Boss Fights

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I loved Half Life 2's boss fight, for multiple reasons. It perfectly captured the type of character that Breen was, a coward. Many developers could have easily fucked this up but his character stayed true, and instead of fighting you he tried to escape and have others do the fighting.

Honestly I'd much rather games have just a well thought out, sensible, climactic ending than have a typical Boss fight. For example Another World, or The Neverhood.

It's Causality!
Maybe I'd put on some nice clothes if anime jiggle physics weren't so good.

Besides, my mom said I look handsome in this shirt, and she wouldn't lie to me.

Boss fights aren't always that bad. I mean a Zelda game without bossfights seems like a really stupid idea. Or a Mario game without fighting Bowser. These are games I just can't imagine without bossfights, probably because they were some of the first games I've ever played.

But if the bossfights aren't absolutely necessary, it's best to look for an alternative solution. I liked HL2's ending, because of the same reasons mentioned in the article. More recently, RDR managed to surprise me with a pretty great ending (I'm talking about the actual ending, not the side mission ending).

On the other hand, I'm wearing a ugly green t-shirt with splats of white and gray paint on it, so my oppinion probably doesn't count.

HA! I'm not wearing a shirt right now >:D

hahaha but no seriously, really enjoyed the article

it's interesting how ZP pointed out the lacking final bosses of Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed II, but actually praised the considerably less of a final boss fight (interactive cutscene) of Gears of War 2 haha
but then again, "you get to kill armored dinosaurs with orbital lasers!" so I guess that's ok lol

I'm not wearing a shirt HA!

Anyways i have to agree some boss battles just don't make any damn sense or they are fucking annoying.

I remember starfox64 boss battles hit the enemy where the yellow squares are repeatedly...

Yvl9921:
Shamus Young juuuust beat you to it this time.

Not really. Yahtzee commented about the boss fights in the ZP for Alpha Protocol before the Stolen Pixels comic was up. This article (and the whole idea behind Extra Punctuation in general) is so that he can flesh-out his point a little more.

I see I am not the only one confused by little guys having huge health bars.
I understand if a giant guy has a larger health, and I can understand why a guy suited up in armor would have a large health bar. Both of those guys have something preventing me from killing them with simple shots. Yet, I do know of games where there is this guy with a giant health bar, yet the only difference between him and the other hoards of expressionless people I have slaughtered is his style of clothing. I think, if he is a small guy, he should not have a huge health bar. Rather than do that, take advantage of the fact that he is normal and make him hide and blend in with the crowd.

The Hitman series did boss fights up right for a shooter game. They were always normal enemies who could be killed exactly the same as other baddies, except they were often aware of you (so no stealth approach).

In Blood Money, for example, you meet another contract killer like yourself. He's also in disguise and challenges you to a battle to the death. You follow him into a warehouse to which he has the key. There are tables of guns laid out for you to grab. After a few seconds (enough time for you to load up), the lights go out. I should mention there are crates, boxes and those big metal racks they use in the back of the grocery store (in the employee-only area) all over the room. There's a maze of chain link fencing so you can't just run up to the guy and shoot him. He positions himself carefully, keeping cover between you and him. He doesn't have that much more health than an ordinary guy (chalk that up to Kevlar). It's realistic, tense and awesome.

But what's even MORE awesome is that Hitman doesn't betray its roots by forcing you into this fight. While it's true there are guards everywhere in this club (except said warehouse) you can STILL pull out a big freaking .357 Magnum and shoot this boss in the head, KILLING HIM WITHOUT ALL THIS NONSENSE if you want to. You just might also blow your Wanted level and ranking. But hey, at least you have the option.

Blood Money is one of the best games around. This is a small example of why. In fact, most of these Extra Punctuation complaint articles could probably be countered with "Hitman: Blood Money."

Nicer clothes? Excuse me, I'm wearing an xkcd shirt and white trilby thankyou very much Yahtzee!

Ahhh, good old boss fights. Takes me back to the days where I'd play Planescape: Torment. I usually always build an Intelligence/Wisdom/Charisma character focusing on magic and persuasion. The best part in that game is the final boss where...

Good times. But if it isn't an RPG then I damn well demand a good, tough and satisfying final boss. Something to test my mettle against. Depends if the game is more story focused or game play focused mind you.

Mr. Croshaw:
So basically, the biggest problem here is you. Yes, you, in the stupid shirt. Sort yourself out, for god's sake. And buy nicer clothes.

No. I like my stupid clothes. You go buy better clothes. Nyah!

Outstanding.
You have outdone yourself with this particular expository.
Ever honing your craft to an even sharper insight & wit.

I can't change my shirt, this are my working clothes, and I'm at work!

But I'm naked...

Anyway, there was an article I read a while back that said something along the lines of gamers need boss fights as a sort of milestone in what they perceive to be their awesomeness, otherwise they get the feeling of toiling away for hours with no real accomplishment. That makes sense to me. We have milestones in our own lives, after all. Graduating high school could practically be considered a "boss fight", after all. But I also agree that we've gotten a little too narrow-minded about them.

