Bioshock Remastered, Promise, and Emotional Torture

We’re all huge fans of the BioShock franchise here on The Slowdown, but we’ve also had our fair share of the game series. We awaited each game, lathering ourselves with collector’s editions (remember the original Big Daddy statue that would crack in half?), with nightly chats about lore and story, and even with articles written on the game here in the archives. They are some really good games. Some guy named John Lanchester once said somewhere that Bioshock “was the first game he played that had the ambitions of a novel” and I find that very damn agreeable.

It’s just that no-one in particular was looking forward to The Bioshock Collection in the traditional sense. We’re not console gamers, so they just weren’t in the view, or on the horizon. The games are bygones for Ken Levine, too, who had claimed the games took such a toll on him that he thought sequels would make him “[…] lose my mind, and my marriage.”1

We too were arguably done with these anomalously nihilistic, brutal, and taxing video games, perhaps even with additional future games in the series, the idea of which has soured somewhat with Levine’s surprise dissolution of Irrational Games as it were in 2014. With the joint release of the remastered versions of BioShock 1 and 2 on the PC, however, I have been made a fool.

I’ve been roped to care for something that was supposed to be both free and carefree.

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  1. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/we-were-all-miserable-inside-bioshock-video-game-franchise-w439921 []

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There Is Something In The Sky

E3 2011 is in just over a week, which is just enough time for me to catch us up on some games that I am very much looking forward to. We’re just about halfway through the year and there have been some great titles already, but some of my most anticipated releases are yet to come. We’ll start with one that has recently had a fresh round of press coverage ahead of its E3 showing.

The last time we looked at Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite, Martyn walked us through the newly unveiled teaser trailer and some of the early details about the game. Not much to go on in this all-too-brief CG video, a finely crafted reveal of the world of Columbia, but the details paint a grim picture. Posters touting the city’s motto describe an ultra-nationalist, xenophobic society, clearly the core philosophical theme to be explored by the game in true BioShock fashion.

Infinite takes place in 1912 on the massive floating city of Columbia. You take on the role of Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, on a mission to seek and assist in the escape of a young woman by the name of Elizabeth. It seems that she is no run-of-the-mill damsel in distress, however: your NPC companion has a mind and will of her own, and a host of supernatural abilities to boot. She will aid you in combat with her various powers, and you can choose to exploit these abilities at a cost not yet fully defined.

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What Was Icarus? BioShock Infinite

The over-speculated and hotly anticipated Irrational Games project that was to be revealed today?

BioShock Infinite.

The announcement of the latest game in the BioShock franchise, slated to launch on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in 2012, seems to belong to the category of “expect the expected:” As we all turned to the unexpected (Freedom Force, SWAT, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, Kingdom Hearts or Yar’s Revenge), I don’t think many of us really did see the new BioShock game coming – not one by Irrational, at the very least. How unpredictably predictable!

First and foremost, let’s concentrate on the much-hyped teaser trailer, now housed at www.bioshockinfinite.com instead of whatisicarus.com. After the jump, we’ve used screen captures from the video to illustrate the post, and you can also find the trailer embedded below.

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Irrational Games, Formerly 2K Boston, Formerly Irrational Games

2K Boston Logo Irrational Games Old LogoIt was with some trepidation, two summers ago, that fans of developer Irrational Games received the news that the company was to undergo a name change, and come under the 2K Games umbrella with the new label 2K Boston. It stank of borg; the absorption into a faceless corporation and loss of individuality and identity. The company risked losing the prestige and reputation in the name that it had built up over the years with an almost impeccable gameography1.

Irrational Games New LogoSo it was a pleasant surprise to wake up today to the announcement that the studio is going back to their old name. Well, I lie a little when I say it was a surprise. There were rumblings of something going on with the trademark back in October, so I expected it to surface again eventually in some form or other. It would probably be safe to say there hasn’t been much damage done from the first switch, seeing as how any mention of ‘2K Boston’ was usually followed by the reminder ‘(formerly Irrational Games)’. It’s clear the old name held some value to them as it does to us, and they intend to respect their legacy as well as uphold it with their upcoming new game.

The studio has been out of the limelight for the past two years since the release of their seminal game, BioShock (its sequel being taken up by sister studio 2K Marin), and there has been no information on the title they are currently working on now. The rumour is that it’s a new X-COM game, but all we really know is that it is a “substantially more ambitious” undertaking than their previous efforts. But it looks like things will change this year: studio head Ken Levine promised with his new year wishes that they would finally come out of hiding. Things have started off with the launch of a new website, which currently has nothing but a countdown timer (at 3 days at the time of this post). Game Informer has, unsurprisingly, snagged the exclusive yet again and have an article in their upcoming February issue about Irrational’s rebirth. They have also set up an online hub page for news updates and articles, apparently to explore the “past, present and future” of Irrational Games. So there’s more to this relaunch than just an image or branding issue – by acknowledging their history they retain goodwill with the fanbase. It will be an interesting month for fans, that’s for sure, and I’ll be tweeting or posting the updates as they come.

  1. http://apps.metacritic.com/search/process?ty=3&ts=irrational+games&tfs=game_developer&sb=5&release_date_s=&release_date_e=&metascore_s=&metascore_e=&x=33&y=15 []

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