Bring Back Bioshock – The Bioshock Collection

2K Boston’s/ Irrational Games first person shooter game, Bioshock, is undoubtedly one that should sit firmly and proudly in any gamer’s collection. Receiving universal acclaim for its mind-boggling story line and intense and quite frankly disturbing gameplay, Bioshock definitely became a game difficult to compare to any other.

Most recent gaming consoles (PS4/ Xbox One) have provided developers the opportunity to remaster and recreate some fan favourites. Among such games is the Tomb Raider reboot (Square Enix) which made a comeback with Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Devil May Cry 5 (Capcom), The Last Of Us (Naughty Dog) and even 2K’s own Borderlands series came to newer gen consoles in the form of The Handsome Collection, including both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. With such great titles making such successful comebacks, it is almost strange that Bioshock hasn’t crept its way into the running, well, until now – kinda. It has been covered by IGN that a ”retailer may have accidentally leaked The Bioshock Collection”. That said, let’s savor our excitement – I’m almost sure I can hear millions of eager fans fidgeting in their seats, so let’s revisit what made Bioshock such a gruesomely great game and why there is every reason it should be remastered for fans on up-to-date consoles.

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Completely Deranged

One of the most renowned aspects of Bioshock is the utterly mental story line. Although seemingly simple at the beginning, as the game proceeds it becomes evident that with a ton of scientific jargon and DNA related technicalities, that unless you are scientifically inclined, the game is going to toy with your mind a bit – or a lot.

To enlighten those unfamiliar with the Bioshock basics, the game is set in the once intended utopia, Rapture. The city is based miles and miles deep within the North Atlantic Ocean. Pre-game, Rapture suffers at the hands of a civil war, resulting in the ultimate corruption of the underwater city. A valuable substance, ADAM (discovered in the process of Rapture’s creation) which allows genetic alterations once consumed, became exploited and fought over by residents who began splicing themselves extortionately, resulting in deformities and physical disfiguration. Most residents either became ‘Splicers’ or died at the hands of them. Primarily identified by their distinctive diver suit appearance and low, echoing whale like calls, Big Daddies sit at the top of the splicing food chain. Accompanying them on their ADAM patrols through Rapture are Little Sisters. These once little girls of Rapture have been corrupted by exposure to and consumption of ADAM and must be either saved or harvested by the player, once of course they’ve gotten through the rather terrifying Big Daddies first.

The player takes the role of Jack who, after a plane crash, finds his way into a lighthouse and, in using the bathysphere there, arrives in Rapture. The player must traverse the demolished city, fighting through hordes of spliced psychos and Bioshock’s iconic Big Daddies in order to escape.

This brings us to the first reason Bioshock should find it’s way back to our screens remastered. There is no other game like Bioshock. The whole ideal behind the game is very sinister and wicked and it makes the game very interesting to play. Featuring several characteristics of survival-horror, the thrill factor spurs you on during your playthrough and although you are dreading the next splicer that hurls itself at you unexpectedly or the next Big Daddy you have to take on unprepared, you will continue to play.

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No Escape

To add to the ongoing list of reasons Bioshock remains to be one of the most extraordinary games of all time is because of it’s widely credited setting, Rapture. In being situated thousands of miles below the surface of the ocean, consequently generated is the disconcerting feeling of no escape. For a player caught up in Bioshock’s proceedings, this simply adds to the dark atmosphere throughout the game, also contributing to the fear factor considerably. Bioshock’s well developed gameplay in combination with the almost evil atmosphere that Rapture creates, the game is immersive, making you feel as if you yourself are fending for your life in Rapture’s wreck.

Rapture is a perfectly developed setting also in respect to its association with the ocean. This I mean not only literally, in regards to its location, but also in respect to the resounding whale calls the Big Daddies produce, the glass walkways that exhibit Rapture’s once beautiful sights, the many species of fish that can be seen looming all over the city like vultures in a desert, it all reconciles to make the setting increasingly eerie and unpredictable and for a keen player, this makes the game far more enjoyable. It would be truly wonderful to be able to experience all of these feelings again in a remastered version of the game.

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The Remains Of A Utopia 

Rapture was Andrew Ryan’s (a main character within Bioshock) intended Utopia, what it became was the complete opposite. A city that was once supposed to manifest a perfect way of living was reduced to what could only be described as hell.

