This is it. This is the moment that you’ve fought and sacrificed and trained an entire game for. This last and final battle against an entity that has hounded you since the beginning of your quest. An entity that has given you the reason, the motivation, the purpose to finally mete out a justice long overdue. For stymieing whatever progress you’ve attempted to make, for mocking and intimidating your gains in some vain attempt to whittle away your resolve, to break your will and question your path.
This is a person that has haunted your dreams, torturing you mentally, torturing you physically in a way, prior to this final fight. They may have taken away loved ones, mentors, homelands. They may very well be the ones you, in a previous life, once called friend, ally, lover. But because of ambition, greed, a lust for power; these have lead them down a much darker path than your own. And while many of them are unquestionably evil, there are some that we can almost understand, almost emphasize with in a way. As Ender Wiggin once said, “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment… I also love him.”
And when they’re done well, they leave behind that lasting indelible mark of a personal foil perfectly pitched against your stalwart hero. Their defeat is cathartic; a release of victorious blood to your brain, this maddening rush of glorious triumph, that you cannot help but pump a fist in victory and finally sit back in your seat, relieved that their reign of terror is finally over. But when they’re done haphazardly, well, they can essentially break personal immersion, ruin a storyline you’ve culled and cut to your own desire, and sour the entire essence of a game’s narrative coherency you may have once enjoyed prior to this final meeting.
Below are ten of the most recognized bosses in recent gaming that have, for better or worst, shaped gaming experiences world wide. Bosses that have either left players pumping their fists in victory….
…..or shaking them in outrage.
1. Vaas Montenegro – Far Cry 3
“Did I ever tell you what….. the definition of…. insanity is?”
His voice is calm, assured, pleasant almost in its delivery. But you know, just under this facade of self control, is a madman who would just as casually rip your own throat out as he would to joke about the fact that he killed your brother. Surviving his gauntlet of death to fight another day, he was always in the back of your thoughts. A henchman who far surpassed in delivery the master he ultimately served within the game’s storyline, Vaas was the perfect shadow to your protagonist, hounding your every move, dancing mentally in your mind until the moment came when you meet each other one final time. And while his end is questionable, his impact on your character is, without a doubt, unquestionably and brilliantly executed.
2. The Joker – Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, Arkham Origins
“Am I getting to you? Am I? Good.”
One of Batman’s most notorious arch-enemies throughout his crime-fighting career, this irredeemable psychotic is responsible for some of the most tragic moments in Batman’s life. The paralyzing gunshot to Barbara Gordon, ending her career as Batgirl. The savage beating of his second progeny, the Jason Todd Robin. The senseless murder of Jim Gordon’s second wife Sarah during the events of the comic book storyline, No Man’s Land. Though he possesses no super powers of his own, his chaotic and unpredictable intellect surpasses whatever physical limitation he may have over his more martial-minded equal. During the course of both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, The Joker’s attempts at breaking Batman of his staunch moral code is the only thing that drives this maniac forward, to finally send Batman over the edge and mirror the madness that seeps from every pore of this Clown Prince of Crime.