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  1. solid-alchemist

    BioShock Infinite Review

    BioShock Infinite (PS3) Developed by Irrational Games Published by 2K Games Released March 26, 2013 Review Written April 12, 2014 Originally Posted on The Time Heist Blog For years I had been closely eyeing this title since its 2010 reveal from Irrational Games. As a fan of the original BioShock and its sequel, I anticipated an amazing rollercoaster that would possibly trump the original BioShock. With Irrational Games and Ken Levine regaining the creative reigns for BioShock Infinite, will this title bring the same magic displayed in the city of Rapture or should the floating city of Columbia just drift into oblivion like a meandering balloon? In short, yes BioShock Infinite captures similar values from the original BioShock but in itself is an entirely different experience. Although my timing for finally getting around to this game is fairly horrible in light of the recent news of Irrational Games being shutdown and dispersed, I“m glad I finally took the time to experience what I had been fawning over for years. BioShock Infinite is a great game in my opinion and in the twenty-three hours it took me to complete the campaign I enjoyed it to its entirety. Though the game can be completed in less than fifteen hours, I spent many moments gazing about the environments or searching for secrets strewn within the levels out of habit. As opposed to the dark beauty that was Rapture, the floating city of Columbia explodes with wonderfully bright colored hues. The floating city just looks so clean and vivid. BioShock Infinite utilizes a range of bright color schemes throughout each of the levels, and similar to the original Bioshock the structured tonality matches the transpiring situations. To add to this, the talking NPC“s and soft musical tones make this floating isle feel realistic, like I“m watching an adventure film about a lively civilization in the sky. Though with beauty comes an underlying horror as I would find myself witnessing screen tearing during certain climactic parts of the game. At first it was distracting but it completely disappears from annoyance as its appearances were minimal. Story-wise, in BioShock Infinite you take on the role of Booker DeWitt who has been tasked with finding a girl named Elizabeth to erase all of his gambling debts in the year 1912. Very much different from BioShock“s Jack, Booker actually has dialogue and interacts with the locals of Columbia. Not being a muted puppet controlled by the player, Booker has personality. Elizabeth also has a great personality and easily meshes with Booker creating an entertaining ride to the viewers. I“m Commander False Shepard, and this is my favorite tattoo on my body. BioShock Infinite dabbles in previously viewed ideals of choice but mixing it with American history, quantum physics, and ideals of destiny. More of a science fictional action-adventure than its horror focused predecessors, BioShock Infinite“s story resembles that of a Hollywood blockbuster. I found myself glued to my seat enjoying what developments were thrown at me and often anticipated what twists and turns were to come. Even though the ending left my head spinning and required me to replay the campaign a second time to grasp what was unfolded, I thoroughly enjoyed the story within BioShock Infinite. The gameplay is what ties the story and the visuals all together, and the BioShock formula still hasn“t really changed since the previous games. I“m not complaining though as I enjoyed the numerous shootouts throughout the game and believe the style worked with how the story flowed. I“ve heard a few mention they didn“t feel that the firefights didn“t fit within the game, but I believe it fit perfectly with Columbia“s very own Civil War brewing. These firefights were made more interesting when a robotic replica of an American Founding Father walks towards you with a gatling gun. There“s nothing like that surprise factor that leaves you open for attack as you try to configure what the hell is actually going on, and I“m talking about you robotic Abe Lincoln. Whoa! The Be Sharps reunited to perform their hit, “Baby On Boardâ€. As the gameplay formula hasn“t changed, the controls are still as smooth as the previous BioShocks. The only differing mechanics are the skylines and having Elizabeth tagging along. The skylines act as a fancy transition between locals while mixing in strategic combat. I often found myself riding the lines to investigate possible secret areas or to get a quick jump on unsuspecting enemies. The other change was having a sidekick along for the long journey. I actually feared a little that the game would end up being one long escort mission with Elizabeth constantly getting in the way or getting killed. This isn“t the case as Elizabeth can“t be injured by enemies and will actually hide during firefights. She even plays the role of helper throughout each area by throwing items your way that she“s found. Set in the same way that Ellie was mechanically just Joel“s shadow in The Last of Us, Elizabeth is there for the fight but doesn“t interfere with the flow of it. Although the game is damn near perfect in my book I still longed for one feature that was available in the first BioShock, hacking minigames. For some strange reason I loved the hacking minigames in the previous installments, and in BioShock Infinite they are missing. All of the locks are either opened via a keycode or through Elizabeth“s amazing lock picking skills that could quite possibly put Jill “The Master of Lock Picking†Valentine to shame. Although it was missing from the game, it is quite possible Irrational Games deemed it unnecessary or something that would ruin the current flow of the adventure. HIGH FIVE!!!!!!!! In conclusion, even though Bioshock Infinite strays away from the former“s horror focused design, the science fictional action is a welcome sight. The cast of characters all play a prominent role and will be easily remembered in days past. Easily noted, the Lutice twins and their banter similar to that of a 1940“s comedic duo will always come to mind when looking back at what could be the final BioShock game. So in turn, if you enjoyed the previous BioShock games or enjoy FPS games that have an interesting story to follow, then BioShock Infinite is definitely a game you should buy. So wipe away the debt, bring them the girl… Review Written by Solid-Alchemist If you enjoyed this review and would like to check out some other opinion pieces, come on over to The Time Heist. Any critique's or recommendations are welcome!
