Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I (heart) Great Design: Best Boss Fight of 2011

Disclaimer: possible (minor) Batman: Arkham City spoilers below

Last year was a great year for games. One of the best in recent memory, in fact. In this edition of I (heart) Great Design, I would like to write about one of my highlights from 2011: The Mr. Freeze boss fight from Batman: Arkham City.

The fight against Mr. Freeze is one of the standout moments in this absolutely stellar game. It's a sneaky, cat-and-mouse, head-to-head showdown that requires the use of almost every skill that you've learned and mastered up to that point in the game. As Batman, you have to sneak around Mr. Freeze's lab and continuously find new ways to take him by surprise. And you can use each tactic only once, because Mr. Freeze adapts his own strategies to protect himself against your attacks.

When the fight begins, Batman gets a rundown on Mr. Freeze's suit uploaded to him from his trusty Bat-computer. You get information on Mr. Freeze's twelve weaknesses. For example, because of the domed helmet that Freeze wears, he has a complete lack of peripheral vision. This allows you to easily sneak up behind him and land an unexpected blow. However, upon being hit from behind, Mr. Freeze activates a counter-measure that fires a stream of ice continuously out of the rear of his suit, so he can longer be attacked from behind.

Now you have to find another one of Freeze's weaknesses to exploit.

The whole sequence is a welcome change from the traditional boss fight (strike, strike, dodge. Dodge, strike, dodge. Honk, honk, brake!). It requires strategic planning and effective use of a wide arsenal of abilities. You even have to find clever uses for the bat-gadgets you've obtained up until that point.

This was a great segment of gaming goodness that was possible thanks to some great design.

Also, since it's Valentine's Day: a reminder to anyone playing Batman: Arkham City, don't forget to visit Calendar Man today!


  1. Nice article but you spelled "Ornstein and Smough" wrong.

    1. What an odd thing to say...

      I will acknowledge that Dark Souls, overall, has the best boss fights (there's just so many great ones), but this little slice of Arkham City deserved some special attention, in my opinion.