I don't think we always need the big guy with the big health bar to beat the shit out of. It's also cool to just make a tense situation that you have to fight your way out of, and then you're in the clear. For instance, the scene in Beyond Good & Evil where Jade is literally just running for her life away from the main bad guy. That was one of the most amazing things I've ever played through. I was freaking out the whole time and loving it, and you never even hit a guy once.

The point I'm trying to get at is that we can make boss fight-esque situations without having it actually be a boss fight. I also think that games could become a lot more interesting if we found ways to move away from the classic boss fight because, honestly, eventually we're all going to know how to handle every boss fight and they just won't be a challenge without having the AI actually cheat.

Super Jamz:
I'm perfectly comfortable with my dress sense thank you.

Honestly though, i remember when boss fights used to be a challenge that relied on SKILL rather than whatever stupid power you bought earlier on and remembering its attack pattern to an almost balletic performance.

Take Shinobi for the PS2. The game mechanics were deceptively simple and yet the bosses were still hard and challenging enough that i was all 'FUCK YEA' when i finally managed to cut them in two.

I CALL FOURTH THE ICY TOUCH OF DEATH!!!

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: Boss Fights

Some boss fights just don't belong in RPGs.

Read Full Article

I actually kind of liked the first game of Half Life's end of game boss, it was pretty creative and fun to fight and wasn't just some robot with a rocket launcher, machine gun and heaps of health or some big monster that just tries to smash you or something like that.

PerceptiveMan:

DTWolfwood:
We need more games like Shadow of the Colossus.

So the entire game can be nothing BUT tedious boss fights?

yes and my friend there was nothing tedious about it ;) then again i like a bit of a challenge in my game.

At least it knows what it is and doesn't hit you with a brick wall as mentioned here.

While I didn't like the half-life 1 final boss, I did like the tentacle and big-bruiser mini-bosses. That's what I missed in HL2. I don't need a traditional endboss, but HL2's 'bosses' were either striders or gunships, and the tactics against them were always 'Run untill you find the infinite rockets crate (because you could carry tons of weapons, but not enough rockets to bring down a single strider or gunship), then shoot it', and that got boring after the second or third time. Only the helicopter-mine spam offered some variaty, and fortunately episode 2 had at least a more entertaining final battle against the striders. If the original HL2 offered some of that, I wouldn't have minded the lack of a final boss.

And I must disagree that turning the gravity gun into an instakill BFG was a locial extension of the gameplay thus far.

Souplex:
Half Life 2 isn't exactly a good example for game designers to follow.

How so? I thought that the Half life 2 series is a shining example of good game design, even with all it's flaws. It's like their STEAM service. Steam is also very flawed, but still, one of the best (pc) gaming services out there.

I love the inclusion of boss fights, but Yahtzee is right, it shouldnt be a random boosted up enemy as a boss with little reason, it needs to act as a bookmark to a chapter of the game, and test the player on the skills they've built up.

I wasn't aware people felt Half-Life 2's lack of a boss was a bad thing...I personally couldn't see it working if they threw a boss fight in at the end. It was quite a satisfying ending level in my opinion.

". So basically, the biggest problem here is you. Yes, you, in the stupid shirt. Sort yourself out, for god's sake. And buy nicer clothes."

I'm wearing trackie bottoms and not shirt *raises middle finger*.

In most RPGS i end up playing some kinda paladin because the combination of being able to hit stuff and being able to heal myself always seems the most surefire way through almost any game.

Frozenfeet2:
Making games costs huge amounts of money, therefore game developers don't take risks. This is partly why they conform and include boss fights; they primarily want their game to sell. Also it gives differing pacing throughout the game.

Here's a way to help keep costs down on something that doesn't bring in a significant number of units sold- Quit hiring people like Patrick Stewart and Liam Neesam to do 15 minutes worth of dialogue. You know they make millions for the VO work and the reward does not justify the cost.

OT: I don't mind bosses, but the last boss should always be the hardest and not a walk in the park (I'm looking right at you Arkham Asylum) nor should it be like the old days where the last boss consists of every level boss you faced coming at you ome at a time with the main baddie waiting til you have one hit left.

Demon's Souls had some interesting boss fights. There was even one where the boss was a randomly chosen player. It was fun when I got to the boss a couple times. Sucked to be the player that fought me :)

I like my clothes and noone has ever condemned me because of what I wear.

That said, I do agree with him that boss fights should be like a final exam, not just a battle of attrition with the same weapons you've used the entire game.

Also, I'm kind of curious as to why he hasn't responed to the "Austrailian Swear Jar Law" I keep hearing about.