  2. If you haven't read it yet, I'd highly suggest checking out Polygon's article, "The final years of Irrational Games, according to those who were there." Basically, it goes into the culture that existed behind-the-scenes, descriptions of what it was like to work with Levine (both good and bad), their final days, and the ultimate demise of the whole developer. It also explains why Bioshock Infinite took something like 5 years to develop. Really interesting stuff, especially if you like long-form articles. http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/6/5474722/why-did-irrational-close-bioshock-infinite
  3. Much to the disappointment of doomsday-preppers everywhere, the end of the year has finally reached us and we're all still kicking around. You know what that means! That's right, you get to watch me desperately try to think up ten different games that came out this year that I can remember liking. I knew what my choice for game of the year would be weeks in advance, but the other nine spots were a nightmare battlefield to choose the games that were almost the best, but just didn't quite have what it took. A special note to all of the great games I haven't played this year - games such as Metal Gear Rising and Dragon's Crown. The only reason you aren't on this list right now is because I just haven't gotten around to playing you. But I'm sure someone will take you in and give you the praise you probably deserve. 10. Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 I don't watch anime much anymore. I simply don't have the time unless it is something I really feel the need to watch. Naruto is not on that list of must-watch shows. But the games, great golly gosh are they just swell. At least, most of them are. Last year saw the release of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm: Generations, a game that was clearly rushed out the door missing some of the series best features and gimmicks. It was awful and had no right to be on my shelf. But Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was a return to form with the game's huge cinematic boss battles, an endless list of playable characters and an art style that looks so much like the anime that you can't help but be impressed. It certainly isn't the best game of the year, but it is one of my most favorite fighting games released this year. 9. Guacamelee I bought Guacamelee the moment it released onto the Playstation store without so much as knowing what it was even about. It was on sale, I had money in my PSN wallet, and it was simply the best looking game that was going to release for that month's indie sales, so I had no choice but to get it. What followed was about five hours of pure lucha madness. Unlocking new moves, exploring the world looking for hidden treasures and completing a multitude of quests throughout the game's story was just plain old fashioned fun. The game was hard at times without being so difficult that you'd get angry and quit, staring blankly into the mirror holding back the tears of your failure. Even though the story itself wasn't all there, it was still fun and had a very interesting ending considering how lighthearted the game itself was. You could really just buy it for the music alone and get your money's worth. 8. Rain Official GP Review I'm a pretty big fan of those artsy fartsy indie games that have been coming out as of late. Case in point - I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that I'd ever nominate a game entirely about walking and jumping as GOTY, but that is exactly what happened last year when I put Journey as my favorite game of 2012. And it wasn't even the only game like it on my list. There was also The Unfinished Swan, a game about a boy trapped in an invisible world where he uses paint to see his surroundings, and though its story was poor at best in my opinion, the gameplay mechanics were dynamite. And now in 2013, we're back here again with the PS3 game Rain. You play a young boy who turns invisible the moment he steps out into the rain pouring down over his town, but he isn't alone. Lurking in the unseen are strange, mangled beasts that want nothing more than to kill the children trapped in the rain. While people might not agree with me, the game gave me a huge Silent Hill vibe while I played. The further you progress, the more twisted and demented the game becomes. I can't recommend it enough, and that is what earned it a spot on this list. Be warned though, there isn't much replay value in the game itself. There are collectibles to find after you beat the game, but it isn't very fun to go through the same puzzles twice. 