With Splicers making up the foremost part of the broken city’s population, it is almost uneasy for the player as the enemies have few limits, nothing is standing between them and you. There is no law, rules or regulations, Splicers are quite simply relentless and it really draws out the true horror factor of Bioshock. The setting presents to the player the rawness of these villains, blood spats on walls, messages written in blood, gruesome dead bodies displaying the aftermath of attacks. All of these scenes are scattered throughout Rapture and it does so well to keep the player on their toes. Collectively and in contrast to safe haven Andrew Ryan aimed to achieve initially in Rapture’s creation, all of the fear becomes amplified and, again, it effectively produces the immersive environment that few other games have even come close to developing on such a great scale.

We need a game like Bioshock out there, we need the Bioshock Collection.

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Back To Rapture 

Bioshock has been overwhelmed with all means of praise since its release, even receiving several Game Of The Year awards. It is a unique game on a number of different levels and in being so, it owes itself a remastered version. Fans deserve to revel in and thoroughly enjoy this title again, enhanced and buffed up for up to date consoles. I know I’d happily sit through another playthrough of being toyed with by a Splicer flickering lights of the room I am in, or coming face to face with a Big Daddy with nothing but a wrench – I kinda take that bit back.

All we as anxious fans can do for the meantime is tame our excitement if possible and keep checking to see if these rumors are in fact true.

 

 

Irrational Games Recruiting for New Project

Irrational Games, the studio behind acclaimed titles such as System Shock 2, BioShock and BioShock Infinite, are looking for a senior UI artist and a character modeler to work on their upcoming project.

Ken Levine, creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games, announced back in early 2014 that the studio was to close its doors, with a close-knit team of 15 moving forward with Levine to focus their efforts on digital download, narrative-driven games for publisher Take-Two.

From the lengthy requirements for both roles, it seems Irrational are only taking on the best of the best in both fields, with several years of experience and at least two games needing to have been shipped by applicants for both positions, along with a plethora of other requirements, preferences and bonus points for applicants to stack up to.

The specs for both roles are pretty much standard procedure and don’t give us much we can glean about what the team are working on, although we can safely assume that whatever’s in the works isn’t going to be PC-only, as the potential UI artist is required to understand the limitations of consoles, memory and any issues in relation to performance.

Job postings for an audio lead, senior animator, community manager and senior programmer were all published earlier this year in connection to the studio’s upcoming project, though these listings have since been pulled from the site.

The team are expected to form a brand new studio sometime this year and are focusing on creating games with replayable narrative for core gamers, with their current project being described as a first-person sci-fi game, though no more information is available at this time.

BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea – Episode 2 Review

BioShock

Bioshock Infinite was a bit of a bizarre game. It released to nearly endless praise, only to be called the most overrated game of 2013 weeks after the dust had settled. From the story to the gameplay, it has become quite polarized in its reception as time goes on. Burial At Sea: Episode 1 promised to be as compelling as Infinite, though struck out because of its short length and abrupt conclusion.

Irrational Games assured us that Burial At Sea – Episode 2 would be an intriguing and concrete finale to the series, and it really followed through in this regard.

Burial At Sea – Episode 2 has you playing the role of Elizabeth for the first time in the series, and after a brief and beautiful introduction, picks up exactly where Episode 1 left off. Avoiding spoilers, if you remember what happened at the end of Episode 1, you’re about to have your mind blown at all of the insane twists and turns that are around each and every corner of Episode 2. Like Infinite as a whole, Irrational made the story just as bonkers as before. They managed to tie up Infinite quite nicely, even if there are some iffy parts thrown in.

One of the main problems I had with Infinite and Episode 1 was that they seemed to juggle too many ideas at once, which caused the story to be convoluted and puzzling. The original Bioshock told a story that was JUST as insane, yet made every single twist clear and concise without leaving the player ever feeling unintentionally confused. Episode 2 has the exact same problem that Infinite has, in that you will often wonder what exactly is going on, even when the credits roll.

