BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite (SPOILERS)

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ratsoalbion
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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by ratsoalbion » March 8th, 2017, 11:11 am

I can't remember, but the wrench was famously OP (when perked up) in BioShock 1 to the point that it is the go-to weapon for a lot of players.
Perhaps they ditched it altogether for the sequel.
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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Todinho » March 8th, 2017, 2:30 pm

The Drill is your wrench in Bioshock 2,you dont get all the perks you did with the wrench in Bioshock 1 but you do get the Drill dash which I think more then makes up for it XD

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BioShock Infinite

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 4:38 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding BioShock Infinite for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by TheEmailer » January 1st, 2018, 2:17 pm

Bioshock Infinite has a great setting, but never utilised it in gameplay or indeed story. The ideas behind the city in the sky its design are breathtaking, I enjoyed the initial part of the game exploring this world and discovering the brutality of the society beneath the veneer.
However, post this 15 minutes, the game moves to a linear shooter with very few NPCs outside of combat. The wonderful design of Columbia then just became a backdrop that the player didn't really engage with. The first Bioshock gave the player real insight into how the splicers came to be, but regular enemies in Infinite seem like faceless drones.
I never really engaged with the story either, which I summarise as 'isn't quantum mechanics weird'. Maybe it's my background as a physicist but this didn't seem a deep story to me, just an excuse to have time travel/alternate dimensions. I never cared about Booker or Comstock, so I wasn't particularly engaged. This is typified by the deus ex machina Twins, skin deep characters just there to give dumps of babble to move the story on.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by Yacobg42 » January 16th, 2018, 3:16 pm

Okay, I'm gonna try to do it. Let's talk about the racial politics of Bioshock Infinite.

This isn't an easy conversation to have, and it's been broiling since it's release. I just want to precede this by saying, while no means an expert, I'm a sociologist with a concentration in race theory, so this is something I think about a lot.

First, the good: the game depicts racism! This is a big deal for games, which tend to stay far away from the territory. My critiques of how it addresses racism are not trying to keep games from being political, and I'm glad such a mainstream release dove into such a tricky area.

When we run into issues is when we get into the actual plot, however. Because, and this is important, Booker and Elizabeth are not affected by the white supremacy that runs Columbia. When do they directly interact with the racial politics of the city? When they have to get weapons for the Vox Populi as part of a fetch quest. They switch timelines into an all-out rebellion from the enslaved members of Columbia, and what does Booker say? WHAT DOES BOOKER SAY?

"When it comes down to it, the only difference between Comstock and Fitzroy is how you spell the name."

(pardon me, I have to scream into a pillow for a second)

This is absurdity. It's nonsense. Booker has just equated slavery with a slave rebellion, paralleled oppression and protest. And this isn't meant to be Booker as a flawed character either- him and Elizabeth, our vessels for interacting with the world, are in agreement on how horrific this rebellion is. Elizabeth gets her moment of character development by killing the leader of the rebellion, who is positioned as an insane and violent reactionary. The game seems actively anti-justice; the philosophy espoused by our main characters is one of blithe moderation, a child's understanding of "the golden rule" without any acknowledgement of context or larger structures of oppression.

There's a piece of Anita Sarkeesian's work where she brings up that violence against women is often used to establish that the setting is violent and morally bankrupt- the women don't particularly matter, they're just a shortcut to setting the tone of the place. This is how Infinite uses race. The racism of Columbia has nothing to do with Elizabeth's imprisonment, Booker's guilt, or however many infinite timelines there are. It's a plot device, and little more.

In our modern day world full of white nationalism at both individual and state levels, Bioshock Infinite should be a cultural touchstone. The original Bioshock still works as a scathing critique of objectivism, its hellish world brought up as a punchline for anyone purporting to love Ayn Rand and her politics. But Infinite fumbles the ball. The game presents racism as a sort of historical artifact, a curiosity to be looked back at from the heights of our new progressive values. Its unwillingness to draw comparisons to the modern world, or to challenge the player's existing understanding of the issues, makes the racism in Bioshock Infinite simply inconsequential. And that's a damn shame.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by AndrewBrown » January 17th, 2018, 7:56 am

I think some of the contributors to the podcast will feel a certain amount of trepidation at seeing my name contributing to this thread, given the things I've said about BioShock Infinite in the past. Now, don't get me wrong: I do believe BioShock Infinite is a bad game. But I admit I haven't been able to articulate well why I feel that way about it, and it probably isn't as bad as I remember. On the other hand, as Yacobg42 has already articulated, there are definitely things about it which are positively reprehensible.

I'm going to spend evenings this week replaying BioShock Infinite, and meditate on some of my feelings about it in smaller posts over the coming weeks, as well as responding to others'. I don't expect my contributions to appear on the podcast; I've already made my prejudice towards BioShock Infinite too clear to expect otherwise. But I hope to contribute to the discussion, maybe break open some larger ideas that might not otherwise be considered, and come to a greater appreciation for this deeply flawed videogame.
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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 17th, 2018, 11:44 am

Full disclosure: I have only played this game once and my memory might be a bit hazy. Still, it's an interesting conversation to have and one that deals with more universal topics than just the exact plot of the game, so I thought I'd chime in.
Yacobg42 wrote:
January 16th, 2018, 3:16 pm
They switch timelines into an all-out rebellion from the enslaved members of Columbia, and what does Booker say? WHAT DOES BOOKER SAY?

