Wot I Think – Bioshock Infinite: Burial At Sea Episode 1

By Alec Meer on November 11th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Please note that while this piece contains no overt plot spoilers for any BioShock game, it does feature some allusions to their major events and does presume at least some familiarity with them.

“The problem with utopia is it’s still full of people.” A fair sentiment indeed, but is it truly spoken by a dispossessed citizen of the fast-failing undersea brains trust that is Rapture, or is it a BioShock Infinite developer lamenting that they need to somehow insert humanity into their singularly lavish shooty-bang game?

It is wonderful to be back beyond the sea, but things are different now.

This first of a two-part DLC storyline expansion shifts Infinite’s two lead characters, without immediately stating whether they are the same pair or dimensional alternates, from the skies of 1912 to the seas of 1958, and thus we can return to Andrew Ryan’s intended paradise/refuge for the world’s brightest minds. We return to a Rapture now more striking than ever, thanks to its being apparently rebuilt rather than recycled in BioShock Infinite’s fancier variant of the Unreal engine. Better still, we can experience it before it turned to ruin and decay. For a time, at least.

I’ve always maintained that Rapture is a more compelling, more convincing place than its airborne alternate, Columbia – equally as absurd, but its self-contained, bubble-like nature, its secrecy and its intelligentsia arrogance somehow make more sense than a flying battlestation filled with religious zealots. And when it comes to foes, its are drug and gene mod-raddled madmen rather than murderous policemen or indiscriminate guerillas; less life-like perhaps, but any inhuman action or unthinking aggression they might perform is that much easier to shrug off as the result of the monstrosity resulting from their unchecked Adam addiction. Game logic, eh?

Back beneath the waves, BioShock can offer me its greatest triumph and its greatest failing.

Rapture! An Other Place this generation of game-players will likely remember forever.
Rapture! A place we admire even despite its inevitable fall to civil war, genetic perversion and violent self-interest.
Rapture! Home of Big Daddies, Little Sisters, Andrew Ryan and Sander Cohen. We will remember them.
Rapture! Jazz and Rockwell, cigarettes and masques, hedonism and art. No gods, no kings, no prophets, no birds allegorical or otherwise, no robot George Washingtons1. Only man. And a sort of vaguely malevolent magic sea slug, but I don’t think anyone’s entirely comfortable talking about that any more.

But as with Columbia, the problem is the attempt to have the monsters co-exist with the men and women of a supposedly functioning city. Infinite’s approach was to simply clear the stage of non-violent life whenever weapons were wielded – a clean switch for sure, and some have defended it as an open admission that the place was consciously a theme park rather than a community, but for me it meant great dissonance. Where is everyone going to? How can the people in this part of the city be so content and unworried when two minutes away there are crazy bastards and open conflict everywhere2?

Sadly, Burial At Sea’s long-awaited demonstration of Rapture at its opulent peak pulls the same trick; whether it’s one of technological necessity or deliberate design I of course do not know. It begins by giving me exactly what I wanted, though, and so lavishly that I cannot complain about the ‘value’ of this add-on. A simply marvellous prologue, of sorts, gives us a tour of the undersea 50s alterna-city with all the glamour and glitz and smarm and indulgence you might expect.

Every light works, no signs or tables or windows are smashed, the large, open bars are peopled by well-dressed cocktail-suppers, an openly gay couple admire the ocean view, a waiter uses Plasmid powers to teleport from table to table, a tranquil, upmarket music shop plays Django Reinhardt3 from its finest gramophone, citizens coo at and speculate about the true nature of their hulking, silent, diving-suited maintenance men and you think “yes, I want to be here. Even though I know what’s around the corner and of the rot which lies underneath all this, even if I cannot have a conversation with any of these glamorous automatons, I want to be here.”

It is beautiful here; no more so than Columbia, perhaps, but there’s something about the sea, the incongruity of seeing its mysterious expanse and its silent denizens behind every window, that the sky just can’t match. Also, the bins aren’t inexplicably full of money, which makes more of a difference to atmosphere than it perhaps should.

Rapture! It is not the home of a paranoid cult and social oppression, it is style and ambition, a genuine and at least partially successful attempt to create metropolitan paradise. Columbia was rotten from its inception, whereas Rapture went wrong over time, as greed for wealth and power steadily crept in and the short-sightedness of the entire project was damningly revealed. While it might not quite have the power of the first game’s opening, the first twenty minutes of Burial At Sea restores Rapture’s glory more than simply thematically.

