April 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
No spoilers here.
It’s a strange setup for me to be honest, and I wasn’t expecting much. The original Bioshock was a game that I really struggled to like. The setting was amazing, and the sheer level of detail contained within the damp, dripping halls of Rapture was enough to send the literary munchkin in my head into spasms of glee. And yet, the actual game left me feeling blunted and somewhat miserable.
Would you kindly stop shooting/screaming at me for a moment? I’m trying to listen to this recording…
It was a world seemingly built on two levels – the first being a glorious nod to the deep social and political philosophies of the last generation, from Atlas Shrugged to the kind of existentialism that would make any number of Ricky Gervais fans quiver. The second – a traditional FPS, rooted in 90’s progressive styles with a kind of sexy-magic slap of paint. It worked as intended, but thanks to the world and environment being as compelling as it was, the combat merely got in the way for me. I never did play the second one… but I took the plunge with Bioshock Infinite, and I am quite glad I did.
Bioshock Infinite broke every expectation I had. Every single one.
Some in a good way, others in a profound and personal way. A few bum notes swirled during the giddy tromp through the sky. But after finishing it over the weekend I will say this – someone somewhere is going to have to work pretty damn hard to beat it to my GOTY come December.
Columbia was spectacular in the same way Rapture was claustrophobic, a paradise lost above the clouds. And, hilariously, they made the same mistake again – CAN YOU STOP SHOOTING ME? I’M ADMIRING THE VIEW. This time around, however, the combat is slicker and faster. Meaning I spend less time dodging bullets and even have extended periods where I can simply explore at my leisure, eavesdropping on conversations and rooting through bins for ammo.
It’s quite neat how the rampant philosophical slanting of Rapture seems to mirror the quirky American ideology that punctuates Columbia. The parade-day signs, the pin-striped suits, the music, the vending machines full of guns and ammo that seem to be everywhere… it’s a fascinating place to explore. The statues of the founding fathers, marbled and muscled, dominate almost every street, and the chap at the top of the pecking order – Comstock – booms his pro-liberty slogans and rhetoric through speakers that seem to be everywhere.
Bioshock seems to have swapped one blinkered, dangerous vision for another, far more attractive (if even more dangerous) one – the ultimate American Dream. As you progress, it truly is amazing how Mr Levine trails you through a utopia of decadence, all bright colours and singing quartets, and yet every step feels more and more uncomfortable. For good reason too – the stuff that happens after this first few hours… well, that’s for another post.
That’s it. I can’t say very much more without spoiling something. The plot is convoluted, twisted and occasionally bloody confusing, but it must be experienced. This is a game that people will be talking about for a long, long time, and I would suggest you buy it and finish it before someone ruins it for you, it’s one of those games that a single sentence can spoil the whole thing.
And it’s so very good.