BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite (SPOILERS)

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Bulletzen
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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Bulletzen » February 26th, 2013, 8:23 pm

Just listened to the podcast. Excellent as always. It should be noted though that when you pick up your first plasmid (Electrobolt) there is no actual encouragement from Atlas. What the player sees is the plasmid syringe in the Gatherer's Garden and if you have in game text enabled, the words "Power Up" (pick up) over it. Now I always thought it was strange that Jack would simply pick up a strange syringe and inject some foreign substance into himself. Of course Jack is just an avatar of us the gameplayer and when we see the words "power up" we will blindly follow whatever is asked of us to get said power up. Now personally I found this to be one of the many underlying messages in Bioshock. Not only is Jack a slave, we gamers are slaves too.
We play through the game and expect to exact our revenge on Ryan (because that's what we've come to expect from dealing with a games protagonist), but it's denied to us. Ryan being Ryan decided to die how he wants it. Taking control away from Jack (us) and robbing us of that victory. He has kept to his ideals to the very end.
The sad thing is that when the game actually allows Jack to gain full control, the game conforms into what we've all come to expect from videogames and we ultimately have that long awaited boss fight and Bioshock became a weaker experience because of it. For me that's what makes the boss fight so disappointing. Bioshock is at it's strongest when it defies and challenges our expectations which it did until the last two chapters.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Todinho » March 1st, 2013, 2:36 am

Been replaying Bioshock since hearing the podcast and I just got to Arcadia and a few things in the smugglers hideout stood out for me:
Spoiler: show
First this is the place where you get your first hint that fontaine maybe alive when peachy attacks you saying you're working for fontaine,then ryan locks in a room and sends splicers against Atlas and taunts you to help him commenting that you cant do anything other than just stay there and watch until he opens the door(to me it seems almost like a prelude to what happens later on),here is where you also get the first Fontaine audio diary just before the sub explodes,then you get another diary of peachy telling how he became so paranoid so the player disregards his earlier acusations against Jack as he just being crazy. Incredible that this sequence holds so much significance in retrospect

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 8th, 2013, 12:39 pm

In preparation for the upcoming episode I would like to explain my position within the minority as someone who prefers Bioshock 2 to 1, its not a 'better' game but for all the criticism and skepticism it stands its equal overall and my personal favourite. Bioshock has moments that will be remembered for years to come but Bioshock 2 has a relationship that I will remember for at least as long.

It has its problems, the morality system is still redundant due to the lack of actual consequence, the little sister defense mechanic is good but over used, the environment suffers because we know it- The first games Rapture was so fresh and new it couldn't not be immersion personified. There isn't enough Tenenbaum (a personal conceit, I enjoy her german inflicted lilt) The shooting is tightened and new weapons are enjoyable to use, although the aesthetic remains unchanged the small redesigns of the Little sisters make them eerily sweet.

It is however the story that carries the game, too often in sequels whether we are discussing films or games etc the formula is to go bigger, to take it from battle to war, from people to worlds but the sequels creators decided to go smaller and must be applauded for doing so, this may well have been a cash in but it is a cash in clearly created by people with a love and respect for its foundations.

I don't like silent protagonists, they have the exact opposite effect of their intention and rather than bring me into a character they push me out of it however with Bioshock 2 I wasn't, I was completely focus on Deltas goal, the waking eyes of a creature who did not witness raptures fall, who had a semblance of purpose and something that felt like love within the freedom of the ultimate society. Yet now he finds himself stirring in the rubble of utopia, an obsolete relic of a previous age, a man yet not a man, with nothing to question or gain his broken mind remembers only her and pushes him in his journey towards his raison d'etre, the only thing that makes sense to Delta, The heart of the tin man fighting through an insane vision of Oz.

