Boss battles are those infamously devious parts of video games, when one's progress is put to the question of his/her's ability to surmount this newly-presented obstacle. Many a time you will stumble upon such "immovable objects", often when least expected, and you'll need to simply convince the game that you're the "unstoppable force", and strike just as hard back.
But, surprisingly, boss battles are often the defining moments that bring you closer with the game, rather than push you away. There are times when video games are considered as good as their weakest boss battle. And there are times when a boss is so well designed, thematically and virtually, that it is the first thing you'll think about when you think of that game, henceforth.
Certainly, there are boss battles who I'd love to experience freshly again, just to sense the excitement of slowly understanding how to defeat them again, for the first time. Does that makes sense? Well, assuming that medicine will one day very likely come up with a procedure that will be able to remove specific memories of our RAM (so to speak), it can make a lot of sense, indeed. Of course, it's all just wishful thinking now... But, here's to hoping!
(SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THESE GAMES, DUH!!!)
Being the unhindered-by-time masterpiece that it is, Diablo 2 brought a lot of fresh ideas to the table, alongside it's deep and engaging skill-tree system. What was merely scratched with the original, this game expanded on, all while never losing it's focus. It had 5 playable classes (7 with the expansion), and all of them were completely different worlds when compared to one another. No, there was no "trifecta" of attack speed, crit hit chance and crit hit damage for all classes, like in some other game I won't even mention. The experience you get while playing this game is thrill-filled and always exciting, and with the many surprises, this game was, and still is, worth replaying multiple times.
Speaking of surprises, certainly one of the most unpleasant ones ever, in any action RPG, is Duriel, the Act 2 Boss. This abomination will very likely cause terror and even physical fear, when it so startlingly jumps on you from the shadows, leaving you alone in sheer shock. And that question: "LOOKING FOR BAAL?"
"Yes, Duriel, I was in fact looking for him, but now that I've found you, that's probably not happening" - you'll come to think in fear, as you're being one-shot by this unfriendliest of unfriendly foes. Over and over again.
And kudos to whoever at Blizzard North designed this creature. I mean, come on, a monstrous, slimy bug with a cold-oriented powers? A cockroach that freezes it's surrounding area? Probably, because of it's appearance?
It will take you a long while to re-collect your courage, I tell you now. But, after giving it some thought, you'll realize that you can simply buy thawing potions from the nearby vendor, gurgle them up as tequilas, stuck up on cold res, have some lemons (why not?) and you're ready for another go. Duriel it's basically a gear check, and doesn't have much hit-points. In fact, he's only scary the first time you face him (yes, it's a male). But what a jump-scare that first date is.
Demons' Souls was and still is, a revelation of original, fresh ideas in modern gaming. A somewhat underrated gem, which no doubt brought that forgotten hand-sweating excitement back in our couch-related favourite past-time activity. A statement of human endurance and perseverance, this masterpiece impressed many with it's high level of un-forgivingness, but it was its even higher level of memorability that passed the test of time.
Also, it introduced a new concept of multi-player experience, one where players from all around the world are able to enter your very game, in order to help you, or more likely, end you (your avatar, that is). As such, that concept successfully made finishing the game a collective accomplishment, cuz it was very probable that helped arrived when you needed it the most.
And need it you shall, as you'll face increasingly difficult ordeals, one after another. Imagine passing a narrow bridge filled with many, many enemies armed with swords, spears, shields and crossbows alike. And now imagine a freaking dragon raining fire constantly on top of your head. Yeah. Not the pinkest of situations. And don't forget the intriguing fog door in the distance, laughing as you die again and again, trying to reach it. But, with every death, you drop closer and closer to that threshold. That tiny "progress" you make with every try is the only thing that'll keep you sane. Or so they say.
And finally, after more tries than you'll ever admit, you'll walk through the gate. The sheer spectacle of what awaits you completely overwhelms your senses. It is a welcoming committee like you've never seen before. And you're dead. And back at the beginning of that whole sections I just described. Think pink.
This boss is also the first time the game breaks some of its already insane rules - the simple rule that humanoid enemies have humanoid size. The Tower Knight is gigantic, and has a tower for a shield. Also, 30-something normal sized, crossbow-wielding minions. You'll probably notice the amazing boss music for the first time in the game there, as it paints the hopelessness in you perfectly. Your heart will beat real fast, and you'll find it real hard to concentrate in that tornado of adrenaline you were just hurled into...
