Please place your conscience in the overhead compartment

My writing is really uneven.

So, at this time, I'm inundated with with betas, releases, and various forms of salmon and strange cracker-like aperitifs which are meant, I suppose, to bribe me into not paving my driveway with speed bumps every two feet. It won't work, because I'm going to throw them away.

The betas, I mean.

Nono, that's too harsh. For one thing, I can't even say why I might or might not, hypothetically, think things about the games I'm playing. For instance, as yet unreleased games. I am allowed, however, to say that there is an ongoing WarHammer Online beta, of which I am a participant, he wrote, nailing the syntactic backflip with almost no overspin. I'm not going to talk about that--in fact, I'm not allowed to. Completely unrelatedly, I think the only MMO coming out in the near future which is, in any way whatsoever, at all, in the least microscopic bit, by any just standard, playable for more than a few minutes without screaming, is Tabula Rasa. Garriote originally pissed me off with his cop-out of auto-targeting pseudo-FPS mechanics (on a deeply personal level, just so you know, we go way back--he stole my heart with a recipe for slug stew I bought off a grey goblin in Ultima Underworld, a game which creeped me out to no end, which is something that will become relevant later on). That personal affront which was targeted directly at me, and had nothing to do with a concession to technological limitations seemed to be the biggest barrier anyone ever put in place to prevent Richard and I from eloping, that is, next to all the laws against it. Even with the prevalence of game designers working overtime, creeping in my room at night, and poking me with a butter knife, or leaving spiders in my hair which I mistake for poisonous scrunchies, the idea of a somewhat auto-targeting diabolesque (diabolique) version of the mindless EQ-combat model (which, in all fairness, is the Command and Conquer: sole survivor model, lifted from the Dune II model, and, in what is probably not very fair, the Dune II model was directly lifted from paint drying--at least when it came to a tank fighting another tank), was exactly what my low expectations craved. The march of the parentheticals is getting at the point that I hated diablo II, and while I was too young to be properly cynical and critical of the first diablo, by the time of the sequel, I was more than capable of hating a popular game. In fact, I hated it so much, I put in several hundred hours on it just so I could hate it to the best of my ability. That's the kind of truly seething hatred that's made Blizzard the international space station hovering in geosynchronous orbit above South Korea that it is today. So, in a way, we're just now, with Tabula Rasa (did I mention that was what I was talking about?), climbing out of the festering hemmarhoid deep in the anal fissure of RPG gaming, and into the fissure itself, which, if you're not entirely certain, is located on the anus of gaming in general.

If you think about it, that is more than enough. Once, a long time ago, I'd scoff at something which was 'merely' asteroids. Then Silent Death (which, I promise you, I absolutely will not shut the fuck up about, ever) proved to me that I will play asteroids with and against other people long into the terrifying night, while my wrist cramps, and the modem overheats (it was a VAIO notebook, and after a few hours of constant use, it got warm and started acting wonky--this window onto my life provided to you courtesty of Halo 3. Do the dew. I mean the covenant. I mean defeat the covenant. Which in this case, I think, is a metaphor for independent soda manufacturers). That experience changed my scoffmark to somewhere in the space invaders region. After playing diablo II until metaphor missing due to fatigue, those invaders from space were looking pretty good. Especially if the invaders themselves had a one in 10^14 chance of dropping a minor upgrade to the ship or the bunkers. It's incentives that make it all worthwhile. To attempt suicide.

Which is not funny. Seriously. If you need help, call a number. Then try to live with the fact that you needed help. It's a spiral into madness.

Whatever that was about.

Moving right along, the scoffmark will never, ever, ever *ever*, go lower than pong. To contemplate scoffing at one arm bandits while I happily bounce a red rubber ball and fill my diaper is to contemplate the despair of a race. That race, by the way, is whoever the Skeksis were before the crystal cracked. God what the hell is wrong with me today?

Oh I know. Bioshock.