In the power vacuum left by Fontaine and Ryan, Sophia Lamb's quest for the perfect Utopian is misguided yet understandable, it is difficult not to pity a women who when faced with the crumbling, disfigured truth still struggles to find beauty, desperately she clings to the notion of raptures future, her own Hubris blinds her to the fact that rapture has failed, paradise does not exist and most painfully for her that she was wrong. That in itself is Raptures ultimate tragedy, the collective minds of the worlds best could not avoid or defeat the human condition, that even omniscience and altruism can be corrupted by power and greed. The people turn to religion and deities in the confusion and shame of what rapture has become, splicers in all their ugliness still want to believe in something.

There are questions to be asked of Deltas quest too, he is no better in truth than Lamb, certainly no more justified. Does it ever occur to him that in the course of his journey to save his daughter (Biologic or symbolic) He orphans countless girls just like Eleanor, uses them to gain power and 'sets them free' A noble act on the surface but Eleanor s relationship with Delta shows a deep and lasting connection, an imprint between a Daddy and Sister. So can we expect a sister to grow happily with the memory of her protector and saviour being mercilessly dispatched in a hail of rivets forever etched into her mind. Indeed is setting them free really the right thing to do, it perhaps makes us feel better but it is shown clearly that Rapture is not the decaying asylum city we know when viewed through the glowing, yellow eyes of a little sister, one can only imagine their view of Big Daddies and Sisters when beige nondescript armour becomes a glowing regal gown. Is removing her from her decadent and bourgeois world of adam collecting games with angels really in her best interest or do we do it purely for us, our narrow minded sense of righteousness. Its these visual stories, the ones that expand with thought that set the series apart. Exploring a burning and dilapidated apartment to find a splicer corpse slumped against a bloodied wall, shotgun in hand and wondering what lead him to give up, why did he not share the blind faith of those around him. Most poignant to me was hovering my reticule over the corpse of a fallen big daddy in order to strip him of anything of use and finding not a model but a familiar name, I pause in the cold realisation that the latest daddy to find himself inadequate in the face of my power had come to rapture for the same reason as me, I had listened to his diaries, sympathised with the fathers love that mirrored my own but due to my unwavering need to save my daughter, he would never save his. Fine margins.

There at the centre is the crux of all things, saving Eleanor Lamb, the girl who's life and its continuation brought Delta into existence. guided the whole way by some excellent voice acting (A fact across the whole series) that manages to convey simultaneously the strength and vulnerability of this girl. Courage and fear in the face of her mother, Love and longing for her father. Voice acting alone manages to expose her naive desire for vengeance and her lack of readiness at that stage to make such decisions. Eleanor s most subtle and heartbreaking trait is steadfast purity of belief - the walls of the city they love crumble around them, choking in murky corruption and sneering disregard and yet in the rubble of the former generations sins she glows with optimism - How can she be optimistic?a triumph of human spirit, real faith. How can Delta possibly stumble and not lurch back to his heavy feet when despite untold failed hack attempts, Vita chamber visits and seemingly insurmountable odds, this frail child carries enough courage for you both. Delta can have no doubts, no second guessing himself because she believes in him, even if he does not. Ultimately she is handled wonderfully, nervously excited, resolute and finally able to allow herself to hope, to move on and believe in the future.

Guiding hands that originally I treated with skepticism, wary of betrayal prove loyal until their final choking breath begging me to finish our job, a shady reporter whose wide sunken eyes know that I may have let him live but that was not mercy as worse fates await him and a singer who now knows there is a person within the faceless machine. Characters are few but beautifully realised within the world.

There is finally the Big Sisters, consumed by reckless hate and Psychosis yet tethered to Lambs will. All broken minds and exploited bodies their defeat feels merciful. euthanised from there own caged misery.

Bioshock 2 will perhaps always live in the shadow of its predecessor but deserves its place equally among the pantheon of this generations greats. My apologies for rambling and to sign off in three words: Daddies home Eleanor.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Ghost World » March 8th, 2013, 1:16 pm

Superb post IMO and one I wholeheartedly agree with.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by kappisun » March 9th, 2013, 9:08 am

Really good post IMO. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 11th, 2013, 6:51 pm

Cheers fellas, appreciate you taking the time to go through it.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Cass » March 11th, 2013, 7:41 pm

Hi guys, been listening to the podcast a while now and finally got around to signing up to the forums!

