Friday, August 13, 2010

Bioshock Infinite (Announcement)

First off, I'm pleased that Irrational Games is again, in fact, Irrational games. Their sudden name change to 2K Boston/2K Australia just prior to the original Bioshock's release came off as an attempt on publisher 2K's part to grab some of the critical glory for that game. It's not worth getting into too much of a tizzy about, though: 2K clearly gave Irrational the creative freedom required to make a game like Bioshock. The end result seemed, from the outside looking in, like a win-win for all involved.

But still, give credit where credit is due -- and that goes to the people who were and are again Irrational Games. I'm sure it wasn't a hard fight to get their name back, since 2K stands to make a killing off of Bioshock Infinite and probably wants to keep the talent happy.

And do I mean talent. The first video is quite simply stunning. Needless to say, drooling and various other embarrassing biological functions occurred while watching this video. The floating city of Columbia has the potential to be just as involving as Rapture, quite possibly the most fully realized setting in videogame history. The only real impediment to reaching this goal is that comparisons to Rapture are inevitable -- both cities are failed utopias with physical barriers that isolate them from the world, with the player thrust into the middle of a battle between warring factions and ideologies.

Still, Irrational has borrowed elements from their back catalog before and improved upon it. The only big complaint I have with the original Bioshock is how little its story deviated from System Shock 2's -- including the same exact plot twist that comes at almost the same time in each story. But the twist that was merely clever in System Shock 2 is flat out stunning, even thought-provoking in Bioshock.

And Columbia could improve upon Rapture. One of Infinite's biggest changes is that the player character now has a name and a history -- instead of the blank slate found in all previous Shock titles -- who will be interacting with a city that is much more alive and diverse. The game demo shown to reporters featured the PC walking into a bar full of patrons that builds to a reveal of who in the bar is and is not your enemy. This is an absolutely huge change compared to Rapture, where there was almost no one left except the ghosts and the monsters.

Lastly, let me close on the subtitle "Infinite." I don't like it. Some stupid, literal part of my mind is just as bugged by this title as it is by The Neverending Story. Weird, I know -- but it's there. Bioshock: Project Icarus or Bioshock: Columbia both sound like better titles to me. Unless, of course, Infinite has a meaning past the diverse tactics and story directions one can experience in the game, which I would not put past Irrational.

And just what the hell are they going to call any future sequels? Infinite +1?

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