So, to belabor this point even more, if there even is a point, and I'm tempted not to promise more than I can deliver on that score, but, as I say, to belabor the shit out of this point, I bought Stubbs the Zombie on Steam right before I bought Bioshock on Steam (and, to be clear, I bought the Orange box on Steam, and if they choose to sell anything else cool on Steam, I will probably buy that as well--I have a vendetta against retail). I played it for a couple hours, which is long enough to get the various basic zombie powers, and I started to realize that Stubbs the Zombie was The Darkness, only light hearted and funny, trading vehicles for clothsim, hairsim, and italiansim. Anyway, the reason I bring this up, besides an emphasis on how much I enjoy the thought of paying between $10 and $50 directly to someone who deserves it, instead of a register monkey who makes snide fucking comments when I ask a simple question about 3rd party controller reliability, fuck you, guy, if you don't know, then just say you don't know; this is all hypothetical (allegedly), is because of the insidiious nature of cynicism, especially as it relates to my violence-saturated tastes in media. In further ways falling under the heading of 'Any', Stubbs is a nice guy who tears open the cranium of everyone he meats (hilarity!), rips off arms, severs torsos from lower bodies, and then leads an army of grotesquely reanimated brethren who do much the same to everyone else within reach. There's horrible screams, crunching sounds, and a whole lot of gastrointestinal show and tell. The bottom line is that this game is great, until you've eaten your 100th brain. Yes, I know; sick pervert of human decency that I am, I can look past the horrendous imagery to appreciate the lighthearted hilarity the writers put into this over-the-top game, and the repetitive stress injury from pressing the 'chew' key. Were I the mythical omni-grandmother, I would be appalled, regardless of the lighthearted anything. Stubbs is funny in the same way that Pulp Fiction is funny (in the sense that it isn't). Laugh and cringe with each crunchy-on-the-outside chewey-on-the-inside atrocity.

Having said that, Bioshock is offensive. I mean that sincerely. It is disgusting, over-the-top sadistic art on the level of a fake snuff film, and I am amazed that nobody mentions that in any of the reviews. I mean seriously, everyone's acting like 'yeah, game of the year! and totally check it out'. It's horrifying. I've played Doom 3, and I was nonplussed by monsters in closets (literally) with skulls and livers growing out of heads and faces. I own my own copy of Silent Hill, The Ring, and Event Horizon. I watch the alien movies for the plot, and I think predators would make great stuffed animals. I am a jaded gamer and a jaded media consumer rolled together extremely tightly, who, nevertheless, was appalled by Bioshock. As for the brilliance of the tension they generate by throwing you through dark rooms, and having enemies disappear and reappear, I was equally as tense when I played Ultima Underworld (see? I told you it'd be relevant), and wandered around in the dark abruptly discovering tentacle monsters in underground rivers, or rats guarding corpses which bore unique treasures like a single arrow or some leather boots in poor condition. The challenge of building tension in the dark is on par with building a snow fort in Siberia: just stand still for 10 goddamned seconds, and you're golden.

I don't believe in spoiler warnings. This is just something I decided to say at random here.

When playing the Bioshock demo, you get the sense of the tense environment, with the claustrophobic surroundings that are typical of nearly all FPSes, except for Halo (and probably some others that I can't think of right now), the water water, everywhere, which is new, and a very polished reimagining of a 50's world-fair kind of society filled with space-age amenities, like automatic doors, automatic airlocks, automatic elevators, and a single lift in level 5 where, inexplicably, you have to press a button, after wandering around for 20 minutes wondering what it is you have to do to get the, assumed, automatic elevator to unlock, since previous elevators which wouldn't open were, in fact, locked, not waiting for you to press a switch of some kind. Excuse me, you wouldn't know that in the demo. That's the full game. The demo doesn't torment you in this fashion. Continuing through the demo, you get a good sense of the destruction of the society, without any details, leaving the mystery and tension for you to enjoy. There are some horrible things happening, but it's in the dark, which is a good horror cliche for enhancing the effect of blood and guts without being crass and disgusting. Though, being disgusting is fine too, to a point. Let's refer to that point as 'Robocop/Exorcist'.

I played the demo to the end, and let it sit for a few minutes, at which point it showed me a long elaborate video involving a little sister, a big daddy, the desperate attempts to escape dismemberment of the person from whom the perspective of the entire event took place, and some pretty upsetting stuff involving a drill. Still, it was a cinematic. One imagines it is done for effect. The same way that, in the demo, a big daddy becomes infuriated with a degenerate mutant trying to harm its little sister, and beats it to a pulp while you watch. Afterwards, you can get some money off the dead body. Which is great, because daddy's got needs (not big daddy).