It was actually the Bioshock 1 podcast that spurred me on to give Bioshock 2 a whirl - more specifically, the Minerva's Den DLC. I'd heard good things about it critically (most convincingly, from Brad Shoemaker on the Giant Bombcast) so when I saw the Raputre Ultimate Edition in Tesco for £12 (think it's still there, go buy it if you haven't) I decided I'd give Bioshock 2 a go.

Bioshock 2 is interesting to me. It's one of those games that I'd only ever heard talked about in negative terms - specifically that it wasn't as good as Bioshock 1 - and despite critically scoring 8s and 9s out of 10, anecdotally the advice seemed to be "don't bother". There's a similar sort of anti-hype around games like Dead Space 3 in which the conversation about the sequel is framed in terms of its predecessor. Any discussion is framed in a negative way from the outset, such that the casual observer tends to come away with the impression that the game is actually bad. That was certainly the case with me.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Bioshock 2 may not be a perfect game, and it may not break new ground, but it does it's best with everything it tackles and the result is something atmospheric and highly playable. The main draw for me came from being re-immersed (pun intended) into the world of Rapture, which I think is a lot of people's favourite game world, and for good reason. 2K take the aesthetic inherited from Bioshock 1 and really run with it - and the result is a game that's gorgeous. Yeah, it's gorgeous in the same way as Bioshock 1, but there's actually not a lot of games that have used that look since, and I really don't think there's anything wrong with going back to Rapture. This may be old ground they're retreading, but it's ground I personally couldn't get enough of last time around. Nothing Bioshock 2 does sullies its predecessor's memory in any way, so why not just enjoy the excuse to go back and explore further?

As for the story - it's fine. Lamb proves to be a much less interesting antagonist the closer she gets to ADAM, much like Fontaine before her. Lamb's collectivist uprising makes a stupid amount of sense considering that Rapture is Andrew Ryan's shrine to the individual, and once that unravels... where to from there? The more Eleanor figures into the story though, the less I really cared - Eleanor's fine and all, but you're never really given a reason to love her in the way the game portrays their connection. Lots of the secondary characters suffer from the same shaky characterisation. The game wants so much to make you feel something for them
Spoiler: show
Stanley Poole is responsible for ALL THE BAD THINGS, the Grace story tries to pull your heartstrings all over the place, it's supposed to be really really sad when Sinclair gets Big Daddy'd
but none of it really connects. They're cool characters, but you get the impression that the game is trying just way too hard to make you feel something, and none of the choices really figure all that much into the endings in any case, so it all comes off feeling a little superfluous.

The gameplay on the other hand is much improved. Much like Bioshock 1, you start the game feeling very weak and end it feeling waaaay overpowered. Some progression is necessary I guess, but it make the whole "You're a Big Daddy!" thing a hard sell at first, especially until you get the drill charge. By the end I felt massive and dangerous, and it all feels earned. My personal favourite of the new features to the combat wasn't any of the plasmid upgrades, but the new bot-centric powers you could get. I loved having my little bot bodyguards. The repairs you could make to them, the upgrades from the Security plasmid and the research, and the names! Naming them gave me all the emotional investment I was missing from the characters. Screw Eleanor, I was more upset whenever anything happened to good ol' Jean-Paul, Eva, Tommy or any number of the (sadly) disposable bots who helped me on my way.

So yeah, this game isn't as good as Bioshock 2. In a lot of ways, it just feels... lesser. Less huge, less sprawling, less ambitious, less inventive. But it's still a damn good ride and Rapture is still an incredible place to get lost in. I really regret not having played this now, and it's definitely made me think twice about anti-hype.

Now, onto Minerva's Den!

