The world of Bioshock has always supplied a unique form of nostalgia to the gaming world, a flavor of the alternate history genre that is more frequently reserved for novels. Bioshock’s storylines are filled with bizarre concepts melded with the recognizable. Metaphysics and political philosophies meet and collide, fusing into an otherworldly landscape and throwing you headlong into a plot that you can’t put down any more than you could put down an excellent novel.
The first two Bioshock games took place in Rapture, an underwater city based on the principles of Ayn Rand. Indeed, you can see references to Atlas Shrugged throughout the game, including the name of one of the Characters himself – your benefactor in the beginning – Atlas. But with a 1950s timeline to it, everything in Rapture appears nostalgic, from the posters on the walls to the dress of the inhabitants. Why did Rapture fall to anarchy? A drug was the culprit, one that gives massive power to anyone taking it. When all men were equal, Rapture functioned as the Utopia it was designed to. But when the drug became available, many took it for the advantages it provided. Unfortunately, its side effects eventually led to insanity, psychosis, and the destruction of their society.
To walk through Rapture is to walk through a nightmare realm of beauty and horror. Its gameplay was fantastic, its graphics tugged at you, causing you to look out the windows at the ocean, to stare at its steampunk-like machinery, and to listen to the ravings of its mad population.
Since the last release of Bioshock 2 in March of 2010, those of us who have loved this game and its nostalgia have waited for the next one, knowing that it will not be in Rapture, and that the game itself will take a radical departure from what we knew of Andrew Ryan’s underwater city. Instead of going forward in time, Bioshock goes backwards even further, creating the city of Columbia, with a different political viewpoint, still radical, still nostalgic, and still beautiful in graphics. The following video is new, and couched in a “Truth from Legend” format similar to “In Search Of,” a show narrated by Leonard Nimoy, and one that I’ve always enjoyed.
Bioshock Infinite is slated for release in March of 2013. It’s been pushed back several times, as game developers have departed the project, and as newer technology has become available. This time, the terror will be more about falling to your death than drowning. If you’re even mildly afraid of heights, then this game may put you on the edge of your seat. And the just post-civil war era flavor it looks to provide will certainly be interesting. Personally, I was hoping they’d do something set in the 1960s, but I’ll happily take this flavor of mutant old and new, and I look forward to wasting hours trying to avoid falling to my death, and dealing with the steampunk “Wild-Wild West” robotics and cyborgs.