"When it comes down to it, the only difference between Comstock and Fitzroy is how you spell the name."

(pardon me, I have to scream into a pillow for a second)

This is absurdity. It's nonsense. Booker has just equated slavery with a slave rebellion, paralleled oppression and protest. And this isn't meant to be Booker as a flawed character either- him and Elizabeth, our vessels for interacting with the world, are in agreement on how horrific this rebellion is. Elizabeth gets her moment of character development by killing the leader of the rebellion, who is positioned as an insane and violent reactionary. The game seems actively anti-justice; the philosophy espoused by our main characters is one of blithe moderation, a child's understanding of "the golden rule" without any acknowledgement of context or larger structures of oppression.
I on the other hand think there are two possible interpretations of that quote. Two ways to analyse the situation: one on the ideological and another on the personal level.
  • 1: "Ideologically speaking, there's no difference between the oppressors and the oppressed."
  • 2: "Since both are willing to spill innocent blood in the pursuit of their goals, they are both monstrous extremists."
If we're going with the first interpretation, then I completely agree with you. It is indeed nonsensical to equate the ruling class' desire to oppress and maintain the status quo of white supremacy with the Vox Populi's desire to free themselves from the clutches of tyranny. It is offensive to equate racial supremacy with the pursuit of liberty. You've explained it very well.

But the second interpretation is valid as well.

Let's step away from the current hot-button topic that are racial dynamics in America for a second and look at a more distant, but similarly violent event of class uprising: The French Revolution, and more specifically, Robespierre. A charismatic leader determined to bring the ruling class to its knees and posing as the liberator of the common folks, together with passionate speeches about the abolition of slavery. Someone with the noble goal to fight the oppressive system he was born into. Sounds familiar? Because he was also a violent and fanatical extremist who later became directly responsible for the atrocities committed during the following Reign of Terror.

The thing is, calling foul on Robespierre's actions does not equate turning a blind eye to the oppressive nature of monarchy. Nor does pointing out the summary execution of the House of Romanov and all the other conveniently labeled "enemies of the people" by the Bolsheviks means being in favor of the Tsarist autocracy that preceded it. It just means calling attention to the fact that true revolutions are never peaceful and that while the ideological high ground almost always belong to the revolutionaries, they are still humans involved in war. And like in every war, the repugnant high-ranking decision-makers only end up being a mere fraction of the overall casualties. Revolutions may be sound in concept, but the issue lies in the execution(s). Pun intended.

Which brings me back to BioShock Infinite and Daisy Fitzroy. The last time we see her, she murders Jeremiah Fink and threatens to kill his son. I think this encapsulates the core of the issue very well: Fink was one of the most influential white supremacists in the city and, for all intents and purposes, deserved his fate. But his son is completely innocent. Daisy doesn't seem to acknowledge this, probably because, to her, the end justifies the means. In her eyes, he's but an extension of his father. He's part of the monstrous, monolithic out-group she's fighting and therefore guilty by association. She denies him personhood and individuality in the same way she herself had been denied personhood and individuality in the past. The cause she's fighting for is just, but she is an extremist who's willing to sacrifice innocent people in the pursuit of it. Going back to what I mentioned at the beginning, she wins on the ideological level, but fails on the personal one.

I don't find that to be an example of outrageous writing or implausible characterization. She perfectly represents the type of ruthless zealots who organically rise to power and attain leadership positions in times of great civil turmoil. Again, her cause is fundamentally just, there's no doubt about it. But that doesn't automatically make her a good person. Make no mistake: she's definitely closer to Robespierre than to Mandela.

I also realize I'm giving this game a lot of credit and the benefit of the doubt, perhaps too much. We never see neutral ordinary citizens being driven out of their homes and executed in public. (Or do we? Again, it's been a while, so please correct me if I'm wrong.) But I don't think we strictly need to. The Vox Populi-themed alternate reality we visit is one that is engulfed in war. And wars, especially revolutionary and civil wars, are a nasty business. Any adult playing this game should understand the nature of what is implied here. The game obviously focuses on spectacular explosions instead of on starvation and mass graves, but that doesn't mean we should take the opportunity to frame this as a simplistic clash of Good vs. Evil. I take issue with you reducing this entire scenario to a mere "protest".

It's entirely possible that this game's writers are the kind of morally bankrupt individuals who genuinely don't understand the giant ideological gap between institutional oppression and personal freedom. But I think it's at least equally possible that they're just trying to draw attention to the evils of extremism in general. It's not exactly an earth-shattering message and the concept should have been expanded upon, but I think their hearts were in the right place. In the end, I don't believe this game to be anti-justice so much as it tries to be anti-extremism, albeit in a blunt and superficial, perhaps even tone-deaf manner. I fully agree with you when you say that the racism in Columbia is used as little more than a plot device, however. I certainly think the game would have benefited from better writing and more fleshed out ideas instead of the Quantum Physics Ex Machina in the third act.


Speaking of Robespierre, it should be said that his participation in the Reign of Terror and the overall atrocities that plagued the Revolution have both been greatly minimized in the official french school curriculum, while doubling down on the oppressive nature of the serfdom. This type of bias rubs me the wrong way, which is why I thought it was important to explore the issue in more depth. I think your interpretation is perfectly valid, but I also think you're making things a bit too easy for yourself by seemingly not acknowledging that another valid interpretation exists as well. Ideological justice and individual justice should not be mutually exclusive.