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 11th, 2013, 7:54 pm

We clearly disagree in many respects Cass but completely respect your feelings on the experience. I hope you take more from Minervas Den as it is worth the admission price alone.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Todinho » March 11th, 2013, 10:21 pm

so just replayed Bioshock 2 here's my thoughts on it:

Gameplay wise Bioshock 2 improves almost in everyway from it's predecessor,the ability to wield both plasmids and weapons it's great for combat and seems so simple that makes me wonder why it wasnt in the first game to begin with,the splicers come with a little more variation and are harder to take down along with the Big daddies and Big sisters which can make for some pretty challeging fights at times,the new tonics and skills were also well implemented with it coming one of my favorite skills in gaming the "Drill Dash" if there's one thing i didnt like in the gameplay was the hacking system which was much better in the previous game.

When it comes to the atmosphere and story it's where the game starts to have problems for me,the first game had a great sense of tension in the begin but this time around all that is gone the only time I was tense during the game was the first encouter with the Big sister,I also found all of the regions visited in the game very unremarkable in comparison to bioshock 1,being able to walk outside of rapture and see it from the outside was a great idea I just hoped the developers had done more with it like using it to travel between levels instead of using the railroad system or just putting more gameplay in them as it stands it just feels like a missed oportunity.

As for the story it has it's moments but it never really manages to reach to level of the first one,while the idea to explore utilitarianism as a contrast to the first game was avery good one it never really managed to grab me and if im honest it comes a bit ham-fisted at times,the reason for that I think it's that while Bioshock built everything from rapture to the gameplay to support it's main theme,2 just borrows those and tries to slap it's ideas in it which works to some deggre,as Deltas journey can be seem as the will of the individual surpassing Lamb's idea of colective,but overall It never felt all that well put together.It doesnt help that Lamb is a very weak antagonist in comparison to Ryan and the fact that they try to retcon her in Rapture's history as to make it seem that she was a big influence in the city and a threat like fontaine just made me dislike the story even more,however what saves Bioshock 2 narrative for me are the characters and audio diaries,Finding out about Elenor's childhood,hearing mark journey through rapture until his ultimate fate and having Sinclair as a partner were all highlights for me that keeped me invested when the main plot didnt.

Bioshock 2 may not be able to mach it's predecessor in terms of story and atmosphere but it still stands as a good and memorable game despite all that,if anything I never get tired of playing it something I cant say about bioshock 1.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Cass » March 11th, 2013, 10:47 pm

Now see, Sinclair was a problem for me. He's set up as a bit of a bastard who might have ulterior motives for helping you, but then he just... doesn't. It was a little weak for me.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Todinho » March 11th, 2013, 11:20 pm

Cass wrote:Now see, Sinclair was a problem for me. He's set up as a bit of a bastard who might have ulterior motives for helping you, but then he just... doesn't. It was a little weak for me.
Yeah i get that but I just found him very entertaining to listen to all the way,he also serves as a good oposite to Atlas that the player trusts without question,in 2 Sinclair is always said to be untrustworthy but in the end he didnt plan to betray you at all I liked myself.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 12th, 2013, 1:16 am

Sinclair I think is handled very well in that the developers are fully aware of how the player will view him due to Atlas in the previous game. When he didn't betray me Cass, I felt guilty that I never trusted him, that he has shown faith in me but I had never repaid that in kind, it is essentially playing with players expectations which I think is a very intelligent move on their part and has a similar effect to the first games comments on the player doing as they are told, it therefore maintains thematic canon. Here through Sinclair they say 'You think you know what we are doing but you don't you cynical muppet.'

