Top 8: Most Disappointing End Bosses
We’ve all been there. You have just spent 10 hours (or 8 hours, or 30 hours or whatever) playing an amazing game, or even just a pretty good game, and finally you’ve made it: the end boss, the end of the game.
You want something awesome, something jaw-dropping, something that ties it all in together and makes the whole thing seem worthwhile. I mean, it should be difficult and yet familiar, exhaustive and not repetitive, and it should make sense.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of games that fail on this count. I don’t know if it’s due to time concerns or budget restrictions or because they actually think that having a great ending isn’t part of making a great game. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor (or game designer).
What I do know is that several of my favourite games have made this list, for shame.
Let’s look at 8 of the most disappointing end bosses I can remember (some spoilers):
8. Warthog Event – Halo 3
Straight off the bat and it’s not even a boss. How many people just decided to stop reading this article? Well you are (maybe) missing out.
Anyway here is my logic. The ending of Halo: Combat Evolved was an awesome Warthog event where you basically raced around killing covenant and flood and having a great time. It played almost like a racetrack and was deeply, deeply satisfying. I know plenty of people who repeatedly played that end level just for the Warthog finish.
The ending of Halo 2 was a typical boss fight against the leader of the Brutes. He had a hammer, you were on some multi-level sphere thing suspended in mid air and it was a pretty hardcore fight. Challenging, interesting – maybe not quite so good as the Halo ending, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The ending of Halo 3 was a weird throwback to the first game, but was nowhere near as interesting. Somehow they thought that by not having an endboss or an obstacle course for a Warthog – and instead having you drive over explosive terrain for 3 minutes – was a good thing. It wasn’t. It felt clunky and disjointed with the storyline, and I basically would have preferred either of the previous endings.
In short: if you are going to have an end boss, have an end boss. If you want a race do a race. But don't do something that looks half-assed and stupid. Because I don’t like that.
7. Zhao Yun Ru – Deus Ex: Human Revolution
The chief complaint that everyone seems to have with what was an amazing game (in my opinion) is the boss fights. The boss fights seemed out of place, the boss fights are impossible if you are non-lethal or hacking build, the boss fights are unimaginative yada yada yada.
But what I had the biggest issue with was the consistency.
If you are going to have boss fights (and there are 3) strewn throughout the storyline, can you at least finish on one? Like a good one?
Apparently not. Instead you find Jensen trapped in a room with a bunch of turrets and a never-ending stream of guards and robots which run in while you basically kill a defenceless woman attached to a computer – real heroic buddy.
Like seriously, the anti-climax that was this mob-fight almost ruined how awesome the end cinematic of the game was for me. Maybe I just don’t like the swarm-style end boss, but then some games (like Bioshock 2) have done it well.
This wasn’t one of them.
Speaking of Bioshock…
6. Frank Fontaine – Bioshock
Bioshock was an amazing game that somehow combined strong FPS elements (I really meant my kills in that game, Splicers piss me off) with a guilt-inducing awareness of your own actions.
It’s like it hands you a gun, and then asks you why you started shooting people with it. This is a good thing.
But the end boss, not so much.
I mean, after that massive confrontation (see: mindfuck) with Andrew Ryan I was expecting a psychological ending to the game which would keep me guessing, or at the very least a boss fight against some kind of deformed super- Big Daddy that would have me wetting myself while I frantically used every scrap of ammo in my inventory to bring it down.
Instead, I got some glowy Zombie-face splicehead who put up less of a fight than a Little Sister. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. It was a simple, repetitive boss fight that had no degree of difficulty or depth to it. And for an amazing game that’s a pretty sad way to finish.
Once again, just because your end cinematic is awesome – doesn’t mean what you do right before it can be shit.
5. The Joker – Arkham Asylum
Much the same problem here as we had in Bioshock.
Arkham Asylum was an amazing game, something which built upon a comic book franchise instead of dumbing it down. It proved superhero games can be intelligent, challenging and awesome.
What it didn’t prove: They can stay away from crude stereotypes when attempting to wrap up the narrative.
I mean, the antagonist is The Joker. Not Bane. Nobody expects The Joker to go fist-to-fist with Batman! He’s the fuckin Joker!
The Joker is all about tricking you into being blown up or knocking you out with happy gas, not putting on some spandex and settling his problems in the ring.
