So what the hell happened with Bioshock 2?
This time, we've been dragged back to what was left of Rapture after the closing of the first game. It's 10 years later and you wake up as one of the iconic "Big Daddy's," lumbering around in some giant Victorian era diving suit. Which for all intents and purposes is where the first game left off.
I didn't make it more than a few hours before I gave up on the game. It's one of the worst reviewed of the franchise and for good reason. Even with a metacritic user score of 7.9 out of 10 it wasn't anything more than a recycled storyline with slightly improved controls.
For all the hype and the 3 intervening years fans had to wait, they had a right to expect more. In short, if you like FPS games and really enjoyed the "Little Sister" storyline in the original Bioshock this game's for you.
As such, it's not for me. I was bored with it. Instead of wanting to see more I just wanted out. As a now fan of the first game this is nothing less than a fail. Gimmicks like he inclusion of multiplayer were even more laughable. 2K and Irrational games milked the franchise cow and I was having none of that milk thank you very much.
but, at least I didn't pay full price. ...
So finally, mercifully, I was onto Bioshock Infinite. Arguably the only game I really paid for and even then at a 75% discount.
It opened with my character seated in a rowboat being taken to a secluded dock at the base of a lonely lighthouse. Hmmm, seems familiar but I soon found that's where the most obvious Bioshock reference ended.
OMG, this was incredible. I was hooked, hours melted away. A rich, lavish, utopian world and you just knew something was going to screw it up. That something was you.
I love that!
It was still only a DirectX 9 game but they used every bit of it. Did I still trip over invisible curbs, get stuck in Velcro shrubbery and occasionally have to contend with controls as sluggish as an Atari 2600 joystick?
Yes, of course, just like any other DirectX 9 game but it didn't matter . The story was good, the environment every bit as immersive as Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty. Again, I was hooked.
I liked the way the developers let you get a feel for the place before people started shooting at you. I also appreciated how they let you take a breath between bullets as well. The themes were clear. Hyper religious zealotry driven by megalomania with a side of racism just for good measure.
Fascism was there as well but more of the nationalistic breed than Andrew Ryan's corporatocracy. The good of the state or at least the idealistic society it purported to be were paramount.
It was engrossing.
I remember strolling through a cobblestone street with a barbershop quartet singing, "God only Knows" in 4 part harmony on the Victorian equivalent of a land speeder. Which I accepted till it occurred to me that this particular song was actually released by the Beach Boys in 1966. This was supposed to be 1912.
In another section of the map I heard CCR's "Fortunate Son"
Amusing. Just an Easter Egg but it seemed to fit the now uneasy backdrop of what was rapidly becoming a dystopian world.
Just like the first game I was pulled along. Learning new abilities and gaining new weaponry to further my cause. Unlocking puzzles and always keeping a sharp eye out. In games like these you learn to look in every nook and exploit every cranny.
It's how I survived...
Twists, turns, heart wrenching morality and outright slaughter, you never knew what was coming at you. History buffs would chuckle at the distortion of their tomes. Stone effigies of the likes of John Wilkes Booth and Jefferson Davis alongside George Washington.
Looming larger than them all was the primary antagonist, Zachary Hale Comstock, the Prophet as he preferred to be addressed.
So the game continued on with the story revealing itself like the layers of an onion.
Sadly, it all had to end. The final crescendo, the answer nagging for your attention throughout the entire game was at hand.
The devs screwed it up. Cheating me out of a hard fought and anxiously anticipated conclusion.
Irrational Games decided to cheap out on the end and instead of leading you to a natural conclusion placing a final "God Battle" in the way of unlocking the secrets I'd invested so much time in learning.
What the hell?!
Instead of seeing the end credits I was forced to defend some blue jar on the deck of a floating air barge from hordes of invading foes I was ill-prepared to dispatch.
I was sent scurrying to YouTube to find an answer. After a dozen attempts and just as many failures I relented. I've been defeated by a game mechanic. It was like getting to the last chapter of a book and finding someone had ripped out the pages and locked them in a box then thrown away the key.
Life's too short...
The game became a grind and one that took me further away from the story. It broke the immersion and for that sin I cannot forgive Irrational games.
Again, just as in the first game and all of Bioshock 2, the idea was to protect something defenseless with less than adequate means.
I don't have any patience for that. Challenge? yes! Stupid? No!
Again I was resigned to YouTube to see what was denied me. Gracious souls either more skilled or more lucky than I had posted the footage I would never see from my own efforts.
All of the failings that were mere annoyances became impenetrable barriers to me. How could I go through the entire game without the need of trainers, cheats or hacks only to be thwarted at the end. So much for being a straight shooter.
At least you had console commands in Bioshock 1 and 2. No such luck in Bioshock Infinite.
Those similarly afflicted (and there's a lot of you out there) have our revenge, however. It seems the same crass disregard for fans has now extended to Irrational Games itself. Ken Levine shut down the studio forever leaving most of its staff to fend for itself elsewhere. It seems the same DNA that created my annoyances with Bioshock was really just an expression of studio head Ken Levine's callousness.
So while the second DLC for Bioshock infinite is shipping now don't expect any more. Even with infinite universes, there are no more pages to Bioshock's story.
Maybe that's a good thing...
In an alternate universe where Levine let Irrational Games continue, maybe the follow-up to Infinite would have been just another Bioshock 2.