10 Final Bosses That Utterly Ruined Their Video Games –
Resilience, determination, concentration, patience, skill – getting all the way through a video game can require any number of virtues but, in order to see that final cutscene, developers will always put one last obstacle in your path. Sometimes it’s a level that pushes you to breaking point, sometimes it’s a challenge unlike those you’ve faced previously, but no two words instil as much ceremonial excitement in a player quite like “final boss”. Some of the greatest games ever made owe their success to their final showdown and the opponents found therein.
After weaving the narrative in a way movies and novels can merely dream of, they put the fate of story directly in the hands of the player, challenging them to overcome one ultimate adversary and bring the events to their conclusion – an all or nothing battle of wits and reflexes that done right, wraps everything up perfectly. But its a fine art.
For all those final bosses that set your pulse racing and left you a sweaty and triumphant husk, there were others that were so wide of the mark, so out-of-keeping with what had come before them – and occasionally so downright awful – that they managed to ruin the entire game. You might think it’s hard to undo all that hard work that was poured into the story, character and gameplay in one fell swoop, but these pillars of gaming misadventure somehow managed it.
10. Necron – Final Fantasy IX
Arguably the last great game to be released for the original Playstation, and the last decent instalment of Final Fantasy, IX was a medieval steampunk voyage of deep personal identity. Taking the series back to a simple and intuitive ability/weapons format, after the absolute mess VIII’s functioning system had been, FFIX was equally engrossing and warm as it was dark and exhilarating.
Succeeding where so many RPGs fail, the game made the world it was set in feel impossibly huge, whilst still putting its characters right at the very heart of the story being told. After starting as a simple tale of a princess wanting to escape her castle, we move into a clash between two waring kingdoms, before the evil powers pulling the strings are revealed and we get into parallel worlds and the destruction of all life. Somehow it all makes sense, right up until the final boss, Necron.
Necron is, in its own words, the “eternal darkness” that believes destruction is the only truth, and he’s been sort of accidentally summoned by the events of the final act. We assume this, because there’s no real explanation offered for his appearance and no other mention of him anywhere else in the game. Rather than feeling like a culmination of everything that’s gone before, Necron serves only to muddy the plot, cheapen the standing of the the game’s core villain Kuja, and even throw the entire arc of the story into serious doubt.
9. Clayface – Batman: Arkham City
The second instalment of Rocksteady Studio’s seminal Batman series, Arkham City pitted the player against all number of challenging and exhilarating bosses. From the seemingly unstoppable Ra’s Al Ghul to the tactically fascinating too-and-fro with Mr Freeze, the game repeatedly moved the goalposts on Bruce Wayne to make its boss battles the stuff of legend. Up until the last one, that is.
As the game enters its final chapter, we find The Dark Knight fighting and sneaking his way up Wonder Tower in a race against time to stop Hugo Strange from committing what amounts to genocide. The battle is epic, and the consequences dire, but with our hero emerging victorious the game has the perfect moment to bring the story to a close. Instead, it chooses to bundle you back into the city for one final showdown with The Joker. Unnecessary you think, but benefit of the doubt is given on account of this being Batman’s ultimate adversary.
The stakes? He’s after a cure for his illness, which seems pitifully inconsequential given what you’ve just managed to avert atop Wonder Tower. A decent battle could have salvaged things, but the Joker opts out of this one and you’re forced to use a repetitive dodge and roll strategy against, of all people, Clayface. Arkham City had all the makings of truly wonderful sandbox, but after building up the gameplay and the drama with every new boss fight, it’s so badly missing both in the final conflict that you wonder why you bothered at all.
8. Shao Khan – Mortal Kombat
If you’re a few years either side of 30, you’ll likely reserve a special place in your heart for Mortal Kombat. Usually only playable by having to sneak into the unattended bedroom of someone’s older siblings, MK offered a thrilling mix of blood, gore, violence, and puns. More squeamish children being known to literally running screaming out the door whenever a flukey button-mash triggered the infamous Sub Zero Spine Rip. The single player game was fast and intuitive, and like all beat-em-ups you were able to defeat most enemies with a little practice.
