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Hopeless Savage's blog

5:54 AM on 10.24.2009

Bioshock is a Series: At Last, Videogaming Will Have Its Psycho 2

Those VHS tapes they used to mail out to kids of guys making asses of themselves to build up hype for upcoming games in the 90's have not gone away- They've just morphed into tarted up game "journalists" softballing hipster game developers on half-hour format television(?) shows. The pretense of being extreme and rad has merely been swapped out with a false air of legitimacy. Hopefully in a decade or so we'll be fondly looking back on this crap as a childish facet of times gone by, but in the mean time, I thought I'd just rant and rave about one of them like a depraved neckbeard.
You probably shouldn't read this, actually.

I just put this image here to break up the text.

Some backstory: At some point in time, Take Two Interactive bought Irrational Games, creators of the superb System Shock 2, and repackaged them as the horrendously named 2K Boston, Inc/2K Australia Pty. Ltd, the Boston branch of which in turn repackaged System Shock 2 as the prettier, simpler, and unique-locale-having Bioshock, to great acclaim from everybody who hadn't already played System Shock 2, and even a few who had.

Shortly, gamers, being the hooting gaggle of extraordinary idiots we are, were all set for a sequel. Around this time, the studio formerly known as Irrational Games completely dropped off the face of the earth. Take Two moved the development to the hitherto unheard of 2k Marin (which, to their credit, was formed with the involvement of 5 members of the team that worked on the original Bioshock.) I can't fault 2k Marin for their previous efforts as I do the similarly-idiotically-named Rockstar Vancouver for making Bully twice and then thinking that made them cool enough to make Max Payne 3, because 2k Marin's previous efforts don't exist. What I can fault them for is trying to make a preponderance of retroactive narrative and Big Daddy using plasmids to fight Rapture-brand Ogres sound like something other than exactly the kind of crazy bullshit you'd expect from a game taken by the publisher to a new developer for the purposes of milking a franchise.

"A preponderance of retroactive narrative and Big Daddy using plasmids to fight Rapture-brand Ogres is exactly the kind of crazy bullshit you'd expect from a game taken by the publisher to a new developer for the purposes of milking a franchise."

Needless to say, the aforementioned video did more to set me against this game than conjure up any excitement I might've had. I'm probably in the minority, here. I mean, did you take a look at the multiplayer?

Of course it's awesome, that's not the point. It's a matter of principle- Bioshock wasn't good just because of its sense of style, and its gameplay (no game ever is). It was unique, in spite of its similarities to System Shock 2- in a world of franchises, it was an original IP. A sequel means taking what was there, and expanding on it, but do I really have to explain how plasmids that can make little fire tornados and being able to throw things are "improvements" that completely miss the point? The key here is what warrants going back? People wanting to isn't enough. If there isn't something that needs to be said with the release of this game, it only exists for hollow profit, and, through all the released information, I haven't been given any reason to believe that that's not the case with Bioshock 2.

That guy in the video who doesn't know what "altruist" means presents this game's philosophical undertow as the apparent successor to the objectivist themes in the previous game. I can't be the only one who sees that it can't. Retroactively inserting a character into Rapture's history can't change the fact the entire thematic purpose of Rapture as a location was the collapse of an objectivist society. This Dunbar's number grammar school philosophy shit they're pulling in Bioshock 2 doesn't work. Besides the existence of any kind of opposing philosophy in the Randian "fuck you, got mine" world of Rapture being a stretch (Who even let this Sophia Lamb bitch down there to begin with?) to top off the already flimsy utilitarian/humanist hybrid that the guy failed to explain with any adequacy to begin with, its function is just to create a homogenized setting- a figurehead, a drive for the narrative. It's something tacked on, and forced into the series history, because nobody was creative enough to work with the existing elements, and its thematic importance is equally inauthentic. It also diminishes the dichotomy of Ryan and Fontaine in the first game, with Fontaine's smuggling operations ironically using Ryan's own objectivist philosophy to outpace him, by introducing this Sophia Lamb. What's the sense in the nuances of the Ryan/Fontaine conflict, both of whom espouse similar philosophies, and take them to similar extremes to opposing effect, if there was this crazy bitch there the whole time spouting a completely contrarian creed?

Those orc things are likely going to be handwaved with "it's the plasmids!" or "some crazy guy was making them!" The real reason the Big Daddy you play as gets to use plasmids because you got to use plasmids in the first game but everybody wanted to play as Big Daddy, but they'll cook up some bullshit explanation for it, probably about how he's one of the old Big Daddies, or all Big Daddies could use plasmids, they just don't because they're not self-aware, or they don't need to, and Sophia Lamb is going to be hammered in like a square peg into round hole, and that'll all be fine with almost everybody because gamers have absolutely no concept of principle- even less so than moviegoers.

Okay- Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe this game will be more than I can see. Maybe Sophia Lamb will have some deeper, more meaningful purpose in the larger narrative that just didn't come across because the guy in the video was such a self-satisfied dork, and maybe the rest of the team actually knows what they're doing instead of just making a follow-up to the surface elements of the previous game like all signs are pointing to. Maybe the orcs and the plasmids and even the scripted "DEFEND THE LITTLE SISTER UNTIL THE CHOPPER ARRIVES" event we saw earlier in the year will make sense and come together and click and all that good stuff.
But if it doesn't, if this is merely a well-crafted horrible waste of creative energy that sells a million copies but completely misses the cohesiveness and artistic merit of the first game, and even if I'm the only one who cares, I fucking called it.   read

6:04 PM on 07.04.2009

Don't listen to Ondore's lies!

ps3 screenshot:

things to notice: the water is brown. the sky is brown.

photoshopped to extract brown:

added traces of white blue and green:

real life:

that's all for now.   read

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