They were, in a word, bad. As I played the game for the first time, I was surprised at their inclusion — not because boss battles are inherently problematic (that’s a topic for another day), but because they just… didn’t fit. Unlike the rest of the game, there was no nuance to them — just Adam Jensen vs. one of a number of pissed-off, charging bullet-sponges.
I figured out how to beat all of the first three easily enough (in order: Grenades, Wall-Vision, Wall-Vision), but still their presence lingers on in my memory of the game. Why were they in there are all? And why did they feel so totally different from the pleasurable sneaking, exploring, and conversation that made up the rest of Human Revolution?
As it turns out, those boss battles weren’t designed at Eidos Montreal, they were outsourced to a studio called Grip Entertainment. In the video above, Grip’s head Paul Kruszewski talks about the process of crafting the boss encounters, from gun-arm Barrett to silent robo stealth-chick to the “boss conversation” at the end of the game’s first level.
It certainly sounds from the interview as though Kruszewski took their contribution to the game seriously, despite being a “shooter guy” without a ton of knowledge of the Deus Ex series.
The boss battles really weren’t a huge problem for me; they were over quickly enough that I really didn’t mind. But I remain surprised that Kruszewski, for all his talk of staying true to the freedom at the heart of Deus Ex, would create such inflexible encounters. There was no way to sneak up on Barrett, or talk him out of trying to kill me, or nonlethally take him out. It was just me, him, and a bunch of explosives.
Making a AAA game has never required more manpower than it does now, and it’s not a surprise that Eidos would need to get some outside help to get Deus Ex: Human Revolution completed and shipped.
But while Grip’s boss battles are indeed a bummer, at least Eidos didn’t outsource something more vital. I mean, can you imagine what would have happened if they’d had a separate studio handle the air-ducts? Yikes.