Yesterday I set out to write about how frustrating the final boss fight of Resident Evil 5 is, but derailed myself into talking about how much I like Resident Evil 4 instead. So today let's return to our regularly scheduled whining! If you haven't finished RE5, know that I'll be talking about the final boss, so beware of spoilers, as usual. If you've played any Resident Evil games before, though, I'd say you have about a 50:50 chance of guessing the identity of the boss anyway.
RE5 is divided into six main Stages, and each Stage has a number of smaller Levels in it. Smaller is relative, of course: one of those Levels on my recent playthrough took me two hours. They're numbered in the Super Mario tradition: 1-1, 1-2, 4-2, 6-1, etc. The first four Stages are reasonably straightforward, as for the most part you're dropped into an area and you need to make your way through foes and puzzles to make it to the exit. Every so often a vehicle section or timed area switches things up, and there are a number of bosses whose glowing weakspots are the key to defeating them.
Things start to get dicier in 5-3, when you begin encountering Wesker. If you didn't think everyone's favorite sunglass-wearing villain was going to be 1) Back and 2) Still Evil, then you haven't played much Resident Evil -- dude has more lives than an incredibly evil, sunglass-wearing cat. The trouble with these boss fights against Wesker is that he has super reflexes and dodges your attacks. They're more like puzzles than standard boss fights, and he's mostly immune to normal damage.
Of course, nothing else in the game has been like this, so you're likely to waste ammunition and time emptying all of your clips into him as he dodges everything, Matrix-style. What are you supposed to be doing? Hiding from him so he loses track of where you are, then shooting him in the back with a rocket (which he'll turn around and grab in mid-air before it explodes), then shooting the rocket with any weapon so it explodes and stuns him, then running up and meleeing Wesker. Repeat either until he escapes in a cutscene and you get an achievement for dealing enough damage to him, or until he escapes in a cutscene and you don't get an achievement (which just means that you stalled for long enough; Wesker leaves after seven minutes).
In true Resident Evil fashion, once you win the second fight with Wesker he informs you that 'It's not over yet!' and jumps aboard the bomber jet in order to spread Uroboros across the globe. Chris and Sheva manage to jump aboard and engage Wesker in a quick-time event battle that eventually ends with the bomber crashing into a volcano. Wesker has been infected with Uroboros and uses some of the wreckage from the bomber to fashion a deadly-looking metal arm. Final battle... begin!
At the start, you are facing Wesker in the center of a round platform above lava. If you start shooting at him, he'll slowly advance toward you and just keep attacking until you die. Is this... is this another puzzle fight? To find out for sure, you can run past him, turn around, and watch as he stands on the edge of the platform, facing your partner, and goes into an endless loop of tentacle attacks. You could stand there firing into his back forever and nothing would happen.
Instead, we need to have him chase us through the level. Fair enough. I'm playing Sheva, so as we make our way along the ledges, Wesker jumps after Chris. At a certain point, a bridge breaks and Sheva is hanging onto the edge of a platform. An indicator appears saying to mash the X button, as has happened all throughout the game, and I do... and do... and do... and for some reason this sequence is about five times longer than every other button-mashing event in the game. Sheva makes no progress, just hanging there on the edge of the rock for thirty seconds or so. Finally she clambers onto the platform, runs down a slope, and comes to a large boulder that she can't get past? Then a cutscene starts of Chris flying through the air into the lava. Game over and back to the start of the volcano?
So I do it again, cross the bridge, fall, mash the X button for thirty seconds, climb up, run down the slope, and Chris goes flying through the air. What's going on?
It turns out that during the excitement, Chris had yelled, 'Shoot him in the back!' Instead of crossing the bridge, I was supposed to take out a long-range weapon and shoot across the lava to the other platform, where Wesker was menacing Chris. If I could hit the eye in his back, Wesker then jumps away and won't insta-kill Chris after I finish the longest QTE in the game. So now it's back to mashing the X button...
If Chris wasn't killed by Wesker, he'll push the boulder out of the way for you, and you can run up a slope to a platform where the actual final confrontation takes place. Wesker jumps onto the platform and you can spend forty-five minutes shooting at his weak spots like I did the first time, using healing items whenever my health gets low.
Or you can do what the game wants you to do, which is damage him a little and then initiate a QTE by running up to him and hitting the correct buttons. The difficulty of learning what the game *wants* you to do really makes the crazy over-the-top nature of what's going on much more frustrating and much less fun.