Even the plot, the mystery, the Elizabethness, that thing which devoured so much of Infinite, is sidelined by the sight of this place, so familiar but so new. Dark does sit alongside the light, though perhaps Rapture’s smirking citizens don’t see it – but we, the BioShock player, know what’s really going on with the Big Daddies and the Little Sisters, what the references to missing girls and the power struggle between Ryan and Fontaine really mean, and what will become of all this. I felt privy to a secret, and able to move through heavenly Rapture both admiring it and fearing it.

Then it ends. Then a Bathysphere takes you to another part of town, through the deep dark sea, into an airlock and when the door opens the lights don’t work, the signs and tables and windows are smashed, the large, open bars are peopled by corpses and blood and ammunition and shadow and ranting, muttering Splicers, and suddenly the lower quarter of your screen is taken up by an enormous gun and you know you won’t see that glamour, that glitz, that razzle-dazzle any more. A few minutes ago, Sander Cohen bade us dance. Sander Cohen being Sander Cohen, it was not a dance done by choice, and it had a grim conclusion, so it did at least provide a mezzanine between Rapture in light and Rapture in darkness. But still.

It’s sad to lose it, sad to know that once again, one of gaming’s greatest ever places exists only for gunplay. Oh, the things they could have done here. The things they teased us with – a quest, an honest-to-God quest wherein you, as some incarnation of Booker DeWitt, steal into a series of shopkeepers’ back rooms in search of a particular item while some, more sombre incarnation of Elizabeth distracts them with expertly faux-ditziness or outrage or exaggerated sensuality. A Cohen art installation, something out of Bowie in his most coke-fevered and ostentatious days, is an applause-worthy sight: a snarling ego given infinite resources and infinite power, grandeur and sadism writ its largest, a videogame developer’s art budget maxing out in spectacular fashion.

Perhaps that’s why this entire add-on is so short, at around 90 minutes: so many resources, so much money, I can quite imagine it would be hard to sustain for long. While I lament the length, my understanding of what ‘DLC’ means was deftly rewritten as titanic projected Cohen-faces stared down at me, as the vast shadows of sinister dancers flickered on the towering walls, as rabbits capered through the destabilising purple light. Yes, Burial At Sea contains perhaps the finest sights of the entire BioShock series, and it does this not by simply calling back to the first BioShock, but by visually punching as hard as it can.

What folly then, to give us a tease of what Rapture, what Burial At Sea, what BioShock could be, of smartly-written gaming tasks in peacetime, and then… And then the lights go out, the entire world switches from celebration to chaos, and the change comes not from a New Year’s Eve revolt but by taking a glorified elevator to an adjacent building. Rapture’s fall, it turns out, was nothing more than a loading screen.

Of course, I didn’t expect it to be any different. I didn’t expect the nature of this videogame to dramatically change in an add-on pack. I knew what was coming, and I knew that the lower or right quarter of every screenshot I took past a certain point would be The Gun. To some degree, while I hoped for more blending or at least frequent switching with glamorous calm, I even welcomed it – the more exaggerated, high-velocity combat of Infinite in the claustrophobic, sinister tunnels of Rapture.

It does make a difference, it does feel different from the open skies and arenas of Columbia. Enemies are heard before they’re seen, that wonderfully creepy Splicer dialogue as masked, hunched figures stagger and scuttle around dark bars and flooded department stores. Stealth even plays a heightened part, as unaware Splicers can be downed in secrecy by a crouched Skyhook blow, or a massed wander into a Plasmid trap. I spent so much more time hidden, creeping and flanking than I ever did in Columbia, and I found I could use guns relatively infrequently thanks to the combination of BioShock’s enclosed, dark spaces and BioShock Infinite’s speed making melee combat a particularly powerful tool. I preferred it, and its darting and sneaking, to both the hectic combat of Infinite and the ponderous combat of BioShock.

While it clearly evokes BioShock, and is Rapture, there is far less use of tunnels, and more of large, clutter-strewn spaces on multiple levels, peppered with potential for traps. Enough space for strategy, enough obstacles for semi-stealth, a fine hybrid of two games. Even down here in the darkness, the artist still rules too – every room is filled with faux-period detail, 50s-themed advertising on a grand, Tim Burtonesque scale, or the mundane made sinister. Rarely does a shooting game demand screenshotting to this extent.

And when a Big Daddy appeared, as I knew he would, the old man truly was frightening again: thunderous and unstoppable, a bloody rhinoceros, all rage and determination, and despite no face and no speech, all the humanity of a being charged to protect the frail no matter the cost. What a creation he was, and I’m so glad to discover, still is.

Less effective in its return is the now well-worn routine of finding specific Plasmids in a specific order to open specific doors. Red key for red lock, yellow key for yellow lock again; perhaps, this time, it might have been better to start with a full set of powers and allow for sandbox violence from the moment The Gun arrived. The Gun, those guns, do of course feel similar – oddly homogeneous and sticklike machines of death rather than fluidly responsive or distinctive. The exception there is a new radar gun, a micro-dish with which to fry enemies with microwaves. It feels like it’s fallen out of Fallout, but it’s a giggle, and devastating too. Sadly it shows up so late in this short adventure that there are limited opportunities to use the thing.