I think it's naive to want stories to be politically relevant, but while still maintaining the comfort food properties of popular culture. A good political story needs to be more than just one that pats you on the back, reinforces your values and reassures you that you're fighting the good fight. It needs to take risks and not be afraid to go to potentially unpleasant places, while still respecting the intelligence of its audience. There is at least one prominent media franchise that depicts the armed conflict between a monolithic fascist empire filled with expendable goons and a noble underdog rebellion filled with good-natured and morally upstanding heroes: Star Wars. Does it work as popcorn entertainment? Sure. Is it a philosophical powerhouse? I don't think so.

If we want the world to be a better place, it is imperative to learn from History. And in doing so, we shouldn't allow nuance to become the enemy of basic humanitarian values. The lessons that fortify our way of thinking do not invalidate those that challenge it.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by AndrewBrown » January 17th, 2018, 12:05 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
January 17th, 2018, 11:44 am
Let's step away from the current hot-button topic that are racial dynamics in America
That was a fantastic summary of Robespierre, Sub, but since what we're talking about is a black servant woman leading an uprising against a white evangelical power structure that has fetishized Americana into a religion, let's not step away from that hot-button topic and let's put it front-and-center instead. And Daisy Fitzroy is a terrible example of that ideal because BioShock Infinite doesn't have sympathy for her position, it instead says she's an infanticidal psychopath not interested in actual justice. It's more of the "both-sidesism" which has inculcated the conversation about these issues. And even that would be okay if we got more of a glimpse into Vox Populi than Daisy. But Daisy is just about all we get, so the actions of a single character condemn the entire movement.

We can't criticize BioShock Infinite for being the game it isn't, but for the game it is. And Daisy Fitzroy pretty clearly states that a black-led popular uprising is gonna result in some murdered white babies. Slow clap, Binfinite. Slow. Clap.

I think when we're tackling this issue we should be careful to consider when the person is criticizing what the character is doing, and when the person is criticizing what the game is saying by having the character do something. I can't speak for Yacobg42, but personally when I'm talking about Daisy Fitzroy and Vox Populi, I'm definitely going to be more in the latter area than the former.
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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 17th, 2018, 12:45 pm

AndrewBrown wrote:
January 17th, 2018, 12:05 pm
since what we're talking about is a black servant woman leading an uprising against a white evangelical power structure that has fetishized Americana into a religion, let's not step away from that hot-button topic and let's put it front-and-center instead.
But the issue we risk of running into while doing so is that the over-emphasis on the clear-cut ideological battle that is taking place will obscure the issue of individual (in-)justice that is happening at the same time.

It's obvious that the disenfranchised minorities fighting under Fitzroy are in the right. The existing power structure within the world of BioShock Infinite is despicable. I'm already operating on the assumption that we all agree on that. What's the point in putting it front-and-center? It's a non-topic. Ideologically speaking, they have the moral high ground. Unequivocally.

The question I'm asking, though, is "What is the acceptable cost of progress?". Does Fink's son deserve to die on account of his father's sins? How many dead innocents are too many? Ten? A thousand? A million?

And that's why I'm drawing parallels to other revolutions. Because they all have one thing in common: They are willing to cause the deaths of innocent people in order to accomplish their goals. There is a fundamental issue at play here that goes beyond the motivations of a specific time and place and is rooted in human nature instead. Both Fitzroy and Robespierre are/were motivated by the desire to uplift the lower class and to tear down the centuries-old oppressive power structure of the society they live in.

Are you disputing any of this? If not, why can't we have an (additional!) conversation about this?

AndrewBrown wrote:
January 17th, 2018, 12:05 pm
And Daisy Fitzroy pretty clearly states that a black-led popular uprising is gonna result in some murdered white babies.
Do you know of any armed uprising that hasn't resulted in the deaths of innocent people? If so, which one?

Is there reason to assume that a revolution taking place within american society (or even a fictionalized version of it) would be any more civilized and peaceful, especially given their rampant gun culture and predilection for violent methods of conflict resolution?


I think it's a mistake to conflate the nobility of a cause with the ugliness of its potential outcome.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by AndrewBrown » January 17th, 2018, 12:58 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
January 17th, 2018, 12:45 pm
It's obvious that the disenfranchised minorities fighting under Fitzroy are in the right. The existing power structure within the world of BioShock Infinite is despicable. I'm already operating on the assumption that we all agree on that. What's the point in putting it front-and-center? It's a non-topic. Ideologically speaking, they have the moral high ground. Unequivocally.
Since a Tea Party group unironically put the mural from the Knights of the Raven lodge on their Facebook page, I'd say it's not a non-topic. It's a videogame walking into a minefield unprepared and stepping on the first one in its way.
https://kotaku.com/tea-party-facebook- ... 1483821325

One thing we're learning in a very, very hard way in the United States right now is satire doesn't work when the target doesn't get that they're being made fun of. Too many reporters, artists, and critics regurgitate the bile of hate groups verbatim thinking they'll hang themselves with their own words, but instead become unwitting mouthpieces for those values. BioShock Infinite runs into this problem hard.
KSubzero1000 wrote:
January 17th, 2018, 12:45 pm
Do you know of any armed uprising that hasn't resulted in the deaths of innocent people? If so, which one?
You're taking it for granted that the kind of uprising represented in BioShock Infinite is in any way preferable. Yeah, a violent uprising of the kind shown here is inevitably going to result in innocent deaths. Showing the leader of that group murdering a baby surpasses the realm of "reflecting what is probable to happen" to "glorifying infanticide to score cheap points with the audience." This, again, falls into the category of criticizing BioShock Infinite for going this route in the first place rather than criticizing the group for what they're doing being bad. I don't think anybody is going to come in here saying "actually a black woman killing a white baby is great."

