Apr 012013
 

Despite what you may think of the sequel, we can all agree that Irrational struck pure gold in Bioshock upon its release back in August of 2007. The atmosphere and city of Rapture was unlike anything we’d seen in a video game before. This obviously set up some incredibly lofty expectations for Irrational’s next adventure, Bioshock Infinite. Those expectations only heightened once information begin to roll out and we realized that Rapture had been ditched for a new city, a city that existed high up in the air. Thankfully, Irrational and co-founder Ken Levine have become rather talented at taking expectations and exceeding them to a point that not even we perceived possible.

If you played Bioshock, you remember the intro. The plane crash, the elevator ride down, the broken glass, the imagery, everything, and it was without a doubt one of the best intros in the history of gaming. Irrational took that “one of” part seriously and decided to smash that over their knee by creating an intro that is so effective at inserting you directly into  a new world, you can’t help but call it the best intro any video game has ever produced. From slight hidden nuggets to the skyscraper esque buildings surrounding the beautiful city of Columbia, this is an intro that will be absolutely impossible to forget.

Columbia, the actual city itself, meets all the same notes Rapture did. It’s a visually stimulating environment filled with different little touches that demand your exploration. I’ve never been one to wonder around a city aimlessly but I found myself doing that multiple times throughout Infinite. Then you begin to realize that the more you wander, the more you learn of Columbia, which just makes you want to learn even more. Turning the setting of a game into a character in and of itself is an insanely difficult thing to achieve, though that hasn’t stopped Irrational as they’ve managed to do that multiple time now.

Bioshock Infinite

A lot of the character found within Columbia comes from the gorgeous visual design of every aspect in the city. There’s a certain level of attention to detail found in the smallest things, like a simple newspaper laying on the sidewalk, that you just don’t see in other games. It’s a testament to just how hard the art team for Infinite wanted to bring this city to life, and they succeeded with flying colors. However, one of the few complaints regarding Infinite comes in the form of the frame rate. Frame rate tends to take a dip whenever things begin to get heated which can dull the experience slightly. But you ultimately begin to ignore it as the story continues forward.

As for the actual characters, both Elizabeth and Booker are nothing short of spectacular. A lot of hubbub was raised over the inclusion of Elizabeth, a character that would remain by your side for a large part of the game. The obvious scare was what if the whole game felt like one big escort mission? Irrational quickly lays that to bed once you realize just how helpful Elizabeth is within combat. Throughout your many heated encounters, Elizabeth will provide you with items ranging from ammo to health. Her helpful nature is so useful that the few times you don’t have her by your side, you miss her tremendously.

That goes without mentioning her actual personal characteristics, which rival her helpfulness in combat. She, along with your character Booker, are set up with some unsettling mystery surrounding their existence and what led them into the beautiful city of Columbia. As the story goes on, those mysteries begin to unravel and unlike most things in life, the answer to the mystery was actually better than the mystery itself. While Booker is a fine character, I feel it necessary to point out that the connection you establish with Elizabeth is something that few games have ever achieved. I’ll be shocked if she isn’t strong in the running for best character come December 2013.

Bioshock

The real cherry on top of Elizabeth and Booker’s characters is the voice work performed by Courtnee Draper and video game voice actor professional, Troy Baker. Baker has obviously been around the block a few times as he voiced characters in Brothers in Arms, Red Faction, Persona 4, and many others. His experience shines through as he does a raw but effective performance of the emotionally scarred Booker DeWitt. This is only Courtnee Draper’s second appearance, however, as before taking on Elizabeth, she appeared in Kingdom Hearts II. That being said, I think Draper has found her calling if she so chooses because she brings Elizabeth to life like not even I thought possible. Expressing emotion through reading into a microphone is a tough thing to do, Draper makes it seem impossibly easy.