When this first chapter of Burial At Sea ends, far too soon, it does so with an inevitable cliffhanger and a return of sorts to Infinite’s over-arching story. It’s a reminder that Rapture is now just a small piece of that puzzle rather than being lead actor in this performance.4 Two-part Burial At Sea may be, but the failure to be a standalone tale in any sense leaves it left standing in the shadow of BioShock 2’s self-contained, more lore-free add-on, Minerva’s Den. Given this and given its brevity, splitting Burial At Sea into two parts does look suspiciously like Peter Jacksonesque greed, as counter to expectations as this DLC’s lavishness might be.

There’s a sadness to that as much as there is to our limited time with a fully-operational Rapture, but at the same time Burial At Sea is extremely effective at posing big, gnawing and dramatic new questions to a riddle we thought answered. I am so very hungry for part two, but I do hope it gives us more Rapture-in-light as well as answers, self-reference and metatextuality. Burial At Sea’s visually and sonically breathtaking first act proves it can be done, at least briefly, so I know I’m not being – hah – irrational to request it. I hope also that Rapture is left with an identity of its own when all of this is done, that it isn’t subsumed completely into the story of the girl and the debt. Somewhere in this undersea town, there’s a man I’d like to talk to, a man yet to share his golf clubs. I’d love to know what he makes of all this.

Footnotes

1. Actually, one does make an incongruous appearance in this DLC, via Elizabeth’s Tears – she pulls robo-allies from other realities, as in Infinite, which just about justifies the recycling. There are also robotic Samurai, for some reason.
2. Mind you, I’ve visited enough of San Francisco to know that’s not entirely removed from the realm of reality.
3. If you don’t know him, you should.
4. There are no shortage of allusions to Infinite’s events throughout Burial At Sea, however; this Elizabeth seems to carry some knowledge of the past even if this Brooker is as befuddled as the last one. Regardless of this dissonance, both quickly fall into the easy, familiar routine of Infinite’s AI buddy system, the Tears and the lockpicks and the lobbing of supplies.

Burial At Sea Episode 1 is out tomorrow, and will cost a mysterious amount of money.

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101 Comments »

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  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Let me know when Lizzi takes Booker aboard the Van Braun.

  2. Gunsmith says:

    Dear Ken

    This constant pandering to the masses with intellectually insulting fps mechanics is like drawing a g-string on the Mona Lisa and printing it on page 3.

    stop it.

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    RedViv says:

    Looking forward to another pretty disaster.

  4. Gilead says:

    I think it was on an RPS comment thread ages ago that I saw a comment that said, roughly, ‘Bioshock should have been an adventure game’.

    I still agree with that comment entirely, and the description in this article of the first section of Burial at Sea articulates precisely why.

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      Anthile says:

      I see that sentiment quite often in gaming discussions. As if adventure games are the purest, most intellectual form of the medium. And yet, most adventure games are terrible and as a genre it’s often the butt of jokes. Then you have the most celebrated adventure game of the last years, The Walking Dead, which barely even qualifies as such. What do people want, a Telltale version of Bioshock?

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Yes. That’s exactly what we want. But without the QTEs and more dialogue.

        • soldant says:

          So basically you want a movie.

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            Stellar Duck says:

            No! Well, I’ll take a movie over a Bioshock game any day of the week, but that’s besides my point.

            I want something that has other ways of interacting with it than shooting everything to tiny bits all the while pretending to say something clever. Something like Gone Home only with NPCs I guess. Something that will allow me to explore a world instead of killing it.

            Hell, games like Baldur’s Gate 2 allowed me to both kill stuff and talk to the monsters. I want to talk to the monsters.

      • Hauskamies says:

        People want a game where every action you do makes coherent sense in relation to other bits of the game. Meaning that shooting shouldn’t always be the answer for the bulk of the game, not that the game should be grim fandango or whatever.

      • bwion says:

        I don’t know if I want that (actually, no, I absolutely want that) but I would love to see a Bioshock game that didn’t center around violence one day. I thought it was fine in the first game (I haven’t yet played Bioshock 2) and I actually felt the violence was very important to Infinite, but I think there are other stories to tell too.

        Actually, come to think of it, what I really want? A Bioshock game done in the general style of (the first 2/3rds of) Vampire: Bloodlines.

      • GameCat says:

        Telltale’s Bioshock? Would be pretty awesome, although I would rather see Bioshock more like Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. It’s linear FPS like BShock but it’s not boiled down to just shooting. You have some other things to do here like beign detective, solving some puzzles, stealth bits, run-as-hell-from-these-things-years-before-Amnesia-did-it.