7. Grand Theft Auto V Official GP Review Grand Theft Auto V didn't exactly get the best score in the world when it was reviewed here on Game Podunk. Some people liked it, some people didn't. That is just how opinions work. But even stranger are the day walkers people who both liked and disliked the game for the sum of its parts. The single-player portion of the game was mighty fun to just mess around in and the characters portrayed were impressive to say the least. It was the first GTA game where I actively wanted to play the story mode just to see where the characters went. But then there are the game's extra activities. Things like yoga, tennis and bike riding. While those things are neat to see in a game where you can do so much, they just weren't fun to do. I would have been thrilled if they had been cut in favor of more heists or things like that, but that is just me. The thing that really pushed GTA V to my #7 spot had to be the online, though. It was so terribly broken and nearly impossible to get ahead in the game that outside of playing with friends, I had no fun whatsoever with it. 6. Beyond: Two Souls Official GP Review Much like Heavy Rain before it, Beyond: Two Souls suffered from some pretty bad gaps in its story. From disjointed scenes that had nothing to do with the game's story to huge revelations that ultimately lead nowhere, Beyond was a pretty frustrating game at times, especially near the ending of the game. However, it wasn't really noticeable while I was in the thick of it. While everything was flying by me and I was fighting ghosts or some such, it all seemed pretty great. It was always after I turned the game off that I started realizing that certain things just didn't make sense. I nearly had the same problem with Telltale's Walking Dead game when it released last year. While I played the game and avoided spoilers like they would kill me if i read them, it was all good exciting fun wrapped up in a neat little story. It was only after I beat the game that I figured out none of your choices mattered and you were essentially just clicking buttons until you got to the same scene as everybody else. Despite this, I'm still looking forward to TWD: Season 2 and whatever David Cage comes up with next. 5. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag I'll admit, I have not yet beaten Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag yet. Judging by the game's percentage counter, I'm only about 30% into the story and still have a lot to see and do. But that doesn't mean I can't put the game on this list, because what I have seen and done has been pretty great. Much better than all of the past Assassin's Creed games I've played so far. One of the game's best improvements has to be the areas of the game that take place in the real world. In the past iterations of the game, you were forced to jump around some ruins as Desmond Miles so you and your friends could turn on some lights or to simply walk from one area to another. It always annoyed me and the game felt incredibly boring during these areas. But in Black Flag, you can now search around an entire building in first-person mode looking for secrets and Easter eggs in people's offices as strange things begin to happen around your place of employment. For some reason I like this a lot more. There is also the whole piracy thing. Being the captain of a pirate ship sailing the seven seas has been a refreshing change from all of the grim, dark, save-the-world stuff we've seen in the past Assassin's Creed games. In this one you're just some guy bumbling through life trying to make a buck. There might be more to this character, but at the moment it is just great being a pirate. More games should aspire to just be fun like this! 4. Bioshock Infinite You all knew this was coming, don't deny it. The story was nonsensical at times, and there was absolutely no point to add in any player choice throughout the game since it never mattered in even the slightest. But the game was darn fun and the characters and setting were interesting as all get out. It is almost impossible to fail when your setting is in the early 1900's and your gameplay is at least passable. Thankfully, the gameplay was pretty fun too, so there wasn't any problem there from me. My only complaint might be that, even on hard, the game was a bit too easy at times. I, of course, never played on 1999 mode since I was being worse than a pirate and only borrowing the game from a friend, but either way it isn't too big of a complaint. 