Friday, February 12, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Big Daddy

Mild spoiler alert!

Okay. So. I have a lot of time on my hands right now and thusly have decided to watch a bunch of movies I've never seen, read a bunch of books I've never read, and as you can probably tell from the title of this post, play a bunch of video games I've never played.

My first mission? Bioshock.

Bioshock was one of those games I was always interested in, but was also always WAY too freaked out by to actually sit down and play. I have a thing about scary video games. I don't like them. I don't like people playing them around me. They make me sad. But I've heard such good things about this game for so damn long, I decided to say fuck it, Bioshock 2 comes out this week, so I'm just gonna stop being a pussy & not only play Bioshock, but beat it in two days. Well, I originally planned on beating it in two days, but quickly discovered the game was just too cool to force into only forty-eight hours. So I took my time...and beat it in four days instead. ;)

I mean...this game. THIS GAME. No wonder you have all been raving about it for years! It's genius. GENIUS I SAY. Obviously I saved all the little sisters and got the happy ending and obviously it made me cry because, well if you've seen the ending, you know why, and obviously I'm beating Bioshock 2 next week.

It got me thinking - would this make a better movie or TV show or can it really only work in video game form? Rapture is such a fascinating world with such dark secrets, that I feel like it's worth exploring more than what a two hour movie would allow. But then with only one main character, would a TV show even really make sense? With no romance or human interaction for 4 seasons? Just mystery discovered, mystery revealed after mystery discovered mystery revealed? That sounds kinda dumb. But I want more of this story, I want more of this world. I want to know what Jack looks like, I want to see actors play the scene between Jack & Andrew Ryan, I want to see Jack's reactions when he learns the truth, I WANT.

(CORRECTION: Maybe I don't wanna see that scene between Andrew Ryan and Jack after all....see comments...)

I know it's in development right now, with Gore Verbinski no longer directing, but rather producing. But man, if this is made into a movie, it has to be done just right. It should make us feel what the video game makes us feel, not be some dumb adaptation that doesn't do such genius any justice. It makes me nervous! Thoughts?

Have you played Bioshock? Were you as obsessed as I am? Were you good or evil? Did you kill Cohen and take a picture of his body & get the Irony Achievement or did you not kill him and open the secret room in his apartment and get the Found Cohen's Room Achievement? Or did you know about these achievements before you played the game and were sneaky & got both? If so, DAMN YOU.

Okay. This post about nothing is over now. I just loved this game and needed to document my love for it is all. :).


Unknown said...

The thing about adapting Bioshock is that the greatest moment of the game ('A man chooses. A slave obeys.') loses its brilliance and impact in any other format; in the game it works because of the tangible way it takes the player's power away and makes them realize they never actually HAD any, ever. It becomes a meta statement about gaming even as it adds to the plot, so... really, in terms of getting more Rapture, I'm more interested in Bioshock 2 (which I'm going to start as soon as I finish Mass Effect 2) than I am in any adaptation in another format.

LoquaciousMuse said...

Ohmygod yes! Of course it wouldn't be the same if we weren't playing it!! Haha I feel like I just learned something really cool about why video games are an amazing medium. Yeah...hmmm...I take it back, now I kinda don't wanna see any of it acted out. I love it too much the way it is :)

david said...

okay, a few thoughts.

first, i deeply enjoy(ed) both of the bioshock games... they're intelligent and fantastically considered bits of interactive entertainment. but Rapture is the star, here... and while the personalities behind it are somewhat interesting (and the audio diaries provide some great moments), the characters are largely dull and one-dimensional, and i can't fathom (really contrived pun) how anyone could really be all that curious to see them in any other medium.

and the little sisters? i appreciate the sadistic element involved, but i just don't understand how anyone can be made to care about their plight... of course i'm going to brutally harvest them all without thinking (and i'd stick the leftovers in the microwave and re-harvest them, if i could)... they're just decently rendered zombie children who are standing between me and the Adam i need to jack my plasmids through the roof. in fact, the only reason i would even consider doing otherwise underscores my biggest problems with these games (even as it serves the somewhat tired notion of control, which is only given new life here because of how intellectually daft most videogames are), which is that they're TOO EASY.

you can't die! even if you a big daddy ruins you time after time you pretty much endlessly resurrect a few feet away until you triumph over whatever obstacle is in your way. this of course makes the game even more of a linear ride (rather than an experience that could end differently or prematurely) and forces the player to acknowledge how little control they actually had... but the only reason i wouldn't harvest a little sister is simply because you really don't need all that much adam to beat the game.

having said that... these are two seriously fun shooters in a thoroughly conceived and very well-defined world (the initial immersion of the first game in particular is fantastic), and the first one toyed with some neat ideas, but i can't help but feel that this whole "emotional conundrum" bit about the little children isn't weak beyond weak... they're completely DISPENSABLE & REPLACEABLE, it's not as if you're at the end of disc 1 of ff7 and they're asking you to choose who lives between aeris and tifa (which they didn't, but... ya know, that's a decision that would have some heft... methinks mass effect 2 plays along those lines). if you're crying over these little sisters... well, i can't judge, but i don't get it at all.

also, people care about achievements?

ALSO... bioshock is not a scary game. not like something like dead space is a scary game. at all.

anyhoo, i really do think these games are seriously great. but they could be greater, and bioshock 3 needs to be significantly more evolved than its predecessors.