        Or it should be like Dishonored. Imagine semi-open Colombia, where citizen are doing their usual stuff and police officers are looking for middle-aged white guy with scar on his hand and The Lamb of Colombia, Elizabeth. You must walk through police checkpoints undetected and if they would find you – you must run and hide, maybe sometimes gunning down some cops when no one else would notice this. #impossiblegameideas

      • fco says:

        Maybe not adventure-adventure, but something like Metroid Prime’s mix of shooting and exploration, with the open gameplay of Deus Ex or Dishonored.

      • Ross Angus says:

        Yes please. Where do I sign up?

      • JoeX111 says:

        Good lord yes. Let Irrational do the art design, let Telltale write it, and give us the film noir Rapture mystery I dreamed this DLC would be.

      • Consumatopia says:

        Looking at the settings of the game, I would much rather play a shooty FPS in the zombie apocalypse world and navigate a branching paths narrative in Rapture.

      • KirbyEvan says:

        Honestly I think my ideal Bioshock game would be similar to Penumbra, where combat is terrifying and actually killing an enemy rare. While I don’t want a sneak-fest, I think it’d be interesting to have an objective to get through Rapture to somewhere else while getting around flooding buildings and super-powered maniacs.

        I mean there’s never been a Bioshock game where you get to play as an average Joe without powers fighting superpowered splicers.

    • Werthead says:

      Surely an RPG more than an adventure? The settings (both Rapture and Columbia) lend themselves well to it, as do the sense of advancement (gaining new powers and abilities) and indeed the sometimes more tactical combat. Switching to an RPG would also allow them to explore the settings more (via multiple quests and missions in each area) and flesh out the characters by allowing much more dialogue. You could also have missions in the before, during and after ‘all hell breaks loose’ sequences to vary things up a bit. Hell, you could even keep the FPS stylings by making it a FALLOUT 3-style RPG (though hopefully not with the GameBryo/Creation engine). There are also moments in both BIOSHOCK and INFINITE where stealth would have made sense as an additional option.

      Given that the series was spawned from SYSTEM SHOCK (an RPG series), turning it back into an RPG seems to make quite a lot of sense without sacrificing its commercial appeal (which, arguably, turning it into an adventure game would entail).

      • Urthman says:

        Has there ever been an RPG as (physically) linear as that would have to be?

      • KenTWOu says:

        IMO the first two BioShocks have much more RPG elements than System Shock 1.

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      drewski says:

      I highly doubt adventure games move the sort of money around to make this kind of investment worthwhile.

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      Morph says:

      But think on it the other way round… if there’s going to be an FPS, wouldn’t you rather have it set in Rapture than generic-o-battlefield?

      • imralizal says:

        Well, no, because I don’t like playing FPS’s anymore, with rare exception. I get bored. Playing Bioshock 1 was unpleasant, and I haven’t bought any of the other Bioshock games because I don’t like the gameplay, regardless of whether or not it takes place in interesting environments. I’d happily play a Dishonored style stealth / combat game in that setting, or an RPG. Or anything else. But I already have shooting games. Lots of them, as it turns out. Every single of them (that I still play) is better at shooting than Bioshock ever was or ever will be. Bioshock might be neat if it ever decides to pursue it’s own destiny someday. But for now, it’s just a shooter with delusions of grandeur.

    • Potem says:

      Or, have a really good fps, in an interesting and coherent setting. There is no need to redeem video games by aping movies, it’s silly.

  5. DickSocrates says:

    Rapture’s design isn’t 50s by a long stretch, it’s more 30s, maybe even 20s. I don’t know if the game itself is meant to be the 50s, but that’s just them showing how Rapture became a time capsule of when it was first created.

    • Ushao says:

      30s/40s Art Deco style, actually. One of my favorite periods and a great representation of the embracing of technology and the future during that time.

  6. Geebs says:

    The major issue I have with further instalments in the Bioshock franchise is that each one’s release gives more opportunity for tedious people to go on about how the first one wasn’t clever

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I thought that was pretty well established by now.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      The first one had a clever idea and terrible execution.

      They wanted us to care about moral choice when the moral choice was “press A to be evil and get 100% reward, press B to be good and get 120% reward”.

      They wanted us to care about the dangers of stuffing yourself with gene-altering drugs that turn you into a ravening monster, but the player never becomes even remotely monstrous and they didn’t put in any mirrors (which the engine can do easily by default) to maybe show the player becoming just as monstrous as the splicers.