I actually find Lamb to be a far more compelling antagonist than Ryan or Fontaine in that she struggles with her own ideals, she is not essentially a bad person and is or at least was a very good person. She is very similar to Ryan in her idealistic view and yet they are two opposed ideals - the parallel between the two characters is great in that it deftly shows that there is no right answer, Ryan's philosophy of objectivism promoted the individual, the utilitarian Lamb placed the good of the many before the few and yet both failed. It is also worth remembering that rapture is set in the late 40's to 60's and a women had the courage to stand up to men on an intellectual level, how rare is someone like Lamb in todays politics let alone the in the sphere of mid century sexism and oppression. Yes you can argue that equality and meritocracy were the principles of Raptures founding but how many other women are shown in positions of power, as business owners etc and Ryan quite clearly was not a liberal minded and progressive man despite his focus on his ideology. 2K must also be applauded for not making a big deal of her gender. The game has a great many religious undertones such as Deltas resurrection and Lamb's 'sacrifice' of her daughter for great good - creating the utopian and cleansing the sins of Raptures people. There is here in that struggle a fascinating dichotomy of Lambs forward thinking scientific mind and naive ideas, a clash of fact and fiction, evidence and conjecture, evolution into God. In her quest for complete selflessness she is selfish.

I would have to disagree that she is clumsily retconned as her role within Rapture makes sense as does her conflict with Ryan. Fontaine was a simple gangster when all is said and done his struggle with Ryan is one of power yet Lambs is a conflict of ideals. Lamb threatens to control the hearts and minds of his people - this is a far bigger threat than Fontaine posed and also draws a nice line to the emergence of new ideas and religions throughout actual history. The debates further show Ryans arrogance as he attempts to laugh off Lamb and the idea completely backfired. We know of his Gestapo like secret police so her imprisonment makes sense also.

I think really that the 2K had a story, studied the first game in detail and then elegantly weaved their tale through it, bare in mind that Irrational turned it down feeling Raptures story had been told suggesting it was always intended to be self contained andnot expanded upon. Lets be honest they could have resurrected Ryan or Fontaine or installed a maniacal caricature in their wake but they didn't they approached it very differently in fact.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Cass » March 12th, 2013, 12:05 pm

It wasn't the fact that he didn't betray me that I found so jarring about Sinclair, it's that the Sinclair you interact with and the Sinclair everyone else knows feel like two completely different characters - and frankly, the audio diary Sinclair is a whole lot more interesting. He's a grifter and confidence trickster, playing all these different people, constantly on the make. The Sinclair that you interact with is just a GPS device with a Southern drawl. That disconnect made it hard for me to feel strongly either way about his ultimate fate, especially since the game plays it up as this big tragic moment, trying to wring every ounce of drama out of what was (for me) a pretty weak character. Same with Stanley Poole - the game tries so hard to make you hate Poole that it ends up backfiring and being sort of ridiculous.
Spoiler: show
It would have been enough if he'd had Eleanor kidnapped OR if he'd sold out Johnny Topside OR if he'd killed an entire complex's worth of cultists. That he did all of those things is just cartoonishly evil. I would have expected him to have a giant curly moustache and top hat.
Lamb is much stronger, at least for the first half of the game. Her collectivist movement makes complete sense considering the downfall of Rapture and disenchantment with Objectivism - that the "little people" should want to band together to have some sort of power in such an unbalanced society rings very true, and gels completely with the "downtown Rapture" theme of the game. I feel as though the story gets weaker as the game progresses, though.
Spoiler: show
The Eleanor plot really didn't do anything for me. I mean, yeah, the idea of Sofia splicing up her genius daughter to make a living saint is kind of horrifying, I suppose, but I didn't really feel the connection I think the game wanted me to have with Eleanor. You search for her because you want to leave, and you (the player) don't know Eleanor from ADAM (pun intended). Your motives for finding Eleanor are therefore entirely selfish. Turning her into basically a summonable critter when you do find her didn't help things for me really. The sum total of the Eleanor plot is to turn Sofia Lamb from a sinister omnipresent Mother Knows Best figure into your stereotypical mad scientist, and I think that's a weakness.
Didn't really have a problem with the retcons to fit Lamb into the world, although things like the Ryan/Lamb debates felt jarring. It would have been a much more natural fit for Lamb's presence to have been bubbling under in Rapture until the Fall gave her a chance for a coup - that would have allowed for her lack of presence in the first game's mythos while allowing her to be quietly manipulating the rest of Rapture like a magnificent bastard. As it is, her introduction is fine but does feel a mite tacked on.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 12th, 2013, 1:32 pm