3. Tearaway Much like Assassin's Creed IV before it, I have not beaten Tearaway yet. This probably has to do with the fact that I do not own my own copy and it would be wrong of me to take it from the person who actually bought it seeing as they haven't beaten it yet either. But I have played a rather large portion of the game, and it is darn fun. One of the best Vita games I've played since I got my handheld a few months ago. Now, if it so great, why haven't I bought my own copy yet? Well, Christmas is the main reason. But rest assured I will be buying my own copy after the holidays are over, and you should too since despite how great it is, it isn't really getting all that many sales or publicity. So get out there and get this! Let people know you want new well made IP's on the Vita! EDIT: Shortly after this list was written up, Tearaway went on sale for $17 on the Playstation Store. Seeing as I couldn't pass that up, I now own my own copy. 2. The Last Of Us Surprise! The Last of Us is not my personal game of the year despite being absolutely great in pretty much every way. It was my belief that you should at least play on hard during your first playthrough of the game to get the best end of the world feeling with the game, and I was absolutely right. At no point through the game's story did I ever feel safe in the slightest. I was always scrounging, always searching for anything that could have been used as a weapon. In most games dealing with the end of the world, you never really feel threatened. In TLOU however, just hearing the distinct clicking noise of an infected was enough to put me into alert mode. With only a few areas in the game that felt out of place or overly action packed, it was the first game in years that actually felt like you were trying to survive. It was also the first game that let the feeling of survival by all means necessary actually flourish in its online mode. At least for me anyways, since I only ever played the modes where you could die once. More games need to make you feel nearly useless in every situation so that when you do manage to do something awesome, it actually feels amazing. 1. Ni No Kuni: The Wrath Of The Witch Official GP Review While I don't get a lot of free time to watch shows and movies, my absolute favorite movie of all time goes to Hayao Miyazaki's The Castle of Cagliostro. That isn't just my favorite animated movie either. That is out of all of the movies ever released since I have been alive. So of course I might have been a bit excited at the prospect of a game being worked on by Miyazaki, but I kept my cool as the months ticked by awaiting it's release. But the moment it was available for download on the Playstation store was the same moment I killed my Playstation's hard drive with a humongous download. But it was worth it, for after the nearly fifteen hour download and installation, I faced nearly 70 hours worth of gameplay. And while I might have beaten the main story in those 70 hours, there was still countless hours worth of content to still be found with endgame storylines, side missions, collectibles, monster taming and more. The game is just insane with how huge it is. In fact it is one of the game's downsides too. It takes nearly ten hours before you can even leave the first area in the game, and another ten hours before you can explore the world. But if anything, that is just me picking at straws to try and find a flaw. Sure the game might have held your hand at first, but there was an awful lot it had to explain to you. As for the game's story, it was a very Miyazaki affair. Filled with more of a child-like wonder. While that might turn some of today's gamers away, I absolutely loved it. The lighthearted art style and characters really brought the game together as I reunited the world. I could go on forever about just how much I loved this game, so let me leave it as this. If this game isn't at least mentioned on your list, I hate you. But not really though. Just go out and spend the $10 required to purchase a copy of your own and never look back as you get to truly enjoy a game of such a high caliber. You'll thank me for it. My thanks and congratulations go to Level-5 for making such an amazing game that I'm sure I will play for many more amazing hours. As always, thank you for reading, and have a happy new year.
  4. Disney and Avalanche Studios have rolled out a new set of Toy Box playgrounds for use in Disney Infinity, and the inspiration for them ranges from Star Wars to Disney theme parks and even...Bioshock Infinite? Yes, apparently one of the Toy Box playgrounds is called Toy Columbia and bears a striking resemblance to the setting of a certain critically acclaimed Irrational game that was released earlier in the year. The description says that it's "a sprawling city in the sky with infinite possibilities." Even with the obvious Bioshock Infinite parallels, Toy Columbia looks to be partly based off the world of Pixar's Up as well (as indicated by the house with hundreds of balloons tied to it). Also, apparently this particular Toy Box playground was user-generated content, potentially absolving Disney itself of any type of copyright infringement. Still, one wonders if a cease-and-desist is in the works from 2K Games. If so, Disney would likely have to comply and take that particular Toy Box down, so if you're interested in trying it out, be sure to grab it while you can. The other four Toy Box playgrounds released are called Sky Gauntlet, Jungle Cruise, Trench Run, and Blue Breakout.
