Now, this is usually where I take ailing franchises Silent Hill or ones that have lost their way (like Resident Evil) and try and figure out how they can be brought back to their former glory. With that said, this one was quite a bit tougher to analyze since there really isn’t anything blatantly wrong with the BioShock series. Sure, the sequel didn’t capture our hearts and imaginations in the same way that the original did, but that can mostly be blamed on the fact that it was our second dive into the crumbling city of Rapture.
So how can the third game make the same gigantic splash that the original did? Who should you play as, and where should it take place? Should it be another sequel, or perhaps a prequel, to give us a taste of what Rapture was like before the fall. Read on to find out what I think the answers to these questions should be, and more, after the jump. When it comes to the gameplay, there are two things that have the biggest affect on it: the character you control and the environment you explore. In the original game you jumped into the shoes of a man looking to shed some light on his past. In the second, you took on the role of a prototype Big Daddy on a mission to save his Little Sister. There are three paths the third game can take, assuming it’s a sequel (a prequel opens up a myriad more possibilities): you can either control another human, another Big Daddy, or a Big Sister, which was introduced to us in the second game. I find the chances of playing as a Big Daddy again to be pretty low, and if we’re given another Average Joe (or, possibly, Average Jane?) to control than that could be fine and dandy as well. But what if we get to control a Big Sister?
Imagine the possibilities: in the first game you were human with no extraordinary talents (other than those allotted to you due to the fact that you’re playing a video game), than a lumbering, but still very agile, Big Daddy. Playing as a Big Sister would give us something very different from the previous two characters, since she’s extraordinarily fast and can navigate the broken terrain of Rapture with ease. You would exchange the brute force of a Big Daddy for speed and agility, and most likely, and we would be rid of those occasionally annoying ‘Defend the Little Sister’ sections because the Big Sister has a tool of her own to extract ADAM. By BioShock 4 we’ll be controlling a Perverted Uncle, then after that, who knows! Maybe a Big Tranny (a Big Daddy dressed as a Big Sister)! The possibilities are endless.
I recently thought of a possibly interesting idea for the next game and I wanted to throw it at you despite its rough edges. What if they included some sort of RTS mechanic into the game? Brutal Legend did it and succeeded, to some extent (though some may disagree with me on that, and with good reason). I don’t think it should be as prevalent and as forced as it was in Brutal Legend, but just take a second with me to imagine: imagine taking control of a Big Sister, the undisputed queen of Rapture with the ability to traverse Rapture quickly, ordering Little Sisters around to get ADAM. You could even trade your omnipresent prowess for temporary control of Big Daddies when defending gathering sisters. Just an idea, but in the right hands it might actually have the potential to be good. Even if it isn’t, I think changing up the genres a bit is a good idea. If RTS is out of the question than give us some more puzzles, or throw the game into full fledged horror by giving us less ammo, a normal human and a scary environment (more on that later).
Now, what about a prequel? From what I’ve been hearing from sources near 2K, this may very well end up being the route they end up taking, most likely because of the sheer amount of possibilities. With a prequel you can do almost anything, you can give us whatever character you want, the environment would already be different because (depending on when it takes place) we would be in Rapture before it began falling apart. You can bring back dead characters or introduce new ones, or even show us the origins of those we controlled in the previous games. Everything is both familiar and vastly different, without the degrading affect of time we could explore areas we did before and barely recognize them.
Whether BioShock 3 comes to us in the form of a sequel or a prequel, the biggest question is where it should take place. Rapture is just as iconic as the Big Daddies that roam around within it, but no matter what it looks like, returning to Rapture again might be too much. What if Sofia Lamb, the crazy bitch from the second game, decided to create another Rapture? Rapture 2.0? She didn’t agree with Andrew Ryan, and she had plenty of influence so it’s entirely possible. If she did, maybe she created it in another image, not of the art deco style we’ve come accustomed to. She seemed to be a bit of a looner, so perhaps she created a second Rapture in the outlandish style of Expressionism. It could be risky, but if done correctly it could also be pretty terrifying (perfect for survival horror).