But, you'll eventually find your footing, and you'll also remember your struggle throughout for a long time. Once you man up, there's only one conclusion - this is in fact, the easiest boss in the game. His guards are quickly dispatched, and then you'll focus on his cumbersome feet. Very soon then, he'll stumble on his back, leaving his head exposed for punishment. You'll slowly walk past his sprawling body, all the way to where his undersized head is. He's still breathing, but now you'll make him regret his ways, by bashing his head in.
And you'll savor every moment of it.
Action games (or ultra-action games, like this one) have always struggled to find a reasonable setting or explanation as to why is there a never-ending wave of enemies, marching towards you and demanding your immediate attention. And this time, it's mostly because this particular pair of Gemini simply can't stand one another. So they send each other invitations for a deadly confrontation, and both of them seem to not give any deeper thought on the matter. They will resolve their "problem", and it will happen soon. And so, we were in for one hell of a ride.
The most popular sword wielding, half-human, half-devil twins in all gaming, never shone more brightly than in their original feud, in Devil May Cry 3. This game is hands-down one of the few ones that have a perfect combat system, combining timing, skill, precision, and even button-mashing, all to create the perfect playground for the player, one where you'll have hours and hours of fun, long after you've finished the story. It probably is the most definitive example of the ultra-action genre, as we are ever going to get. It is a game where you are limited only by your own imagination.
That being said, the story undoubtedly is a strong driving force when you first play the game, and actually pay attention to it. You play as Dante, the less powerful of the two, who basically founds himself not being able to deny his evil twin's series of challenges, only to prove his point, and subdue him. The story then expands into wider areas, like family, honour and friendship, and it becomes one of the game's strongest points.
But, the duo remains the most amazing part of the game, mostly because of the game's expert realization of their polar opposite natures. They have completely different and antagonistic views in relation to one another, literally about everything. Basically, they don't agree at all on the subject of what is "cool".
Dante finds firearms, heavy metal, missile-riding and general badassery to be cool, so he wields modern weapons as well as devil-arms (the game's melee-based weapons). He's also a loud-mouth, has a fiery temper and a cheerful personality. And always wears red.
Vergil thinks old-school is cool, so he uses magically-conjured flying swords alongside his close-ranged weapons. He doesn't show any particular interest in music. He is also noticeably cold all around. In his speech, his movement, his viewpoints. He likes power, and likes to get more of it by depriving his twin of his own. And of course, Vergil always wears blue.
As far as a general breakdown of their characters goes (and I think I nailed it), that's all the game will give you. In the rest of it, you'll get to experience the brawl first hand, as Dante first, and later as Vergil, also. There are three epic fights in the story, and the last one clearly takes the cake.
Taking place at no-other than the very hell's gate, the brothers duke it out relentlessly, making the crimson waters around them flow ever more crimson, right into oblivion. It's a blood-boiling duel to the death, that ultimately settles the score between them, and decides the stronger of their widely different fighting styles. It will take the best of both of them, and only one will emerge as the better man. But not without the cost of losing one sibling. It would seem, there is no other way for any of them to win.
Luckily, devils never cry...
This is the very game whose notorious difficulty made it quite the gaming phenomenon when it released back in 2011. Although it is a spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Demon's Souls, the large amount of spotlight attention and popularity that Dark Souls received, still counts as a surprise. It is one of those games who didn't really need a cunning marketing agenda - it's strongest selling point was the fact that anyone who tasted it, simply couldn't stop talking about it for days and days, to everyone he/she knew.
Dark Souls was an obvious continuation of the same game direction taken with the previous title. But, the good folks at FROM Software clearly did "level up" in doing what they do best, between the two games. Everything in Dark feels fresh, organic and significant, even the ideas that were clearly "borrowed" from the previous game. The combat system was unchanged, and with good reason. The eeriness of the world remained prevalent, and also the lore remained mysterious, such as the insignificance of your character.
But, most importantly, just as before, what Dark Souls had to offer was, in short, an experience of a lifetime. It's no wonder this game so frequently shows up on various "best games of all time" lists. It had no particular flaws word mentioning, and it was down-right masterful in many areas. Most notably, atmosphere and bosses.
