Even among the most positive reviews of Human Revolution, I frequently come across gripes about the boss fights in this game. Granted, I still agree with what most people say about the final boss fight which for me was very stale and anticlimactic. But as far as the fights with Barrett, Federova, and Namir, honestly I didn't see what the big deal was.
I know I'm writing about this issue a bit late as many around here have already commented on it, but I've always just wanted to really articulate my thoughts in defense of these boss fights once and for all. The complaint most people have about these parts of the game as far as I understand it is they feel out of place with the rest of the gameplay and do little to accommodate the player's choices in augmentations. Or in other words, people feel that however you build your character becomes meaningless during the boss fights because the boss fights are straightforward head on 1v1 battles and they do not give you the opportunity to play those moments the way you do the rest of the game.
Only to an extent is this true. And beyond that extent, these moments are not like the rest of the game because they are boss battles. I understand there are some good reasons why the boss fights do feel so out of place, being that this part of the game was outsourced to another company for development, but at no point was I ever really taken aback and feeling like the game had radically shifted gears on me. People have further gone on to say that it wasn't just the gameplay aspect of the boss fights, but the cinematic ones as well. Where if you finished off your enemy in some particular way, the ensuing cinematic didn't really reflect each moment up until that battle's end. I think I understood that criticism correctly but not sure I agreed with that either.
But in regards to just the gameplay aspect of the boss fights, I think they allow adaptability and creativity more than people gave the game credit for. Now, granted, your choices of resolve are far less in the boss fights than in the rest of the game, I get that. I think, however, inadvertently, the game is merely proving to you that despite all your augments you are still potentially as weak as a kitten-just as during other gameplay moments where you can actually take very little gunfire before dying because why would you be able to?
The first boss fight with Barrett probably left people feeling the most displaced I would think. But what other way is there around this feeling? For awhile now before reaching him, you've felt kind of empowered with your augs and you're maybe a little overconfident cause you can overcome any situation without ever having to fire a single shot. Not only are you used to using what augs you have to your advantage, but early on you still really only have very few augs relative to what you achieve later in the game. And obviously no amount of hacking or stealth is going to assist you in this part of the game. If you're lucky, perhaps you've upgraded your dermal armor, maybe you've purchased arm strength and obtained the aim stabilizer.
If you're anything like me you've dumped a lot of Praxis points into hacking which isn't exactly helping here. Unfortunately, however, your augmentations will prove only to be part of your success in this game. With any game where you have a choice of skills, if you dump too many points into a single type of skill, obviously you've become unbalanced and you're vulnerable to particular situations. It's to the game's credit I think that this remains true here. Sure, you can just emphasize on being a hacker or a sneak, but you have to pay the price for it at some point, don't you? You wanna be a Cold Sorceress? Fine. But don't complain too much when you get to Hell difficulty and there are craploads of Cold immunes. Anyway, I think you get my point.
So again, with Barrett, you're still pretty vulnerable this early in the game. If you've chosen some skills in a more balanced way, you'll get a bit of assistance in this fight. If not, well you'll have a harder time, sure. But not by too much. And I felt the point of this battle with Barrett really was just to show you how badly you can get whooped despite your new and improved self. Hack all you want, sneak all you want, but sometimes some huge tank of a guy might just start lobbing grenades at you like they're going out of style. So you scrape by, just barely. You learn a few lessons, and if you're lucky, you come to terms a bit more with your traumatic experience several months earlier and become stronger. Yeah I'll admit it was a crazy fight. Just some dude shooting and throwing grenades at you. It wasn't that bad though, was it?
By the time you reach Federova, you got a lot more skills under your belt. Maybe you even realize by this time that you need to start carefully evaluating where you're spending your Praxis points. Again, there's no one set of skills that solves everything here, but there are definitely a few that really help. I think it's also important to keep in mind at this point that it's not like you need any special skills to wield the heavy rifle or the rocket launcher. So add that fact to your adaptability here. Federova seriously was unnerving for me. Her cloaking, her running, her muteness, her crazy ass electrocuting attacks.
