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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2K Loves Me, Loves Me Not, Loves Me!

Ever since the BioShock 2 launch, 2K Games have been giving PC players high blood pressure and ulcers thanks to a laundry list of problems with the game, ranging from its Games for Windows Live integration and DirectX issues to the infamous “Rapture Metro” map pack, giving much credence to the view that the game was effectively left to rot on the platform.

To add insult to injury, this sentiment was already firmly established before the publisher’s wishy-washy approach to “The Protector Trials” and “Minerva’s Den” DLC packs, which were originally slated for – and then later announced cancelled, only to move back to production – the PC. 2K community manager Elizabeth Tobey sums up the news in a sentence: “We have resumed development on all three and they will be coming to PC.”1

Although the aforementioned – plus an additional patch – are now back in production, the only real response to this whole affair can but resemble this, especially after Irrational Games head honcho Ken Levine jumped to a profanity-laden PR save at Kotaku: “If you want to know the future of gaming, buy a PC. And pay attention. Because above all, that thing on your desk is a crystal ball.”2 (more…)

  1. http://forums.2kgames.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1254568#post1254568 []
  2. http://kotaku.com/5675559/the-future-of-pc-gaming-according-to-the-lead-creator-of-bioshock []

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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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What is Icarus?

Irrational Games New LogoThe past week has seen some irrational behaviour on a strange teaser site, whatisicarus.com. Initially there was nothing to see but a smoky background and a single grey spot, not much of a tease. But sharp visitors noticed that the white spot changed position every day, making a slow but deliberate migration around the page. It was a few days before the overall shape was discerned: a figure 8 or vertically-oriented infinity symbol, and the spots looked instead like holes cut out in the black, revealing something underneath. The site has now started to update much faster, and so with a little bit of obsessive refreshing a complete image can be recreated. What is that thing, exactly? A logo? An obscure literary reference?

Internet detectives have traced the site’s domain registry info back to Take Two games, and a rumour some months ago connected the project codename ‘Project Icarus’ to Irrational Games1, so it wasn’t difficult to put two and two together. However the company made no acknowledgement of it until yesterday in a tweet.

Things have been building up to this for a while now. Irrational came out of hiding in the beginning of the year with a shiny new site and a focus on community and company culture. Since then they have stuck to a regular schedule of updates that includes podcasts, employee spotlights and a look into the company’s back catalogue with previously unreleased material. Earlier this month fans were invited to call in and try and guess what the new game was going to be2, and the clips were featured this week in the latest episode of the Irrational Behaviour podcast.

At long last they have addressed the pressing question of what they’ve been working on since their seminal BioShock three years ago. We thought it was an X-COM remake, but it turns out that that’s someone else’s project. Rumours point to it being a brand new IP in the form of an “ambitious” FPS3. So what is it and when will we know? Invitations have been sent out to a press event in New York on August 11, where they will unveil a demo to journalists. The next day will bring us a CG trailer and more information in the next podcast.

It’s been a long wait for fans, but finally we’ll get a chance to see the highly anticipated mystery game; the 12th can’t come quickly enough. I want to know just what the heck Icarus is.

  1. http://defaultprime.com/2010/01/13/project-icarus-being-worked-on-by-irrational-games-wait-what/ []
  2. http://twitter.com/IrrationalGames/status/17896309739 []
  3. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-taketwo13-2010apr13,0,2531760.story []

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