ALSOOOO LQ, SERIOUSLY! you need to start playing some j-RPGs! this is getting RIDICULOUS. they are so clearly waiting to become your new favorite genre... they have everything you love... characters, epic quests, love stories, lots of items and such... you is CRAZY. go play ff X or ff VII or something and watch your little muse mind CRUMBLE.

LoquaciousMuse said...

i dont like turn based rpgs. nononono. me like Fable 3 COMING TO STORES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

EruditeChick said...

Muse, you need to play a J-RPG before you can know if you love them or not. SO DO IT.

Scott- you are correct on the experiential import of the reveal being a first person one that speaks to the nature of gameplay, compliance and the ability to make choices.

David- while an immensely satisfying idea in theory, I'm pretty sure a game that definitively ended when you died would become wildly unpopular very effing quickly if the difficulty level was at all challenging. People don't like it when they invest in their character and then lose that character. If a character is disposable, however, it's a huge detriment to the enjoyability of the gameplay and any kind of storyline.

I think the original Bioshock could be adapted very well to screen. However, the nature of the participant's double-cross would need to be adjusted in a way that's comparable. The director would have to be able to pull a bait and switch ala Fight Club, something that mindfraks the audience so completely they feel- not just as betrayed as the character they're sympathizing with- but MORE so.

Re:the characters are dull and one dimensional? David: ur stoopid. A Jewish geneticist who was raised in Auschwitz? A doctor who almost singlehandedly propels a culture of such extreme neuroses and self loathing that the obsession with becoming perfect causes people to kill themselves with plastic surgery, and when they don't he picks up the slack? Even the botanist with whom you have a lot of real time interaction but comparatively little background- the characters are AMAZING. Or how about the Big Daddy recruits?? The way they are presented in the game, however, is of secondary importance to your own personal journey of escape and then redemption (or, you know, NOT, if you're a soulless harvester like David. I know you didn't play the game, but I would be extremely interested in knowing whether or not you would, David, have mowed down the screaming, terrified civilians in the airport during the "No Russian" level of MW2. Since they're interchangeable constructs and whether or not you do has no outcome, plot-wise, on the end of the level. I tend to think that if a character or character group is well executed you should, through association with the character you're using to navigate and experience the world of the game, be making moral choices that represent or are in tandem with either your own personality, or the personality you have chosen for your avatar. If you choose to experience the world by taking the lives of children, that's a totally valid choice. But I think it's something of an underestimation of the skill with which the sisters were designed and voiced, and the history they were given, to dismiss their effectiveness. I didn't cry when I won the game, but I still felt good about having made what I thought was the right choice.

Then I went back and harvested like I was a fucking farmer. But I mean, it still made me sad to do so.).

In an ongoing format like say an HBO series, a prequel would be fucking awesome BECAUSE the characters have such extensive backgrounds and are so interesting. If they were fleshed out, if we saw them being drawn down to Rapture, interacting with each other, forming the relationships we hear about from one party or another and then watching them all get torn apart, that would be an epically fascinating series.

david said...

quick ambien response... i recognize that the little sisters are relatively well-conceived for what they are and that the game is working on several fronts (the use of normative cues of paternal activity provide a nice contrast or echo from the other instance in which cues and affected behavior drives the plot), but as a gamer... it's all way too transparent for me to form an emotional attachment of any kind. now... i'm slow to form emotional attachments periods, but but it's ridiculously morally weighted... the two choices at such diametrically opposed ends of the spectrum, and the sisters are so indistinct and so replaceable that while i feel they contribute nicely to the game's themes, i'm just sorta surprised that anyone could develop an emotional relationship with them of any significant heft. you don't have to earn their affection (other than killing a big daddy, but... you can now also choose not to do that) and they're to be disposed of the moment they've served their function... they're constructs, not characters... an idea in some ways unique to gaming that i think portal's companion cube so indelibly skewed. methinks that if you're all hung up over the little girls that you're totally missing the point... to me, the player has a deliberately contrived confrontation with the illusion of choice and the power of normative behavior, and if the entire world of rapture is a living treatise on human control... that's where it's interesting.

and silly erudite, i'm not saying that the character should die forever, but rather that... as it is in 99% of other games, when you die you have to start at a previous save point with conditions preserved in amber. you don't get to immediately pop up next to where you were where the damage you inflicted on your enemies is still in effect. so it literally makes it so you can't fail... i feel as if the "on-rails" effect that this creates serves the game's greater goals, and the game is nothing but fun, so i'm not complaining.

i guess at the end of the day i'm just flummoxed as to how one could so quickly form a bond with an animated zombie child and cry when they died. but... to each their own. and the characters ARE interesting... and i like that you're really experiencing their madness from the periphery, but the vast majority of the character work is done in the past tense and unfurled via audio logs... didn't give me the feeling that i was really involved in a present narrative. okay, i'm so drugged out right now.

short story: 1- i reeeallly like these games and am super psyched to beat bioshock 2 - i find these games to be far more cerebrally engaging than they are emotional, which is to say... not.

and FOR realzieeesss LQ, FF10 right now. slap that booty into your ps3 (i hope you have a bakcwards compatible one) and let the years of denying yourself videogaming's greatest pleasures end in a festival of light and joy and sleep!

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