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Lord Regulus

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Who Is John Galt? (And Pelagic Death)

When I first read about BioShock, I picked up on the Atlas Shrugged references almost immediately, Ayn Rand geek that I am. Over time, I became worried that the game's ties to Objectivism were mere lip service and wouldn't factor at all into the gameplay. Now, thanks to the wonders of office T1 lines and slow Mondays, I've played the demo, and now I'm only partially worried.

The first few minutes of the game make it abundantly clear that you're entering a world inspired by 1950s Objectivism. Man is glorified in flowing red banners, and Andrew Ryan's speeches openly mimic John Galt's hundred-page rant at the end of Atlas Shrugged. But still I worried: if Rapture has crumbled to this horrific fate, is Irrational trying to tell me that Objectivism is evil? It appears from the picket signs and tape recordings scattered throughout the world that either Ryan himself lost sight of the Objectivist ideal and became a despot, or that the reason for Rapture's collapse was the inability of the weak to adjust to a world that demanded their full effort in reaping its benefits.

I'm still not sure what Irrational is trying to say; whether they're for or against the philosophy that permeates BioShock. Objectivism encourages the pursuit of non-violent means to solve problems. Why, then, does the game repeatedly place me in situations where violence is my only possible course of action? Clearly, Irrational intends to create an open-ended game that perhaps allows a less brutal playing style, but when the first twenty minutes of my journey through Rapture amount to a bloody combat tutorial, I begin to wonder if the FPS genre's compulsive need for bloodshed overshadowed the desire to create a world that adhered to the value of productivity rather than destruction.

Of course, maybe they really do want to paint Objectivism in an unfavorable light. I suppose I'll have to wait for the final release to know for sure.
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About LordRegulusone of us since 12:22 AM on 04.05.2007

Founder and Sole Member
Midgaard Studios

PRO TIP: Regulus was the ice boss in
Bomberman 64, a great game that was
nonetheless forgotten so quickly that I
currently own half of all the existing
cartridges. The other one belongs to a
seal trapper in Finland, and if the two
are ever brought together, it will bring
about the End of Days.