meiks got to put his "Dream QoTW" in writing. It was great! I haven't beaten even the first MGS yet, though.
  • Sithlord4 - April 29, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    @Satu April 30th, is there something important about it?
  • CH3BURASHKA - April 29, 2010 11:05 p.m.

    Although the MGS2 katana battle was a cool new mechanic that kind of put everything on its head, I didn't enjoy it as a final battle. It was worth the final cutscene, though. I love that jazz song...
  • Satu - April 29, 2010 10:52 p.m.

    @JackSkellingtonsSkin Today is April 29th, the day the Big Shell portion of MGS2 takes place. And we all remember Rose and her incessant question. Not that I remember this and make a point of asking everyone "do you know what tomorrow is?" repeatedly every year or anything.