Top 7 Metal Gear Boss Fights

metal-gear-solid-bosses-laser-time

Metal Gear Solid has cast a psychic, an elderly sniper, and a roller-blading mad bomber as bosses, but which was the most entertaining and deadly? Let’s find out…

While some may scoff at the sheer amount cutscenes, nanomachines, twist endings, and in-jokes in the Metal Gear Solid series, the franchise deserves respect for how much freaking work the developers put into the many bosses Snake takes on. Even when the scripts get convoluted, the gameplay is focused on crafting unique, multifaceted, and clever boss fights that challenge gamers just as much as they entertain. If that’s MGS’ only legacy, it’d be a worthy one, because the bosses in Metal Gear are some of the best in gaming history.

But how do you determine the best of the best? After careful consideration, replays, and excluding every MGS spin-off (sorry Senator Armstrong, maybe next time) we came up with our seven favorites. Also, this was written before we at Laser Time completed The Phantom Pain, so we might revisit this list when Metal Gear Solid 6 comes out in 2022. But until then, these are the most impressive, challenging, and memorable big bads we’ve met in Metal Gear Solid.

7. Fatman (MGS2)

Fatman

Most of Metal Gear Solid 2’s boss fights haven’t aged all that well. After the original Metal Gear Solid changed how we think about boss fights, slowly sniping at Vamp and shooting a hairy Russian in the stomach just couldn’t compare. But Fatman is a killer of a different color – the color of a chunky rollerblader who moves much faster than you expect.

Named after an atomic bomb, you find Fatman on Big Shell arming bombs on the abandoned tanker. Stopping him takes tons of concentration and multitasking, as you have to disarm bombs, avoid his attacks, and shoot him in the gut while timers ticks down. While much of Sons of Liberty depends on long conversations, Fatman’s battle is a great break from the monotony with one of the series’ most chaotic battles; thus it earns it a place in our hearts and on this list.

6. Vulcan Raven (MGS)

MGS Vulcan

This Native American behemoth is scarier than an elevator full of invisible ninjas thanks to his imposing figure and an even more imposing chaingun. Vulcan Raven is the biggest enemy in the iconic squad taking down Shadow Moses, and aside from his leader, he’s also probably the toughest. Whether in a tank or stalking you through a warehouse, Vulcan is a scary dude.

In your final encounter with Raven, the surprisingly speedy brute is hot on your heels at every turn, and he’s a real challenge after all the stealth skills you’ve scored throughout the game. Sneaking around is your only hope here, as his ever-present chaingun will tear you to shreds, making for an intense battle in addition to a well-earned victory when you finally knock him down. Raven even proves himself to be an honorable loser, giving up his keycard and some wisdom after Snake emerges victorious

5. Metal Gear REX (MGS)

TEX

Until Phantom Pain shows us otherwise, this is the best battle against the eponymous Metal Gear war machines. Yes, later ones are far more technologically advanced, and REX is downright immobile compared to the bipeds of Metal Gear Solid 4, but it’s tough to argue against the very first 3D incarnation of a Metal Gear. The drama, gravitas, and sacrifice at each stage of the REX battle makes it such a powerful fight.

The fight starts so hopelessly, with this impervious behemoth launching seemingly endless missles barrages at one small espionage expert. With Snake’s heaviest firepower barely leaving a scratch, the mysterious Gray Fox had to make a great sacrifice to blast open the cockpit and bring Liquid out of hiding. It took Metal Gear Solid’s biggest badass getting squished like a bug to even score a slight chance at defeating REX, but the stature of this bot made it seem worthwhile. It’s unlike anything else in the game, and after defeating normal-sized (but still insane) baddies, taking down a huge mecha is a real treat.

Crazy psychics and Solid Snake’s most frequent nemesis await on the next page!

12 thoughts on “Top 7 Metal Gear Boss Fights

  1. I always take issue with Psycho Mantis being at the top of these lists, because while it was impressive in 1998, there’s no real way to experience the fight properly anymore. In order to get the full, intended experience you need to play on a PS1 with a CRT television and no knowledge going into it, which is impossible at this point. Personally, I place Big Boss being melted with a spray can and a lighter as the best fight of the series.

  2. No surprise for Psycho Mantis being number 1, but I personally prefer the challenge of The End and the emotional stakes of The Boss. The End took me three hours to beat in an afternoon, simply just trying to find him and having to pull the trigger at the end of The Boss’s fight was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a game. Can we agree that MGS3 is the best game of the series?

    1. Yep, I agree. I’ve only played the Gamecube remake, but I found Psycho Mantis underwhelming. MGS3 is a masterpiece all the way through, and one of my favorite games ever.

  3. Psycho Mantis is an interesting boss fight but it holds no place in my heart as I only started the Metal Gear series a little over a year ago. I was spoiled on the tricks and weirdness and was left with a pretty lame fight.
    The Boss, on the other hand, has so much more going for it with the stakes, emotional attachment to the characters, the culmination of the entire game and that AWESOME music.

  4. Awesome Top 7.

    I’ve never played an MGS game, but after the crazy Phantom Pain reviews I downloaded Ground Zeroes and played through that before 5. Luckily I found a few YouTube videos that summarized the story up until that point, but MAN there’s a shitload of backstory. Really interesting style and world Kojima has built.

    On a separate note: any chance of you guys doing TDAR-style coverage of the weekly top sevens in your Bonus Time episodes? That would be a cool incentive for would-be patrons as well as a trowback for longtime fans. I always enjoyed you guys vocalizing your thoughts on each entry and revealing you you ended up with the order.

  5. I only played the first Metal Gear Solid and Ground Zeroes so for TPP I’m looking through plot summaries for context as I do not have the patience or time to replay every game… that said I wouldn’t mind playing the others at some point in the future if only to experience some of these unconventional gameplay approaches.

  6. Psycho Mantis as the number one boss is as certain as death and taxes! But I can’t blame anyone for it, it is a pretty amazing battle. What I especially like is that it takes place in a well-furnished office, of all things. Fights in places not really meant for fighting just amuse me for some reason, and it’s why I also really like the Ninja fight in MGS1. It may not have made the list, but having to rely on melee combat while your former comrade exclaims his masochistic tendencies is memorable enough. Taking place in a computer lab makes it even more fascinating somehow.

    Also, maybe this question deserves a separate thread, but what’s anyone’s least favorite fight from the series? I’m saying Vamp from MGS4, out of the ones I remember. That was… messy. It was also followed by one of the worst scenes in the series, and that’s all I’m sayin’.

  7. while all of these bosses are most memorable in their own right what isnt sadly the most remembered is the toughest boss of all metal gear history, i call him the ladder boss from mgs 3. you climb and you climb and keep on climbing, you never know when you are at the top you never realize how long that ladder really is! the ladder boss can drive one insane from not knowing how long you have been on it, days? months? nobody ever talks about the ladder boss.

  8. Great list and the MGS series probably has the best boss battles in all of video games. I always like the simplicity of The Sorrow in MGS 3 and how the way you played the game influenced what happened in the battle.

  9. Nothing is more memorable than Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake’s boss known as Running Man, who is just a man who runs. That’s it. That’s his gimmick.

  10. I never played Snake Eater, just watched one of my best friends play every second of the game. The End was one of the most entertaining portions of that game. I would rank him number one over Psycho Mantis, a fight I actually played.

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