One of the higher points of this dark story, IMO, was the New Londo area, forming a strong, cohesive narrative with the boss battle there, The Four Kings. It is one of those places so thematically vivid and all-absorbing, that you'll find it hard to shake off the uneasiness that will grow on you, even after you put down the controller. It will follow you around, until you beat it. Bested it. See it to the end.
And that particular area (not unlike the rest of the game) is worth giving the thorough-est of thorough examinations, I guarantee it. Uncovering just what the hell went wrong with New Londo (and there's so much wrong with it), it's one of the most intricate gaming-itches ever. And it's all round-upped perfectly with that boss battle.
The abyss (or the nothingness) it's not a place where boss battles are usually held, yet FROM Soft. decided to give us that exact experience. The abyss is seemingly limitless, never-ending and perpetually hungry for more souls, such as yours (and I mean not just the game's currency). It's very existence it's hard to comprehend, but accepting it is pivotal to defeating it. For starters, you'll need a very special ring so it doesn't swallow you whole right away, killing you in the same instant as you approach it.
And, just after you manage to successfully find your footing (literally), you'll have to adjust to it. It's more than extremely disorienting. As you begin to wrestle with the camera, you'll notice that you are not the only inhabitant of the Abyss. A grey-winged creature appears in the distance, along with the appropriate boss health bar at the bottom of the screen. And a haunting musical theme, of course. The boss's name is "Four Kings", but there's only one there, right?
Wrong... As you have a hard time learning his patterns, and failing to avoid his purple-homing-missile-thingy attack, another one sprawls up behind you. And another one. Still, there's only three of them. So naming them "four kings" it's still inaccurate, you'll come to conclude. And you'll die.
This battle is a heart-stomping dance of slashes and dodges that you'll have to master, cuz defeating them fast, one by one, it's the only way to stop them from swarming you. And you'll must do that alongside mastering the Abyss. It's a thrill like none felt before.
Also, try not to stare at those baby-cradling female ghosts for too long...
This game was a cocktail of various game genres, like FPS, RPG and adventure, all mixed with strong political undertone, threat of terrorism and alien presence. It was also one of the first games where to the player was given the freedom to largely shape the story, by deciding the outcomes of certain confrontations. Deus Ex was revolutionary in many ways. And even today, more than 15 years after it's release, it remains brilliant.
The main character, JC (Jesus Christ?!) Denton, is as much of a cocktail (in a sense) as the very game he stars in. He mostly consists of bazillion ultra-tiny nano-machines, who help him with his every-day ordeals. They also allow him superhuman attributes, like super strength, super jump or invisibility, for the cost of bio-energy drained.
But, he, after all, isn't a machine, although he'll soon learn to question basic facts which normal humans usually don't ever have to suspect. Facts like who are his parents, and where he grew up, finished school, or even who were his childhood friends. Along with the player, JC embarks on a quest to find out many, many truths, regarding the ever-present "invisible hand" turning the world's economical state, as well as his very self.
And how can he answer all those questions, uncover all those mysteries? The best part is that, you get to decide. By killing, not killing, exploring, hacking, swimming, eating, drinking, jumping, stealing, talking, etc. The world was build like a sand-box for all of JC's tools, and the levels were designed specifically for being tackled by a young, heavily mechanized and ignorant, experiment such as him.
And, unlike the newer iterations of the franchise (2011's Human Revolution), bosses didn't stray from said principle. In fact, their very hostility is often up to the player, as antagonizing them is not always implied by the story. And more so, even when it does, the nature of the upcoming confrontations is still variable.
Such as the feud with Gunther Hermann, the hulking mass of steel, blue veins, and persistent German accent. He starts of as JC's superior, the more experienced, now ageing agent of the organisation UNATCO. He seemingly has no problem with sharing his vast knowledge as a spy with the younger adjutant. You frequently talk with him, hang around with him and share a drink or two. At least in the first hours of the game.
As so, when it gets clearer and clearer that he will be sent to dispose of you, later on in the game, JC might very well be armed with the ultimate weapon against him. It's just one of the moments when Deus Ex will test how much attention you have been paying so far, and award those who took the time to snuff around more.
Because, by doing just that (snuffing around), JC will confirm his thoughts about the state of Hermann's organic-opposed-to-non-organic ratio, and just what that may imply. Of course, being an almost completely mechanized killing machine, in every sense of the word, like Gunther undoubtedly is, has it's perks, and weaknesses also. Crucial weaknesses. Ones who JC can very well incorporate in his MO. Yes, in fact, every machine can be shut down.