      They wanted us to care about the citizens of Rapture but they didn’t actually put any citizens in because that would have been work. The only non-insane splicer in the entire game looks exactly like any other splicer and is placed at a point where their lazy enemy design has hammered home that there are no civilians for hours already.

      The only thing that worked in Bioshock 1 was the Ryan reveal and twist. That’s it. It’s a good one sure, but everything else they failed to do taints this one achievement.

      • Geebs says:

        I’ll happily concede that the pipemania mechanic was dull and that the splicers lacked variety, but the world was compelling and beautifully arranged and the plasmid-enhanced free-for-all fights with the big daddies were great. Complaining that something with that quality of sense-of-place while maintaining decent level flow is a failure of execution is nuts.

        The stuff about player choice and coercion totally snuck up on me and to be honest the lack of effect of the moral choice system can be explained in terms of the fact that everything you do is predetermined. It was also the first time that anyone did this so explicitly, it was a plot device which could only be done in the medium of games, and they did it with such understated expertise that lots of people didn’t even notice how easy it would have been to screw it up. Looking back at any plot twist and complaining that it was obvious is facile.

        Plus, how can you complain that the game fails to show the player becoming monstrous when you shoot a bunch of dudes and then cave a man’s head in with a golf club?

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          drewski says:

          Because you can only tell about morality when you have a mirror, obviously!

        • bleeters says:

          “Plus, how can you complain that the game fails to show the player becoming monstrous when you shoot a bunch of dudes and then cave a man’s head in with a golf club?”

          To be fair, both these things are kind of par for the course when playing these kinds of games. What you do can be constrewed as monstrous, sure, but there has to be a concerted effort to subvert the ‘game’ part of the experience or else you’re just shooting mooks like in every other game with guns and special powers. YMMV and all that, but for my part none of the Bioshocks have ever really done enough in that regard for me to feel any kind of sympathy for anybody I’m killing. They’re just kind of there.

          • Geebs says:

            The little sisters crying when you killed a big daddy did make me feel like a bit of a shit on occasion

        • kouru225 says:

          This man has said it all. Bioshock 1 was genius.

      • Skull says:

        I don’t fully agree with your other points but what you said about becoming a monster is a really good idea. Bioshock would have become so much more gut wrenching if Cohen or Ryan pulled a mirror in front of you to show that you had turned into a mutilated freak due to your splicing.

        Would have been depressing for a casual audience but it would have driven a good point home. Binding of Issac pulls this idea off but being a more cartoony sort of game the theme is lost.

        • ohminus says:

          Would that really have been necessary? Given what you have to do to yourself in the second half of the game, turning into a “monster” is already in there – just a bit differently.

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        drewski says:

        I’m not entirely sure I agree with any of your interpretations of what they wanted.

        I think the whole moral dilemma thing was spoiled by, well, spoilers. Played in vacuum where 100 people hadn’t told you what the consequences of your actions were, maybe it would have been more interesting. Shame.

  7. PopeRatzo says:

    Is this available yet? I can’t find it on Steam.

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    chabuhi says:

    Award-worthy writing this article, Mr. Meer.

    • RagingLion says:

      Agreed. That was some of the best writing I’ve read here in quite a while.

  9. DatonKallandor says:

    Once again they’re making a shooter when they CLEARLY SHOULDNT.
    They need to STOP STOP STOP making shooters when the game they’re making is crying out in pain for an adventure game instead of an FPS.
    You know what would they could make Booker DeWitt A FUCKING DETECTIVE do? SOLVE SHIT WITH HIS BRAIN INSTEAD OF HIS GUN.

    It’s a goddamn crime that the games media keeps giving Bioshock high scores and accolades when it represents the absolute gutter trash worst of the industry. The pointless mindless shooter – everything the popular media accuses us of – with delusions of grandeur. Millions in budget, genuine thought and lavish art draped over the outhouse overflowing with shit that is the generic FPS.

    • Geebs says:

      I agree that they should have gone more action/adventure than wonky shooter, but you seem to have missed the point of the Pinkertons. They actually were more about thuggery than “detecting”.

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      drewski says:

      Erm, no, they want to make a shooter.

      You might not want a shooter, but, well, you’re not the one making the game.

    • wazups2x says:

      So much whining. We got it, you don’t like shooters. Infinite is a good game, and for the most part for the most part, it deserves its scores. Just because you don’t like shooters doesn’t make it a bad game.

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      “I don’t like the genre so they should stop making games of that genre”

      You are a moron.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        “I have no reading comprehension so I will call people morons.”
        Sure toots. Maybe try actually reading and understand that a game that is built with full understanding that it is an FPS is perfectly fine. Half Life for example makes its story, setting and events happening during the game fit perfectly with the fact that it’s a shooter. Call of Duty, for all it’s faults, is fully aware that it’s a shooter and it’s setting and story support that choice of genre.
        Bioshock Infinite and it’s DLC does not understand this and it’s not made with that in mind. It’s cutscenes, story and setting think it’s anything BUT a shooter.