But then of course there was your final opponent, Shao Khan, who was tougher than a Wetherspoons’ steak. Every swing of his ridiculous limbs would deprive you of about a quarter of your health and, seemingly for a laugh, he’d pull a giant hammer out of nowhere and tent-peg you into the ground. He was so overpowered that, no matter how well you played the game or how quickly you could make your thumbs move, defeating him was always just beyond your reach.
At first challenging you, then frustrating you, before finally infuriating you to the point of putting your Mega Drive pad down and giving up entirely, the game’s developers have since openly admitted to deliberately making Khan a complete nightmare in order to make players dread facing him in future titles. Although whether they realise how much he ruined this game remains a mystery.
7. Nashandra – Dark Souls II
If there’s one lasting memory that every gamer has from playing Dark Souls II, it’s the sheer relentlessness of the enemies it throws at you. Giants, the undead, some seriously irritable knights, and those !*$% Ruin Sentinels that will likely have removed years from the end of your natural life Finally though, after all that, you find yourself in the presence of Nashandra, the Queen Regent of Drangleic, who’s basically a giant floating pile of bones with a scythe the size of a small car.
Pretty imposing and a fair bit horrifying, as you approach her the nerves begin to creep down your arms, a drop of sweat appears on your brow, and you steel yourself for what’s to come. Three or four swings later though, that’s it. If you’ve put enough points into your Intelligence or your Faith to actually deal serious damage from range then this fight is over in, honestly, less than a few minutes. You’d be forgiven for expecting her to rise up in a more terrifying form and go again, but no that’s it, all over, thanks for playing.
After everything the game throws at you the big payoff is a few minutes in the presence of an underwhelming pile of bones followed by the option to start from the beginning again. Dark Souls could still be being talked about now as one of the most testing games of last year, but instead the ending – about as meaty as Nashandra herself – wholly cheapens it as a challenge.
5. 343 Guilty Spark – Halo 3
As first-person shooters go, Halo 3 offers you some of the biggest, baddest, and downright enjoyable enemies to blast your way through. From en masse cannon fodder of the Grunts, right up to bruising might of the Brutes, via the downright creepy spores, the game forces you to adapt your combat techniques and master a variety of weapons to survive.
With the finish line in sight though, the plot twists somewhat and your irritating robotic sidekick takes a turn for the murderous after realising that your plan involves the inadvertent destruction of his precious facility. 343 Guilty Spark is, at best, some comic relief for most of the plot, and coincidentally his offering as a final adversary is equally laughable. You can either pick up the unlimited ammunition Spartan Laser that’s kicking about and blow him up in a handful of shots, or take him out with any other weapon by simply strafing left and right for a bit.
Despite the game demanding so much combat skill and knowledge of the tools available, this final fight gives you the biggest gun possible and reduces your tactics to two dimensions. It would have been insulting to offer this up as a first fight to let you get accustomed to the controls, but its choice as a climax is as baffling as it is at odds with the entire spirit of the game.
4. Alec Trevelyan – Goldeneye
There was a time when criticising the N64’s seminal shooter (let’s face it, probably the best multiplayer game ever created) was punishable by some sort of cruel torture, but so deflating was the end of the story mode that it can’t be overlooked for this list. In the film, the final scene between walking Tinder super-spy James Bond and the devious double-crossing Alec Trevelyan, ends with a gladiatorial fist fight and them hanging from the top of a great big satellite dish.
Whilst nobody was expecting the game to recreate this, the pitiful showdown on offer was one that not only spat in the face of the story line, but was unbearably tedious as well. Bond’s greatest foe basically just runs away from you for ages while a load of henchmen block you off long enough for him to make a load of quips about his bravery from behind a wall. After all that bother Bond’s gone through to get here, his reward is a massive game of tag.
Whilst this mercifully didn’t ruin the multiplayer experience, it makes the game a total waste of time to play if your mates aren’t over, and you have to ask why Rare would create arguably the greatest shooter of all time, only to decide that players would want to just run around for a bit at its climax.