Then there's the actual game. You play that demo up through your introduction to the undersea city, and get trapped somewhere at a cliffhanger moment. You get the full game, and proceed from that cliffhanger moment into a morbid insanity the likes of which you probably didn't dream of when you finished the demo. It's nowhere near close to anything else I've seen in a game--Manhunt is a relaxing picnic featuring a puppy in comparison. Partly because of some of the realism, and partly because of the presentation. This is a city gone mad, filled with sadistic murderers. Every moment you're in the city, you see the signs hinting at the horrors taking place. There is a baby-carraige some insane lady is cooing at--eventually mentioning that the baby is cold. Upon investigation, which involves blowing the woman's brains out, you find that there is a gun in the carraige, not a baby, which still makes you think there probably was a baby, and something bad happened to it. There's a man beating on a door imploring a woman who seems like his wife to let him in and share something with him. She refuses. You kill him, she comes out to see what happened, and then you kill her. Investigating the kitchen she was hiding in, you see things which are close, but not quite entirely unlike tea, including some rancid meat covered in a gravy of what *looks* like human waste, but might just be lumpy corn-starch based stuffing. There are ominous noises, bottles and detritus all over the place, and some strange lights coming from the ovens. I say strange, because it's a close-encounters-of-the-3rd kind light, not a hot-oven light. You can't delve into the wreckage too much, since it's not the sort of game where you open every drawer. Scavenging what needs must, men are driven elsewhere; onward to the next strange tableaux. This is the point, or at least, the tip. You go through these events in the demo, and then the full game makes you reiterate them--exactly as they are in the demo. This is pretty creepy, but not yet shocking. However, the first major area you explore in the game, after completing the demo content, is the medical wing of the city, including cosmetic surgery, regular surgery, dentistry, crematoria, a funeral home, and a morgue. In fact, every feasible location that involves huge piles of dead bodies is utilized, all in one convenient level! When you get to the end of it, after having been repeatedly ambushed and horrified by distorted murderous nurses, distorted murderous doctors, and distorted murderous diaries, detailing the vaguely upsetting progression of cosmetic surgery from a limited science, to an unlimited one, thanks to the miracle of backstory, you get to the point where things really go off the rails. At the end of this insane shit, you are presented with the doctor who's gone the most insane, by volume, and it's not coy anymore. He just butchers the shit out of someone right in front of you. Then he turns on some spotlights and shows you other mutilated victims. At this point, the completely visual art of guts and blood is put together with the teasing tension of the written and spoken backstory, and it's not mysterious anymore. It's just sadistic and over the top. Not in a good way. In the sense of overflowing and spilling on the table: and then you have to get a cloth. Let me be clear, the artists who execute this are *very* skilled. They know that, even when it is right in front of you, the worst they could possibly do is not show you what's going on. So the crucified victims are torn up and covered in bandages, and over their heads are blood-soaked bags. The victim on the table who gets the business as you walk in is also covered in bandages, though, the scissors sticking out of her guts seem to be pretty straight-forward. If you've watched surgery on TV, then nothing that Silent Hill shows you can be that awful. In fact, after you've walked through your 3rd hallway of dissected victims in Doom, Diablo, or Resident Evil, inner workings of the human body aren't that horrifying. By holding back a little bit, the Bioshock art team succeeds in achieving the maximum impact from the gore. To say nothing of the detailed textures which show blood and bruising when you hit someone with the wrench. Then, like a body builder flexing in front of a mirror, they drop the ultimate diary entry in the room with the (on fire, dead) batshit crazy cosmetic surgeon, and twist the scalpel just a little more with one of those 'doctor... what are you doing? Doctor, stop cutting! Doctor STOP!! Somebody call blah blah blah!!! Oh God!' type sound clips. Thanks alot guys. I think I get it. He needs a vacation.

You'd think that navigating *this* area would satisfy the bulk of the horrendous bloodshed, but no, not by a long shot. Keep in mind that I haven't even mentioned the dead bodies tied to wheelchairs, and so forth. There are so many set pieces of ghastly this and that, that I truly expected to be prepared for anything. The fact that the artists and writers managed to keep one-upping themselves is a surprise--in the same way that a jack in the box was, the first time. Or a can full of spring snakes. Pick your toddler-scarring poison.

So you get to a wharf-related area, and by wharf-related, I mean, that's the aesthetic, and that's about as far as I understood it to have meaning. Worst case scenario, dead fish, right? Nope. There's a body jerking and twitching from having electricity run through it for what is, probably, a very long time before you found him. There is a helpful diary entry nearby to explain that this person was tortured to death. Bonus content: said diary includes the agonized screams of the actual victim!