It was a gentlemen's decision for the developers to stay true till the end in their intention to make the game unique and thus, ever-green. So, instead of having another loud, "half a-robot v. more-than-half a-robot stand-out", players were given the choice to completely avoid this potentially fatal situation. And that was something extraordinary for the time when Deus Ex appeared.
A decade and a half has passed since this horror standard-bearer was unleashed on the world. It hasn't lost any of it's "mojo" as of yet, but no play through ever will be as the first time you wrapped your head around this mystery. It was dark and gloomy, on a whole other different level, even when compared to it's predecessor. Silent Hill 2 also controlled better and had better camera angles overall, so sudden deaths weren't as oft of an occurrence this time. In short, it hadn't any intention of obscuring your progress by placing you in the shoes of an impossible to navigate protagonist. Rest assured, the game's reaction to your inputs (or lack of) wasn't part of it's difficulty.
As so, uncovering the true horrors it had to offer and solving it's tough-as-nails puzzles, was a largely more enjoyable experience than in Silent Hill 1. And I'm referring to "enjoyment" in the most broader sense of the word as possible. Yet, you'll hardly find anyone who tried this game, and wasn't drawn to it very quickly.
The story of James Sunderland is one subject to many interpretations, as it's psychological and multi-dimensional roots will surely provoke various conclusions by different players. But, overall is a story about grief, and it's ability to completely overwhelm one's mind and personal life, in general.
As you stumble upon the town of Silent Hill, you'll question right away the true meaning of the extra-thick layers of fog, present everywhere. It's so thick in fact, that James can't see more than 3-4 feet in front of him. During the day.
Throughout the course of the game, he'll wander in abandoned houses, graveyards, meat factories and other disturbingly empty places, unaware of his real purpose in Silent Hill, or the revelation this town it's about to bestow on him. The whole story is essentially solving his case, and everything that's happening around him, has more than deep implications and meaning vis-a-vis his consciousness.
One time, while trying to decipher a particular puzzle, James stumbles upon a tall figure, with painfully-looking three-angled pointed contraption on it's head. The creature has prominent masculine characteristics, and also, at that moment, is in "conspicuous" position in relation to two other monsters, who are basically contrived of four female legs, each.
James shockingly tries to remain undetected, by hiding in some wardrobe. Sensing the disturbance, Pyramid Head tries to uncover what caused it, and as he approaches the wardrobe, James in panic shots few rounds of pistol-fire. Surprisingly, that seems to work, and the monster slowly leaves the scene.
However, the encounter I'm referring to in this list follows not long after, when upon entering a suddenly unlocked door, James is greeted by him, again. But, this time Pyramid Head wields an uncomfortably long, rusty sword, and the very sound it makes while dragged on the floor is enough to make you wanna turn the TV off. James will try to exit through the same door, but, of course, it's locked again, seemingly from the outside.
The monster slowly walks towards you, scraping with every step, and his attention is not something anyone would wish for. Pyramid Head is really the last person you'll want to be stuck in a room with. He unnervingly follows you around, as you waste all of your ammo on him. Try everything you have if you like, he simply doesn't have pain sensation. He's just one to make you say: "I saw nothing"...
All jokes aside, this encounter is more than terrifying, and is unbearable mostly because of his appearance. Besides being filthy and blood-sprayed, it's obvious that he endures a lot of pain, as the pyramid on his head clearly crushes his skull and deforms his face. Also, that sword seems to be too heavy even for him, and when he swings it, he puts all of his back in the motion. It feels like one more swing and he must rest, but he prevails on.
So, you'll have to ask yourself, is he trying to punish me (and if so, for what?), or causing himself physical pain is his true goal? And you'll also wonder how'd be like to use his sword against him. Thankfully, you'll have that exact opportunity, when somehow James comes in possession of that particular oversized butcher's knife.
Hmm, I wonder why, and how that came to be...
This game is widely considered to be one of the very best offerings on the PS2, and with good reason. Also, it is considered to be a true manifestation of art in video games, again, with good reason.
