The Best Metal Gear Solid Boss Battles

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The Best <i>Metal Gear Solid</i> Boss Battles

Before Dark Souls came around, Metal Gear Solid was the series that had folks eagerly anticipating boss battles every time a new game was announced. Solid’s gallery of rouges run the gauntlet from tragic to just plain weird in a way that’s made the majority of them memorable and perhaps a little endearing—even if they did make us throw our controllers at the wall a few times.

Here are the 10 best boss battles from Metal Gear Solid.

10. Vulcan Raven

Metal Gear Solid

The first time you meet Raven he has a tank and you don’t. The second time you’re locked in a giant freezer with him hunting you down, a ridiculous minigun strapped to his chest, which is somehow so much worse. Instead of making this a shoot-a-thon, it’s actually an exhilarating game of hide and seek. The only way to survive is to sneak around the containers and use guided missiles to slap the behemoth in the back a few times. Manage to get to the other side of this in one peace and you’re treated to a cutscene of Vulcan being devoured by his own flock of pet birds (ew).

9. Fat Man

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Fat Man is a suicidal, giggling maniac who will kill countless people if you’re not fast enough to take him down while defusing his bombs. You run around the arena, tracking him as he plants his bombs on various containers. When he stops to have a good chuckle or put down one of his explosives, you should let him have it, unloading your pistol into him so he falls over, exposing a shiny bald head for you to shoot. It’s not uncommon for Metal Gear Solid to have you juggling multiple concerns in a fight, like hiding EVA from soldiers near the end of Snake Eater, creating stressful situations where your ability to quickly prioritize and make sound judgments is tested, and the Fat Man fight is the peak of that particular design in the whole series.

8. Metal Gear Rex

Metal Gear Solid

The penultimate battle of the first Metal Gear Solid pitted you against a giant, bipedal machine capable of launching nukes. A multi-stage fight that had you bringing various bits of Rex’s equipment offline so you could even the odds, this is probably the ultimate David vs Goliath style fight in videogames (with the exception of Shadow of the Colossus, of course).

7. Harrier Jet

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Not content with just having you fight a tank, Kojima and company decided that having you take on a jet would make for an engaging encounter. Well, they weren’t wrong. Fighting the jet while running across a burning platform is one of the tensest, most difficult battles in the entire series. Luckily pals Pliskin and Otacon are kind enough to shower you with ammo and rations, so you’re not completely outgunned here, but it’s still a challenge that you’ll probably have to try a few times before you get it right.

6. The End

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The End is like your grandpa if your grandpa had a penchant for parrots and shooting people. He’s old, kind of doddering, and falls asleep so much so that you can actually sneak up on him and kill him before the boss fight ever takes place, thus eliminating any need to fight him in the first place! However, to do that would be kind of dickish and it would rob you of one of the best sections of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with you sneaking around in the forest hoping to get the drop on the greatest sniper in the world. Do the right thing: let the old dude nap, kill him later.

5. Metal Gear Rex vs Metal Gear Ray

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Metal Gear Solid 4 is a solid enough quasi-conclusion to the series but it lacks the fresh, interesting boss fights of previous games, choosing to focus on several characters who were basically reissues of Metal Gear Solid’s most famous boss battles, until near the end of the game where we got two fantastic fights. The first was pure fanservice, finally allowing players to pilot a Metal Gear suit in a fight against another metal gear. Half-Godzilla, half-Gundam, this bout was one of the zaniest in a series packed with goofy encounters.

4. Revolver Ocelot/Liquid Snake

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

The second great fight in Metal Gear Solid 4 was the last one, where Snake finally got the chance to engage in fisticuffs against his longtime nemesis, Liquid Snake Living Inside Revolver Ocelot’s Arm But Maybe Not Really Who Knows At This Point Just Roll With It Y’all. This fight served as a callback to the first game by having you fight Liquid in the same manner that you did in the first game, mano a mano to the death. The camera jumps around a lot, capturing just how brutal the combat is as these two men beat the life out of each other. There’s just such finality and exhaustion, it’s the perfect fight on which to end Solid Snake’s story.

3. The Sorrow

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

In Snake Eater, The Sorrow is a specter that forces you to confront all the people you’ve killed through the game by making you trudge down a river they inhabit. It’s a ghastly sequence, with slit-throated ghosts stumbling toward you, confused and angry about what you’ve done to them. It’s not a particularly hard fight since all you have to do is sidestep each spirit, but as far as Kojima’s showy boss fights go this one is one of the best, only outdone by the original gimmick battle….

2. Psycho Mantis

Metal Gear Solid

I remember the first time I heard about Metal Gear Solid. My friend Jim, the only one in our group who owned a PlayStation, was telling us about the game at lunch. “There’s this one fight where the dude reads your memory card and tells you what you’ve played!” It was a simple thing, really, an infusion of technological wizardry and metahumor but goddamn, if hearing about it didn’t make me want to rush out to the store and con my parents into buying the game right then.

The Pyscho Mantis encounter is basically a distillation of everything that works in Metal Gear Solid. A boss fight that requires the player to use their brains, with the game forcing you to plug your controller into the other port so Mantis can’t read your movements, this duel of wits is equal parts zany humor and unexpectedly poignant tragedy, capturing just how masterful these games are at catching us off guard.

1. The Boss

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The Psycho Mantis battle may be peak Metal Gear Solid but the final encounter that Naked Snake has with his mentor, The Boss, in Snake Eater lives beyond the confines of the series itself, capturing the imagination of even those who don’t generally care for Metal Gear. A poetic high noon showdown within a circle of flowers, it’s not the fists or the bullets that hurt, but Snake and The Boss’ heated exchange of words about the nature of humanity, patriotism, betrayal and their own tragic relationship. This final battle, and everything that follows it, is a fitting, emotionally charged end for one of the most satisfying stories ever spun in a game.

Javy Gwaltney devotes his time to writing about these videogame things when he isn’t teaching or cobbling together a novel. You can follow the trail of pizza crumbs to his Twitter or his website.