All things considered, however, you got lots of ways to deal with her even if you didn't spend wisely on combat skills at this point. If at the very least you spent points on the Typhoon system, she's actually quite a breeze to dispatch. If don't wanna spam your Typhoon system all up though, maybe you've invested in the upgraded lungs where you can run for longer periods. When she's cloaked and running away from you, I thought it was best just to tail her while using the shotgun and unload as much as I could before she came around on the offensive. Even the high jump ability here helps for when she uses her electric shock attack. The duration of the attacks are pretty short and if you jump high enough in the air during them you'll only take a small amount of damage for the rest of the attack.
I might have liked more of a chance to use my take downs on Federova. If I couldn't kill her with them at least let me land a successful blow if I timed everything right. It could be a risky, but possible way of doing more damage. Overall, I think there were lots of ways to get through this boss fight and you could sport some style and express yourself as a player while doing it. But if I'm missing some other point to why this boss fight was terrible I'd like to know what it is. Boss fights often feel a little contrived to me in games anyway. They can seemingly come out of nowhere. This one, however, you could feel it coming. You knew there was a confrontation about to happen while first talking to Cassan. I felt it way before even finding out she was an AI. You just knew you weren't getting out of China without another major confrontation. I think overall it was done pretty well. Perfectly seamless? Well of course not. But when is it?
Lastly before the final boss fight is the one with Namir. Probably the easiest of the three Belltower mercs. At this point, you may have found yourself needing to be less picky about how you spent your Praxis points because you've already chosen most of the best ones. Even if you focused on mostly stealth, hacking, or combat by this time, you've probably had extra Praxis points to spend on other areas just for fun. What made this last battle easiest for me were three things. The first was not getting the upgraded augmentation chip at the LIMB clinic. Even if I had done that though, two more things still would've made it just as easy: turret hacking, and the strong arm skill. I'd love to think I was the first one to try this, but I'm positive most of you did the exact same thing. I mean seriously, how can anyone avoid carrying around a hacked turret?
The moment I found the one outside and successfully hacked it, I carried it all the way through the entire level, all the way down the elevators, all the way down into Namir's lair. This I actually tried doing with Federova as well, but the game cuts to the cinematic before you can get the turret into her arena. Wasn't the case with Namir though. Deus Ex prides itself as far as I understand on the ability to get things done in a multitude of ways. It may be a bit less so in the boss battles, but I personally was satisfied with the way I improvised here. Soon as the battle begun, I basically ran in circles around the turret and kept thinking how stupid Namir was to keep getting shot at by it. This was the closure I think Jensen needed to deal with his traumatic experience. He needed to see how pathetically easy it was to kill his attacker by non-elegantly carrying a huge piece of automated weaponry into a room with him in it and merely stand back (or run around in circles) and let a hacked turret have at him.
What's so great about Deus Ex: Human Revolutions was I just had to wonder to myself, "Did the game know it was possible to do this? Did they really expect players to lug around this huge turret throughout most of the map just to use it in a boss fight?" I'm sure players carried around turrets before in the game all the time, I just wondered how common it was to do it until the very end. Anyway, it was loads of fun. And I'm willing to bet that however else other players chose to dealt with Namir that many other people came up with equally creative ways to dispatch him.
So I have to wonder sometimes, were the boss battles really so disjointed feeling? Did knowing that another studio developed the boss fights possibly increase the bias against them? Like I said, I agree with what a lot of people said about the feeling of those boss fights, but just not to the same extent. I think for the most part they were entertaining and even rather intense, the way a boss fight should be. Best of all for me, the boss fights were personal. I was emotionally vested in them. I wanted revenge on these guys. I could feel Jensen's fear and I celebrated his victories. Cassan asks me if I'll save Federova and I'll think about it? Pfft! You know I won't seriously think about it!