        • Totally heterosexual says:

          So it suffers from inconsistency inbetween it’s story and gameplay and your cure for that is to make the game change genres entirely, instead of something far more smart and practical. Like say, getting rid of the inconsistency.

          Also, bioshock is still pretty firmly in the shooter department in terms of it’s tone. What with all the people wanting to kill you and you having all the means of stopping them from doing so (hint: shooting).

          You are still a moron.

        • TheTingler says:

          Actually I can’t remember Bioshock having any cutscenes or DLC. So you love the first Bioshock then? Excellent.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s not a generic FPS at all. I’d be transported with joy if every FPS were as vibrant, imaginative, and creative with mechanics as the Bioshock series.

  10. jonahcutter says:

    If only they’d made Infinite an infiltration/stealth game. Getting to sneak, creep and talk your way through Columbia and Rapture, with occasional outbursts of hugely powerful, plasmid-based combat, would be incredible.

    “Columbia was rotten from its inception, whereas Rapture went wrong over time, as greed for wealth and power steadily crept in and the short-sightedness of the entire project was damningly revealed.”

    Mmm… I’d say Rapture was rotten from it’s inception as well. Deeply, fatally flawed by it’s Randian/objectivist delusion. Greed for wealth and power didn’t creep in. They’re core to the philosophy.

    • GernauMorat says:

      Agreed. Rapture’s problem is not that is falls into corruption, but that it is fundamentally corrupt from the outset.

      • Alec Meer says:

        Sure, and I probably should have elaborated further there. It was always doomed and there was a black heart, but at least it wasn’t founded upon open racial hatred and reverence for bloodshed.

        • GernauMorat says:

          Fair enough. Actually, the sheer one dimensionality of the amazing flying cloud racists was one of the things that made Infinite comparatively boring to me.

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          Stellar Duck says:

          True. It was founded on exploitation and naked capitalism with all the violence, literal and otherwise that it entails.

          A “Randian” utopia is inherently violent and hateful, not against other races but against who is deemed unfit and failing to live up to Rands despicable idea of an ubermensch.

          That’s my reading of Rand and Objectivism and I stand by it. I had forgotten how much I loathe her.

    • zain3000 says:

      I’d have to disagree with you on that one. Core to the Objectivist philosophy is that individuals are to be judged on merit alone and nothing else. Ryan himself states this in his opening monologue but as you delve further into Rapture and uncover its secrets you find that neither he nor the other inhabitants were actually living by that golden rule.

      Ryan has outward disdain for the supposedly lower-class workers that are necessary to the functioning of the city. By treating them as second-class citizens and judging them on their societal “rank” rather than their value to the city, Ryan acts contradictory to the Objectivist philosophy upon which the city is supposedly based.

      As the city flourished, the class distinctions became even more stark with artists, scientists and philosophers inhabiting the upper echelons while the cleaners, dock workers and other performers of “necessary but undesirable” duties were relegated to the city slums. What may have started off as a city founded on Objectivist principles quickly succumbed to the inequalities and prejudices of earlier class-based societies.

      This is not a failing of the Objectivist ideology, but a failing of the human spirit. That’s the great irony of Bioshock. “No Gods, No Kings, Only Man” morphed into “Only one Man God-King”.

      • ohminus says:

        I disagree. It is a hallmark of Rand’s ideology to suppose that true value is only in intellectual achievements – it’s what “Atlas Shrugged” essentially amounts to. She considers “the motor of the world” not to be the people who actually execute things but those who conceive and plan them. You may call what happened in Rapture a collapse of the human spirit – but a philosophy that does not account for the human spirit isn’t really worth a lot. The true failing of objectivism is that it’s plain and simply wrong -that in the end, it will lead to precisely the consequences we see. And many of its foundations were already known to be questionable during Rand’s lifetime – unbeknownst to her, precisely because in the end, she was just a writer, and had little idea of what was going on in terms of theory of knowledge or sociology. Which is precisely why her impact outside the US is negligible….

  11. kael13 says:

    Urgh. I want to buy this, but I feel like I shouldn’t, because I don’t want to be supporting the kind’ve mindset that takes such a wonderful and intriguing world and slaps an FPS game on top to ship.

    Maybe I’ll play it and then complain at Ken over Twitter.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Unfortunately I don’t think the realities of the gaming marketplace allow games with the production values of a Bioshock to pursue niche mechanics; neither have I read any indication from Levine or Irrational that they’re interested in producing niche gameplay experiences.

      For better or worse, they want to do Halo numbers.