Easily the most prominent change to the BioShock formula was the inclusion of a multiplayer that, sadly, was a little too generic. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, because it was actually a fine first foray into the world of tea bagging and violent name calling, but this is BioShock! Where’s the twist? The thing that makes it unique? Instead we were given Team Deathmatch, Free for All, and a Little Sister inspired Capture the Flag with few things to separate it from the plethora of other online titles that do it much better. Stop bitching, this isn’t a review, you proclaim? Good point. So how can multiplayer be done right, to be as unique and otherworldly as the game it’s a part of? That’s a tough question actually, and one I’m sure 2K asked itself at the beginning of BioShock 2’s production. Could the answer be co-op, or would that take away from the experience you have playing the game alone? What about competitive single player?
How about, instead of two (or possibly more) players going through the game together, why not set them against each other? Envision setting traps for your friend to unknowingly walk into, or getting to Little Sisters before your enemy can, so you can keep all the ADAM to yourself. Picture sharing the same goal as your opponent, whether that goal is to get to a specific area on the map first, or find the [place important item here] but instead of simply worrying about where that lumbering Big Daddy is, or where that group of Splicers are, you also have to worry about a much deadlier enemy. An enemy that, depending on their age, has the ability to outthink you, to outmaneuver you, to taunt you when you run into the traps. Another fairly rough concept, but an interesting one in my opinion. Standard cooperative play isn’t worthy of this franchise, in every game we’ve had a single archenemy, an ubiquitous obstacle: so why not make that another human player?
I’ve given these games a ton of praise, and even though a sequel wasn’t necessary since the original stood perfectly as a standalone title, it’s all about the money, and BioShock makes money. There has been one major problem with the series that has moved from the first game to the second, without 2K changing it up at all. This makes me wonder if they’ve noticed this issue, and before your head explodes with the obvious anticipation that I’ve just built up, the issue I’m referencing is the pointlessness of choosing to harvest or save the Little Sisters. These games pride themselves on being heavy on the story, drenched in moral choices and adult themes but your decisions towards the sisters have little effect on the game(s). This sir, needs to change. I want to be physically shook up when I decide to harvest a Little Sister. I want to wake up in the middle of the night, covered in a thick coat of sweat as I remember the nightmare caused by my deeds in the game. Not possible, you say? NAY, I proclaim (loudly, and with great confidence)! Let’s see how this can be done.
First off, choosing to harvest or save a Little Sister should have a much bigger effect on the story. So far it’s only meant I would either get ADAM now or later, after an arduous fight against multitudes of horny Splicers. Why are they horny, you ask? Try living in an underwater “utopia” for a few years and get back to me. If I don’t find you dry humping my futon I’ll say I was wrong in calling them horny, but you know what? They won’t even care, because they’re not real, you freak. Let’s move on.
First off, should I decide to kill that girl and rip out her spine and use it to floss my teeth so I can glean as much ADAM as I can from her lifeless corpse (the extraction scenes are censored, so this is my best guess as to how the ADAM is taken from the Little Sisters. Painfully, and preferably, slowly.) I want to feel bad, or, I want people with a conscience to feel bad for what they’ve done. Should I decide to be merciful, I want to feel good. BioShock almost made me feel good about adopting the Little Sisters, but when I discovered that the only way to get the ADAM was to protect her while she slllooooowwwlllly acquired the goods, I realized that I was being punished for not being an asshole. Why else would I be forced to go through all that for the same reward when I could’ve just gotten my hands a little dirty and had similar results. It was punishment.
I also feel we should just stop lying to ourselves and admit to what this ADAM really is. You inject it into yourself and start thinking you have superpowers? Hell, the Little Sisters drink the shit and we all got to step into the shoes of one of them. They’re roaming the eroded halls of an underwater city filled with all sorts of monsters talking about Angels and Mr. Bubbles, all while thinking they’re seeing beautiful walls of curtains and vivid colors. I think not. Resident Evil is still in denial as to what those ‘magical healing herbs’ are, but I live in Northern California so I know better.
So that, as they say, is that. Though if you were to ask me who said that, I would be unable to answer you. Instead I would simply stare at you, head cocked, eyes filled with wonder, with a look on my face that said, in no uncertain words: why would you ask me that, after all the beautiful ideas I just gifted upon you? Why not comment on them, telling me which ones you agree with, and which ones you don’t. Hell, you could even tell me what you think should be done in the third game, but please, don’t ask me where that phrase originated from, because I just don’t know.