I'm wondering whether or not Yahtzee has played Geneforge at any point (yay fanboy post). I never played the full versions of any of those games for various reasons, but they make a point of letting the player invest in whatever skills they like.
For example in Geneforge 2, there's a section whereby you've got to go into a some infested mines and rescue a bunch of Serviles (depressed slave things); you can choose to charge in there, sword drawn, and slaughter everything that comes at you; you can create a bunch of monsters that'll fight your battles for you; you can bully the "overmind" or whatever it was called into turning the mine's automated defences back on; you can use your skills in mechanics to turn the automated defences back on yourself, and this all just from one section. These sorts of scenarios exist in most every part of the game I had access to.
Even once you'd found the Serviles, you could either take them out and tell their owner that they're an idiot for not looking after them, you could take them out and tell the owner that their Serviles are idiots and should be punished, or you could just kill the lot of them and blame it on the monsters.
Yeah, so that's what I thought after reading the first few paragraphs about why Alpha Protocol was lame; try Geneforge instead
There is one type of boss battle I hate more than the gigantic health bar though; the boss with the inexplicable Achilles' Heel whilst being impervious to all other damage. How I hate thee!
I like a tough boss fight as much as the next guy but I think it should go like this - if I have a rocket launcher it will do damage to the guy no matter what he is made of - if I hit the guy's weak spot it will 'crit hit' and do more damage.
Now there is wiggle room in there but thats the formula that strikes me as being the least far removed from reality, assuming you are happy suspending your disbelief enough to think anything could survive ONE rocket in the face, never mind 10!
Anyway, I never felt as though there's a great big need to have boss fights in games. Well, certain games anyway. Sometimes it's just completely illogical to try and squeeze one in. I haven't played Alpha Protocol, so I can't really comment on that, but I really don't like the idea of a game that essentially punishes you for choosing your own route, especially when said route is not mindless run-and-gun.
When I was still in high school, I enjoyed getting to test my mettle against a boss that was going to force me to outwit him/her in order to defeat them. I enjoyed the challenge of taking on something in the game that was as tough if not tougher than my character. Nowadays, with all the pandering to the "casual" gamer market, boss weaknesses are paper thin and easy to exploit. Aside from playing JRPG's with their typical end game side-bosses that are tougher than the actual final boss (which I never understood), most boss-fights do seem out of place. I enjoy going back and playing old shooter's like Contra 3 and Castlevania IV where the titanic boss's were difficult, but that's mostly nostalgia. So, in short I guess I agree with Yahtzee, unless the "final boss battle" is done in a clever manner than, cool, if not don't waste my time because I'll just find the quickest way to kill it/him/her. A good example of a bad boss fight is the human reaper in Mass Effect 2, Blech!
It always bugged the crap out of me in all the FF games I've played. You travel around the world for hours, just training enough to keep on top of the enemies - then you get to the final boss and realise "I need to spend another 10 hours collecting pieces off all the best weapons in order to beat this guy "
Portal did a great job on the final boss. The entire game really felt like it was training you for that moment, rather than switching modes entirely for some big spectacle shootout.
Yahtzee, have you been reading TVTropes?
Anyway, I agree that a boss fight is at its best when it tries to test ALL the skills the game is teaching you (assuming you have a good number of skills to test).
I'm not even wearing clothes!
Anyway,i don't see any problem with regular boss fights,like the ones in Resident Evil 4 or adventure games.But RPG boss fights are really anoying,especially in the Final Fantasy series.Bosses that tend to have tons of HP (FF 12 had a boss with,no joke,50 million HP) and one-hit kill attacks are just unfair.
After having just played Serious Sam 2nd encounter, I agree as far as your views about the boss having to fit the style of the game go; all you do is shoot, and wow, all three bosses can be killed by holding down the left mouse button and occasionally collecting more ammo. Those are fun bosses!
Now, compare that to Vampires The Masquerade - Bloodlines, and what do you have? I decided to join the Chinese vampires on my first walkthrough as a melee/sneak focused character, and then you have to fight off that giant bat-thing? Hell, talk about unfair...
A more mixed example I can think of would be KotOR 2: Nihilius, walking necrosis, and Treya being the main bosses in the game. While there were some unfair fights, at least two of these bosses were well balanced. Nihilius could be easily defeated with a good party, walking necrosis by using a bit of talking in addition to offense, and Treya, well...she sucked. But 2/3 isn't bad.
I'll agree with you that Boss fights have to make sense with the story, I guess that's why I liked the Metal Gear Games so much, they point a target on the back of the big bosses, and you spend your time going between them, and crossing them off your list. Every one is always different too, some need stealth, some need raw firepower, some a mixture of both. But then again, they always have punch ups at the end based on new gameplay mechanics... So not the same, but I still enjoyed them, it adds variety.