Bioshock's Missed Opportunity

Bioshock was one of the finest games of 2007, I think we can all agree. Everything from it's exploration of Objectivism to it's clever commentary on game mechanics was well written and explored. The setting of Rapture was a fantastic environment, one I'll happily revisit with Bioshock 2. But the original Bioshock made a mistake with the characterization of Rapture that I'm afraid will be repeated in the sequel. To put it bluntly, everyone in Rapture was insane.

When you first enter Rapture, one of the first things you come across is a woman hovering over a baby carriage, comforting something inside it. This moment is designed to make you pause and consider the situation- just long enough so that the woman- a crazy Splicer- can jump you. It turns out a revolver was inside the baby carriage. At this point, the game has conveyed to you that the city is insane, and you don't need to worry about shooting innocents. After this point, the only people you will encounter in Rapture are Splicers and Big Daddies.

The game's fiction presents the idea of Rapture as a city, falling apart but still functional. It seems like a place where people might still live, at least according to comments you'll hear from Atlas and Ryan. However, you literally encounter four people in the entire game who are not crazy Splicers- Atlas, Tenenbaum, Ryan, and Cohen. These people are the only ones in all of Rapture who are willing to talk to you before thy attempt to blow your brains out. Moments like the fight with the doctor are supposed to be surprising, but because no one in all of Rapture is willing to talk, it's not a surprise when he attacks you. In all honesty, it just seems unlikely that people are still going to him for surgery when you can't cross a hallway without getting attacked by a Splicer.

The environment and gameplay contradict themselves a bit. From what you hear from Atlas, Ryan, and the audio logs, you are to infer that the city is still inhabited and working to a degree, although just barely. Sane people still exist in Rapture according to what the game tells you. But you never see them. Ever. So instead of being a tense exploration of an overrun city, it's just a series of killrooms. Extremely entertaining killrooms of course, but every time you see something moving, you know you need to shoot it. It takes away from Rapture to inhabit it with only psychopaths.

Iroooony
Of course there is one exception to this rule- Sander Cohen. The crazed artist in Fort Frolic who is, ironically, one of the most insane people in Rapture, won't attack you. After you complete his "Masterpiece" and survive the splicer onslaught he sets against you, he'll come out and reward you for your help, then actually let you go. But by that point, you're already so indoctrinated by the game, you have a natural distrust. The first thing I did when Cohen appeared on the steps was take a shotgun to the back of his head. Only later did I learn he would let me live.

Of course, this can be viewed as a success, that the game got into my head so much that I though there was no way this guy wouldn't turn on me- but it's also a failure, in that despite what the story and characters were telling me, I thought there was no one left in Rapture who wouldn't attack me; because that was all the game had thrown at me. I never saw any proof to believe that Rapture was home to anything besides crazy Splicers and Big Daddies.

It was one of the few failings of the original game, and sadly, it seems like it will carry over to the sequel. From what the Game Informer cover got across, it sounds like Bioshock 2 will have the same conceit- that the city is somehow still functioning, ten years later, despite it's leaders being dead and almost everyone being a Splicer.

Rapture is a great place. I love it. But I would love it even more if I got to see the parts that aren't so goddamn insane.
18 Comments
19 Comments
Posted by Lies
Bioshock was one of the finest games of 2007, I think we can all agree. Everything from it's exploration of Objectivism to it's clever commentary on game mechanics was well written and explored. The setting of Rapture was a fantastic environment, one I'll happily revisit with Bioshock 2. But the original Bioshock made a mistake with the characterization of Rapture that I'm afraid will be repeated in the sequel. To put it bluntly, everyone in Rapture was insane.

When you first enter Rapture, one of the first things you come across is a woman hovering over a baby carriage, comforting something inside it. This moment is designed to make you pause and consider the situation- just long enough so that the woman- a crazy Splicer- can jump you. It turns out a revolver was inside the baby carriage. At this point, the game has conveyed to you that the city is insane, and you don't need to worry about shooting innocents. After this point, the only people you will encounter in Rapture are Splicers and Big Daddies.

The game's fiction presents the idea of Rapture as a city, falling apart but still functional. It seems like a place where people might still live, at least according to comments you'll hear from Atlas and Ryan. However, you literally encounter four people in the entire game who are not crazy Splicers- Atlas, Tenenbaum, Ryan, and Cohen. These people are the only ones in all of Rapture who are willing to talk to you before thy attempt to blow your brains out. Moments like the fight with the doctor are supposed to be surprising, but because no one in all of Rapture is willing to talk, it's not a surprise when he attacks you. In all honesty, it just seems unlikely that people are still going to him for surgery when you can't cross a hallway without getting attacked by a Splicer.

The environment and gameplay contradict themselves a bit. From what you hear from Atlas, Ryan, and the audio logs, you are to infer that the city is still inhabited and working to a degree, although just barely. Sane people still exist in Rapture according to what the game tells you. But you never see them. Ever. So instead of being a tense exploration of an overrun city, it's just a series of killrooms. Extremely entertaining killrooms of course, but every time you see something moving, you know you need to shoot it. It takes away from Rapture to inhabit it with only psychopaths.