I can see what you feel about Stanley Poole however I think that it must be recognised that all of Stanleys actions follow logically as cause and effect, hes a spineless man who is desperate to gain favour within Raptures upper echelons and gets in well over his head. He is a reporter so his interaction and meetings with Johnny Topside, a celebrity within rapture is natural. Ryan being Ryan doesn't trust Topside Stanley has his opportunity to prove himself of use to him. Having proved himself he is asked to do the same thing for Lamb. Due to this action he is given Dionysus Park to show Ryans gratitude. Poole is a loser who suddenly finds himself in a position of power with access to Lambs riches and therefore does what anyone in his position would do and he lives it up, burning Lambs money in the process. Eleanor is left in the care of Grace Holloway and becomes aware of Pooles actions so to shut her up he has her kidknapped (Not knowing she would become be turned into a little sister.) Again he is spineless therefore in fear of Lamb he floods the park. I think personally that all naturally follows and take into account that Eleanors view of him is completely biased and as stated previously, naive. I thought this was intentional.

I can agree that Sinclair feels like two separate characters however in his conclusion I think in retrospect you have to look back at him as a man in search for redemption, feeling guilty for his role in Eleanors predicament and hoping to atone. It would possibly be better if more was made of the transition but that is the only small gripe I can have.

In many respects Lamb was bubbling under - she only makes her after Ryan's demise, during the whole of the first game she is in hiding. Again the debates are causal. Her disagreement with Ryan's philosophies and opposition to him and then defeating him in front the whole of Rapture directly lead to where we find ourselves in 2.

I think the fundamental difference of our experience is that I never felt Delta wanted to leave, never considered him to even care about his personal safety or well being, only being completely focused on saving Eleanor. If you didn't buy into that then I fully understand the game having less impact for you.

Thinking about it now much of the series is episodic in nature with each level being a largely self contained tale which focused on a particular antagonist highlighting the majority of their story in quick succession which perhaps adds to the problems with the characters ypu mention.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Todinho » March 12th, 2013, 5:09 pm

I get the liking the Lamb,and honestly I think she is okay as an character my problem is that in the recording you have her on rally's debating Ryan on her belief's and let's remenber that there was a civil war in rapture between Atlas who was "fighting for the people" if like cass said she was just there and waited for the death of ryan and fontaine to rise and take over the splicer's it would be okay,but she having a great group of followers before just felt out place for me. I think overall rapture felt more disconnected in 2 I think the stroy as a hole suffered for it,on other thing completely unrelated I really would prefer if there was only 1 big sister that you had to run away from and survive instead of fighting 1 every level it could be used really well for the story too.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Cass » March 12th, 2013, 6:12 pm

I know what you mean re: Big Sisters. Up until the first defeat of one, I thought there was only one, and it was beginning to feel a little intimidating having her follow me around the place kicking my arse. That one set-piece towards the beginning of the game where she slices up the glass and fills the room with water was very, very cool, and you'd keep catching glimpses of Big Sis throughout those first few levels. She felt powerful and significant... up until you kill the first one. My reaction was "YEAH!... oh." There's loads of them! Just like the Big Daddies! That you also have to kill loads of! I kept expecting there to be some tie-in of the Big Sister to the story but no, they're just another kind of mook. A missed opportunity.

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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by James » March 12th, 2013, 9:30 pm

I too feel that the Big Sister was terrifying in those opening exchanges. The first direct combat encounter is actually cut short once sufficient damage is done to her, but that took a not insignificant amount of concentration to just survive. This added to the sense of foreboding, which culminated in the first full-blown fight to the death with a Big Sister. After that point the other Big Sisters arrive in perfectly scheduled formation (after every three Little Sisters) and that robbed them of suspense (for me at least).

Overall I don't have the love for BioShock 2 that I do for the first, despite its improvements (which mechanically are pretty indisputable I'd say). There are several reasons for this that replaying both games recently has highlighted.