For that matter, there have been violent uprisings by enslaved groups in US history, as Yacobg42 alluded to. Every one was beat down with violent force because that's what Columbia-style White Supremacy does. Successful ones from nearby colonized areas, like the Haitian Revolution, are basically scrubbed from US History books. American White Supremacy murdered the non-violent activist Martin Luther King, Jr. (we just celebrated his birthday on Monday and many living American Senators still oppose that holiday). Its reaction to violent activism is to annihilate them from history. What's most insulting about how BioShock Infinite portrays Vox Populi is it creates a black-led violent uprising and then postulates an outcome that has never, ever happened in actual US history. It is, essentially, a ham-fisted attempt to say "actually both sides are terrible" that really only says "black people are terrifying uncontrollable killers."

What's tricky about BioShock Infinite is it equivocates Vox Populi and Columbia's ruling class, and I—and many others, as demonstrated by the widespread negative reaction to this particular aspect of the game—draw comparisons to the actual United States, which in many ways closely represents Columbia but does not actually have an equivalent to Vox Populi.

KSubzero1000 wrote:
January 17th, 2018, 12:45 pm
I think it's a mistake to conflate the nobility of a cause with the ugliness of its potential outcome.
If I gave the impression that I consider Vox Populi to be in any way noble then I apologize, I shouldn't have done that. Daisy's actions undercut that possibility. What I think is noble is the zeitgeist Vox Populi is meant to capture but so utterly, utterly fails to understand. I think one thing that really held BioShock Infinite back, through no fault of its own for once, is it arrived just in time for a political firestorm which cast many of its moral statements into an ugly national context.
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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by AndrewBrown » January 17th, 2018, 1:11 pm

Tangentially: I'd be fascinated to see how people's reactions to this game lines up with where they live and their current political climate.
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On Contrasts in BioShock and BioShock Infinite

Post by AndrewBrown » January 17th, 2018, 8:21 pm

The BioShock series is memorable for its effective sloganeering, and if Infinite offers up one as memorable as "A man chooses, a slave obeys," then it's probably "There's always a lighthouse. There's always a man. There's always a city." It speaks to the videogames' events occurring in infinite variations across infinite space and time, but also to the series pedigree. Both begin with their protagonist arriving at a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean and being delivered to the main setting: Rapture and Columbia.

I believe Infinite's strongest sequence is its opener, where Booker is delivered by the Luteces to the lighthouse. It both echoes and contrasts the opening of BioShock: Jack arrives alone, the survivor of a plane crash, brought there by the box's contents; Booker is delivered peacefully by boat with a box of clues to guide him through Coumbia. Jack is drawn into the depths of the lighthouse to a Bathysphere, which sinks beneath the ocean to Rapture; Booker follows signs and clues to the top of the lighthouse where he is delivered by rocket to Columbia. Jack watches a propagandic slideshow narrated by Andrew Ryan, detailing his ideology; Booker passes through a church, Comstock's religious fanaticism captured in inscription and stained glass. Jack's arrival brings an end to a civil war; Booker's arrival sparks one.

I've finished my replay of BioShock Infinite through the Hall of Heroes now, where Booker and Elizabeth have an exchange which also brings to mind the idea of contrast between these two BioShock titles:
Elizabeth: A choice is better than none, Mr. DeWitt. No matter what the outcome.

Booker: Yeah? What if you woke up one day and realized you didn't like what you chose?
(borrowed from this transcript: https://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/605053-bios ... faqs/69191)
The whole point of BioShock is that Jack doesn't have a choice in the things he does; he does them because he is compelled to by Suchong's brainwashing (and also because he's a Videogame Player Character, but let's not dive down that rabbit hole in this topic). Booker contrasts this aspect of BioShock as well: Booker did have a choice, but regretted the choice he made and the plot of Infinite is his attempt to undo that choice. But Booker is not the only Booker in this narrative, and his infinite possible choices result in infinite possible realities with infinite possible consequences. Jack is the Slave Who Obeys; there can only be one pre-determined consequence for his actions, because he is not in control of them. Booker is the Man Who Chooses, but the infinitude of those choices spiral beyond his control as well.

By contrasting BioShock and the Jack player character, Booker's character seems to state that even when we have a choice, those choices are still ultimately out of our control.

I'll do a post with greater depth about the idea of infinite possible realities after I (re)beat Infinite. There's an excellent passage from Ten Things Videogames Can Teach Us (https://www.amazon.com/Ten-Things-Video ... n+teach+us) which also tackles this idea and the issues Infinite has in portraying them with logical consistency which is a good jumping-off point, because... spoiler warning, and as always this is just in my own opinion, but Infinite's ending doesn't really make a lick of sense and kind of undercuts this preliminary understanding of Booker and choice.
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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by matten zwei » January 21st, 2018, 5:43 pm

I am still in love with the first BioShock game. I love the dystopian atmosphere, the chatter of the splicers, the graphics, the gameplay, the storytelling - BioShock ist one of my favourite games of all time. As I was quite disappointed by the sequel, I didn't have high expectations to BioShock Infinite until the first reviews came in. One of my friends told me, that it was even better than the first one and Ken Levine was behind it. At that time, I was still fooled by game of the year awards and thought that those games were MILESTONES for the gaming industry.