3. Imran Zakhaev – Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Without getting into the intricacies of cinematic drama, ending a mile-a-minute war zone epic with a slow motion pistol pull, behind the back of your alleged bad guy, is neither clever not engaging. The fourth instalment of the Call of Duty franchise and the first in the Modern Warfare series, COD 4 gave birth to a new era of online multiplayer gaming and allowed 11 year-olds the world over to call people horrible names without fear of retribution.
Taking you from unnamed Soviet romanticists to a “small-but-oil-rich” Middle Eastern country, the plot is absolutely ridiculous but just about keeps you with it. That is until the end, when a firefight on a tactically vital bridge finds the player dazed, stunned and on his back. The game’s main adversary, who manages to have a name that could be Arabian or Eastern European depending on who the flavour-of-the-month villain for American audiences is, Imran Zakhaev bears down on your for the kill before an explosion behind him diverts his attention. In actual slow-motion, you’re slid a gun and afforded a few seconds to pull the trigger on him. Saving the day for freedom and justice by shooting a man in a trench coat in the back. Is that it?
The game has the player caught in the midst of a nuclear blast at one point, yet makes you bring down the supreme evil with little more than an interactive cutscene. After building up Zakhaev as almost untouchable for most of the game, leaves you with absolutely no satisfaction when you finally manage to get your hands on him.
2. Lambent Brumak – Gears Of War 2
Now largely lampooned for being little more than a load of nightclub bouncers running around between chest-high walls, the original Gears of War heralded a new age of smarter shooters way back in 2006. Set on some planet sometime in the future, you were fighting a devious alien race who were hellbent on doing something or other.
Sorry, the story sort of fades into the background as soon as you realise you can chainsaw enemies up the middle. Anyway, by the time Gears of War 2 arrived, it was one of the most anticipated releases of the year. The plot, or what was there in place of one, stayed largely the same. The same mean-looking aliens were up to something again and your intrepid team of American Football linebackers with gravel for throats were out to stop them, with loads of fun weapons and things that exploded. The final climatic scene sees you attempting to flood the homes of these aliens by forcing an irradiated and mutated 100ft dinosaur thing to explode. On paper, a thrilling and monumental climax.
Except it isn’t. The final boss fight, if you can even call it that, consists of you and your pals circling the beast in a helicopter while your unlimited charge satellite gun wears him down. It doesn’t even attempt to stop you really, just stands there squatting and gurning like it’s attempted some sort of curry challenge. After the monumental struggle the player has had to get the lightmass bomb into position, the addition of this hollow tête-à-tête smacked of a last minute revision designed to make the ending louder and noisier, but in reality just invalidated the entire final act of the game.
1. Yourself – Fallout 3
After you’ve roamed the Capitol Wasteland, fought your way through countless horrors and decided if you’re going for the good karma or the bad karma ending, Fallout 3 gears you up for one final epic battle. The Brotherhood, the guardians of all moral virtue in this apocalyptic reconstruction of America, head to Washington DC to activate Project Purity – thus saving the world.
Supported by a 60ft walking, wise-cracking, laser-wielding robot, the player follows The Brotherhood as they fight their way up to the Jefferson Memorial and into the control room to confront the evil Colonel Autumn. A duel for the ages that’s not only been building up for almost half of the entire story, but depending on how you’ve played the game either represents the ultimate battle of morality or a winner-take-all chance to shape the future. Except the problem with Colonel Autumn is that he’s merely a man.
Fallout 3 takes you across the wastelands of America’s capital and pits you against tribes, armies, 8ft tall super mutants and a psychotic supercomputer – the good Colonel is merely some bloke armed with a pistol, and only a polo neck and a parka coat to protect him. Two well placed shots later and the whole thing comes to a quick, anticlimactic end. That’s because the greatest adversary in Fallout 3 is actually… you.
With time ticking away and no other course of action available, the final task in the game’s story is to activate the water purifier that’s now located in an impossibly irradiated area of the facility. Your choice is either to go in there yourself, or send the young Sentinel Lyons in your place. Fallout 3 has you solving virtually every problem with the nozzle of your gun, but game’s entire set-up is, let’s be honest, built around good and bad karma. Bethesda Studios perhaps deserve credit for thinking outside the box and making the last battle one for your own conscience, but in reality all this equalled was every single player slowly putting their pad down and grumbling “was that it?” as the end credits rolled.