In another location, you find a couple who had committed suicide by taking pills over the fact that their daughter had been turned into a monster. You find their dessicated bodies on a dirty mattress, and the woman's body is doing this kind of semi-sexy leg-on-your-crotch thing to the man's body. So I guess, if you're going to committ suicide, you better die in a pose that evokes all the wrong sorts of associations for the poor fucker who ends up finding you. Bonus: diary entries help build up the back story for the characters, so when you find their corpses, it's not just disturbing, it's tragic, in a Bathotic kind of way. I suppose the fact that you take a Bathosphere to get around the city is a clue (hooray for pretentious almost-puns!).

It's not like I'm outraged. In a way, I suppose, it's nice to know that I can still be offended and horrified by over the top insane sadistic gore with little or no purpose and tragedy for tragedy's sake as personified in corpses. The Charnel house rules (there it is again!). What's surprising is the universal acclaim the game is getting, without even a brief mention that this is by *no* means a game for everyone--putting aside the age thing--I mean there are just plain people out there who might not want to put this stuff in their head. Maybe there's something, somewhere, that I missed that makes all this obvious to everyone but me.

I have to admit, the hype about a 'moral choice' involving saving or killing the little sisters wandering around the place seemed like total bullshit to me, but in light of how far they went trying to upset the player, the fact that I can take a cowering little vampirlette, and turn her into a curtseying, thankful little girl, who occasionally leaves me an unironic teddy bear full of presents, as opposed to the fuzzy little disheveled tombstones that are sprinkled everywhere else, is a real relief in the middle of all this offensive crap. The ending works nicely, too. It was something nice-- an 'unexpected' for a change, instead of the 'you saved the princess' style. Basically. You save several princesses, and, instead of their being *your* booty call, they grow up to be other people's booty calls. Which is kind of noble. In as much as you get to enjoy the game-ending cinematic equivalent of 'let's just be friends'.

But it came damn close to mario by the time the story was finished, first, unfolding, and then, unraveling like a tatami mat in a monsoon (how pacific theater! I must be in the mood for fresh fish). The story, at first, has an intellectual hook, in as much as Ayn Rand is, when viewed through scientific instruments capable of recording it, not entirely an idiot. It's pleasant to know, immediately, that the implied plot is that a free market society exploded like a cat in a microwave. It takes silly game conceits, like the ability to bribe the machinery of the security system with US dollars, or buy guns and ammo from vending machines, and gives them an interesting explanation. It's a free-market. No restrictions. Assuming the society started to fall apart slowly enough that there was a period when the economy still functioned, yet everyone was murderous and insane (which seems to be the case from the dialogue that random crazy people share when they can't see you), you have an interesting example of how that kind of concept might play out. Certainly, it suggests, without heavy-handedly telling you, that the madness happened in stages, and so did the destruction. The other part of this story is the plasmids--genetic enhancements sold from other, more elaborate vending machines, which give the player mysterious powers. Powers which are extremely arbitrary, and utter fantasy. This, in itself, is fine--it's the right kind of environment for it. In any case, the powers start with electrical blasts which can stun people and electronics. It makes your hand glow a bit, and is kind of cool. Then, you get fire. Fire is also pretty cool, but if you look at your hand, it's not just glowing, it's burning. So, the cost of the power, it seems, is to mar your appearance somewhat. It immediately occurs to you, that this is how the madness gets rolling. The side effects of the various powers start to turn people into monsters, but the abilities granted are too enticing to give up. What a great mechanism. It makes plenty of solid sense.

Until you find out, a couple hours in, that plasmids make you crazy. Just ... there. That's it. That's what they do. They do two things; give you power, and make you crazy. There's no real idea here of selfishness spiraling out of control (which, to be honest, is, as I understand it, a misreading of Rand--but still entertaining). Any possibility of an argument about disfiguring super powers affecting the self-image of humanity are out the door. It's 4 hours later, and I'm still hitting a mutant corpse with a wrench, because, hey, why not, you know, man? Can you hang? Just try a hit off this plasmid.

So the story deflates a bit. The initial 'cosmetic surgery guy gone nuts' is iterated into several other forms, including fine-artist gone nuts, which I think we all know is pretty much what fine artists do. Everyone with an art degree is secretly craving the chance to paint in human blood on canvases made from the flesh of virgins. The whole 'sensitive' thing is just to pick up chicks--to butcher and use in art.

The other thing that murders the story for me is the Camera. Not the the camera; the Camera.