It’s disappointing to see that they couldn’t flesh out the ideas more, or tell them in a way that doesn’t damage the story itself, but it’s become expectation with Infinite and its DLC at this point. When you manage to figure out everything that has transpired, you will appreciate the story as a whole, as it’s definitely up there on the intellectual scale, offering unique ideas and perspectives that are often not told within the realm of video games. It never manages to hit the level of something like the original Bioshock in my opinion, but it’s a refreshing plot told well if nothing else.

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As mentioned earlier, Episode 2 has you controlling Elizabeth. It’s very nice to finally get to see the world through her eyes, as she was undoubtedly the best character in Infinite, and shines even brighter in this piece of content. Every single piece of dialogue Elizabeth speaks is music to the ears, and the writing of her character is top notch. Her personality is strong and consistent, and she’s intelligent, witty and offers a lot of class to the game.
Beyond her, characters such as Atlas and other familiars from Bioshock make their appearances, and it’s wonderful to see them again. Part of what made Bioshock so appealing were the eccentric, deranged, and psychotic characters, and after a brief display with Cohen in Episode 1, we get to see a lot more into the minds of several other standouts.

Unlike Episode 1, Episode 2 doesn’t tease you with the characters. What were brief and seemingly unimportant glimpses at old fan-favourites, become essential key scenes to the plot in Episode 2. They never feel shoehorned in, and it’s actually a pleasant surprise that Irrational gives more insight into the story of the original Bioshock, as well as some of the lore of Infinite. These types of things make the plot and characters very fulfilling for long-time fans, and actually helps with the theories that people have created in response to the often ambiguous aspects of this universe.

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Even though the setting and characters are familiar, the gameplay has been drastically changed from Infinite and even Episode 1. No longer are you a gun-toting death machine with octopus vigors and the ability to spawn crows as personal kamikaze fighter jets. Nor are you guessing where the hordes of enemies are hiding and spawning as you get filled with so much lead, that you’d be considered a lethal weapon in some countries. The idea now is that you’re a female Solid Snake. Stealth is the name of the game, and Elizabeth with her vast knowledge, excels in this practice. You must use your new vigors to stalk from the shadows, your sleep-dart crossbow to render foes unconscious, and your occasional weapon to defend yourself when you make a mistake in your tactical approach.
Enemies are laid out cleverly in most areas, but are less in numbers. You will rely on being quiet and using the environment to your advantage to sneak from safe zone to safe zone, as any direct engagement will often lead to your demise. Elizabeth lacks a shield, but makes up for it with her wit.

When not taking part in stealth, you’re often exploring a meticulously designed world filled with nods to previous entries in the franchise and solving basic puzzles to progress. It’s a bite-sized original Bioshock in this regard, as the world is dark and beautiful, but hauntingly devoid of life. Every room is filled with ruin and destruction, but also the leftovers of what was once a beautiful city.

As usual, the set pieces are designed with care in such a way, that you’ll often find yourself stopping to read the many vandalisms and propaganda spread throughout. The environments themselves never get bombastic or over the top like some of the key sections in Infinite, but the design is top notch regardless, and the urge to explore every nook and cranny remains ever present.

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Though not perfect in any way, Burial At Sea – Episode 2 delivered a praise-worthy finale to the somewhat disappointing first episode. It wraps up Bioshock Infinite as a whole, while injecting new life into both Infinite and the original Bioshock’s lore. There is a lot of content for people to play with here, and like Infinite, I suspect that Episode 2 will spark endless debates.

Final Score: 8/10

Irrational Games Calls It Quits

Irrational

The studio responsible for popular titles Bioshock and Freedom Force will be shutting its doors for good.

Irrational Games, a Boston based company founded 17 years ago will be laying off the majority of its staff, reducing its number to about 15 core members.

“There’s no great way to lay people off,” said Ken Levine in a statement on Irrational’s website. “Our first concern is to make sure that the people who are leaving have as much support as we can give them during this transition.”

Levine has made it clear that the departing employees won’t be left out in the cold.

“Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios.”

Levine is shutting the doors to focus on what he calls a “smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor,” with Take Two Interactive, who bought Irrational Career PageIrrational in 2006.

A trip to the soon-to-be defunct studio’s career page results in an ominous 404 message.

The final release by the studio will be DLC for Bioshock Infinite available on March 25. Appropriately titled Burial At Sea , it will be a follow up to an expansion of the same title and cost $15. Levine has said it will contain four to five hours of new content and gameplay.