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BioShock Infinite – what we want to see

Harmless civilians

By the time we explored it in BioShock and BioShock 2, Rapture was effectively a post-apocalyptic society. Order had broken down, and the citizens had mutated into savage freaks interested mainly in killing outsiders. What we’ve seen of Columbia so far implies another utopia gone mad, but not in such an advanced stage of madness. The place is starting to crumble into disrepair, but the engines are still running, the flags are still waving and the inhabitants still (mostly) look human.

At the risk of the game becoming another Deus Ex (which wouldn’t be so bad), we’d like to see what a doomed utopia looks like before it’s gone completely crazy, when at least some of the inhabitants are still relatively sane people trying to live a normal existence. What we’ve seen of the demo so far seems to promise as much, but whether the people are just window dressing, mind-controlled threats, possible allies or just collateral damage waiting to happen remains to be seen.

In any case, being a clandestine agent in what’s essentially enemy territory populated with paranoid civilians could lead to some interesting…


Complex moral dilemmas

No matter how the first BioShocks tried to spin it, the decision of whether to kill or not to kill is an easy one. Either you make the “good” choice not to murder helpless individuals, whether they’re genetically corrupted little girls or cowering enemies, or you make the “bad” one and blast away. Follow the dark side for more power early on, or the light side for roughly the same amount of power (and a smug sense of self-righteousness) later. It’s old hat.


Above: Seriously, what kind of monster do you have to be for this to be a difficult decision?

Now that the series is about to enter its third installment, it might be time to introduce a less obvious version of morality. Fine, we get it: you don’t want to kill the little girls. But what if letting them live meant they’d be used against you later? Or that a section of the game would be closed off to you completely? For that matter, what if you had to make a choice between potentially game-altering options that weren’t obviously good or bad, like forming a temporary alliance with one faction of crazies over another?

Alpha Protocol has already pulled this off successfully, and Alpha Protocol kind of sucked. Surely BioShock can do it better.


No connection to Rapture

When we delved through Rapture, we did so under the assumption that it was the first of its kind, a secret city with advanced technology completely unknown to the world at large. And while the only thing we ever really saw of that “world at large” was the inside of a passenger plane, we always assumed BioShock was set in our own world, more or less. A world that hadn’t already seen a massive, famous steampunk city/war platform floating through its clouds.


Above: Seeing Rapture 50 years after this was around would be kind of a letdown, don’t you think?

Add Columbia to BioShock’s existing timeline, however, and Rapture suddenly becomes less special. Less interesting. If there had already been a dystopian city filled with crazies and set in an impossible environment, then Andrew Ryan’s undersea metropolis becomes less of a monolithic achievement and more business as usual. And surely, the city and its technologies – particularly Plasmids – would have been regarded as a less significant discovery by the interlopers who found their way there.

Don’t get us wrong – we love Rapture, and we’re not so curmudgeonly that we wouldn’t like to see a third game set there. We just don’t want to see it diminished by an earlier, more impressive achievement in the same timeline. And we sure as hell don’t need to see a final shot of a little boy named Andrew staring wistfully into the sunset and muttering, “Someday… someday, I’ll do it right.”

And then he putts a golf ball into a hole. And grows a mustache.


Above: We also don’t need to see a version of this with a young Ryan and Fontaine

No. We get that the BioShock name will move more units, but let’s not lessen Rapture’s importance by shoehorning it into a version of the 20th century already familiar with seemingly impossible sci-fi technologies.

Aug 17, 2010

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42 comments

  • NullG7 - September 26, 2010 1:45 a.m.

    Sry Report Repeat Plz
  • NullG7 - September 26, 2010 1:44 a.m.

    Personally I think that the a city whole just as impressive 30 years earlier than Rapture thing may be misrepresented a bit. (yes 30 because quite a few years went down there before we came into the picture) Already you notice that the technology of Columbia may appear more sophisticated than the world of Rapture. Though with some thought you find that the opposite is true, it appears already that though Columbia's tech is impressive the majority of it is bulky and over complicated while by comparison Rapture is streamline complex and efficient. Also another difference I will point out is that while Rapture is totally independent and controlled more easily, Columbia appears to be tied directly to the USA and with its shifting layout with no real guidelines impossible to control whatsoever, again painting Rapture although another failed experiment in utopia a more mature thought out one than the seemingly ultra patriotic Columbia. Though until the game arrives all of this is just idol speculation. My question in all of this is what of the purpose of the monsters that stalk Columbia, Raptures Big Daddy's were clear from the start, though these new horrors seem to have more questionable intent. Are they simply guardians of the already over armed city, or perhaps their purpose is altogether more sinister. Finally on the topic of another game in Rapture, in the first game we may have murdered Andrew Ryan, but weren't the Vita-Chambers programed expressly to revive those with family ties to Ryan... or Ryan himself?
  • NullG7 - September 26, 2010 1:43 a.m.