  5. So Microsoft has had a pretty rocky start with their next generation console, the Xbox One. This isn't entirely the fault of the console though. While they're pushing away their core market by adding in all of these other features that nobody really wants, the main problem they're dealing with is customer trust. In the months leading up to this announcement they've had a tough time with DRM rumors. And now that the console is out in the open, these rumors have only gotten worse thanks to a series of he said she said articles being posted on the web. While we still don't have a clear and honest answer from Microsoft, I can safely say it is looking incredibly bad for the electronics giant. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here is how Microsoft can win this generation in three simple steps. Step One: Give The Xbox One A Voice The moment people could talk to their 360's is the same moment people's 360's should have been able to talk back to them. People want to experience (a word Microsoft loves) the future of technology, and a seemingly sentient console would have been the perfect way to pull this off last generation. Of course the problem here was that the Kinect appeared late in the console's life and developer's understanding of the peripheral was still just starting to flourish. But that shouldn't be a problem for a console that has made the newer and more powerful Kinect 2 mandatory for every single one of their consoles to function. Not only will everyone have to make use of the peripheral on day one, but they'll also have past experience from the last few years of tinkering with the original version of the device on the Xbox 360. Now, what do I mean by a console that can talk back to you? I nominate Ellen McLain for the female Xbox One voice. Well I'll get into that in a bit, but first let's talk about how it needs to be set up. Microsoft can't just throw Microsoft Sam onto every Xbox One and call it a day. They'll need to hire at least one actor and actress to fill the roles of your Xbox One guide. And then they need to lock those two people down into contracts forever, because their voices will be the Xbox One's Kevin Butler. Every advertisement and every big reveal would have to include those voices. If done right, potential buyers will become familiar with them before they ever even considered buying a console. Microsoft needs an advertising gimmick, and a talking Xbox would fill that role perfectly. But now we're going to get into the crazy stuff. Give The Voice Personality Now, just what do I mean by giving the Xbox One the ability to talk to you? A simple yes and no system wouldn't suffice at this point in history. That would just be embarrassing. If Microsoft wanted this to work, they would have to give the voices personality. The best example I can think of that would accurately show off what I mean would be the game Seaman for the Dreamcast. I hate how much this game title appears in my search history. In it you take care of little fish people who occasionally ask you questions about yourself while also appearing extremely lifeless and cold. It was clunky and slow going, but to be fair, this is from a game released over a decade ago. And it was also absolutely phenomenal stuff back then. What Microsoft needs to do is make that the Kinect 2's whole gimmick. Not only should they put in a voice that responds to your commands, they should put in a voice that asks you questions and remembers what you tell it. It would essentially be a disembodied Project Milo, a game I was so hyped up for that I ignored all of the Kinect's other flaws. Of course Project Milo never surfaced, but perhaps his tech demo could be used to make my dream come true with the Kinect 2. Make It Personal To The User So now the Xbox has a voice and an interesting personality. What else does it need? Well, we're going to go back to the game Seaman for a bit. In the game you usually had between three and five little fishmen. Instead of forcing you to grow a bond with each and every one individually, the game gave you the ability to name them. Of course they couldn't say their own name, but they reacted whenever you said it. And that was pretty impressive for decade old technology. While I'd still be just as impressed today if another company pulled it off successfully, there is actually another reason I'm bringing this up, and its griefing related. During the Xbox One reveal, people watching the show on their Xbox's were subject to frequent pauses and complete closure of their streams due to the commands being said to the new Kinect. This image will make sense in a minute. Just keep reading. Since everyone will have a Kinect 2 hooked up to their Xbox One, then it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine people being able to hijack their opponents Kinects simply by yelling commands into their own and having everyone else's Kinects pick up on it. While this would be hilarious, giving the Kinect a name would help cut down on issues like this. Instead of saying "Xbox, turn on." you could say "[iNSERT NAME HERE], turn on." But we're going to take it one step further. We're going to go the companion route. Look at games like Bioshock: Infinite. While the game has been out for about a month, people are still actively talking about it and posting things on the web. Why are they doing this? Its all because of the character Elizabeth, and people's tendency to grow attached to her. If Microsoft can give their Kinect's male and female voice a pleasant enough personality, then people will become attached to them the same exact way. No longer will you be reading about people calling Elizabeth their waifu, instead you'll be seeing people calling the Xbox One itself their waifu. Its a hilarious thought, but you all know it would work in Microsoft's favor. A never ending stream of constant discussion on the internet about each person's own console and how their personality has developed over this next generation paired up with the ravenous fanbase of people declaring their actual love to their consoles? Its a win win for Microsoft, and they know they can do it if they only tried. As always, thank you for reading.