Keep in mind that this is a game which utilizes all the great methods of storytelling inherent in interactive venues; the mystery of incompletness. The disjointed, but intriguing way in which information comes to you due to your own actions (and the possibility of receiving it out of order). The game effectively uses a combination of scripted events and your own actions to help you write a story as you go--the story of your actions. In some ways, viewed through this lense, Master of Orion (turn based strategy--empire builder game), or an RTS has a story to be told through the accounting of events in the game. Sim City, or any of the sim games had this quality. In Bioshock, it's used effectively as one part of the story delivery. They cap the portrayal with in-game seemless cutscenes, and, together, these make the powerful story-driven experience.

But then they fuck it up! A camera, no matter how much you tell me it does something like 'store genetic data' or whatever, allowing me to 'research' (that is, 'level up against') enemies, is out of place in this tight presentation. It's like it's an excuse to use a blur effect to simulate focus and show off the engine, more than a sensible game mechanism. If they wanted me to get into the idea of taking DNA samples and researching my enemy, then why not give me one of those hideous needle guns that the little sisters carry, and have me go through a disgusting and upsetting ritual with enemies that are severely wounded? That would provide consistent disruption of my peace of mind, instead of turning it into pokemon snap. The whole thing is utterly insane. A fisherman won't let you into his submarine until you find the camera somewhere else, and take photos of a particular type of mutant for him. He wants the photos. The in-game reason is that these photos will give *him* the bonuses that they give you, so that he can fight off this kind of monster. Only... why? He's got a bunch of friends and his own submarine, for fucks sake. Why hasn't he retrieved a camera himself? Furthermore, why is there film all over the city, but only one camera? It's insane! And the damn ragdoll bodies won't stop waving at me.

So, in the midst of all this attention to detail, some designer ran amok. He put buttons by one random elevator halfway through the game, just to fuck with you. He asked the programmers to make a version of 'Pipes' for their hacking minigame, and then neglected to ask them to make sure that the damn thing was always solvable (I don't mean 'waaah too hard'... I mean, literally impossible to solved due to blocking squards making an impenetrable wall between the start and the goal: just take the damage and start over, or move on). To say nothing of the Camera, which I've already said quite a bit more than nothing about.

There are other nice touches. The main villain/guy in your face/pretend friend/space cadet is named Atlas. All through the place are 'vote for Atlas' posters, and there are these sleek bauhaus statues all around holding up arches on their shoulders. When you finally reach the final boss (Atlas), something has happened to his body, and he resembles those statues. Which is a nice touch.

This is the launching point for my inane rambling this time out; self-sabotage, and the damned insanity of 'design' from the previous generation screwing up current games. Except, I'm not going to do that. For one thing, the elevator from hell is, at least, consistent with other elevators. For the most part. It's just that it comes out of nowhere after you're used to a different way of doing things. The Camera, loathsome though it be, is at least present elsewhere. In fact, at one point, it seems pretty clear that there's an implication of splicer pornography. So that's fun.

The ending of Bioshock is kind of like the end of comedian's set. Except that there's this meaningless 'choice' ending.

Other people have done a better job of indicating the laughably empty choice between horrible evil and angelic good that poses as a feature, but, in the end, is either meaningless or a detractor. What's interesting to me, at least, is that this is something which has afflicted art before this point, though it was never a choice before now. My selection, I think, is telling about the former trend in art.

The trend I'm talking about is a vapid happy ending instead of a soul-crushing sad ending. In Bioshock, the difference is between an exceptionally well executed happy ending (especially considering how the entire arc of the story takes place exterior to the main character--by which I mean, I reject the 'twist' which connects the player to the environment as mindless bullshit, simply because there is no identity for the player other than that which the person behind the keyboard brings to the game), and an exceptionally poorly executed sad ending. In normal art, this switch is a rewrite behind the scenes.

One of the examples that springs to mind is Dawn of the Dead, which, originally, supposedly, ended with the main character blowing his brains out in despair. Whereas the actual ending involves a strange heroic escape that seems utterly pointless, since, the story, such as it is, is that the world has something wrong with it, and everybody becomes a zombie when they die. Now, as endings go, if it were a game, blowing your brains out after defending a house against zombies for a while would probably be anticlimactic, or would it? I played through the super columbine massacre RPG out of curiosity, and, the point at which the player chooses to pursue the suicide pact is an interesting moment. I mean, obviously, in this game, it's about a retelling of events, and the events are contrasted sharply with the goofy mindless combat (which, I think, says more about how weird and ridiculous final fantasy style 'gameplay' is, than it says about the story its been shoehorned into), but living out that moment could be pretty interesting in the right context. For instance, if you were trapped below the surface of the ocean in a city-sized tomb filled with your victims.