Rapture has further slipped into disrepair following the 8 years since the first game, and it shows. Whilst perfectly reasonable to have plant life and grime starting to claim Rapture's vibrant, colourful décor, it meant that I struggled to tell one environment from another. The strong and varied aesthetics in BioShock bring to mind distinctly different feelings, sounds and smells and that just wasn't true of the sequel for me. I also felt that the level design in BioShock 2 relied on a few too many rooms like the Apollo Square and Olympus Heights 'foyer' areas. This too robbed Rapture of a little of its character for me.

The characters in BioShock 2 are incredibly well fleshed out by the Audio Diaries, but I never enjoyed meeting them in-game like I did in the first. It's difficult to describe, but Grace Holloway's story is infinitely better told through the diaries than by her or by Pauper's Drop as an environment. In BioShock I felt that the balance between diary, environment and direct character interaction was more even. Take Steinman or Sander Cohen, for example; the environment and diaries combined to shape my expectations of them, which were only enhanced by my interactions with them.

I think Grace Holloway, Augustus Sinclair and the Wales brothers might have been better served by having their own short stories created around them, rather than being rolled into Sofia Lamb's story. Only Stanley Poole was given an extended period of interaction with Delta (and the player), which I think worked pretty well. I have long been a fan of the idea that BioShock 2 would have worked well as a series of 3 or 4 vignettes - something that I think Minerva's Den proved the concept for.

Ultimately I liked Lamb's story, but introducing the idea that Ryan and Lamb were actively battling before his demise served only to highlight her absence from the first game. Had she been spearheading an underground movement that Ryan snuffed out quietly then it would have been understandable that she would have been an unknown in 1960. This would have allowed her to step into the power vacuum left by Ryan and Fontaine and given her 8 years to accrue the prominence she had by BioShock 2. However, the posters, the followers and the public debates mean that Sofia Lamb should surely have been mentioned by someone, somewhere in the audio diaries of the first game. It must have been difficult for the writers, but there are ways to write her story that avoid any accusations of her being shoehorned into Rapture's history.

I know I sound very negative, but I did enjoy BioShock 2 a heck of a lot. It's perhaps unfair for me to measure it so specifically against its predecessor, given the unreasonably high esteem in which I hold BioShock. In many ways it'll be interesting to see how BioShock Infinite fares alongside its namesakes in our various estimations.

Oh, and I have a theory that I'd like to float amongst the posters here. I know that there are those who hold Minerva's Den in very high regard (I count myself amongst them). I also know that there are at least two people on the upcoming podcast episode who were less enthralled by the story of Rapture Central Computing. I wonder if the degree of reverence for Minerva's Den can be related to how much the Turing homages within it affect the individual player. I certainly could not avoid, and was greatly affected by, the direct and indirect nods to him, but I think it would be unlikely that those aspects of Minerva's Den were as influential to everyone. As I said, it's just a theory, and I'd love to know if it holds true amongst the fine folks here.

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Imo
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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 13th, 2013, 4:03 am

I had thought that Lamb and Ryan clashed before Fontaine came to prominence, he was putting in work of course but not fully at war with Ryan. I also never felt that they were 'battling' more that she was an upstart and an annoyance to Ryan which he quashed before its full fruition, his first attempt was he debate which backfired which lead to more underhanded tactics. When she was incarcerated her influence and exposure within society was stamped out until she completely faded from the public consciousness, Ryan denied her existence. While on the inside she garnered favour with the other inmates. Her re emergence was opportunistic due to Fontaine and Ryan destroying each other (With Jacks assistance) Her ideas and doctrines have been modified upon her return to fit the needs of a of fractured and fragile post war population. I am perhaps filling in gaps so I fully understand if people don't think she works as well as I do. To put it most simply I think its the fact that although I always felt she was my enemy I never hated her.