  6. For years now it seems that the debate over whether games are art has never quite died down. Many have situated themselves on both sides of the argument and formulated reasons why they do or do not qualify games as art. When it comes right down to it, the argument is not integral to keeping video games relevant in the future, but may aid in making them a more respected medium. If you had to ask me, I“d say all video games qualify as art, although many certainly were never vying for the distinction in the first place. Now, though, we seem to be more than happy to christen titles as beaming examples of undeniable art. But first, let's think about what developers of the 70s, 80s, and even 90s may have felt about their work. It“s doubtful those designing characters with highly restrictive constraints on Atari 2600 were envisioning their work as artful. The duck/dragon featured in the game Adventure has since gained stature as an iconic design but it“s not likely to find itself in rigid art museums anytime soon. Of course, even those times are changing as The Smithsonian ran their Art of Video Games exhibit. It“s a sign that at least some of the work of game artists is finally getting some recognition outside the immediate fandom. Before Bioshock Infinite was even out, we could tell that Irrational Games was pushing for a very distinct art style. Of course, the Bioshock series initially launched with very attractive, though sometimes disturbing, design. This time around they appeared to be pushing the limits even further to create a fantastical world within the clouds full of Americana and a bright color palette. The game seemed shocking in comparison to most other games of this generation which have often not pushed any boundaries when it comes to design. Playing the beginning hours of Bioshock Infinite is a one of a kind gaming experience. Before it descends into the requisite shooting moments, you are able to take in Columbia as a city that appears to be living. Through a passageway with yonic imagery, Booker is reborn through his baptism and enters a strange new world. Everything is bright, white, and shining. As you explore, the world quickly opens itself up to show the mechanical, moving city. And since the day is a day of celebration, you get to see sights of a barbershop quartet, parade floats and balloons, and a carnival complete with games. Staring up at the Father Comstock state in the middle of town square, the bright blue sky frames it perfectly and sends a powerful message about this man. It“s pretty hard to deny that all of these sights are worthy of recognition. They most certainly showcase the developer“s artistic capabilities as well as skill in regards to mise en scene. Mise en scene encompasses art direction, cinematography, and design to create a more powerful unifying theme for the work. In the case of Bioshock Infinite, the world is definitely presented to further other aspects of itself. You cannot separate Infinite from Columbia as the design is integral to everything else. Although I agree that Bioshock Infnite should be classified as art, it is odd to me that this is the game which many are crowding around to bring back a resurgence in the games as art argument. Those who have never studied art of any medium are still not impervious to art, which is probably why they feel artistically awakened by looking upon this specific game. But shouldn“t those heralds of the games as art movement be raising many games into their ranks? Why does it only seem certain games are likely to be defended as art? Art is not just an interpretation of beauty. Paintings, statues, music, books, movies, and more are not always attractive to look upon. Nor do they all have stylish interpretations of the world, or easily discernible meanings. The world of art is vast and ranges from aesthetic beauty to abject horror and beyond. And yet, it seems that we are usually apt to cling to visually beautiful games such as Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, and now Bioshock Infinite as proof of games“ art merit. They are certainly artistic, but that is not the one and only hallmark of art. This is probably easy to recognize, but still seems ignored. We who believe games qualify as art against other mediums should discuss a great variety of games, not just those who have an irrefutable visual beauty. Ugly games can be just as much art as anything else, especially if their underlying theme is in any way important. Old games or new games can be art even if they are lacking in pretty colors or heady narratives. Art can be applied with the definition of mimesis (representation, or mimicry of something), but that is not the only way art is expressed. In regards to Bisohock Infinite, we are shown a broken world with a beautiful veneer. So too, should we be excited about games with attractive visuals with underlying worthwhile or important themes. Often, technical skill is assumed necessary for the value of art, but not always. By that affect, we can include games that are lacking in high polygon counts or “good” visual design to be included. Some of the strongest messages can be gleaned through those who are not schooled artisans. Of course, artists who have refined their skills can also use them to create an artistic whole very worthy of merit. Bioshock Infinite seems to fall more on this side of the scale, but should not blind us to all the other games out there. Art can be problematic, grimy, and uncomfortable. It can be small or large, multifaceted, explored in a variety of ways, and appraised very differently by multiple people. At its best, art reveals things about ourselves, emotions, and society. Art, both the expression of and intake of it, are necessary for humans. That“s why we have always drawn as well as tell stories. It is inherent in human nature to express oneself and have that expression experienced by others. So art certainly classifies Bioshock Infinite, but we must not forget games without the multi million dollar budgets and highly skilled designers as well. Any game has the capacity to be art - you just have to be willing to expand your perspectives on art.
