Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
RPS Feature The Jupiter Ascending of videogames
RPS Feature Biff! Pow!
Superheroes are, my dear mole cave people recently thawed following a decades-long slumber, very much in vogue right now. Films about whiny teenagers with the least interesting powers of an arachnid are ten a penny, but video games of this kind have been oddly lacking. The superhero games we do have – for example, the Arkham series – are mainly about specific superheroes, not about the idea or the spirit of their original format, the comic book.
I have a strange bias here, as I’m one of the fifty people on earth who loves games but never cared about comics or superheroes. So I say this without exaggerating or clutching at straws: Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich [Wikipedia page], a real-time, squad-based tactical beat ‘em up from 2005, is the only game that truly shows why people love comics.
RPS Feature The Irrational Need For Closure
The contemporary big-budget FPS has a few different strains: blood-n-guts military settings a la Call of Duty, open-world environments like Far Cry, and high-concept dystopias. Outside of open-world most of these styles were first codified in the 1990s, and FPS games then and now share an enormous amount: primarily a core mechanic of shooting many hundreds of enemies in the face over and over again, as well as crossover in areas like structure, goal-chaining, and narrative delivery. FPS games, in other words, have for a long time been constructed on resilient and proven principles. And many of them come from Looking Glass Studios.
Though BioShock is seemingly continuing, essentially everyone who ever worked on the series has split up, split off, or travelled to the four corners of the world. BioShock’s one of the finer modern FPS series, sure, but what might its makers do freed from the demands of sprawling development with huge budgets and mandatory face-shooting? We’ve already seen Gone Home and Eldritch from BioFolks gone indie, and now another group are having a crack.
Several Irrational Games alumni have announced The Black Glove, a first-person game where you’ll need to alter people’s past lives to change a production in a strange theatre. Ooh, metaphysical!
In a post on the Irrational Games website titled “A Message From Ken Levine”, the BioShock creator announced that he’s “winding down” Irrational Games. What does that mean? All but a core team of fifteen developers are being laid off, so that the remaining few can focus on new ideas, “a long period of design”, and the idea of “replayable narrative”.
This is a surprise.
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The first part of Burial At Sea, BioShock Infinite‘s Rapture-bound DLC, met a mixed reception. Alec loved its pre-fall beauty and felt frustrated by its inevitable, violent turn and quick end. Which I suppose means there’s plenty of reason to feel excited by the arrival of part two.
Irrational want to whet your appetite for wetness with a three-minute video, but be warned: it assumes you’ve played part one and will heavily imply spoilers if you haven’t.
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After reading Alec’s impressions of BioShock’s star-spangled salvo against American exceptionalism, I got quite excited. So of course, I proceeded to do what any rational, well-adjusted human being would: list off all the potential ways it could go horribly, horribly wrong. Nefarious hacker code theft, of course, was up there, as were natural disasters, a scenario in which total destruction of Infinite was the only way to disarm a city-obliterating bomb, and the very real possibility that Ken Levine replaced all the audio diaries with recordings of himself taunting us about how there’s never going to be another Freedom Force. Or, you know, it could just straight up not work. But that last one, at least, seems significantly further outside the realm of possibility than the others, as Irrational’s suggested that BioShock Infinite’s PC version will actually work quite well.
Let’s do this, okay: When a new game first announces a release date, let’s just go ahead and ignore it. Wasn’t it Einstein who said the very definition of insanity was filling a balloon with kittens and then severing off your own leg? So it is that BioShock: Infinite has declared it won’t be with us this year at all. They’re now looking at February next year.
I’d hate to have supernatural powers. What if there’s a supernatural equivalent of a sneeze? You’re driving along in your Crueltymobile, or whatever it is evil people do when they’re not battling others, then: “Ahhh-Ahhh-AHHHH-CHOO” and all of a sudden every kitten in three blocks is now a giant, man-eating snarg. No, I’d rather remain mundane and in control of my surroundings, lest I suddenly develop hay fever. I’ll bet the Siren, the final Heavy Hitter in BioShock Infinite‘s series of boss reveals, can’t go anywhere near a graveyard, in case she burps and an army of undead are suddenly awoken and grumpy. The floating, ethereal, shrieking monster can raise the dead to fight Booker.
EDIT: The video of the Siren in action is now in the post.
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The Boys of Silence sound like an incredible New Romantic band so I was slightly disappointed to find that they’re actually blind men with two gramophones soldered onto their heads. If ever a game needed less mechaniman monstrosities and more synth pop, Bioshock: Infinite is that game. With these cantankerous “walking cameras” that emit the shriek of a thousand sirens and Mr Tickle’s dangerous yet sorrowful offspring it’s a world full of ruined metal men. What do they do for fun? Brief footage of a Boy of Silence below, along with Mr Levine and others enthusing about the concept.