You’re Not The Boss Of Me!

Finally, I’ve done it. I’ve waded through horde upon horde of grunts, fended off Tickers, Brutes and Boomers, even ridden a Brumak into the very heart of the Locust hive. Now comes the showdown, the last stand, the battle that all prior confrontations have been steering me towards. The beast before me is vast, mutated and enraged. Its freshly grown tentacles thrash the emulsion that brought them forth; its mouth is contorted in a shriek of agonized rage. It wants blood. My blood.

There is no way back now. Circling in the COG chopper, I dig in my heels, steady my nerves and prepare for the fight of my life.

Zap. Thud. Roll credits.

First off, I think it’s fair I make something clear: I love Gears Of War. It looks fantastic, it sounds awesome and, most importantly, it plays like a dream (albeit a rather scary dream about freaky-looking heads on legs that scuttle towards you at speed and then explode in your face). The combat mechanics are pure, brutal satisfaction, gunplay is a kinetic thrill and the difficulty curve is approachable but rewarding. There is a noticeable upping-of-the-ante throughout: grander environments, bigger guns and badder (!) bad-guys. So why, in the name of Shiva, Ifrit and Ramuh (yes, that’s right, I totally went there) does the final boss have to be such a catastrophic letdown?

I’ve always considered the process of playing through any game as the building of a skill base; the game teaches you to run, gun, drive, dodge, jump a frog across a road (or whatever weird sub-genre you’ve chosen to wallow in) then challenges you to put these skills into practice. As the game progresses the difficulty increases accordingly, via super-tough enemies, geographically implausible racetracks or Tetris blocks raining down from the sky like jet-propelled hailstones. Thus, once you’re toe-to-toe with that final boss (or trying to steal first place from that WipEout pilot who has blatantly been schooled in the Jedi arts) the abilities you have been feverishly honing for 10-plus hours are stretched to the limit. And when you emerge victorious the rapture is divine, because damn-it, you EARNED it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt short-changed when that toxic Brumak fell after a couple of measly laser blasts. What about the dying moments of Assassin’s Creed, when Al Mualim and his useless clones were picked off one terminal stab at a time? Or even (and I’m treading on hallowed ground here) Halo and Halo 3, when your gun-toting prowess is thrown out the window in favour of one last buggy ride? I realize that plot has to be considered, that there is a reason why Marcus Fenix is using the biggest weapon at his disposal to eliminate his enemy quickly and efficiently. But plotting should never come at the expense of gameplay. I want a warm glow, a deep sense of satisfaction when the pixilated dust settles and I lay my sweat-soaked joypad to rest. Instead, these experiences leave me feeling like a dark chocolate Easter egg: bitter and hollow.

Come on Bowser, show ‘em how it’s done.






9 responses to “You’re Not The Boss Of Me!”

  1. Alex avatar

    You brought up the big one… Assassins Creed. Argh! I think it must now be nearly a year since I completed that and I’m STILL p****d about the ending. BAD FORM.
    I know how you feel though, i remember getting to the end of Doom 3 only to be hideously disappointed. I love a good hard boss fight, one I can get stuck on at least 5 or 6 times.
    The irony of it is, the only last level I’ve been well and truly stuck on to the point I can’t do anything more; is the last level on Simpsons Hit and Run. How is that fair??

  2. Laura avatar

    Trying to defeat Raam in GOW very nearly made me cry! When his head finally popped I got one of the biggest gamegasms of my life!

    Stoopid weak Brumak!

    I do like the Halo buggy ending though. I’d better go and confess that in the “What’s your biggest gaming shame?” thread.

  3. Michael avatar

    I also liked the first Halo ending – it was different because it wasn’t a boss. Refreshing change; shame about facing off against an ape-bear with a hammer in H2 and rehashing the original in the third instalment.

    “Trying to defeat Raam in GOW very nearly made me cry! When his head finally popped I got one of the biggest gamegasms of my life!”

    Steady on, luv! Jeez…

  4. Tony avatar

    Gears 2 had the most disappointing finale ever.

    I’m so glad someone else has written about this. It was less a test of skill and more a test of “Can you hold down the trigger button for 20 seconds?”. I’m not even sure it was possible to miss the bloody thing.

  5.  avatar

    You can add Fable II to your list of end game non-bosses aswell

  6.  avatar

    ^^ Barry

  7. MrCuddleswick avatar

    Well…I think in fairness that if you’re looking at the mutated Brumak as not being enough of a challenge then you’re forgetting that you already had a nasty, difficult end-boss at the end of Act 4, and Act 5 is really just a bonus.

    They chose to end the game in a different way to normal, and that doesn’t bother me. If the rest of the game wasn’t challenging then it would be a problem, but (on Insane and maybe Hardcore) the rest of the game is pretty challenging so I don’t mind the break from the norm at the end.

  8. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    I was a little underwhelmed by the Brumak especially in comparison to Raam and even the previous bosses I’d fought in Gears 2

    Maybe this new campaign DLC there’s been talk of will offer more of a challenge.

  9. Power Up avatar
    Power Up

    Anomynous is right. The Gears 2 final Brumak was a little too easy to beat but the biggest anti-climax to any game I can think of in recent history has to be Fable 2. So you finally come against the man that killed your sister, left you for dead and the reason you were in that Spire all that time torturing your fellow man and what kind of boss fight do you get? None-whatsoever! He just stood there and one bullet sent him into the section of hell reserved for poor villains.

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