Columbia wasn't that appealing to me. I looked great but I was turned off by the citizens. They all look the same. How can it be in a AAA-game in 2013? The fight with the enemies were quite repetitive. The graphics were descent, but not near as good as they did in the Trailer. The bossfights are rememberable. Because they were unfair and frustrating.

I was playing this game for hours and could not understand why this game received so much praise. Until I finished it.
There is no doubt, that Infinites Story is brilliant and very unique for a videogame or maybe art in general.

But there is the point. A good story just doesn't make a good videogame for me. I enjoyed BioShock infinite, but I didn't have fun playing it. If Ken Levine would pitch BioShock infinte to a publisher in 2018, it might turn out to a 4 hour, indie, walking simulator on PS Plus.

Still BioShock Infinite has some great content: The DLCs. Finally we went back to Raputure and even the stealth gameplay didn't bother me at all. After I finished these, I went back to the original BioShock and somehow it hasn't really aged for me.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by Mechner » January 30th, 2018, 8:50 pm

Bioshock Infinite has far too much to talk about, the narrative, the gameplay, the themes, and the world building is a lot ... so I want to focus on 1 thing and present a theory and give a brief review of things I enjoyed and disliked.

Its use of "Music" is possibly one of the most original and thought provoking uses of music in a medium, maybe ever...

Jeremiah Fink in the game uses the tears that are around Columbia, to listen to music from the future and other dimensions, then steals and adapts it to the style of the time in which Bioshock Infinite takes place, it sets up the power of tears very early on in the game, often shadowing whats happening at that moment in the game and gives a slight foreshadowing to how the tears can be used.

On first entering Columbia you are graced with a gorgeous barbershop rendition of Brian Wilsons "God Only Knows" when I first played Bioshock Infinite, I thought nothing of it, other than it was a bizarre choice of licensed music in the game, but as you go on you hear more old time renditions of modern popular music throughout the ages, such as a pipe organ version of "Girls Just want to have Fun" at the beach, as Emily dances on the dock enjoying freedom for the first time. Later a young poor girl, sings a soulful gospel tinged version of "Fortunate Sun" as a revolutionary war is happening around the characters, baring similarity to uses of music in the Vietnam war.

The list goes on.. it is a truly unique use of music and bares talking about. Finding the easy to miss audio log of Jeremiah Fink in the later half of the game for me was one of the coolest discoveries, which also really helped me wrap my brain around the tears and dimension hoping.

Theory

There is cut content that points to a possible idea that System Shock is not only a spiritual successor, but actually set in the same world as Bioshock, there is a great video out there called "Off Camera Secrets | Bioshock Infinite - Boundary Break" Where we are shown loads of different types of lighthouses that Booker and Emily were supposed to have traveled to during the end of the game, as they step through the many lighthouse doors. They are actually still there, in the game, only they are cut areas, which require clipping to get to, such as a Ice Mountain Lighthouse, a Desert Sand Lighthouse and a Space Station like lighthouse. The idea I presume is that these lighthouses are entrances to different types of "Rapture/Columbia" alternatives. The space station is of particular interest as it bares near identical structure to the citadel in System Shock, which leads me back to my theory that they are actually set in the same world, and gives more levity to the idea that Ken Levine has written essentially the same structured story for System Shock 2/Bioshock and Infinite... it is well worth checking out that video for lovers of the series.

I loved Infinite, though I would like to mention I thought the gameplay was more repetitive than that of its predecessors, which makes replaying it more of a chore. It's the endless waves of cookie cutter bad guys and lack of Big Daddies to break up the combat and gameplay.

I thought the Stealth gameplay in the Burial at Sea DLC was a welcome change of pace for the series, and reminded me of Thief, which is not a surprise considering the lineage. How it tied up the series story was very well executed in my opinion, and gave me a satisfying ending to the story. I know many people find the narrative "pretentious" among much else, but I do truly believe that it dared to try something different and achieved it whole-sale, the fact that it exists in the AAA space is unbelievable.

Anyway, enough chatter the best scene in the game for me is meeting old Emily attacking New York, my brain exploded.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by MauricioMM » March 3rd, 2018, 1:47 am

What a great discussion! Personally, I believe that the game portraited both the Founders and the Vox Populi as equivalent evils so they —the developers and publishers— could reach to a bigger audience. For instance, I think that if they would have tried to show the Vox Populi as a mostly sympathetic movement many gamers would have labeled Irrational Games as left-wing propagandists and make the game lose a big chunk of its potential audience.

It was a safe and shallow approach to a very delicate and complex subject matter but sadly this was the best we could get a from a AAA developer in a very risk-averse industry, at least back then. I hope we can see more ambitious games in the near future.

Of course, if you disagree with me about the reason Irrational did the game that way that's fine, I want to see what you guys/gals think about it.

By the way, have you people played Burial at Sea - Episode 2 yet? If so, what do you think about
Spoiler: show
the new light that they threw on Daisy's actions?
“Your true face... What kind of... face is it? I wonder... The face under the mask... Is that... your true face?”

