A few weeks ago Mumbles brought up the Mr. Freeze fight from Arkham City, so let’s talk about that before this series gets bogged down in its own boss fights.
I think that Mr. Freeze is one of the best “big” boss fights I’ve seen in a game like this. Unlike other fights, it’s not about mindlessly repeating one attack pattern without making mistakes. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that. It doesn’t bathe you in mooks that detract from the overall fight. It’s not about surviving until the next round of quicktime events. It’s not based on spotting tells and looking for big glowy weak spots. The boss isn’t just a mechanical reproduction of a regular mook, except with a massive health bar.
The fight is actually a deluxe version of the predator encounters we’ve seen here in Arkham Asylum: You need to ambush Freeze several times, and you can never use the same trick twice. Ambush from above. From behind. From a floor grate. Through a window. Explode a wall into him. Electrocute him in a puddle. Grab him with a “magnet”A device that really doesn’t survive any kind of in-world scrutiny. and trap him.
The thing is, I hated my first go at the Freeze fight. It was unbelievably frustrating and I had no idea what the game wanted me to do. (It doesn’t help that the fight is really poorly justified from a character perspective.)
The problem was that I only had a couple of predator tools that I relied on. (And my favorite was hanging from the ceiling, which you can’t do in this fight.) I had no idea what the other tricks were or how they worked. So you have to pause the game, look up this stuff in the list of Bat-moves, and then you have to experiment to get a feel for their proper distance and timing. If you do it wrong, Freeze will nearly kill you before you can escape. It was an excruciating example of Do it Again, Stupid.
If you’ve been learning all the different moves, then the Freeze fight feels like a great excuse to pull out all the stops and use the full extent of your knowledge. If you’ve just been doing inverted takedownsWhere you hang from the ceiling for five minutes, waiting until a mook walks under you, and then grab him to give him the jump-scare of his LIFE. So satisfying. the whole time then it’s a bad case of learning under duress.
My first time through the game I hated the Freeze fight. My second time through the game, I was kind of disappointed at how quickly he went down, and sad I didn’t get to use all my moves.
I’m not even sure how you can solve this. Maybe it would have helped to have a couple of sections in the game where the environments forced you to use some of the more esoteric moves. Maybe there should have been some predator encounters where you couldn’t hang from the ceiling. Then again, that might have seemed arbitrary and frustrating. The problem here is that inverted takedowns are just so much fun that they sort of discourage you from learning the skills you’ll need later.