    Personally I think that the a city whole just as impressive 30 years earlier than Rapture thing may be misrepresented a bit. (yes 30 because quite a few years went down there before we came into the picture) Already you notice that the technology of Columbia may appear more sophisticated than the world of Rapture. Though with some thought you find that the opposite is true, it appears already that though Columbia's tech is impressive the majority of it is bulky and over complicated while by comparison Rapture is streamline complex and efficient. Also another difference I will point out is that while Rapture is totally independent and controlled more easily, Columbia appears to be tied directly to the USA and with its shifting layout with no real guidelines impossible to control whatsoever, again painting Rapture although another failed experiment in utopia a more mature thought out one than the seemingly ultra patriotic Columbia. Though until the game arrives all of this is just idol speculation. My question in all of this is what of the purpose of the monsters that stalk Columbia, Raptures Big Daddy's were clear from the start, though these new horrors seem to have more questionable intent. Are they simply guardians of the already over armed city, or perhaps their purpose is altogether more sinister. Finally on the topic of another game in Rapture, in the first game we may have murdered Andrew Ryan, but weren't the Vita-Chambers programed expressly to revive those with family ties to Ryan... or Ryan himself?
  • bedelicious - August 21, 2010 5:09 p.m.

    I agree about the connection to Rapture. Andrew Ryan said it was impossible to built Rapture anywhere but at the bottom of the sea. With another dystopian city hanging from the sky, years before Rapture, it would kinda ruin the feeling of Rapture being something unique and impossible outside its setting. But I guess it would all come down to how they make the story, so I'm not too worried about that.
  • OddWoN ER - August 21, 2010 2:51 a.m.

    i disagree. no dogfights...but... along the lines of moving structures. a battle, or chase along a massive blimp would suit nicely.. i'll let your imagination play with the possiblilties.
  • twewy13 - August 20, 2010 1:46 a.m.

    this looks absolutely amazing.... i still need to play bioshock 1 though
  • rockstarsean - August 19, 2010 3:18 p.m.

    Most of all I want it right now
  • elpurplemonkey - August 19, 2010 7:42 a.m.

    I seriously doubt there will be a connection to Rapture as obvious as Mikel's nightmare scenario at the end. The developers know what we are expecting and know that connections like the ones mentioned in the comments would be painfully cheesy and half-assed. I trust Ken Levine here, he'll find a way to may Infinite its own game, while still keeping a few nods to the series.
  • sid440 - August 19, 2010 5:06 a.m.

    Idk, id like to see some sort of reference to rapture, hell maybe this city is what gave adam ryan the idea in the first place.
  • Syncmaster - August 19, 2010 3:27 a.m.

    One think is sure, we wont see plasmids here, since they were discovered in Rapture with the sea slugs things, so, how will they mutate themselves for powers now? alchemy?
  • Bitmun - August 18, 2010 10:56 p.m.

    Great article, Mikel. I agree with basically everything, with the exception of dogfights. I think that would be a tad overdone. Although, on that note; I really hope that Infinite takes advantage of the new setting to really push the combat in interesting directions; we've already seen a clear use of advanced movement using telekinesis (Elizabeth's rose bed in the trailer and pulling guns from your preview) and platforming (from the trailer) so my hope is that the combat will be much more maneuverable and positional based than Bioshock's claustrophobic direct sort of combat. Being able to sprout a pair of wing and fly around, flinging enemies off of ledges, shifting environment dynamically to give yourself cover as you command armies of crows (as said in the preview) and leaping across the room to bring deadly finishing attacks direct to your opponents faces.
  • 04whim - August 18, 2010 7:23 p.m.

    I don't know if anyone already said it (don't really feel like reading comments) but I think a flight ability/"tonic" would be fairly good, if implemented properly, perhaps just a Bleach-esque air walking ability or something that allows you to grow a pair of wings and moves to third person. It'd make for a good exploratory factor if you could control the y axis (up and down) and could be useful in combat, if you say, want to hover over the enemies reining fiery machine gun death. Also I want a properly controllable teleportation "plasmid", though I can see how that might be difficult to implement. Oh and of course, the flight ability drains "eve" but any "eve hypos" you have on you get used automatically once the bar's empty, stopping for from falling to your death straight away. Good way to keep it from being over powered in fights and just breezing over all the scenery.
  • aaronnobes - August 18, 2010 12:17 p.m.

