With the Bioshock series now seemingly at an end, I felt the time was right to reflect on some of my favourite moments from such a sensational bunch of games. My top 10, if you will.
#10 – The Man in the Mist.
Early on in Bioshock you start to appreciate how frightening splicers can be. Even when they aren’t sneaking up on you or hiding behind your surroundings, they really are terrifying. Then, while exploring Steinman’s, we come across a Dentist’s Office, an unguarded Tonic and some odd steam. The first time the steam obscures everything from sight, I’m sure most of us assumed that the few things that had moved around were the product of our own blunderings. Later, picking up our new Tonic, we found out just how wrong we were.
#9 – Escape From The Statue of Columbia
I’m still not sure why but the entire time Elizabeth and Booker waited for lift, Songbird screaming outside the tower’s metal structure, I kept my eyes down the iron sights, turning back and forth between the lift and the door Elizabeth and I had fled through. There was no reason for this, it just felt right. This was when I realised that I can become not only an observer in this game but an actor.
#8 – The Splicer with a “Baby”
Your first moments in Rapture, one of the first questions you ask yourself is inevitably “is everyone here crazy?” Enter a fragile looking woman talking to her baby, tucked away in a cot. The more you listen to the woman’s conversation, the less she seems dangerous, less crazy. Maybe this is a civilian? Perhaps, like me, you stayed your hand, stood up and approached her. Perhaps you struck her down, not waiting to find out? Again and again in both Bioshock and Infinite I am still amazed how often I hesitate, or indeed, how often I don’t.
#7 – The Atlas Reveal
#6 – Rory O More Saddle the Pony
Just as things are starting to get crazy, everything slows down a pace. Suddenly we’re back to smiling citizens of Colombia having fun in the sun. Following bright Jig down the beach you find Elizabeth. Dancing. As if this crazy city in the sky couldn’t get weirder. That said, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished there was an option to dance along for at least a little while.
#5 – Welcome to Rapture
“I chose the impossible. I chose, Rapture” The first time we see Rapture. It really does look a city out of dreams, cast in art deco grandeur; fantastic skyscrapers beneath the sea, neon lights advertising tobacco and fine arts alongside octopuses and whales. Piecing together what happened to this Determinist Utopia starts from the moment you alight your bathysphere but from the very get go, the immense spectacle of the city is burned into your mind.
#4 – Welcome to Colombia
The symmetry between Bioshock and Infinite is best shown in the contrast of the two openings. As discussed above, the grandeur of Rapture is revealed early on in Bioshock however the very nature of the ocean means that remainder of the game is spent largely in between bulk heads and glorious interiors. Infinite plays on this expectation in your first 15 minutes in Colombia (depending how long you gawked in the welcome centre). For a fleeting moment we are given a glimpse of Comstock’s City in the Clouds, before being whisked back into the dark, small spaces of the welcome centre. “Classic Bioschock” you think. Then, after a rather vigorous baptism, the first thing you notice is the sky. A few moments later, opening a door into Colombia, you have to make a whole new assessment of the situation. We’re definitely not in Rapture, anymore.
#3 – Hunt Down the Vox
Listeners of the podcast will know that recently I aired some misgivings about the apparent FPS shooter focus in Infinite. It seemed an odd departure from the classic System Shock/Bioschock formulae of generally being outgunned and desperately trying to preserve ammunition, feeling that more firefights you could avoid, the better. Playing through Infinite again recently, I came upon the shooting gallery, close to the beginning of the game, where you are asked to shoot down Daisy Fitzroy. Now I, like most players I assume, wanted to win that game. Years of gaming, particularly RPGs, have bred into me a desire to complete every task possible. The first time I missed Daisy and failed to score first prize. So I played again, this time, making sure to kill this, as yet, unknown figure, just as I gunned down the similarly undisclosed “Vox”. The point is, to win the game, I have to shoot them. After this last playthrough, I started to wonder if this simple arcade game might be a comment on the entire genre, a self-referential nod to what will be the core of the rest of the game. Much like “Would You Kindly” played on the objective-based gameplay we are so used to as a game mechanic, “Hunt the Vox” may be considered to be emblematic of the whole of Infinite, or indeed, FPS games as a whole.
#2 – La Vie En Rose
Both the opening and closing of Buried at Sea: Part 2 is beautifully underscored by La Vie En Rose. The song not only forms a musical keystone of our last exploration of both Rapture and Colombia. Roughly translated “through Rose coloured glasses” could apply to Ryan’s inability to see what he had created collapsing around him, or to Fontaine’s own corrupted vision of social revolution, or even Comstock’s apparent Utopia built on disenfranchisement and enslavement. However, even more simply it could be the tragic willingness of Elizabeth to believe that escaping to Paris was an option, even knowing from the very beginning that she was destined never to leave Rapture. Also, it’s really just a beautiful song. The only way it could be more heartbreaking is if they had a little girl signing… oh.
#1 – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Like most, I finished Infinite with my mouth open, my eyes tired and my mind entirely blown. Then onto the credits and BAM, a ragtime version of 80s group Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” comes on. For me, this was the real mind-blowing moment. Other songs had stood out to me during the game, namely “Tainted Love” and “God Only Knows” but, as these songs have been covered so many times, I thought they must just be old tunes but this song. This song, I knew was definitely from the 80s. As it started in the credits I actually stood out of my chair in shock. Suddenly, the entire game made sense. To have this moment after the game had finished, was for me, one of the most incredible sensations I’ve had in any game. Touché Bioschock, touché.