By Alec Meer on March 13th, 2009 at 5:19 pm.
Phantom summarisers have today been filling the internet’s gossip-hungry dens with what they claim is the highlights of Game Informer’s Bioshock 2 feature. Go read if you’re desperate, but we’re not going to recycle it here, as a) there’s a big chance it’s nonsense and b) any shortening of this kind tends to leave a lot of stuff out in favour of cheering/whining about whatever most gets their mystery readers’ goats. So let’s wait until we’ve got a fuller picture, eh?
The speculat-o-game we will play, though, because we’re filthy gossip-mongers as much as the next tea-drinking PC games blog, is about the one concrete piece of information we do know: Bioshock 2 features a Big Sister. (It seems very likely right now that does mean just the one Big Sister, incidentally). This time, let’s put aside our feelings about the very concept of a (presumably) female reimagining of Bioshock 1’s most iconic castmember, and instead have a good old guess about what’s under that long-limbed steampunk suit. If that even is Big Sis, of course. RPS’s theories are beneath the cut. As well as a whole load of inevitably wrong/insane ideas, it contains a few Bioshock 1 spoilers, in case you’ve not finished that yet.
- It’s Tenenbaum.
Oh, alright. It might be Dr Bridgette Tenenbaum – the femme-fatale geneticist who, in Bioshock 1, was co-creator and apparent co-saviour of the sinisterly tragic Little Sisters. She’s a character we weren’t offered much of a concluding fate for, which leaves her reasonably free and clear to be pulled back into the story now. All the clues we’ve got so far – i.e. that cover image and the tales of abducted girls on teaser site Something in the Sea – point to Big Sister creating a new horde of Little Sisters. Clearly, Tenenbaum has the knowledge necessary to make that happen – and, presuming some of Rapture is still standing, probable access to the necessary technology too.
Against all that is that, the last time we heard from her, she was attempting to rescue the Sisters from a life of slug-infested mangoo-harvesting. That’s true whether you go with Bioshock’s bad ending or good ending as canon. So it’s odd she’d turn all Dr Mengele again. Then again, she’s demonstrably flip-flopped before, so it’s hardly beyond the pale she’d do it again. Especially if, in the (apparently) seven years between the two games, something’s happened to make her miss the underwater empire she was once a key figure in. Could well be she’s only happy when she’s making little girls swallow magic slugs. Big Sister’s appearance – almost scrawny – would support the idea of there being a half-crazed middle-aged woman underneath that gimp suit. Alernatively…
– It’s a grown-up Little Sister.
Driven mad without her trusty sea slug? Hepped up on Adam-balls? One of the ones who escaped to the surface with Jack in Bioshock’s ‘good’ ending, who’s returned to Rapture’s ruins having found the Plasmid-free surface world a little too dry? Or one he didn’t rescue/kill, left to fend for herself and somehow all growed up despite the (supposedly) adulthood-inhibiting slug? It’s an easy enough thing to explain away, but the real trouble with it is that it wouldn’t be a satisfying reveal. No doubt Big Sis’s identity will be a major plot point, and “hey, it’s another Little Sister!” is hardly going to impress anyone. For that matter, I’m not sure it being Tenenbaum would either: she probably wasn’t someone who especially resonated with Bioshock’s more casual players, and she certainly won’t mean much to anyone for whom Bioshock 2 is their first experience of the series.
On the other hand, the initial teaser trailer for Bioshock 2 featured what was apparently an older Little Sister. A Big Sister, if you will:
- It’s a Splicer.
See above, basically. Unsatisfying. If we take the bad ending of Bioshock 1 as canon, we know some of these psycho-mutants survived the fall of Rapture, but one of them dressing up as Big Sister doesn’t make much sense.
– It’s someone we haven’t seen yet
Who’s to say that cover image is, in fact, Big Sister? It could just be some re-engineered Big Daddy after all. And Sister herself could be some sinister authority figure, unrevealed until late in the day, a la Andrew Ryan in the first game. Alternatively, going back to the Grown-up Little Sis idea, there’s no mystery at all and the name’s as simple as it sounds.
- It’s someone’s actual sister.
Maybe the name isn’t the simple gender-inversion it seems on the surface, but rather a very specific reference. Could there be an Andrea Ryan or a Francesca Fontaine? Or, perhaps, the first game’s protagonist wasn’t Ryan’s only child. There is another… It’s very cheap, soap opera stuff – or even the first Friday the 13th, but if she’s given an interesting enough motivation/philosophy they could pull it off.
- Oh my god, she’s full of slugs.
There were a fair few things Bioshock didn’t explain quite as well as it could, and the faintly goofy idea that some sort of magic seaslug was responsible for the Little Sister’s freakishness, and was the root research behind the plasmids et al, was one of them. We know nothing about their origin or their intent – if a slug can be said to have any intent, of course. An amusingly batshit idea would be to have the slugs decide to rule Rapture, wanting a return to their former tween-housed glory. Underneath that helmet is a mass of sea slugs glued to each other in approximate human form: just you wait. Or don’t. It’d be ridiculous.
- It’s Mrs Atlas.
Okay, this is really, really tenuous – but as we’ve previously established, the map on the teaser site seems to involve Ireland quite a bit. Bioshock’s only Irish character was apparent hero of the people Atlas, who in fact turned out to be the megalomaniac industry boss Frank Fontaine with a dodgy Oirish accent. Perhaps there was, after all, a real Atlas at some point – or a real Moira (the presumed-fictional Mrs Atlas). AND THE IRISH ARE ANGRY. Hmm.
- It’s Andrew Ryan.
Well, hey, she’s called Big Sister and wears a fairly figure-hugging outfit, but Dita Von Teese she ain’t. It could feasibly be a skinnyish guy inside that diving suit – and Ryan wasn’t no fattie. But wait, Ryan’s dead, right? Well, yes. A golf club repeatedly applied to the skull does tend to result in that. However, the Vita Chambers that made the player character able to cheat death so easily in Bioshock 1 were apparently tuned to Ryan’s DNA. While the chamber in Ryan’s office was apparently deactivated, it’s all a bit vague – there is a chance he could have been reincarnated elsewhere in the city after his unfortunate face-five iron interface. Given his overuse of the word ‘man’ and creation of an ostensibly patriarchal empire in Rapture, setting himself up as a matriarchal figure instead would make for a poisonously ironic inversion of his former persona, all the better to browbeat us with another lecture upon the nature of man. His returning in any form would take the sting and resonance out of his perverse self-sacrifice, of course. Then again, you could argue the mere fact of there being a Bioshock 2 does that anyway. Oof, I’m being mean again. Hush, me.
– It’s Ken Levine’s sister/Ken Levine in drag
That’s got to be it.
Okay, I’m all done being crazy now. Any better ideas, faithful starkittens?