Rapture, unwrapped

Okay, there’s obviously a lot still being said about in the gaming space about Bioshock. Being a crazed obsessive, I’m still reading most of it. But, if you have to read one thing after completing Bioshock, this is the one. It’s Chris Remo’s extensive interview with Ken Levine, which goes through all the elements of the game and is pretty damn good. And let’s have a non-spoilery aggressive quote, eh?

“Honestly, any writer could write a 20-minute cutscene. I hate those as a gamer. I skip them. Those games, I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m not going to sit through those. But in Half-Life, I know everything that’s going on. That was a big inspiration. I know more about City 17 than I know about any Final Fantasy world.

Even a great game like Okami, it has 20 minutes of “blah blah blah” and I just want to kill myself. It’s not fair to our medium, it’s so self-indulgent. I think we have to work harder. Trust me, it’s a lot harder to do what we did in BioShock than to do a 20-minute cutscene. I could write that stuff all day long.

For God’s sake, don’t read until you’ve finished the game. For God’s sake, do read it when you’ve finished the game.


  1. John P says:

    Damnit, i’m still at Hephaestus. I can’t decide whether to plough on with the intermittent crashes and awful fps or wait until they patch it to carry on, though. I’m starting to think that my experience of it is being lessened slightly by the awful instability im experiencing. I think it’s great so far, of course, but I’m not feeling 95% yet.

  2. Alec Meer says:

    A fascinating piece. Glad to read the specification of exactly what happened on New Year’s Eve. It didn’t seem to come across entirely clearly in the game (and I hunted down that vast majority of the diaries), though in retrospect all the threads certainly connect.

  3. Alex Hopkinson says:

    There’s a ridiculous amount of internet reading to be done when I finish Bioshock this weekend. I’m beginning to regret not creating a del.icio.us tag to store all the links in so that I don’t forget.

  4. Feet says:

    “Cutscenes are a coward’s way out.”

    I realyl don’t understand why Irrational and Valve seem to be the only people that realise this.

  5. John says:

    I’m a little confused why the game contained so many cutscenes, including the shit ones at the end.

  6. Alec Meer says:

    I can only think of three scenes, including the intro and outro, in which you can’t control the character. Everything else, you can at least move, and usually the exposition is playing in the background while you do other stuff. And for the one that doesn’t happen in


    there’s a pretty significant difference between just standing there while someone blathers on about his magical kingdom and being unable to move because you’re under someone else’s mind control. The fact it is a trad. cutscene is part of the point it’s making.

    This interview fixed a lot of my narrative problems with Bioshock,actually. Only Tenenbaum remains, to my mind, a mess of loose ends and unfinished ideas.

    Edit – I should add that I still feel the narrative is messily-told often in those twilight hours. It’s just that now I better understand the thinking behind it.

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m going to go back through it sooner rather than later (I hope), and I’m going to pay some attention to Tennebaum. I agree she’s the one whose motive is a little more obscure at many times.


  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    Even HL2 had what was essentially a cutscene, with the ride through the citadel in that pod thing.

  9. DoomMarine says:

    My man-love for Chris Remo is intense – the writing crew at Shacknews is really great at the moment.

  10. Confused in Cornwall says:

    I’m really confused. I read this the other day, when it was the latest one, and the preceeding post was “The Worst Ninja, part the second” — now there’s stuff between them. Did I just imagine reading this one?

  11. Schadenfreude says:

    Fair enough I suppose, but at the same time Bioshock’s implementation of the audio diaries seems lazy and, for me, breaks the verisimilitude a little (And just because I can still move around doesn’t mean it won’t take me out of the game). Not their content, that’s fine; but just the general logic of them. Why did I find a recording by Andrew Ryan in a sewer? Why exactly are these people buying thirty huge-normous tape recorders, using them once, then wandering off without them? I just think they could have put more effort into figuring out a way to deliver the audio diaries to the player. Mafia’s cut scenes over this any day.

  12. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Took me a while finishing Bioshock, I’m pretty busy these days (it was the only thing i done except work & i bought it the day it came out) but i’ve finished it & read all the critiques and it’s true it’s tremendously flawed, it tackled heavier subjects than system shock 2 and more directly, but the fact is the answers to it’s question about video game freedom are system shock 2 and deus ex, something looking glass and irrational had down pat years ago.

    I’m sure their desire not to be constrained by their previous game design was a factor but i’m also sure their obsession with making a profitable game, an xbox 360 game and not a pc game, a Microsoft approved, game for windows, direct x 10 snazzy graphics game took president over gameplay and immersion, system shock 2 never really told an intelligent story, it told a story in great detail in optional chunks, the world was a functional world first and then it was ravaged by the many and shodan, because of this i and most people who’ve played it can manoeuvre round the von braun like it’s our local shopping centre, the same i feel will never be true of rapture because it was designed as a game and to replicate the von braun in all the wrong ways, each of the levels of rapture may have shared a supposed function with a deck on the von braun but the von braun was actually designed to serve those functions whereas each area of rapture was designed to play host to a fire fight.

    in system shock 2 things were where they were placed and if you wanted to use them or the plot required it you had to back track to where ever that object was placed & it was placed there because that’s where it was required to serve it purpose, in rapture everything spat at you from exact replica vending machines which all take different types of currency for seemingly no reason, gameplay or plot wise and populate every big daddy arena incase low and behold the player might have came to a fight ill equipped!

    I belive the big daddy, little sister idea was ken levines biggest mistake, he thankfully doesn’t have the moral neutrallity not to judge someone who commits, to him, deplorable acts, i believe he thought he could but in the end just didn’t have the heart.

    incidentally, i reckon, the big daddy becomes the innocent you must choose to kill for your own ends rather than the little sister, no matter whether you “do the right thing” or not you always end up slaughtering a thing which ultimately meant you no harm to further your own ends, this path the game pretty much forced on us all, i don’t really see how it’s OK to kill the big daddy & not the little sister, just because it can defend it’s self, i think maybe the games supposed moral neutrality would’ve survived if they hadn’t used the image of a little girl which is a very touchy area for almost everyone and for good reason, the main thing that got me and i’m sure it’s true for everyone was the guilt of hearing the big daddy final roar when it fell, it reminded me of the troll in the fellowship of the rings and i liked that troll in a weird way.

    I loved Bioshock, but it’s a step back from my still favourite game of all time, System Shock 2.

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