That possibility would have been interesting, but let's say for the sake of argument that I don't want to be jerked off by delicate beams of sunshine, or, for that matter, jerked off by yet another example of Yeller getting it in the face from two barrels of civic duty. There's alot of jerking off going on, being as nobody gives a shit about the literary value of video games, let alone finishes the, also masterbatory, task of guessing what the designer thought the everyman would do in your situation, and experiences the same old shit. Pretending that the mind control that invisible walls and the straight forward presentation of content until, either, you get bored, or they run out of artists with enough wax in their wicks to grease the crease of your brain with images of gore, is somehow in-game mind control using trigger words which are otherwise indistinguishable from unimaginative dialogue, isn't going to gain any credit in my mind that puts you in striking range of art I'd give a shit about, though, I guess, at the very least it's indistinguishable from something unimaginative. So that's a feather in your ass, at least.

Seriously, though, in the midst of a paradoxical deepthroat that the collective gaming press seems to be giving and receiving from Bioshock while delicately priming the beefsticks of Halo and Crysis simultaneously is a display of agility and concentration, and not much else. Ok fine, gaming is under attack. The british outlawed Manhunt because a church bingo game happened to draw its ISBN code followed by the numbers 666, and wrote their local upper class twat to harumph understatedly until the rapture was narrowly averted by timely legislation. No problem, Bioshock is going to provide all the mind-altering bread and circuses that they can handle, so they're not missing out. What we're really going to have to start doing, though, rather than pointing to something which is, at best, just as vapid as Blackhawk down, which was pretty vapid (and fun! Don't get me wrong. I'm all for vapid), or Navy SEALS, if Charlie sheen had his scrotum filleted by ambiguous middle eastern terrorists with butterfly knives, which is to say Aliens, or Terminator 2, or Lord of the Rings, if you count an epilogue that takes 40 God DAMNED MINUTES TO WRAP UP as violence. Seriously (even more seriously)... Ayn Rand. That is some heavy duty shit to tackle in a video game. Why did it start out so strong with atmosphere and then turn into a whodunnit? The entire character of Fontaine was so fucking out of place it boggles the mind. What is this greasy 2 bit asshole doing in the middle of this otherwise interesting tale?

To me, this is the problem. If you're high-concept, then stay high-concept. Bioshock is struggling with the boss syndrome. Someone who realized that not everything revolves around Mario went throught the effort of putting in that goofy mind-control plot, and all these personal struggles. A personal struggle that, if it had a nudge in the right direction, could have made an interesting mirror of the environment; that is, the 'wusha wusha' noise the city was making while everyone inside it tried to get it to flush.

This is a concern for me, because I don't think the answer to 'gaming sucks and isn't art' is to cleave as closely as possible to the vapid formulas of more popular art. Nobody who bought bioshock did it because they expected a satisfying resolution. System Shock 1 and 2, despite being atmospheric (translation; shit trying to kill you all the time) and ahead of their time in terms of game-mechanics was, essentially, parsley garnishing the basic video game motivation: survival. Survival is the motivation for any game which does damage or has 'lives'. You can give it a hat, and it's survival hat. Throw a monster through a window, and it's survival horror. Replace gameplay with experience points, and it's an RPG. As irrelevant as the last statement is, the point, here, is that survival doesn't always have to be personal. Especially when the main character is a utterly blank fucking canvas. Survival in this game, *almost* meant the city, or the little girls. Cut your losses, or throw good money after bad. But that's not how it turned out. Instead, because all first person games, apparently, must now include an escort mission, and an end-boss, and shit that jumps out at you from the dark, even though you know it's coming, because there was a spotlight shining on a pack of ammo in the middle of nowhere, we're stuck with survival as a personal, and especially meaningless endeavor. The basic *drive* of video gaming can have powerful results; if you look at what I had to say about Silent Hill, you can see that if *only* that insanity were driven to some purpose other than mindless survival as stand-in for resolution, you could achieve something new. Bioshock manages to go so retro, that the plot ends up eating itself.

I finished this up just in time for Halo 3 to drop, and in some ways, they're exactly the same game, except that Bioshock is distinctly western, and Halo is distinctly eastern. I'll elaborate more on that crap later.

Deathbunny doesn't have a rating system, but if he did, he'd give Bioshock a wasting illness that claims the extremely young and the elderly throughout human history, until the advent of penicilin.

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