That is what I loved about Half Life 2. Running in guns blazing tended to not work so well as hanging back and using your wits. Like explosives you placed in the corner. Or the car you happen to be driving.
I also liked how Half Life 2 Ep. 1 (I still don't get that format. Wouldn't it be Half life 3 Ep. 1?) started off with a big pre exam. Old players got to enjoy the super gravity gun again, and new players got shown the ropes without undue complexity. I.E. you have a gun with unlimited ammo, here are some puzzles, have at it.
And that's where Ep. 2 failed in my opinion. The massive strider battle was alright, but the fact that you have to use those fiddly little bastards of a bomb make it frustrating to me at least.

Oh joy, Yahtzee's discovered TV tropes.

megalomania:
Absolutely agreed!

There is one type of boss battle I hate more than the gigantic health bar though; the boss with the inexplicable Achilles' Heel whilst being impervious to all other damage. How I hate thee!

I like a tough boss fight as much as the next guy but I think it should go like this - if I have a rocket launcher it will do damage to the guy no matter what he is made of - if I hit the guy's weak spot it will 'crit hit' and do more damage.

Now there is wiggle room in there but thats the formula that strikes me as being the least far removed from reality, assuming you are happy suspending your disbelief enough to think anything could survive ONE rocket in the face, never mind 10!

Expanding on the above - bosses with gigantic 'FUCK ME' lights where their weak points are. Bonus points if the boss is some kind of military vehicle or powered armour.

I couldn't agree more with your latest column. There is nothing more frustrating then when you get to a boss and realize that you are completely up the creek because you have not levelled up enough, or you did not develop your character in the "right" way. I tend to avoid RPGs, especially JRPGs for this reason.

Also, there is nothing wrong with my Tintin shirt.

Cheers!

Sort yourself out, for god's sake. And buy nicer clothes.

Yes, Mum.

I agree. If we're to develop the games industry past catering to the ideologies of a primary school recess then we've got to get around the enigmatic boss fights in every game.

-And as one of the kids with more bravado during recess; boss fights have taken a decided nose dive into wussy-ness in the past 10 years or so. Targeting a larger audience requires dumbing down the material, as is blatantly apparent in Hollywood.

Jokes on him, I'm not wearing a shirt!

Anyway yeah, good article. I agree that some games don't need a final boss. For example, Red Dead Redemption's ending mission was pretty hard, but there was no clear cut boss. That's fine in my opinion. The game's ending was supposed to be a tragedy, and if I had just finished taking down my biggest enemy it would feel more like a heroic death and would not be as tragic. That's just how I feel.

I was wearing a Dragonforce shirt when I read this article, so yahtzee can get a pass for that last paragraph from me. :)

Seneschal:
It's disturbing how many people just admitted reading in The Escapist in the nude. I feel slightly disgusted now.

Wait until THE FUTURE, where by law all commentards are required to include a picture of themselves at the moment of posting any comment on any forum.

rembrandtqeinstein:
I beat system shock 2 on hard at first run without cheats.

Skill ups went into "normal" guns, agility, strength, and hacking. There was plenty of ammo for the assault rifle and you could switch between anti-personnel and armor-penetration for different types of enemies. I think I also put enough points into exotics to use the crystal shard, not sure.

Bosses whose only characteristic is a massive amount of hp=bad, bosses where you have to do something interesting to win (zelda, resident evil 4)=good.

Add maintenance and you have the perfect (if easiest to beat the game with) build right there. Had you played beforehand or did you get those skills by choice / good luck?

I re-played the game recently trying a psi and energy-weapons-based build. That's probably about as far from optimum as you can get! That's part of the fun of the game I think... although I don't think I could ever win by sinking all my points into "Repair" and "Modify"!

TheMadDoctorsCat:

rembrandtqeinstein:
I beat system shock 2 on hard at first run without cheats.

Skill ups went into "normal" guns, agility, strength, and hacking. There was plenty of ammo for the assault rifle and you could switch between anti-personnel and armor-penetration for different types of enemies. I think I also put enough points into exotics to use the crystal shard, not sure.

Bosses whose only characteristic is a massive amount of hp=bad, bosses where you have to do something interesting to win (zelda, resident evil 4)=good.

Add maintenance and you have the perfect (if easiest to beat the game with) build right there. Had you played beforehand or did you get those skills by choice / good luck?

I re-played the game recently trying a psi and energy-weapons-based build. That's probably about as far from optimum as you can get! That's part of the fun of the game I think... although I don't think I could ever win by sinking all my points into "Repair" and "Modify"!

I picked those stats because in all RPGs I always choose powers that make me run faster (agility) and let me carry more stuff (strength). The SS2 strength mechanic of opening up more paper doll slots as you gain strength was completely brilliant.

I did look up all the available weapons beforehand and the skill level you needed for each so that made my choices more efficient but the page I saw didn't mention of their effectiveness. I skipped the explosives entirely so I missed out on grenade launcher and had one point in energy to burn through all the laser pistols I found.

Dammit now I want to play the game again but I'm afraid the graphics will just bother me.

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