One of the most prolific and influential video game series comes to an assumed end next week. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain promises to shed light on Big Boss's transformation from war hero to mythic shadow militia leader. The long and complex story has spanned consoles and generations, each game compelling and effective in their on respects. Taken as a whole, the series' consistent high points have always been the incredibly thorough boss encounters that punctuate the narrative.
Metal Gear bosses are a different breed of crazy. They often challenge players in ways the game proper hasn't before and serve as platforms for to showcase the games stranger antagonists, with the best among them creating a ludonarrative nugget of gaming excellence. These are the best of those. Warning: There will be spoilers.
10. "Jetstream" Samuel Rodrigues
This Brazilian-born swordsman was met with tragedy at a young age and would be pulled into the world of blood and revenge early. Sam saw Raiden as a sort of parallel of one another after their first encounter, and he spent the remainder of their combative relationship attempting to goad Raiden into embracing his inner killing machine. Raiden eventually gives in, and despite their final encounter being a straight-forward slug fest, the emotional resonance was palpable.
9. REX vs. RAY
For the most part, Metal Gear Solid 4's bosses were more homages to boss fights passed than wholly new experiences in and of themselves. What makes the return to Shadow Moses so fufilling then, is how the end of that chapter takes concepts from the past and breathes new and exciting life into them. Up until this point, Metal Gears were bipedal monstrosities who only served as targets for your Nikita missiles. This fight had you at the helm of your very own device of militaristic overabundance, as you finally got to square off with Liquid Ocelot - in his own Metal Gear, of course. The rock-em, sock-em laser fest that ensues is the perfect encapsulation of everything MGS stands for.
8. Vulcan Raven
What made the second coming of Vulcan Raven such a dangerous fight was how completely indomitable he was in open combat. If you didn't stick to cover, he would destroy you without much effort. In a game where you spent most of the time being out-gunned and out-manned, Raven found a way to make you even more vulnerable. By the skin of your teeth - and with a Dollar Menu of explosives - is the only way to take down this juggernaut of both body and spirit.
7. Metal Gear RAYs
What's worse than one Metal Gear? Many Metal Gears. There's already a great deal of pressure when if comes to fighting the newer, more agile, amphibious Metal Gear RAY, who moves faster and is more accurate than its dense and stocky counterpart. When they attack in a seemingly endless string, the stress turns into nervous break down. Say what your want about pre-bionic Raiden, but he earned his keep in this fight.
6. The Sorrow
Metal Gear Solid has a habit of tip toeing the line between supernatural and practical, but almost always finds a way to be explained away in some Kojimafied version of practical science. The Sorrow is made more egregiously out of place because of the fact that it stands alone as the only piece of paranormality that is never explained away. He is the ghost of The Boss's lover and comrade, who haunts Snake in a pivotal moment in Snake Eater. Your trudge yourself down a river towards him, passing the bodies of every guard and boss you've killed throughout the game so far, only to realize he is incorporeal and can't be killed. When you finally succumb to the death, you reawaken to live this Sisyphean nightmare until you finally fake your own death.
5. Liquid Ocelot
When Liquid drags you to the top of Outer Haven at the end of Guns of the Patriots, you two are finally given the appropriate space to settle your differences. It's a long battle of CQC prowess and can be frustrating on harder difficulties, as one false move can end it, and there checkpoints are not very kind. That said, this is the epitome of "final battle." Not only does it end MSG 4's story with an emotional bang, but it drags us through the then 20 years of Metal Gear history, with musical and visual cues from games past.
4. Gray Fox
As with many of the bosses in Twin Snakes, Gray Fox took players out of their element in ways that were unfamiliar to them. As Snake's close combat superior, he made your fight against him even harder by deflecting your bullets and cloaking intermittently. From the shadows, he would taunt you, suggesting your relationship with him is more than meets the eye. Even you finally beat him, Frank Jaeger leaves more questions than answers.
3. The Boss
The Boss, aka The Mother of American Special Forces, is a complicated woman who is difficult to fully explain in just a few short sentences. Her relationship with Snake is the strongest relationship both soldiers have, which makes their final encounter with each other that much more achingly tragic. At the beautiful, black, beating heart of Snake Eater is story about loyalty and destiny, and how often those themes contradict each other, turning noble people into callous weapons. The Boss tests everything the player has learned about playing the game, be it effective use of camo, or proper CQC etiquette. Finally beating her and disarming her time bomb means not only have to just finished the game, but you've mastered all of its nuances.
2. Psycho Mantis
When people talk about creative boss fights, they almost certainly mention Snake's encounter with Russian psychic Psycho Mantis. He's the most prominent example of Kojima's penchant for breaking the fourth wall, as Mantis could "see the future" by predicting their movements via inputs on their controllers. He could also "read players minds" by reading off other Konami games saved on their memory cards. There probably isn't a bigger mind blow in 1998 than a character from a game assuming (correctly) that you like Suikoden.
1. The End
In a game with a history of high intensity sniper fights, it really doesn't get any better than The End. In a battlefield that was three different screens, the Cobra Unit's chief assassin could strike you from any of them. He moved unpredictably from perch to perch, or he could lay in wait patiently for seemingly endless amounts of time. So endless, that you could assume he stopped perusing you altogether. This fight could potentially go so long that you'd have to save in the middle of it and come back later. And that's when things get funny.
Remember, The End is over 100 years old, and was in a catatonic state up until he was tasked with killing Snake. He only has so much time left to live, and if you take too long, he can actually just die of old age. Saving and reloading forces this condition, in which Revolver Ocelot swoops into the scene with his troops to settle the score.
Who's your favorite Metal Gear boss? Leave them in the comments or tweet us @CurseGamepedia.