  12. Eddy9000 says:

    90 minutes?

  13. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I’m liking this new style of footnotes on articles. Pray continue therewith!

    • Stochastic says:

      It’s not bad, but it does result in a lot more scrolling. Maybe if the footnote contained a link that would take us back to the text it wouldn’t be so tedious. Yes, I know I’m being terribly lazy.

  14. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Looking forward to this, if just for another taste of the design Irrational come up with time and time again.

    I can deal with it just being a shooter with some smart bits and an interesting atmosphere, because that’s still pretty cool. Although I’m not very patient so I might wait for part 2 to come out.

  15. jonahcutter says:

    True. Rapture’s dark heart is hidden and more insidious. It attempts to hide its true self under a guise of “personal achievement”. Columbia is open and up-front about its intentions, making them a point of sale.

    edit: oops, this was intended as a reply to Alec’s comment above

  16. kud13 says:

    Haven’t played BI yet. Was seriosly considering picking it up on a Steam Sale, but since there’s more Story DLC planned, I’ll wait for the invitable “complete Edition”, that will be on sale eventually. Same With Arkham Origins.

  17. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    As much as I like Rapture I dunno. Infinite’s railroaded waifu quest plus gun shoot really disappointed, and the sloppy writing was the real nail for me. More of the same in the fan favourite setting doesn’t quite sell it.

    Guess I’ll be better off picking up that Bioshock 2 DLC for now.

  18. Xocrates says:

    Out of curiosity, are there any references to Bioshock 2 in this?

    I’ve always wondered how Irrational felt about Bioshock 2 since it was made by a different developer, but Infinite’s plot had so many similarities to the one of Bioshock 2 that it left me wondering if it was intentional “tribute” or not.

  19. reticulate says:

    Just a suggestion: could your technical wizards make those footnotes inline somehow? Having them scroll to the bottom of the article is a bit jarring.

    Otherwise, as for the game, I am not amongst those who think Bioshock should be an adventure game or RPG. It’s a serviceable shooter doing shooter things in a shooter world that also happens to be incredibly well conceived. Nobody’s saying Half Life 2 shouldn’t be a shooter, despite having a lovely dystopian playground in which to shoot people.

  20. baozi says:

    Seriously, what is it with people wanting to make the team that does Bioshock turn it into something it’s never been? BIOSHOCK HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SHOOTER.

    • kud13 says:

      The fact that is was posited as a spiritual successor to the System Shock RPGs may have had something to do with those wishes.

      And as shooters go, Bioshock is bloody terrible. It’s entertaining, because of Plasmids, and the ways to use your environment to kill things, and the stealth-tonic+freezing-.wrench combo, but pure shooting is awful. I may be biased, mind, because I played it for the first time at the same time I played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for the first time…..

      • wazups2x says:

        STALKER and Bioshock are nothing a like. Infinite is a linear first person shooter and STALKER is a survival horror FPS. As much as I love STALKER I don’t think the shooting is that polished, it’s actually pretty clumsy, IMO. The game as a whole is great but I always thought the movement and shooting felt sloppy.

      • baozi says:

        Well – marketing slants aside, there have been three Bioshock games that tell one what the series’ gameplay is like. I think by now it’s pretty clear what the team can and what it cannot do.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        I don’t think anyone’s realistically playing it expecting Quake 3, though.

        I probably disagree that the Bioshocks are “terrible” mechanically, even judged as a pure shooter, but it’s everything else that comes with them that make them worth playing.

  21. SillyWizard says:

    Peter Jacksonesque greed? What? Is this a suggestion that splitting the Hobbit into three movies was a move inspired by greed?

    No. No I say! We finally have a director willing to include everything in his retelling of a book — including stuff that’s only hinted at — and now you’re labeling him as “greedy?!”

    For shame!

    • Yosharian says:

      Haven’t you heard? It’s cool to hate on Jackson now cos he made a couple of mistakes here and there with LOTR

      • ohminus says:

        A couple of mistakes here and there, as in not understanding the philosophy of the book to begin with, but hey, who cares when it’s enough entertainment to have a bucket of popcorn with…

    • malkav11 says:

      Movies are a 2-4 hour format (and in the theaters, usually closer to the 2 than the 4). If you want to tell a single story for longer than that, you want a different format. I’d be all over an HBO miniseries of the Hobbit or something, but it’s a shorter, easier book than any one of the LOTR books and those got a movie each.

      • SillyWizard says:

        The site seems to have consumed my brilliant rebuttal and defense of Jackson’s infallibility. Rest assured, I won.

  22. Yosharian says:

    If only this wasn’t an FPS then it would be a good game, amirite?