Iroooony
Of course there is one exception to this rule- Sander Cohen. The crazed artist in Fort Frolic who is, ironically, one of the most insane people in Rapture, won't attack you. After you complete his "Masterpiece" and survive the splicer onslaught he sets against you, he'll come out and reward you for your help, then actually let you go. But by that point, you're already so indoctrinated by the game, you have a natural distrust. The first thing I did when Cohen appeared on the steps was take a shotgun to the back of his head. Only later did I learn he would let me live.

Of course, this can be viewed as a success, that the game got into my head so much that I though there was no way this guy wouldn't turn on me- but it's also a failure, in that despite what the story and characters were telling me, I thought there was no one left in Rapture who wouldn't attack me; because that was all the game had thrown at me. I never saw any proof to believe that Rapture was home to anything besides crazy Splicers and Big Daddies.

It was one of the few failings of the original game, and sadly, it seems like it will carry over to the sequel. From what the Game Informer cover got across, it sounds like Bioshock 2 will have the same conceit- that the city is somehow still functioning, ten years later, despite it's leaders being dead and almost everyone being a Splicer.

Rapture is a great place. I love it. But I would love it even more if I got to see the parts that aren't so goddamn insane.
Posted by Pleasureizmine

you you DOUBLE WIGGER!

Posted by Tru3_Blu3

I really would love to see some actual, sane civilians in Rapture that could actually help you out in combat or something. It would give the game more "scale" that you're not the only survivor.

This was a great read. Even though, I, for some reason, did not fire a single shot at Cohen when I seen him walk down the stairs. No Splicer would be in joy by walking toward a so-called "creation". They would instead--like you said--run at you with a pipe wrench and kill you.  Cohen didn't do that, so I knew he was a friendly person...

Sort of.

Posted by Vinchenzo

If you let him survive and go to his apartment, he then attacks you there.

Posted by jakob187
Tru3_Blu3 said:
"I really would love to see some actual, sane civilians in Rapture."
There aren't any.  Pay attention to the story.

As for your blog, Lies...

The game takes place somewhere that ended up going insane because of its own greed and creations.  You aren't GOING to find anyplace that looks like someone sane is still there.  That's the point.  =  /  Sorry you are disappointed with that.
Posted by Johnny5

Thats a good point I think, and it points out one of the main issues in the original. It was touted for its moral choices and levels of grey but it was quite clear between the two. Greys were pretty rare, and the fact that it was probably easier to be good than bad too...

Posted by atejas

I'm pretty sure he made it clear that everyone was in varying degrees of insanity thanks to splicing.

A touch I for one could have gone for is insane splicers who aren't hostile. Like, people who just wander the hallways of Rapture muttering to themselves, or even running from you when they see you.

Posted by Oni

Good read, and good point. I just took for granted that Rapture was insane that there were no 'normal' people left, because hey, it's a videogame, right? But it would be pretty cool if there was like, a safe haven for people that haven't gone crazy, a sort of barricaded place that the last sane people are defending tooth and nail against splicers or something like that.

Posted by crunchUK
Lies said:
a lot of things
Thats because it IS all insane. Anyone who wasn't insane got killed. And even fontaine was insane, andrew ryan was as well.
Posted by Claude

Live to die and then live again always to die. Humans had no spirit, and I was forced to live and kill, but it was a good kill... well deserved.

Edited by Julian0086

The most important thing you should know is:
Most players prefer killrooms and what they want are just excitements
They prefer surface stuff rather than deep stories or well-developed scenarios
they are SHALLOW

I'm glad to see a player thinking so much like you
But you are the minority, remember that

Posted by Arkthemaniac

Wait, you said 4 people that aren't crazy, but didn't list Fontaine. What am I missing?


*snickersnickersnicker*
Posted by End_Boss

Good god

SPOILERS!!!

Posted by Arkthemaniac
End_Boss said:
"Good god

SPOILERS!!!

"
Isn't the rule that after two years, it's okay to talk about spoilers?
Posted by natetodamax

There are actually five people in the game that aren't crazy splicers. You forgot about the scientist lady in Arcadia that dies trying to save the trees (Ryan gasses her)

Posted by Hitchenson

I read that there will be more "normal" characters in BioShcok 2. I doubt they'll be any any sane one's though...

Posted by natetodamax
Hitchenson said:
I read that there will be more "normal" characters in BioShcok 2. I doubt they'll be any any sane one's ... [more]
That seems unlikely. Bioshock 2 takes place 10 years after the first, meaning there's a good chance that everyone down there has gotten even more insane.
Edited by TooWalrus
natetodamax said:
Hitchenson said: I read that there will be more "normal" characters in BioShcok 2. I doubt they'll be any any ... [more]
And the multi-player part is a prequel, and takes place during the fall of Rapture.
Posted by natetodamax
TooWalrus said:
natetodamax said: Hitchenson said: I read that there will be more "normal" characters in BioShcok 2. I doubt they'll be ... [more]
That seems like the part he could be talking about, although I wouldn't associate any specific characters with multiplayer because it's simply about killing other players.