Making a boss battle live up to the hype of an entire play through of a video game can be tricky. Hours and hours of dedication, commitment and passion is a tough ask to encapsulate in a single character for one single mission after all. Even the best games that we all absolutely love to the core can suffer from a disappointing boss fight; Assassin’s Creed 2’s final boss, Rodrigo Borgia, is perhaps the best example of such a letdown.
Assassin’s Creed 2 is a really, really good game. Totally revolutionising the 2009 gaming market with its massive open world, its compelling story line and characters and addictive game play. Trekking through the beautiful world of Renaissance Italy with our favourite assassin was a combination that was always going to yield a great game, however there is one small slight chink in what would otherwise be a pretty much perfect game: its ending.
Rodrigo Borgia had been established as the evil puppet master of the entire game right from the very first assassination mission, and his cold calculating nature made him a foe that some of us players were genuinely doubting whether we would really be able to get the best of him. So great was his thirst for power that it seemed that not even the power of Eden would be able to stop him and we were all expecting a boss battle to encapsulate that. What we got was a slow-mo feast with an anti-climatic fist fight at the end of it, leaving us with quite the sour taste.
Following Rodrigo into the Sistine Chapel in Rome, it turned out that by becoming Pope Rodrigo had been able to get his hands on a piece of Eden himself, the Papal Staff. The gameplay in this segment is a little clunky and does seem to stand out in a game that otherwise ebbs and flows quite beautifully, which was a problem that the original Assassin’s Creed also suffered from to be fair. The issue with the piece of Eden fights in all the Assassin’s Creed games is the fact that the power of these artifacts are hyped up so much in the main game, that a hyper-slow light show just doesn’t really cut it as far as super weapons are concerned.
In the end, no matter how good your skills are into this point you feel like you’re having to learn an entirely new game with this part and regardless of how well you perform at this the following cutscene is exactly the same. Ezio is paralysed by Borgia and, for some reason, is only stabbed once in the stomach before being dropped and left as the screen fades to black.
When Ezio wakes up from his pointless non-fatal injury, we find Rodrigo hammering uselessly on the door to the vault where the supposed Prophet will gain access. Realising that he isn’t the Prophet, Rodrigo accepts Ezio’s proposal of one final fight. In a scenario where you are a highly trained assassin in the prime of your life, up against a defeated old man, it seems an odd choice to propose a simple fist fight to seal your decades old rivalry. But that is ultimately what we have to do here. You punch Rodrigo Borgia a good few times, again refuse to kill him and then just stride into the vault leaving him to run away into a more disappointing role for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.
Obviously Ubisoft were in a bit of a predicament for this fight because historically we know that Borgia didn’t die at this time and we need Ezio for at least two more sub-standard games, but surely they could think of a better storyline than punching an old man around for a bit. It’s clear that we’re at the end of the game and that the writers seem to just be in a hurry to move onto the complicated final cutscene, but that doesn’t excuse what a letdown this is for a villain who was genuinely frightening for me. Seeing as Rodrigo gets letdown again in the following game for his death, the sour sense that he’s been misused is the only hint of a disappointment in this otherwise near-flawless game.