    I'd prefer Infinite to be in the same universe as 1 and 2, but not a huge influence. I'd wager, if Columbia has gone rouge, then it would be covered up by the U.S. government (UFOs?), particularly after it's destruction. That said, I could very easily enjoy Columbia and Rapture, as "city" designs, influencing each other. Something like Metal Gear Solid 3, in which Granin sends his designs for Metal Gear to his American friend. Obviusly, there is going to be a different atmosphere. 1 and 2 had the sense of claustrophobia, so Inifinite would have a sense of absolute vertigo. (I'm only playing 1 now and haven't played 2, so correct me if I'm wrong) In order to achieve this, the possibility of falling to your death must be a constant threat. Perhaps the game will eventually place you in a building when its supporting forces start to falter? Or maybe even playing a part in sending one of these buildings plummeting to the earth? Planes may work, but as in Modern Warfare 2 (a completely different game, I know) they should be used fleetingly, and as a desperate sprint for survival. Or not. I'm not really sure with this one. Also, I'd like (and expect)a different ideology to critique. If 1 explored te failure of anarcho-capitalism, and 2 explored the failure of socialism, then infinite will probably explore nationalism. Judging by the American flags, among other elements, Columbia is, or was, a hyper-patriotic place, populated by some of the most nationalistic civilians of America. But, after Columbia was disowned by America and forced to go rouge, these people are abandoned by the country they loved so dearly. This could create a sense of nihilism, bordering on the murderous and suicidal in some cases, among the population.
  • philipshaw - August 18, 2010 11:29 a.m.

    Great article and I have to agree with most of the stuff here but you kind of explain your last point by saying that Bisohck name is only there for marketing reasons
  • pin316 - August 18, 2010 10:26 a.m.

    I'm not sure aboit the negativity towards a connection to Rapture - i agree that it could be a disaster, but it could also work incredibly well if done right. I don't think that Columbia would be seen as a more impressive achievement than Rapture...in our world it is already evident that mass flight is easier than mass submersion. We can go into space but we haven't been to the bottom of our oceans yet. Also, it wouldn't necessarily be advancement - we already know the Rapture was a kind of breakaway from society. The open-ness of Columbia makes it seem like an integral part of the rest of the world. I would imagine a scenario where society develops to a point where it has an abundance of knowledge and ability, but is not yet ready to deal with the consequences (with great power comes great responsibility, etc) - the first experiment goes horribly wrong (which is the story of Columbia), and then the research.technology of genetics is banned. Rapture would then be the progression of this story as the ideal of a man who believes that scoeity is wrong, and that this kind of research should be encouraged and continued - in orer to remain secret, he build rapture as a cover for these experiments... It potentially is a very clever insight into the current state of the world and it's mixed opinions/views on the technology of cloning and genetic enhancement.
  • Tygerclaws - August 18, 2010 4:06 a.m.

    I agree with most everything here, except vehicles. If they're just a means of transit, that's fine, but I do NOT want aerial dogfights in my suspenseful, thrilling, atmospheric experience. reCAPTCHA: tormint that Tormint! Need to completely eviscerate your captive, but can't stand the smell of blood, guts, and gore? With new double-action Tormint (tm) you can make that bastard squeal while you bask in a refreshing breeze of cool mint!
  • GangsterJew92 - August 18, 2010 2:13 a.m.

    All of these suggestions are great. It would be great to see a city begin to fall apart instead of seeing it after falling into disrepair. I also agree with Rapture being special because it could exist in our own world, a city that was formed to advance technology and humanity along with it, fall into a disaster and disrepair, and no one outside of Rapture cared that it was gone, or that it even existed.
  • HawtKakez - August 18, 2010 1:33 a.m.

    The only thing I'm concerned about is the possibility of falling to ones death much too frequently in the game. I know this is nit-picky but I'd hate to imagine that my character would fall to his death continually. You know, on a side note, I would really like to see what Columbia looks like in the moonlight. So far we've only seen Columbia in daylight. Imagine how majestic and spine tingly it will be at night.
  • system1988 - August 18, 2010 1:30 a.m.

    The connection of Bioshock Infinite to its sequels Bioshock 1 and 2 is quite apparent. My wildest guess would be the game ending with Columbia's complete decay over the Atlantic Ocean. Then you have the evacuation of the city.... hmm.... where to go, where to go? Wait! Why not build a new haven underwater? No outsiders will ever bother us again! There, you have the first 2 games. Bioshock Infinite will show us how the outside world made things complicated for the inhabitants of Columbia, and how their co-existence with other societies became simply impossible and dangerous, thus the decay and the evacuation of the city was inevitable. Columbia is destroyed and the refugees build a new city underwater, thus completely isolating themselves along with what they thought would be an ideal society. The new city takes the name of the great catastrophe that befell Columbia: Rapture.
  • Koouunn - August 18, 2010 1:14 a.m.

    i do agree with most of these points but espically to the 1 not connecting it to rapture. taht would make it a much better game and give it a whole new option for the devs to work with and experiment

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