But unfortunately, thanks to the tidy excuse of some Titan formula, that’s exactly how this game ended. And even once he started fighting, he was so damn easy. Like, rinse and repeat much?
If you guys haven’t played that game, let me tell you who the real boss is: Poison Ivy. At least she was somewhat original and challenging, instead of just being another big-bad clone of the AI you spent the last 12 hours defeating.
Know your enemy game designers. And get to know your characters while you are at it.
4. The Human(ish) Reaper – Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 is thought by some to be the perfect game. It masterfully combined RPG and FPS with an amazingly written story and a crazy amount of depth to the universe they constructed. I loved it, and it was almost flawless in my eyes.
Until I found it’s huge, ugly flaw in the shape of the “end boss” at the conclusion of the suicide mission.
Like a giant human-robot, seriously? It even SOUNDS stupid. How did they think people would go for that?
The worst part is – they totally went for a anti-climax climax. At the beginning of the boss fight the giant Reaper drops down and is seemingly destroyed (anti-climax) but then he suddenly rears his ugly head once more (climax?) but then he is massively easy mode, takes almost no skill and you have no room to fight him anyway (anti-climax!).
Like, the suicide mission was climax enough. Seriously it was. You could have just thrown another giant Collector at us and we would have called it a day.
But instead they tried to go “large-scale” and have a “big finish” and it just felt about as unfinished as I assume that Reaper was.
Great game, bad boss. GG Bioware.
3. Alec Trevelyan – Golden Eye 007
I STILL remember how annoying the end boss to Golden Eye, one of the greatest games on Nintendo 64, was. Like, I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a former secret agent or because he is immune to bullets but that fight was annoying as hell.
First you are stuck there fighting him for the better part of 10 minutes (if you are lucky). Then you go through 90% of your ammo and end up picking up whatever you can find because he seriously can take more bullets than Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a reinforced steel wall. Then he runs faster than a runaway freight train. And finally, he summons people to kill you throughout the fight. And these people die in 3 shots. Which just reminds you, THIS GUY IS TAKING SEVERAL MILLION BULLETS TO KILL.
Like did that honestly happen in one of the Bond movies that I missed? Or was there just no way that a videogame could end in a way that realistically displayed the skills of a secret agent?
Remember kids, once a secret agent goes rogue – he gains the powers of the universe. Then the only thing that can stop him is his AI bugging out.
2. The Destroyer – Borderlands
God not this again. Somehow the terrible, terrible ending of Borderlands keeps coming back to haunt me. Possibly because it was really, really terrible. But let’s go through it again briefly.
- End boss soaks up more ammo than you should rightfully have after 2 full levels without ammo vendors.
- Makes no sense, doesn’t fit with the art design and is basically ridiculous
- Comes out of the vault, but somehow the vault closes behind it? Like did he slam the door with his tentacles or something?
- On defeating him – the game ends. And no sensical plot is made reference to.
- He looks like a vagina. There I said it.
As you can tell, this is still pretty major on my game-hate list. Mostly because the rest of that game was so good. And this boss was fucking awful.
1. Darth Vader – Force Unleashed 2
And the only bad game on the list is… Force Unleased 2.
To anyone out there who liked Force Unleashed 2, I apologise if this offends you; but anyone who liked Force Unleashed 2 is either 8 years old or has a serious head injury. That game was half the length and none of the fun of the first game and the first game barely scraped into the “mediocre” category. But you can always trust a bad game to do one thing: have a terrible boss battle.
And I wasn’t (was?) disappointed.
Firstly, the end boss is Darth Vader. The end boss of the first game being… Darth Vader and the Emperor. So we are already watering shit down. Secondly, the whole fight is just ridiculously stupid (not unlike the plot of that game). Like seriously? You fight on floating platforms while fending off clones and Darth Vader basically does his part by refusing to die, ever.
This boss fight can take so long and you are just doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
Like honestly, I don’t think I have ever come so close to wanting to eject a disc and then snap it directly in half. It’s bad enough the game was formulaic, nonsensical and pandering in the extreme – they also have to cap it off with a bossfight that feels like George Lucas is raping my brain while cackling to himself that I paid him to do it?
Well maybe it wasn’t quite that bad. But it was close. And that’s why (for the first time I ever) Force Unleashed 2 is our winner.