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by Nyx-Fontana » March 3rd, 2018, 6:09 am

I feel there is alot i want to say about Bioshock Infinite but i am going to try to keep this as short as possible. I initially played Infinite near its release date while i was still in high school. As with most teens i had alot of angst that i was dealing with, alongside trying to find out my own video game preferences compared to my classmates. It didnt help that when i was trying to decide whether or not to buy Infinite with my limited allowance, i was spoiled as to the true identity of Comstock due to one of the top Youtube comments of a Gamestop review video. Needless to say i was distraught, but since all of my classmates kept telling me how amazing the game was I decided to get it and see for myself despite those nasty, nasty spoilers. Long story short, i HATED the game. I thought the gameplay was dull and frustrating, i disliked prettty much all the characters with the exception of Elizabeth with whom i was lukewarm towards, and i found the overall story uninteresting. I stubbornly decided that the game was 'Overhyped' and promptly sold the game to gamestop, all the while telling myself that i would never want to play it again.

Jump several years later i saw that you guys had Bioshock Infinite on your yearly calendar for discussion and i figured that this would be a good time to "face my demons" as it were since i couldnt shake the feeling that i had been unfair towards Infinite. I picked up a copy of The Bioshock Collection for the Playstation 4 since i had not played the previous two bioshock games either, and proceeded to start with Infinite. I can now confidently say that i do not hate Bioshock Infinite, in fact i rather enjoy it in some instances, however i do have some gripes with it.

I thought the initial set up of Columbia was great, i loved seeing the lush colors and sun soaked streets of the flying city during the first hour or so of the game. Skating on the sky rails and pouncing on enemies from above like Wolverine was exhilaterating and added a bit of verticality to the game. I just wish there were more of these sky rail sections or some sort of option to traverse the environment in a fun way, mainly because Booker moves like a constipated turtle otherwise. I feel this hampers the overall gameplay as, even though the combat is fairly basic and enemies aren't too difficult to defeat, the sheer amount of enemies that swarm at you can kill you pretty quickly. Maybe its because i played on 'Hard' difficulty this time around, but i felt Booker just wasnt mobile enough to get away from and attack group of enemies effectively, even with the sky rails at his disposal. Death wasn't too much of a setback in this game, but i still thought the game was unfair at certain points (I hate you Lady Comstock's Ghost). I always made sure to keep a RPG on me at all time for this reason, and in terms of vigors i tended to fall back on Bucking Bronco and Charge as they felt the most useful in terms of my playstyle. I thought the armor/clothing mechanics were a nice touch, but i barely changed any of my gear as i always had a hat that let me electro-punch people and stun them, as well as pants that gave me health if i scored a melee kill when i was in the red.

I also had issues with most of the characters. Right off the bat I really enjoyed Elizabeth as a character, i liked how animated she was and how she didnt follow the stereotype of "Terrible Escort Character". She would smile and dance at the wonders of the world and pout in thought as she leaned against elevator walls and decrepit chairs. I felt her voice actress, Courtnee Draper, did a excellent job displaying the various emotions she felt throughout the game. I also felt genuine anger when she willingly gave herself to the SongBird for Booker's sake, and that whole section within the 'Bad' Future was fascinating. But i felt unfulfilled at how she became all knowing and all powerful towards the end, it felt like they just rushed the rest of her development. It may be an unfair comparison but when it comes to all powerful characters i preferred the way The Witcher 3 handled Ciri, moreso than Infinite handled Elizabeth, as in the Witcher 3 that progression felt more natural.

I disliked Booker as a main character, i thought he was a bland thug who was fairly unsympathetic towards everyone he met for a majority of the game. But that may have been the point of the developers, he wasnt someone that you were 'rooting' for necessarily, in fact i think that role is reserved for Elizabeth. Booker plays the same role as Joel did in the Last of Us, serving as a example of the harsh realities of the world for the character who may hold the key to it's salvation. Still i felt that, even though he was sympathetic toward Elizabeth's plights, that there was no real 'bond' formed between him and Elizabeth. It felt like they were temporary allies, agreeing to help each other for one reason or another.

Comstock as a villian felt kind of underdeveloped in terms of his motivations and reasons for doing what he did, and his final confrontation with Booker and Elizabeth was Anti-Climatic to say the least. Daisy Fitzroy turned out to be just another Cuckoo Nutjob obsessed with power, and the Vox Populi became just as insane in their efforts to overthrow the system. I felt the use of racial tension was really shallow and partly used for shock value, though as someone of color there were still moments that kind of got to me. The opening when you see Mayor Fink put on display an Interracial Couple for public discrimination, and the use of colored and priveledged bathrooms felt organic to what they were trying to do. However the rest of their efforts felt very underdeveloped and black and white, especially since Booker and Elizabeth are pretty much treated as Non-Persons in relation to these issues within the context of the story. It didnt help that the Vox Populi became raving lunatics and started killing everyone they encountered either, as i know that revolutions are bloody, but i felt we didnt see any good merits or actions of the oppressed in the face of all this chaos.

Anyway this has gone on alot longer than i intended, sorry about that. Overall I enjoyed my experience with Bioshock Infinite alot more this second time around than i did when i played it previously in High School. I really liked Elizabeth and some aspects of the combat such as the Sky Lines, but i also thought the game had a tendency to be very frustrating or unfair at certain points. The story overall was mildly intriguing but i feel my lack of interest in Booker and how most of the other characters were overall 'Bad' people left me feeling pretty lukewarm towards the plot as a whole. I'm glad I came back to this game and challenged my previous assumptions now that i am a bit older and more thoughtful about my experiences, however I feel Bioshock Infinite is not a game i will return to for a third time in the near future.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by KSubzero1000 » March 3rd, 2018, 7:26 am

MauricioMM wrote:
March 3rd, 2018, 1:47 am
Of course, if you disagree with me about the reason Irrational did the game that way that's fine, I want to see what you guys/gals think about it.
I think it was partly out of the cynical business mentality you've described, and partly because the writers were rightfully denouncing the fundamentally binary nature of american politics which is just breeding radicalization left and right.