    Gonna buy the shit out of this, but when the second one is out probably, and for discount prices, yay steam

  23. Megakoresh says:

    To be honest Infinite kinda destroyed my perception of the universe with it’s infinite alternate reality BS. In addition to making it feel like all you are doing is pointless and there’s ultimately no story-wise goal to the game, it also is extremely contrived. Like it felt forced, in order to confuse the player on purpose. Perhaps it’s original intention was to just allow these DLCs to be popped up without explanation, but the damage is done.

    It was kinda similar to ME3 syndrome: they tried too hard to make something different and ended up making something WTF.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      The real problem is that they’re using Many Worlds Theory but Elizabeth doesn’t understand how that works. She is plain wrong in her explanations considering everything else they showed about how the world and her powers worked. Their “God” character doesn’t understand her own powers.

      • Asurmen says:

        What does she say that’s wrong?

      • Megakoresh says:

        To be honest I wouldn’t care if the multiverse theory was used correctly or not (I don’t even fully know it myself and I do not consider it neither properly scientific nor in any way useful). I believe it was a wrong turn as soon as they put parallel worlds into the game and decided to mix them. It makes no sense from a storyline standpoint, no sense from a logical standpoint, no sense from the game world standpoint and all around no sense. It is one of those cases when someone tried too hard to add a unique spin and resulted in adding some nonsensical bullshit.

      • Rednecksith says:

        It makes sense that Elizabeth doesn’t fully understand her powers, as the ‘many worlds’ theory is barely understood by modern-day physicists & expecting a girl raised in isolation to understand the concept is even more of a stretch than the concept itself.

        That ending though… what the hell were they thinking? Oh wait, they weren’t. It made absolutely no sense, and took what was up to that point an interesting & thoughtful look into an aspect of quantum mechanics and completely obliterated it with nonsensical BS in an effort to appear ‘deep’.

        Not to mention the ‘twist’ was as stupid & obvious as anything M. Night Shayamalan has done in the last few years. It took me maybe twenty minutes of gameplay to realize who Comstock was.

        • Megakoresh says:

          I totally agree, I only want to add that the game wasn’t implying Elizabeth understood any theory. The game decided to use the theory itself for it’s “twist”, which resulted in that horrible mess.

          Furthermore the theory is barely understood by physicists because the theory itself looks like BS and most scientists consider it pseudoscience. It hold no factual proof and is actually completely unusable in practice, so not only can there be no money invested in it’s research, but it’s also not really science per se. I suppose the devs of Infinite decided it was vague enough to use for their “twist”.

          Oh well, I hope the next Bioshock won’t make such stupid mistakes. Elizabeth was a really well designed character tho. The absolute best AI companion I have ever seen, so that’s a plus. They should incorporate that into next games. Preferably with the companion being able to quickly give you extra guns. I missed that in her abilities. I though it would be nice if she could throw me a new toy every now and then.

        • ohminus says:

          What bothered me most about the ending was the twofold impact of its “twist”

          a)It essentially meant that all the effort you put into the game essentially never happened
          b)It meant that there’s no need to spend some thought on the social commentary, as the social aspects will never manifest in that fashion.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Cut Elizabeth some slack! She’s a girl!

  24. Rednecksith says:

    Ninety minutes? REALLY? For God’s sake, the game Dishonored had cheaper DLC’s which lasted four times longer than that.

    Sigh… well, as a season pass holder, guess I’ll be taking a look for myself once it releases…

  25. SighmanSays says:

    So what I’m gathering from the article is that Burial at Steam is a typical Bioshock game, with the same fundamental flaw as ever: What it’s about is infinitely more interesting than what it actually is.

  26. CannedLizard says:

    Meh. If only they’d made this game an esoteric classical composition by a long-dead Russian artist instead of a shooter, THEN I’d like it.

  27. TheTingler says:

    Hmm. I’m sorry Alec, I like you and your reviews, but you spent far too long in this particular review complaining that this first-person shooter had guns in it. Which is rather churlish.

    Considering the second bit of DLC casts the player as Elizabeth maybe you’ll actually get your wish, and it should certainly be interesting at the very least. I certainly believe that the run-down section full of Splicers they get sent into is a can of worms that gets opened into the main part of Rapture, causing all the problems.

  28. El Huervo says:

    Has anyone actually read anything else than “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. She has written other books as well that deal with creativity for example (weeell at least in my opinion). I dont know, I agree that Atlas is an unedited brick full of wierdness but I kinda liked The Fountain Head.

  29. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Stealth even plays a heightened part, as unaware Splicers can be downed in secrecy by a crouched Skyhook blow, or a

    a crouched Skyhook blow

    You… have a Skyhook. I’m not even asking how this expansion can even exist, given the events of the main game. It has to exist because money.
    But do they at least explain the Skyhook?