  7. Note: This editorial discusses aspects of Bioshock Infinite that include spoilers. Bioshock Infinite is a game about a man, city, and a lighthouse. As the game says, there always is. It is also about racism and revolution. Racism is a very heavy theme in the game and one which appears integral to the overall narrative. Columbia stands as a beautiful dystopia which weds success with slavery. As modern viewers, we recognize this from the moment a character refers to a woman as the “prettiest white girl” and see what comes a second later. Can a game with its eye squarely on racism actually become racist itself though? I think so, and that is the most striking problem with the title considering it is otherwise a sound technical and visual achievement. In Infinite, Columbia seems like it should be a marvelous place. It“s Heaven, or the closest thing to it according to a worshiper at the start. This city in the clouds is clean (disregarding food and coins everywhere), bright, and a shining beacon of odd scientific and religious harmony. Washington and other important men of America are practically deified, as is the religious figure of Father Comstock. Everyone appears happy, except of course for the slaves stuck serving the White populous. Derogatory phrases are slung freely at any and all non-White races. Stereotypical visual depictions which have probably never been seen by some are plastered on propaganda posters as well as within the Hall of Heroes. Irrational Games does not appear to have held back their vision at all, despite the uncomfortable depictions of racism. This is actually a very brave thing for a game to try and take on, and that is an amicable thing for a studio to attempt. As the story progresses, you first feel that the African and other races deserve to rise up, but then, they become just as evil as Comstock. Alternate realities or not, this is a point where the game disturbingly takes on its own racist storytelling motives. The Vox Populi are a group so named because the Latin translates to “voice of the people”. These are the poor and working class people of Columbia who intend to rise up. The group is comprised primarily of minority individuals and is led by Daisy Fitzroy, who is strongly opposed the inequality she sees. She appears extremely intelligent and passionate, although you don“t get to see much of her before venturing through the first tear. Afterwards, she is still an incredibly strong individual but is now leading the Vox to do far more than protest. They have brought terror and death to Colombia“s citizens and continue to storm their way toward victory. Yes, rebellions and uprisings have a history of being violent. When tensions and stakes are so high, it seems to be the inevitable outcome many times. However, the game seems to push very heavily on the idea that both sides are equally detestable. Booker muses that Comstock and Fitzroy are the same, just spelled differently. But why is this the immediate assumption? Comstock was perpetuating inequality on a vast scale, as well as racist ideologies. Even with the Vox killing many innocent people in their aims, it is hard to come up with reasons that they are not warranted in their anger. It seems that the way Irrational “solved” equalizing the two groups was by having the Vox become a highly stereotypical and obviously evil group. They are seen at times with red paint smeared across their face. The mark of a revolution, sure, but it also starts the racist correlation that African people are wild, or tribe-like. If that“s too much a stretch, then simply look at what Fitzroy does later. She has the opponents of her heads skinned as a sign of success. If that doesn“t say “tribal” then I hardly know what does. Similarly, Fitzroy is later seen holding young White child with a gun in her hand. What purpose does this serve, honestly? Because it was too hard to equate Comstock“s evils to the oppressed people having a valid need to rise up, they were treated with cartoonishly evil and hurtful depictions. None of this even touches on the outfits of the Vox Populi, which in combat can include red masks with devil horns. There appears to have been some desperate need within development to make the two groups equivalent, but there is no need for that to be the case. Elizabeth thinks on the Vox and states their uprising would be “just like Les Mis”. That tale of the French June Rebellion paints the poor as desperate but also as people we should feel compassion for. Although initially players have compassion for the mistreated populous in Columbia, they are told by the game they should not anymore. After all, they have had their uprising and gone completely off the deep end into moustache twirling villain territory. I don“t feel there was any need for the story to have gone in that direction. Why were they unable to simply show the rebellion as going too far without the ridiculous characterizations? Beyond this forced equivalence of the Comstock and Fitzroy groups, we are shown Booker as the martyr for the Vox Populi rebellion. There is a trend in media to portray Black and other minority groups as unable to advocate or create change for themselves. Instead, many times historical or fictional events have portrayed white people as saviors to these groups. Yes, there are times that so called “majority voices” are important in enacting change, but showing it in this manner only serves to perpetuate racist ideals. Fitzroy appears as a wholly competent woman and yet uses a white man as the hallmark of the revolution she put her life into. Booker may or may not be deserving of this attribution but it is not the way to present racial uprisings to an audience who probably has paid little attention to them. Bioshock Infinite is a game with two layers of racism. The first is explicit and purposefully honed for the narrative. The other half, however, is submerged. Those who have any knowledge of racism in America will still be able to see it clearly, though. This is shocking as you would think any company taking on the task of a narrative infused with racism would be acutely aware of many facets of racism. Instead, they bring it into the game itself unintentionally to frame important game events. We as players are meant to recognize that Comstock having a city full of slaves is bad, but why then is a group filled with minorities allowed to be portrayed unflinchingly as ridiculous, cruel, and monstrous enemies? These are questions only Irrational Games can answer, and it“s unlikely they ever will.