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Re: 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by Simonsloth » March 3rd, 2018, 9:51 am

I want to thank the previous contributors to this thread because when I first played this game I did not acknowledge some of the more important aspects of its narrative.

I played it as a fictional story set in a fictional world and I think I completely missed some of the more sensitive perhaps controversial themes.

I recently replayed it after reading everyone’s views and it made for an incredibly interesting experience. I think as previously mentioned perhaps one’s reaction to this game is reflected by the current political climate in their own society. I live and work in an incredibly inclusive part of the world and although I’m not stupid and realise there’s much more going on than what’s visible on the surface it’s perhaps not as apparent. Perhaps this is a bit silly considering my country voted to leave the EU but my area voted almost unanimously to stay.

To me for a game which has infinite in the title quite often things seem very binary.
Heads or tails
Robert or Rosalind
Daisy Fitzroy or Comstock as chief villain

I appreciate they had to present you with narrower perspectives to make a more coherent story but for one part of the game daisy is hero then (albeit on a different world)suddenly she is villain. It’s not the same Columbia so the mass murder that the vox instigate is given a pass by the game it seems. In an infinite number of worlds anything can happen but (and this is the important part) they choose to show you this one. It undermines daisy and the vox populi and is more than just a missed opportunity.

In the Burial at Sea DLC there are some interesting plot threads which offer some insight into Daisy’s actions. However it feels perhaps that these were put in because of the outcry directed at the main game rather than being part of the original narrative. I don’t think we will ever know.

On a purely superficial level this is still one of my favourite games of all time. The gameplay is superior to the predecessors, the complex twists and turns of the narrative are sublime and I think it probably has the best DLC of any game.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (10.3.18) - 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by AndrewBrown » March 5th, 2018, 7:49 pm

I wanted to write more about this over the past couple months, but alas, life did not allow me the time. I'll try to capture my broader thoughts succinctly here.

"Hate" is a strong word. Normally I'm receptive to the argument that "hate" is a word which should never be used; it's not typically a useful stance to begin with in a constructive conversation. But I'm gonna say it, at the risk of having my opinion about BioShock Infinite disregarded: I hate this game.

As a shooter, it's inoffensive. It doesn't do anything groundbreaking, but it does what it does well. The worst that can be said is it feels derivative of similar videogames that preceded it. What's a shame is BioShock Infinite fails to utilize that structure to say anything interesting or progressive, in spite of its obvious desire to do so.

Let's start by talking about science fiction. Everything that happens in (most) science fiction is complete nonsense; humanity lacks the phenomenal power needed to travel to the furthest stars, the technological sophistication to create androids, or the processing speed to digitally transmit a human consciousness. Everything that happens in science fiction is just that, fiction, valuable as commentary on humanity--all science fiction is fundamentally existential in nature--and inspiration for the future. It is not an engineering manual. But it still needs to be internally consistent to maintain the viewer's suspension of disbelief. If I spend too much time asking "how does this thing work?" then I'm not accepting that it does, and the entire cohesiveness of the technology we're viewing, and its subsequent effects on an otherwise-familiar world and characters, begins to break down.

BioShock Infinite does not understand what the word "infinity" means, and it's in the damn title.

The big "twist" is that Booker and Comstock are the same person, separated only by a choice to be baptized following the massacre of an Indigenous American tribe. One refuses the baptism and remains Booker, a Pinkerton who becomes a widower and a single father. The other accepts the baptism and becomes Comstock, a radical who turns his Born Again faith into fervent nationalism so intense he turns even against the nation he purports to love. Predictable though this twist would be to begin with, its apparent solution is for Elizabeth to travel the multiverse and kill Booker before he has a chance to become Comstock. As a half-dozen Elizabeths drown the Booker player character, they begin to wink out of existence as though the deed has been done.

But "There's always a lighthouse, there's always a man, there's always a city." In an infinite multiverse, Booker/Comstock is not defined only by his choice of baptism. There are Bookers who never participated in the massacre. There are Bookers who never sold Elizabeth to the Luteces. There are Comstocks who never achieved power or influence. There are Comstocks who stood down when the government of the United States ordered him to. There are Elizabeths who chose not to kill Booker/Comstock. There are Elizabeths who would fight the other Elizabeths. There are infinite combinations of infinite possibilities, but BioShock Infinite's climax would have us believe that killing a single man at a single point in time would bring infinity to a halt. It's preposterous. At best, Elizabeth is dooming herself to spending eternity searching the multiverse for Bookers to kill; "Burial At Sea" seems to reach in desperation towards this idea.

As a science fiction story, BioShock Infinite is incompetent.

Now let's talk about racism. In a longer piece I have not had the time to finish, I refer to Columbia as "racist Disneyland," where everyone is white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant. It's only when we dive beneath the surface of Columbia that we see the underclasses on which it is built, a veritable army of workers made up of anyone who doesn't meet Columbia's standards of ideological and racial purity. It's fruitful ground for an examination of the racial and religious politics of the United States of America, of which Columbia is a microcosm. But it completely fails in this self-examination through, ironically, being a thoroughly American product in its ideology.

