The Alpha Primitive

Film reviews, essays, commentary and sundry writings

Filtering by Category: Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite and Burial at Sea: The Extraordinary Comstock Theory

What follows is my attempt to understand and explain what I now think is going on in Ken Levine’s crazy little mind as it pertains to the mechanics of the Bioshock universe after the events of the first part of the Burial at Sea downloadable content. As such, there will be heavy spoilers for the endings and twists of both Bioshock: Infinite and Burial at Sea. So you won’t want to read this until you’re caught up. Additionally, this is less of a review of Burial at Sea than it is an attempt to analyze its events. I know it’s probably a little too short. Loved it anyway. But I'm a sucker for Irrational and its games. That much is probably clear by now.

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The Metatext of Bioshock Infinite

There will be spoilers within this bad boy. Not just for Bioshock Infinite, but for the original Bioshock as well. If you would like to hear my thoughts about the game sans spoilers, you can see them here.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

 

Currently, I am approximately halfway through my second play through of Bioshock Infinite, Irrational Games’ blockbuster new entrant to the Bioshock series that has had much of the gaming world (myself included) enraptured (snicker) for the better part of a week since its release.

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Big Stakes, Big Ideas and Big Payoffs in Irrational's Bioshock Infinite

“You’ve come to lead my lamb astray, but thy crook is bent, and thy path is twisted!”

What makes a game Bioshock? If it is indeed true that Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite do not at all overlap (no comment), then what, other than name brand recognition and critical fervor, makes Bioshock Infinite a Bioshock game? We have this assumption of what it means to be Bioshock that is plot and setting based, as we’ve already had two games set in Rapture, with Big Daddies and Little Sisters and Brigid Tenenbaum and Andrew Ryan. So we assume that what it means to be a Bioshock game is taking place in Rapture, with the specter of Andrew Ryan floating over everything, and plasmids and ADAM and splicers. Of course, Bioshock 2 wasn’t even created by Ken Levine and Irrational; they were too busy working on the game that would (eventually) become Bioshock Infinite. Now, Bioshock 2 was a good game, and it had a good story, and it had some fantastically good DLC (Minerva’s Den is the sickness), but it wasn’t remotely on the same level as its predecessor. 2K Marin did a very good job. But they didn’t have Ken Levine. So it makes you wonder that, if Bioshock 2 had never been made (which would have been a shame more due to losing the last ten minutes of Minerva’s Den than anything), and if Bioshock Infinite had been the second title to feature the name, would we be so tied to the concept of Bioshock as Rapture and Andrew Ryan and Gatherer’s Gardens? Or would we think of Bioshock more as the collective idea for a game? A set of parameters independent of setting and character that can be applied to any number of eras or design philosophies.

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