Quite simply, Shadow of the Colossus underlined the importance of "daring to dream", a skill that no game developer should be a stranger to, I believe. It brought unprecedented focus on themes like solitude, beauty and nature. It's the very definition of "art-piece", to the point to, when attempting to describe the feelings which this game brings you, you'll be as successful as when trying to describe the same about any meaningful painting.
So, I'm just going to quickly lay down the basics here, as trying to discuss what messages this particular game bears, will be criminal to anyone who still hasn't tried it.
The protagonist travels to a long forgotten by men and forbidden land, in order to try to save his terminally ill girlfriend (or wife, we are not told clearly). He carries her on a horse, and upon entering a huge temple, is greeted by a ghost-like entity, named Dormin. It agrees to help our hero, if he manages to recollect all of Dormin's soul pieces, now occupying 16 different colossal beings, scattered all around this barren land.
Yes, the game consists solely of those 16 boss battles, and some travelling between them, yet it delivers an unforgettable experience. It will make you feel utterly alone, as you observe the surrounding ruins, and are overwhelmed by the sudden tonal changes between areas.
All of the colossi are expertly envisioned and interpreted, and many of them deserve a spot on this list. But, my personal favourite is the fifth colossus. Appearing as a giant bird, this piece of Dormin's soul is nested near a hollow and grey-ish lake. It frequently soars through the sky, shrieking loud, hunting sounds.
You'll gaze at this marvellous creature with an open mouth, yet you'll know what you're about to do. Avion seems unreachable up there, and the full spread of his wings casts an enormous shadow down there, where you are. The scene gives this colossus celestial properties. Although it'll make you sad, you'll eventually figure out how to call it down.
Few arrows will get Avion's attention, and as the colossal bird set it sights on you and charges, you'll see the surges of energy and wind it generates in it's wake. And as it's giant beak nears it's prey, the adrenaline rush will be palpable. You wait for the right moment, and cunningly grab the fur on his shoulder, not giving it any room to grab you. And then the ride begins.
Avion will nervously elevate high above the lake, often shaking and doing 360 degrees maneuvers, desperately trying to get rid of you. It'll sense its inevitable end, and there you are, clawing your way through it's weak points and depriving it from his essence. In agony, the humongous bird will put his last shreds of energy into efforts of hurling you down. The landscape will gravitate around it's giant body, but the protagonist's resolve will be greater.
As you deliver the final blow, Avion loses it's conscious, and pivots fast downward. The rude landing of it's wight breaks the stillness of the water, and the hero let his grasp lose. He flows in the ever darkened waters, falling in deep sleep. As he awakens, somehow back in the temple, he notices another black shade surrounding him, along with a somewhat darker tint in his hear colour. The world grows more silent. You were successful. Avion is dead.
Not many video games make you feel absolute, painful silence...
After the shocking series of OMFG events that was MGS 2: Sons of Liberty, many long term fans of this beloved franchise were left feeling uncomfortably surprised. Yes, that game managed to be more than just an excellent sequel to probably the best game of the previous generation (by no means an easy task), but it might had taken simply too big of a leap. It was a bold and super-risky move, but many claimed that it also went way too overboard for its own good.
So, for the third installment of the series, Kojima, of course, at first lied that it's not going to happen, and when he announced it officially, we were all pleased to know that he actually WAS listening to the complaints. The trailers showed that MGS 3 would serve as a prequel for the entire story so far, and we immediately got excited about playing as Big Boss (or Naked Snake) in his prime.
The result was not as unexpected as before, as the story was far less reaching into supernatural or sci-fi territories. As such, it allowed more room for character development, and we got to know these video game icons from every angle, up close and personal. Also, the infamous codec moments this time around were bearably long, and simply didn't distract the action as much. That it a staple of itself, as far Metal Gear games go.
Snake Eater was breaming with style and more than spot-on spy-themed music, that made us feel as the main characters in a very-high quality movie of the said genre. This game wasn't afraid to show of it's biggest inspirations, as by simple saving the game, we were given quick summaries of famous movies of that particular era (the 60's and 70's), and even comparisons to James Bond. Also, Snake wondered if one day we will be able to star in our own action movies form the comfort of our home. It was just the sort of fourth-wall breaking we've come to expect from the series.
But, what this game did exceptionally well was depicting just what it means to be a soldier, in it's purest form. What it really means to follow the orders of your supervisors, in the name of the country you love. And unconditionally borrow your life for. The story's strongest points are so devastating, it's practically impossible to ignore the flavour this game will leave you with. It's one of those titles where you'll simply fall in love with every second of it.
