Dystopias Are Fun
Every few years we get a game that truly demonstrates what art is? A game that truly shows that our medium isn’t about just entertainment and providing a creative outlet; to me that is the definition of art though. If you look at games such as System Shock 2, Half-Life 2, and the original Deus Ex those are all art. How do you collectively add everything from graphics, sound, atmosphere, and actual literary storytelling into a game though? Most people these days see it as a waste of time and nothing but glorified killing. You could say that about the army, nothing but glorified killing that is supposedly going to secure peace…but I digress. This game will do more than pull you in; this game will become your past time. I find it hard for me to quit playing even when I’ve got homework to do for my AP Classes. We’ll start with the usual, what is the story? Not to give too much away your character begins this game on a plane ride over the Atlantic Ocean. The plane itself crashes during flight and you are now stranded in the Mid-Atlantic with fire ablaze around you and water. Lots of beautiful water. According to Ken Levine, the mastermind at what was once Irrational (now 2K Boston) his artist spent 3 years on getting the water just right, and it shows. As you swim through the water you see reflections of yourself, fire and oh! A lighthouse. Not a lighthouse you would see off the coast of Nantucket mind you, a utopia industrial looking light house. Since it really is the only ground near you must obviously swim to it (look at the plane as you swim, it’s actually sinking into the ocean, marvelous detail!) Once in the lighthouse the lights within will automatically turn on and a sign will read “No Gods or Kings. Only Man!” Any book worm or dystopia intellectual can figure out right away where inspiration for the story in this game comes from. Look at writer’s such as Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) and Huxley (Brave New World) and you will know what I’m talking about. I will say this, the story is interesting and worth listening to the monologues of the various citizens of Rapture and your ultimate dystopian Antagonist Andrew Ryan (leader of Rapture) to gain insight about what Rapture is all about what it has become. The story itself leads to climaxes then turns into another direction to keep you thinking all the time.
Rapture is the name of the city which is a city built below the Ocean. There people of only a certain caliber of intellect are allowed to go there and do studies and live as they please based off the ideal of objectiveness. (Look up Ayn Rand and Objectivism for more info.) As you enter you will notice a very different art style than other games made with the Unreal 3 Engine. It’s a 1950s-60s art deco style that is very polished, detailed, and makes it feel that more authentic. As you start out when emerging from your underwater metro you will see the first Spider Splicer in the game. You won’t kill it just yet, as it will kill a friend of Atlas. Atlas is the first person and one the main people you will work with in your adventure through Rapture. As the game progresses you will learn more about every character’s ideals and their goals, confusing at best and at times…not based on morals. In the game you have your usual guns, pistol, machine gun, shot gun. Then you’ve got a chemical gun, a cross-bow, and a rocket launcher. All of these can be customized with 3 different types of ammo and upgraded to perform better and faster. Better and faster is what we want, right? Right! To get away from the mundane cliches of a shooter you also get Plasmids, Gene Tonics, Physical Tonics, and other unique tonics to improve your character. Some plasmids you get are Incinerate, electrobolt, and Attacking Bees! Some of these are more useful than others, like attacking bees is just funny to watch while incinerate and electrobolt will allow you to come up with some very useful ways of killing multiple enemies. Such as, say there’s a big pool of water and there are 3 splicer’s (the most common enemy) and you shoot electrobolt at the water. If you know anything about water and electricity you know anything living standing in that water will die. Looking at how the tonics and plasmids change your Character’s genetic code is one for the books and something really lets this game standout from the rest. What other games makes you think and chose your next action to better counter something? What other game understands the laws of science and intellectual utopias that melt into a dystopia. In all honesty I could write an essay on how this game finally proves that video games aren’t mindless violent. If you look at allusions to the bible this game has, Eve which is what powers your plasmids and Adam which is the currency that makes eve you understand the brain power put into this game. If you look at Andrew Ryan and other Character’s names in this game that come from the dystopian fiction writing of Ayn Rand you will understand this game beyond the teenage high-school book worms do. You will understand this game better than someone that has played FPS game’s all their lives. An FPS/RPG Hybrid (RPG because you collect stuff I suppose.) that finally adds everything from atmosphere, sound, music, ambiance, graphics, and art direction into a literary and mind indulging masterpiece. Besides a few bugs and 2K’s horrendous online verification (they should have had Valve help them with verification.) this game stands up to legends such as Half-Life 2 and Deus Ex. Perhaps it’s biggest accomplishment other than being a work of art in all respects is the fact that it lives up as the spiritual follower of System Shock 2.