The resistance movement that fights against Comstock's reign in Columbia are the Vox Populi. We don't get to know much about them, because there is exactly one character who represents them in the story: Daisy Fitzroy, Comstock's former servant who is framed for the death of Lady Comstock. Hiding in Finkton, she begins building a movement to take down Comstock's regime.

Booker sees the systemic racism that Fitzroy is contending with, and accepts that this violence can only be brought down with violence. But after enabling that violence by hooking her up with a cache of weapons and a supplier, Booker has the audacity to say that there's no difference between Comstock and Fitzroy when he witnesses the ensuing rebellion. We've borne witness to Columbia up to this point, and we know that violent rebellion is Fitzroy's only choice: Columbia's upper class won't give them rights, nor will they allow all the workers to leave, as this will cause Columbia to stop functioning. Violence isn't good, but this is a situation where the Vox Populi must either commit violence to claim their freedom, or accept the violence of their existence. Booker and Elizabeth follow the carnage all the way to top of Finkton, where they witness Daisy kill Fink, a war profiteer and slaver who deserves it. But then she turns to kill Fink's son, calling him a weed that must be "pulled out by the root." BioShock Infinite takes a just, if nuanced, uprising and turns it into a murderous revenge fantasy.

I don't have a problem with complicated characters. Divorced from Infinite's themes of American exceptionalism, nationalism, and imperialism, I would be fine with this plot development. But Daisy Fitzroy exists in a broader narrative and portrayal of African-Americans, who are often portrayed as violent thugs just barely above wild animals. Perhaps the unjust society she has been raised in completely broke her; that's fair. But in the process, BioShock Infinite declares that Columbia is bad, but the side which comes up to challenge it is also shown as bad. It's the classic American neo-liberal "both sides" agenda: Ignore the legitimate grievances of one side or the other and divorce yourself from the conflict entirely in spite of your complicity in advancing it.

BioShock Infinite wants to tell a story about racism and what it does to people, but instead just tells a racist story. You can disagree with that if you want--and many do--but let me close by saying this: The United States experiment and the European-descended peoples who live within it are permanently sullied by the enslavement of millions of African people. You cannot have a conversation about racism in the United States, as BioShock Infinite tries to do, without talking about slavery.

BioShock Infinite uses the word "slave" once in its entire script... in reference to the immortal line from the original. In BioShock Infinite, the only slave is the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Male player character.

BioShock Infinite is a pretentious mess convinced it's smarter than it is. As a shooter, it's average. As a science-fiction story, it doesn't make sense. As a social commentary, it's racist. As a videogame, I hate it.

EDIT: I have a particular point I'd like to raise that just occurred to me, related specifically to a previous interaction I had with the Cane & Rinse team. Before you recorded the Uncharted 4 episode, I asked if you were going to have a Person of Color on to discuss the Nadine Ross casting issue. The answer I received was "we don't want one person to have to represent their entire race," which I completely respected. Well... glances nervously at Daisy Fitzroy, the only significant African-American in BioShock Infinite.
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Re: Our next podcast recording (10.3.18) - 310: BioShock Infinite

Post by MajorGamer » March 10th, 2018, 4:47 am

I've never cared for the two (or three) weapon limit in FPS. Instead of giving lots of options depending on the circumstances you are in, I just go for an all-purpose approach. Generally a machine gun, shotgun, and sniper to broadly cover the ranges. Those more powerful and situational weapons get tossed to the wayside since they could very well be useless in the upcoming battles. This is exactly what happened with BioShock Infinite, compounded even more with the upgrade system. The common guns get the upgrades so those rarer and more powerful guns are now fairly weak in comparison being left at the base level. On the hardest difficulty enemies could take multiple rockets to the face while a partial machinegun clip could finish them or even a single carbine bullet.

Your powers could have spiced things up but they lack the variety the first two BioShock games had, most boiling down to how you want to stun the enemies and I had one clear winner. Lightning gets upgraded to chain off enemies and as a hidden bonus, destroys corpses so the completely out of place ghost boss can't infinitely revive soldiers. Sometimes limits can lead to new strategies that get forced upon you but when one strategy felt so superior to anything else, there was no reason to experiment and possibly lose what was already working. Especially annoying that the DLC rectified all of this but left the base game untouched.

Even with low expectations from the gameplay, I expected great things from the story due to prior experience in the series. Instead we get plot twists that are easy to predict and, as Andrew said, a story revolving around infinite universes that doesn't understand what infinite means. It wants to give a happy ending for all Bookers by lamp-shading infinity with "constants and variables." To do this, you need to ignore that Booker would still be in crippling debt in the ending and in the same mindset that was willing to sell Elizabeth to resolve that. In addition, the game itself doesn't even follow its own rule. The DLC brings back Comstock who somehow avoided ceasing to exist. They wanted to have it both ways but ended up with things not being logically consistent.

One thing Infinite never addresses that I found odd is that the Fitzroy and Comstock that are killed in the game are different characters to the ones you see earlier on. It makes it look like a way to say both sides of the conflict are monsters which is a troubling thought. Fitzroy's "redemption" in the DLC felt very reactionary to the outcry on this. All of this pulled me out of the story as it ultimately comes down to a real world theory that isn't understood by those in charge of the story.
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