The path Snake has to take in order to find his resolve and become the man he is supposed to, is a heartbreaking one. And at the end of it, there were no doubts that we witnessed the whole transformation of this man, John, into the legend that is Big Boss.
From the beginning of the game, when his mentor, The Boss, reminds Snake of the basics of CQC (close quarters combat), we find ourselves in the eye of the tornado, that is their relationship. It's one that transcends love or admiration - in their eyes, it's all about being the best person that they possibly can. And in their philosophy, such state is achieved by loving your country, and paying your debt towards it with every breath of your life. The exercise of making tough decisions by following the mind mostly, and the heart lastly, is one that sums up their lives, up to that point.
That's why the final battle is immensely unbearable, when Snake is often physically unable to do his best, as his emotions can't help but obscure the completion of his mission - kill The Boss. And she can't resist but ask this damned question: "What is gonna be, Snake, loyalty to your country, or loyalty to me?" It is a dilemma which Snake would have no trouble solving if it was any other human being, except for her.
This fight will test the players skills, acquired throughout the game, as the easiest way to finish it is by having mastered that very technique introduced at the beginning of the game - CQC. Taking place at the most epic of epic "final boss" grounds in any video game, the overall scene will slowly bring you to tears. One strike at a time, as the two characters you felt in love with are stuck in a brawl to the death, dictated by their principles only. And staying true to your principles till the very end It's the essence of being the greatest soldier who ever lived.
"I gave my life, not for honour, but for you..."
The second installment of this rage-fueled franchise is hands-down its shiniest moment, as of today. Kratos's quest to end all authority and bestow cold revenge on all who wronged him this time around took excitingly colossal proportions. As new powers were introduced and the main character still remaining the unstoppable killing machine as always, this gem of the PS2 era did a lot for the console by simply reaching it's potential to the fullest.
Beginning not long after the conclusion of the masterful first game, the story proves right away its enthusiasm in exploring new areas and themes. While battling the Colossus of Rhodes, our anti-hero is mortally wounded, just in time so Zeus can take the spot-light, and add even more insult to injury, by depriving Kratos of his powers completely. Diminished as he is, Kratos tries to fight Zeus, but the fiend ruthlessly kills him, and the hands of Hades drag his dying body into the underworld.
But, of course, the story doesn't end there. Luckily, Kratos does have friends in high places. Being saved by the Titan Gaia, he's new task is shown to him. He should find the Sisters of Fate, and by using their power, travel back in time to the moment when Zeus appeared in front of him in human form, for then and only then, lies his chance of killing The King of Olympus.
The premise isn't very original, but its scale is most certainly, epic. Majestic creatures of all shapes and kinds take part in this adventure, and by antagonizing and then killing some really powerful entities, Kratos will get closer and closer to ending Zeus, one bloody battle at a time.
The action and combat system are the main stars, besides the story, as by discovering sadistic new ways of combining physical and magical attacks, Kratos will massacre waves and waves of demonic imps, ever so stylishly. And never forget, you can climb the Cyclops body up to his head, and by clawing, deprive him of his sight. It's super satisfying.
Speaking of satisfaction, one of the last battles in the game will give you tons of it. When encountering two of the sisters, Lakhesis and Atropos, Kratos happily decides to tackle them at once, handicapping himself in a 1v2 match. The sisters are cruel, winged and fanged creatures. Also, continuously teasing him with sexual innuendos isn't very fair.
But,as you work your way around their attacks and manage to land a few good strikes on them (while their breasts react to the blunt force, ever so subtly), they pool a trick on you - they plung you into the past! (Samurai Jack, anyone?)
Then you realize that you are in fact transported near the Aegean sea, at the precise moments when Ares pulled a similar trick on Kratos, during the finale of the first game. It's more than an awesome move, and the developers surely succeeded in raising your blood pressure with that decision.
You quickly realize that the sisters' plan is to make you lose the battle with Ares, thus preventing Kratos from ever acquiring the power of time-travel. So, you must fend them off as they are basically trying to destroy the very weapon which saved Kratos back then, a mile-long steel blade, doubling as a bridge to a temple. As you witness your former self vanishing into some other dimension with the pre-reigning god of war, this fist-pumping battle decides the outcome of the Fates, and ultimately sentences the demise of the Olympians.