Elizabeth and Booker would both be nothing without a tremendous overarching story and Bioshock Infinite has just that. While the original Bioshock had its fair amount of insanity, Infinite tops that by a mile at almost every story beat. The game begins and seems like a simple tyrannical dictator needs to be overthrown narrative but that story quickly evolves into a whole new beast. I suppose we shouldn’t expect any less than stunning material from the guys that brought us the previous two Bioshock’s but hot damn did they out do themselves this time around. Infinite also features an ending that manages to feel “right” but also leave you scratching your head for hours after the credits roll.

Bioshock Infinite Xbox360

The combat is where Bioshock Infinite very clearly becomes a Bioshock game. You have a special power in your left hand, this time called Vigors, and a wide variety of weapons to choose from that you may insert into your right hand. This go around you gain power to unleash your Vigors by collecting salts, something that you’ll quickly realize needs to be used wisely. Not because salts are a hard thing to collect but instead because you always seem to run out of power as the worst possible time. Gunplay remains mostly unchanged, the real variety comes in the form of transit rails that you’re able to grind upon thanks to an object that Booker intelligently places on his hand early on in the game. Though it’s a rather small change, grinding around a combat area adds even more life to some already exciting combat.

I think we all knew Bioshock Infinite would at least be a memorable experience upon its release. What we didn’t know was just how memorable it would be. There’s no aspect of Infinite that won’t have a lasting impression on me in some way. Irrational has managed to stun even me by releasing not only one of the best games this year, but one of the best games to be found on this generation of consoles. Remember back in 2005 when we were all dreaming of what next gen games could achieve? Bioshock Infinite is the game we’ve been dreaming about for all these years, and it has finally arrived.

XBox 360

Graphics

95
 

Audio

100
 

Gameplay

95

Creativity

100
 

Execution

100
 

Offset

95
    

9.8

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

May 092012
 

Take Two announced this morning that Bioshock Infinite has been delayed and will now be released on February 26, 2013, according to a report from Kotaku. The series’ third entry was originally slated for an October release, but Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine said that the delay was necessary to implement “some specific tweaks and improvements” that “will make Infinite into something even more extraordinary.”

“I won’t kid you: BioShock Infinite is a very big game, and we’re doing things that no one has ever done in a first-person shooter. We had a similar experience with the original BioShock, which was delayed several months as our original ship date drew near,” he said in a statement to the press. “Why? Because the Big Daddies weren’t the Big Daddies you’ve since come to know and love. Because Andrew Ryan’s golf club didn’t have exactly the right swing. Because Rapture needed one more coat of grimy Art Deco.”

The game, set in 1912, focuses on Booker DeWitt, who is tasked with rescuing a woman named Elizabeth from the sky-city of Columbia. Much like the dystopian setting of the original game was heavily influenced by writers such as Ayn Rand and George Orwell, Bioshock Infinite focuses on the idea of American exceptionalism and issues of race. The concept of faction also plays a critical role, drawing from the progressive movement contemporary to the setting of the game to the “Occupy” movement of today.

To paraphrase Shigeru Miyamoto, delays ensure that a game will be good, but a bad game will always be bad. I’m in favor of giving Levine and his team as much time as they need to deliver a stellar experience.

Source: Kotaku

Apr 102012
 

PAX East 2012 has come and gone, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was able to play some great games before release, see panels of both the informative and funny variety, and just overall have an awesome time. The following are the ten best “things” of PAX East 2012. I do not have any specific criteria for what qualifies for this list, it can be a game I played, a panel I attended, or just any aspect of the show. Just remember, only things I experienced personally are eligible for this list, and while I did spend over 30 hours at the show over the course of 3 days, it is a huge event and I didn’t nearly see everything. I will also have more in-depth hands on impressions of any games I mention, and more, coming up over the course of the week, so look out for those.

10. Fable Heroes

Fable Heroes is a fun cooperative hack ‘n’ slash game with a cool art style. I honestly wasn’t expecting a whole lot with the direction the Fable series has been going lately, but I had a good time with Fable Heroes. It’s a simple game, but the satisfying combat and the competitive co-op nature of the game made for a pretty fun experience. The fact that the game comes out so soon and only at 800 ms points makes this one to watch for.

9. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II

I think I have pretty well established myself as a big Sonic fan in the short time I’ve been writing for Gaming Irresponsibly, so needless to say I have high hopes for any Sonic game. From what I’ve played of Sonic 4: Episode 2, is similar to Episode 1, though there are several areas with noticeable improvement including the camera (you can now see upcoming enemies and obstacles much better), the graphics, and the aspect Sega has been pushing, the physics. The game still plays like Sonic 4 (and not the classic levels of Sonic Generations like I had hoped), but it definitely feels a lot closer to the Genesis games than Episode 1 did.

8. Rock Band Blitz

Have you ever played Amplitude? You should, that game is awesome. It seems Harmonix agrees, as they have decided to return to their roots and make a new game in the style of Frequency and Amplitude while still using the Rock Band name. Basically, Frequency and Amplitude were the precursors to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and used controllers instead of plastic instruments. Rock Band Blitz is very similar to these games in many ways, and it seems like a perfect fit for a cheaper, downloadable Rock Band game.

7. Plot vs. Play Panel

Ken Levine

The first panel on this list, the Plot vs. Play panel was a discussion about the balance between story and gameplay in game design and development. Aside from being a very interesting topic that I personally have strong feelings about, it also featured an all star lineup of developers. Speaking on the panel was Ken Levine from Irrational Games, David Gaider from BioWare, and Chris Avellone from Obsidian. The discussion was very interesting, and gave some cool insight into the development process at three of the best studios in the industry.

6. Hell Yeah!: Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Hell Yeah is a 2D platformer with some pretty good humor and a metroidvania style of design. The game is full of references, with nods to classic games, movies, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The game has some great platforming, but also some other gameplay elements to shake things up, like a chainsaw jet pack and other movement abilities. It also helps that you are playing as a zombie rabbit named Ash that has gone to hell to kill demons because embarrassing photos of him leaked onto the internet.

Nov 152011
 

Those yearning for a film adaptation of the superb Bioshock will have a harder time getting their wish granted.  According to Bioshock designer Ken Levine, no one is rushing to get the film done.

In an interview, Levine stated that there are plans for the film, but things aren’t quite in motion and won’t be for a long time.

“We got very close to having it get made – we had a deal in place and a director. But for us there’s no burning [desire] to have a movie made just to get it made,” said Levin. “For us and for Take-Two, it’s really got to be something that will give the fans something that they want, and for those who don’t know BioShock, really introduce them to something that is consistent with the game, and is it going to be a good representation of the game.”

Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski has slated to take the director’s chair, but left due to creative differences.  Then, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadilo came aboard, but since then, no other cast or crew has been announced.

Bioshock is just another video game adapted into a film that is currently stuck in “development hell”.  Let’s hope that in time, gamers can witness the underwater world of Rapture on the big screen.

Source: Kotaku

May 242011
 

Hey all of you Bioshock fans! If you love Bioshock as much as I do (meaning that if you love Bioshock so much that you dream of the sequel every waking second, have read every piece of news that graces the internet with its presence, have played the game more than five times, and possibly even have a shrine of Ken Levine in your closet that you look at while you touch yourself and cry that you will never be as great as he is) then you’re in for a great surprise!

Irrational Games has set up their shiny and brand new website for Bioshock Infinite, with all new screens, backgrounds, downloads, and information on the upcoming sequel. I don’t know about any of you other Bioshock fans out there, but I’m definitely going to spending some time surfing their new website and making sure that I download every itty-bitty piece of new content. So head on over to Bioshock Infinite to take a look at the new website!

I don’t know if any of you could tell, but I was totally joking about the whole “Ken Levine Shrine” thing. I would never spend a whole day constructing one of those out of various pictures of Ken Levine’s face and carved slabs of white marble.