  8. gaiages

    Infinite screenshot

    From the album: Contest Stuff

  9. Bioshock Infinite is coming out soon and with that impending launch comes announcement of figures. If you're a collector of figures then this is probably worth looking into, although fans of replica gaming weaponry may also be interested. The first series includes only two characters, but they both come from toy manufacturer NECA. You might remember them from the Portal gun replicas they made a while back. The two characters modeled in plastic first are Elizabeth and a Boys of Silence figure. Both have around 20 points of articulation and and look pretty good in the promo photos. Elizabeth is 6.5" tall while The Boys of Silence is a bit taller at 7". Both cost $20 although you can grab the both of them for $35. If figures aren't quite your thing then NECA also revealed a replica. Unlike the figures, this will only be available in limited quantities and appears to be to scale with the in-game version. By pulling the trigger, the gear begins to turn and spin the hook end for added effect. Expect that to cost a fair bit more than the figures whenever a price is announced.
  10. You might have heard about the recent controversy over the reveal of Bioshock Infinite's official cover art. Fans weren't happy with the stereotypical "guy with a big ol' gun", claiming that sort of thing isn't what Bioshock is all about. While Irrational Games won't be changing the official cover, they've taken note of your concerns and are offering the chance for you to vote on a reversible cover design. There are six different covers to choose from. Right now, design #4 is in the lead, while design #1 is dead last with only 5% of the votes. And if you want even more designs to choose from, then Irrational Games will be offering "a whole mess of MORE alternate covers" that will be available to download and print. Which alternate cover design is your favorite?
  11. Bioshock Infinite may have its release date pushed back to February 2013, but that will not stop Irrational Games from dropping a bit of news from Columbia just before the holidays. Bioshock“s Creative Director, Ken Levine, confirmed via twitter that the upcoming AAA title will not include a multiplayer mode, confirming the rumor from earlier this year. Irrational Games briefly discussed Bioshock Infinite multiplayer modes in 2010, but the studio quickly nixed a few modes because they simply did not live up to the company“s standards. The removal of the multiplayer modes will undoubtedly polarize the franchise“s fans. Although most fans will be celebrating the fact that the developer“s focus will remain on the single player campaign, players who genuinely enjoyed Bioshock 2“s multiplayer action may feel a bit differently. What is your stance regarding the complete removal of multiplayer? Is this a good move for Irrational Games?
  12. Bioshock Infinite is already one of the most anticipated games for next year, with many already looking beyond the stock of games available this holiday season. 2K Games announced that Bioshock Infinite will receive the special edition treatment. The Premium Edition will cost approximately $79.99 and include several different items in hopes of satiating even the most eclectic collector. Bioshock Infinite Premium Edition includes a miniature “Art of Bioshock Infinite” book published by Dark Horse Books. This edition will offer an exclusive 25mm Handyman resign figure designed for Plaid Hat Games' soon-to-be-released board game, Bioshock Infinite: Siege of Columbia. Bioshock Infinite also took a cue from Bioshock 2 and will recreate a piece of in-game propaganda on a piece of heavy stock paper. The final physical piece of swag is a key-chain replica of the promotional “Murder of Crows” bottles. This edition will also include a few digital items like a copy of the original sound track and three exclusive gear power-ups. These power-ups will give the player a chance to knockdown enemies if melee attacking while sprinting (Bull Rush), grant a bounty for audio logs (Extra! Extra!) and kill possessed enemies like suicide bombers (Betrayer). Xbox 360 players will also receive exclusive Booker and Elizabeth costumes while Playstation 3 owners will simply receive custom themes for Bioshock Infinite. Willing to shell out almost twice as much? The “Ultimate Songbird Edition” is currently priced at $149.99 and will contain all of the previously mentioned content from the Collector's Edition. That extra $70 will get Ultimate Songbird Edition buyers a 9.75” limited edition statue designed by an Irrational Games' concept artist. According to 2K Games the unique packaging will allow the owner to display the statue without ever breaking the seal. Which edition appeals to you the most?