The only weak point of this setting is, obviously, being unable to feel the true ramification and proportions of this fight, if not having finished God of War 1 before. But, if that condition is met, there'll be absolutely nothing to hinder the enjoyment and satisfaction you'll get, when Kratos breaks their bodies in the end. By violently smashing them together.
This game brought many reasons to feel proud being a gamer, as its artistic value was unprecedented at the time, compared to all of the other forms of media. By exploring military, sci-fi and heavily political themes, Metal Gear Solid cemented the place of video games as a potent way to express yourself, and tell a powerful and coherent story.
Solid Snake's first mainstream adventure takes place at the invented remote island of Shadow Moses, located near Alaska. And as it so happens, that very island is the place where supernatural occurrences, world-ending acts of terrorism and even cyborg-ninjas, decide to exist all at once. It's an amazing setting for a video game, one that literally wrote the book on the "stealth-action" genre.
The movie-like aspirations of the developers are strongly evident, even as the game begins. The opening sequence takes place as the credits roll, and after managing to get to the elevator on time, our hero removes his mask, and TA-DAM, the title appears across the screen. It was cute and meaningful at the same time.
Snake's main objectives at first are procuring weapons and items on sight, and learning how to avoid the yellow cons on the radar, presenting the enemies fields of view. It played a lot like a "modern-day Pac-Man", but the excellent enemy AI and the even better stage design, make this game relevant and exciting, even today.
After finding his footing, Solid Snake searches for the members of the rogue "FOXHOUND" unit, whose goals are strange and terrifying, and contribute a lot to the dark and mysterious atmosphere. Exploring your way through the island's military base, you'll confront them one by one, in originally and creatively envisioned boss battles.
But, there's one confrontation in particular, that introduced the term "fourth-wall breaking" in gaming, while not sacrificing the pace and fun factor expected with every boss battle. Along comes Psycho Mantis.
There's some unnerving build-up to this battle, as you hear rumours about some paranormally-gifted member of the terrorist group, and every now and then, Snakes complains about hearing some "music in his head." To make matters even worse, he is accompanied by his potential love interest, the inexperienced rookie, Meryl. So, that makes him twice the vulnerable.
Psycho Mantis fully exploits Snake's situation, by possessing her and making her try to commit suicide, right there in front of him. You manage to incapacitate her non-lethally, and you face the disturbing floating figure, just when something unexpected happens - your TV malfunctions? It all turns to black, safe for the green letters in the upper corner, saying "VIDEO". You wonder what went wrong with the input, and as you get up in order to try and fix it, you realize the genius of it. It actually says "HIDEO". As in Hideo Kojima, the mastermind behind Metal Gear Solid series.
it's important to note that, at the time, TV's worked differently in general, and every time you changed the output those green letters did appear, a state of the technology no doubt in line with Kojima's fresh ideas.
Then, as the screen turns back to normal, the fight continuous as if nothing happened, just as you to come to an unpleasant conclusion - you can't harm him. Nothing works. He always manages to dodge the bullet. Always.
And even more startlingly, your controller behaves somewhat strangely, starting to vibrate with no reason. Then you ask yourself: "Is he possessing the controller as well? How do I fight him now?" As you pull you hair on this most unfortunate turn of events, the codec rings. It's the colonel, your supervisor for this mission. And, he seems to have the solution.
Change the controller output, from slot 1 to slot 2! You don't believe your eyes, but none the less, get up from the couch again, and change the controller entry point. In real life. That's how you oppose this virtually existing boss.
And it works. He no longer can "read your mind", so it's only a matter of learning his attack patterns, like in every normal fight (although, he will attempt to read your memory card, once or twice). Still shaken by the thrill, you pull yourself together, and deliver the final blow.
"Psycho Mantis" as a concept stands firmly on the point that video games are capable of immersing the observer far more so than any movie, upping the fun factor and the overall impression, by much. It also leaves a lot of room for the developers to fully carry complicated messages through their work, and even dare to present notorious or taboo themes.
Such are implied with the last lines of dialogue we hear from this amazing boss: a statement aimed at the unquestionable nature of all living beings on the earth, to mindlessly reproduce their DNA, pass on their genes, continue their existence...