Rapture Revisited Part 10: A Dark and Brutal Symphony

Best. Ending. Ever.

Okay, I’m biased. Maybe it wasn’t quite the best ending, but it was easily one of my favorites. BioShock advanced the state of the art of game design, prompting deep reflection on the notions of agency and control.

Not everyone sees it that way. Opinions vary widely amongst players, some of whom were disappointed with BioShock’s narrative twist and what it said about their choices. In fact, to call them “choices” at all is to step into the discussion on an openly contested point: Many players and critics alike hold that any perceived sense of control in the game is an illusion.

BioShock has its flaws, but a lack of agency isn’t one of them. The control it offers is very real and reasonable, though individual presumptions about games—and narrative games in particular—might make it seem otherwise.

To see how this might be true, we need to put agency and control in proper perspective. It would help if we could move away from comparisons between games and films or novels and instead consider a more apt basis for comparison: orchestral music.

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Rapture Revisited Part 9: The Shame of “Easy Mode”

I’m going to share my secret shame. One of them, anyway.

A while back I posted on my Tumblr complaining that BioShock seemed much more difficult than the first time I played it. Ever since then—and please don’t think less of me for saying this, but…

I lowered the difficulty. I’ve been playing on “easy” mode.

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Little Sisters Orphanage
Little Sisters in Tenenbaum's Care

Rapture Revisited Part 7: Out of the Uncanny Valley

My tour of Olympus Heights provoked the strongest emotions of any chapter thus far. It began with a welcome and cathartic sigh of relief when I awoke to find all the little sisters I’d saved safe and relatively sound in Dr. Tenenbaum’s care. The reunion provided a welcome counterpoint to the many levels of tension, panic, and unflinching violence.

So I wonder: What does the orphanage looks like for players who harvested the girls?

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Hephaestus
An Evening With Sander Cohen

Rapture Revisited Part 5: An Evening With Sander Cohen

I really enjoyed this level. Chalk it up to great writing and character development.

This level, and Sander Cohen in particular, is one of the main reasons I decided to re-play the original BioShock. Mr. Cohen appears in Burial at Sea Episode 1, and I’ve heard he plays a rather important role in Episode 2.

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Farmer's Market
Rapture Tea Gardens
Harvest or Rescue

Rapture Revisited Part 2: BioShock and Ludonarrative Consonance

I finished chapter three of BioShock. This is the part where you must confront and kill the grotesque and maniacal Dr. Steinman, presumably because he calls you ugly. That, and he insists on trying to kill you. He also has something you need, which in FPS-land pretty much guarantees him a toe-tag in any case.

But lets move on. Dr. Steinman is an offensive twit, a boorish distraction from the main event, because it’s in this chapter that the game first presents the player with the choice that is so quintessentially “BioShock”: Save the Little Sister, or murder her by harvesting her adam.

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Rapture Revisited – Replaying Classic BioShock

All right! I’ve finished writing my latest blog post, my gaming schedule is clear, and it’s finally time to play the last chapter of BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2!

Or rather, it would be if I wasn’t such an obsessive-compulsive goob when it comes to playing my favorite games.

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