I think the Big sisters would indeed have been much better as a single tragic figure throughout the game. I have read that in original concepts Eleanor was to be the single Big sister fought throughout the game and then there would be the reveal at the end but it was scrapped as it felt contrived, I agree with that but I would have really liked a single failed experiment, one focal psychological tragedy.

I can agree fully that Rapture is worse for wear, i think it speaks volumes that I can pick out in my mind the majority of Bioshock 1's locations whereas the 2nd games environs blend into an albeit cohesive but nevertheless poorer string of similarity.

I must admit these talks and various opinions (which all have interested me greatly) have me very excited for Infinite and how we will all receive it, call me shallow but I have a feeling Elizabeth is going to be a wonderful character one which could be iconic for the whole generation.

Finally to address Minervas Den. I would have to caveat my response to your theory by saying my exposure to Turing has not to say the least been full scope. My interests lie in philosophy rather than maths so I am familiar with his work his significance to me personally is the Turing test and its implicated questions, such as what defines a person and what separates them from AI - A subject Japanese manga, videogame and anime writers have been pondering for a long time, when does artificial life become life? I really liked it, feeling that the experience distilled everything good about Bioshock 2 a good story brilliantly voiced, full of emotional resonance without being in your face, a multi faceted 'villain' and most importantly a range of open ended and important questions. I would rather avoid a full diatribe now as its early but I look forward to hearing the experiences of others and get the feeling that you personally are a big fan of the piece.

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Cass
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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Cass » March 13th, 2013, 12:50 pm

A lot of the more frustrating aspects of Bioshock 2 for me stem from (relatively) poorly-handled ideas - that 2K were aware that players liked or disliked certain elements from the first Bioshock but were uncertain as to how to improve or develop those ideas for the sequel. Which is fair enough, Bioshock 1 was a landmark and something completely new and different, but you can't help but feel that 2K missed the point on several elements.

Secondary characters are one of these ideas. Grace Holloway (and the notion of choices in general in this game) is a problem for me.
Spoiler: show
The "choice" involving whether to let Grace live or die isn't a choice at all. After hearing her howlings on the radio all the way through Pauper's Drop, it's pretty clear that Grace's problem with you is a grudge of compassion, right up until you actually meet her. As the audio diaries unfold, you learn her touching story and what she (and others, you infer) were driven to under the oppression of Ryan's regime. Grace is built up to be an entirely sympathetic character, despite the fact that she's trying her best to get you killed. Even supposed weasel Sinclair is at pains to point out to you that Grace's vendetta against you is based on a misunderstanding. The game does not want you to kill Grace.

So you finally meet her and she's this frail old lady holed up in a room all by herself. She is again a pitiful figure here, making her last stand against the wrong enemy. My problem with the kill/spare decision here is - it isn't a choice. There is literally nothing to be gained from killing Grace - it is a bad decision. Sparing Grace isn't that impactful either - you get some assistance leaving Pauper's Drop and she sends you a grand total of one care package, which is the last time you hear from her - but it's still better than killing a defenseless old lady for no other reason than she's been a bit mean to you.

Now, if Grace had truly been a mad dog - fanatically devoted, unable to come to terms with Delta's mercy - and leaving her alive mean that getting out of Pauper's Drop was going to be in some way more challenging? THAT's a choice, since you've got incentive to choose the "evil" option. I might have had trouble with that. As it is? Either you're a murderer of defenseless old ladies, or you're not. That's not an effective moral choice.

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Imo
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Re: BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite

Post by Imo » March 13th, 2013, 1:57 pm

While I agree that its a completely valid point regarding Grace Holloway I would posit that choice has never been well implemented throughout the series (I think it is rarely in any game to be fair.) Increasing her further interactions or changing them slightly would have really improved the experience, I think she is a great character that doesnt have the impact she could.

When she is met though I took her to have given up and accepted her fate at the hands of the beast, she is shocked with the outcome of the decision but from it should have been expanded as you say. Lamb mocks your decision - should have done so more, Grace should have struggled more to come to terms with it. Perhaps explaining her ultimate fate would have helped things along.

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