4. The Boss (MGS3)
When you think about it, Metal Gear Solid 3 is really about three things: camouflage, CQC, and great boss fights, all of which come into play during Snake Eater’s final epic battle. Voyevoda is arguably the best soldier in the Metal Gear Solid universe, and she proves herself not only as the ultimate adversary, but also the greatest teacher to ever step on the battlefield. All of that is on show in Snake’s poignant final battle with her at the conclusion of Snake Eater.
The Boss is Naked Snake’s mentor, teaching him everything about the battlefield, love, and betrayal. Despite her seemingly selling out America, she’s not out to kill Snake but rather to test him. Her final fight with him puts all those skills to the test, including the CQC attacks that she invented. Defeating her is bittersweet, but destined to happen as the student must defeat the master. But if beating The Boss is such a great victory, why are we still crying at her grave alongside the man who became Big Boss? This is a great boss fight that sticks with you long after it’s over.
3. Liquid Ocelot (MGS4)
Who’d have thought seeing two old men beating the shit out of each other would rank so high? When it’s a beatdown you’ve been waiting years to see, a bloody battering like this one is just what the doctor ordered (note: most doctors disapprove of senior citizen brawls). After avoiding death, affixing Liquid Snake’s arm to his body, building his own army, and generally being a dick in every Metal Gear Solid game, Ocelot finally gets what’s coming to him in Guns of the Patriots’ finale.
As music and HUDs pop up to remind you of the previous Metal Gear Solid games, Solid Snake and Liquid Ocelot throwdown in a 3D sortie worthy of Virtua Fighter or Tekken. It’s a long, drawn out fight with particularly good combos and some extra-cinematic jaw-rattlings. You’ll find yourself shouting “Stay down!” as the two wobbly fighters keep dishing out punishment minute after minute, but when it’s all over, you know Ocelot isn’t walking away alive. It ain’t pretty, but it’s still a fitting conclusion.
2. The End (MGS3)
Sniper Wolf certainly has a compelling story, but the prize for Metal Gear Solid’s greatest sniper was never in question. Even though he’s over 100 years old, The End is one of the toughest challenges you’ll face in any MGS title, mainly because he’s just so darn crafty at avoiding you. While you wander the battlefield with nary a clue, he plugs away from afar with tranquilizer after tranquilizer, just toying with you until you can finally find where the old bastard is dug in.
This boss fight is Snake Eater’s best use of the massive jungle, spanning three different zones where Snake is constantly being hunted by the greatest shooter there ever was. Nearly every tool at Snake’s disposal can be used to track The End, whether you use a directional mic to hear his breathing, flip on the UV goggles to find his heat signature, or just watch the screen like a Magic Eye poster hoping to the faintest of movement or scope reflection. Speaking of variety, there’s also many different ways this fight can be completely avoided. Not only can you take out The End early at a warehouse (though the game doesn’t alert you to this fact), you can also simply leave your system alone for a week (or futz with your system’s clock). As the internal clock ticks away, The End will finally succumb to old age. It’s not the most honorable win, but for a fight this challenging, it’s worth cheating sometimes.
1. Psycho Mantis (MGS)
For how great just about every Metal Gear Solid boss fight is, this is the first one to break through and show you the real possibilities of a battle in a series as post-modern as this one. Psycho Mantis isn’t just a floating creep; he’s a fourth-wall-breaking baddie who not only fucks with Snake’s head, but the player’s psyche as well. The memories of this battle haunted Snake all the way up to Metal Gear Solid 4, but it’s stuck with us even longer.
Not only does Mantis read your memory card to see how often you’ve saved, he also can identify if you’ve played any other Konami games of the mid-to-late 90s. If that wasn’t crazy enough, he later reaches through the screen and grabs ahold of your controller to show you his power (provided you own a Dualshock). When you finally figure out how to beat him, you realize that the rules for battle in the Metal Gear Solid series are anything but traditional. Psycho Mantis is a boss battle at its most unpredictable and interactive, showing the developers’ incredible creativity at every turn.
So, how’d we do? Think we’re totally off base? Or did we get it all right? Tell us all in the comments, why don’t ya?