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Bioshock Franchise Pack

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Shacknews - Nathaniel Hohl
On the surface, Gone Home doesn't seem to have much to do with BioShock. However, The Fullbright Company's Steve Gaynor revealed that a very tiny easter egg suggests that it is set in the same universe as Irrational's beloved Bioshock franchise--"in a totally non-litigious way," of course.

The nod takes the form of, funnily enough, a video game. BioShock 2's Minerva's Den DLC adventure was Gaynor also worked on, features an old video game titled "Spitfire". In Gone Home, a Super Nintendo game called "Super Spitfire" can be found while exploring the house.
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Now Microsoft has shut down Games for Windows Live, what happens to the one use anyone had for it--buying the Minerva's Den DLC for BioShock 2? Thankfully 2K has switched over to Steamworks, updating the game and very nicely giving the add-on free to everyone who already owned the base game. For goodness' sake, play it if you haven't already.
Shacknews - Steve Watts

Harmonix has gone through transitions today. The developer behind Rock Band and Dance Central has confirmed a small number of employees were let go, just as news hit that the studio had hired Zak McClendon, lead designer of BioShock 2.

"We can confirm that a small number of Harmonix employees were let go today," a Harmonix spokesperson told Polygon. "This decision was made due to shifting staffing priorities for Harmonix's multiple future projects." A source claims that the layoffs impacted 10 employees in all, and were typical of a development cycle drawing down. The company recently stopped development of both Rock Band and Dance Central DLC.

This came just as Superannuation noted that McClendon's LinkedIn profile now lists his title as "Design Director" at Harmonix. Michelle Mangio, formerly of Turbine, also started at Harmonix this week as director of quality assurance.

The picture of Harmonix's next game is still fuzzy, but getting clearer. We know that as of August, the company was seeking a combat designer, and next-gen job listings called for skill at telling an emotional story. Both of those seem up McClendon's alley from BioShock 2. Harmonix has three projects, and recently received venture capital from The Foundry Group.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The long-troubled BioShock movie, which Gore Verbinski was once set to direct, is officially dead in the water. Creator Ken Levine has confirmed that he personally offed it when given the opportunity, as the movie adaptation risked compromising too much just so it could get made.

The original plan was for Pirates of the Caribbean director Verbinski to make the BioShock movie a R-rated affair, portraying the horrors and violence of Rapture on a big budget. And things went wrong. Levine explained his personal theory during a talk on Monday, attended by Eurogamer.

"Then Watchmen came out, and it didn't do well for whatever reason," Levine said. "The studio then got cold feet about making an R rated $200 million film, and they said what if it was a $80 million film - and Gore didn't want to make a $80 million film."

When Verbinski stepped down, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was brought in, but the movie again ended up on hold due to concerns about the budget and rating.

Levine said he "didn't really see the match" between BioShock and Fresnadillo, and was offered a way out. "2K's one of these companies that puts a lot of creative trust in people," he explained. "So they said if you want to kill it, kill it. And I killed it."

Having been a struggling screenwriter before he joined the hallowed Looking Glass Studios, Levine said it was "weird" to find himself "killing a movie on something you'd worked on so much." But it was a rare opportunity.

"It was saying I don't need to compromise - how many times in life do you not need to compromise? It comes along so rarely, but I had the world, the world existed and I didn't want to see it done in a way that I didn't think was right. It may happen one day, who knows, but it'd have to be the right combination of people."

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

If you have skipped the BioShock series for some reason, perhaps due to a lengthy coma or immense silliness, you'll soon be able to make amends with one handy bundle. Publisher 2K today announced the BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition collection, which bundles the first two games together with all their DLC. Super keen BioShock fans may be interested too, as it introduces a new virtual museum level filled with BioShock history.

The merry bundle is coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 14 in North America for $29.99. Sorry, PC pals, though you've probably snapped them up cheap in sales already anyway.

It includes the original BioShock and its two DLC releases, the power-adding Plasmids Pack and previously PS3-exclusive Challenge Rooms, not to mention that intriguing museum level. What 2K has to say about that is, "Take a tour of a never-before-seen BioShock museum and view early concept art, character models and more set within the halls of Rapture." Interesting!

Then, along with BioShock 2, you'll get the thoroughly splendid single-player mini-campaign Minerva's Den, Protector Trials challenge mode, and the frivolous multiplayer add-ons.

With BioShock Infinite arriving on March 26, keenly anticipated by our Jeff, 2K's looking to introduce the series to people who skipped it or are new to these here video games. And you poor coma folks, of course. Gosh, it's been five years since BioShock and three since the sequel.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Now is your chance to shoot up with plasmids and waltz with a few Big Daddies and Little Sisters. The GameFly PC client is coming out of beta today, and to celebrate, the company is giving away a trip to Andrew Ryan's underwater paradise of Rapture with a free PC copy of BioShock.

The digital PC client has been in beta for almost a year, and offers 350 Windows games for Unlimited PC play to GameFly members. The catalogue also includes more than 1,500 PC games and 8,000 console and handheld titles to buy or rent. There is also a growing selection of Mac titles.

"We used the positive and constructive feedback from our community during the beta to help make the best product possible," said Sean Spector, GameFly co-founder and SVP of Business Development and Content.

If you have a desire to get back to Rapture, do it quick. Free copies are in limited supply. Just download the client, log in and grab a copy.

[Disclosure: Shacknews.com is part of GameFly Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly, Inc.]

Shacknews - John Keefer

GameFly's Unlimited PC Play program has expanded today. Members that missed out on BioShock, Civilization IV or X-Com: Enforcer, can now play them as part of a paid GameFly membership.

As part of a new deal with 2K Games, GameFly has added the three classic games to its Unlimited PC Play library. Members can play as many games from the Unlimited PC Play library as part of their subscription.

2K's rationale for offering the free games was simple: Introduce gamers to a series they may not have tried, especially with BioShock Infinite, Civilization V: Gods & Kings and XCOM: Enemy Unknown expected to hit shelves this year.

[Disclosure: Shacknews.com is part of GameFly Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly, Inc.]

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Two video game movers and shakers are getting high-profile attention from outside the video game sphere, as part of Time's Top 100 Influential People. Irrational head and gaming luminary Ken Levine and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus share the honor with political figures, entertainers, and thought leaders across a broad spectrum.

Readers can vote for whether the two deserve a spot with a "Definitely" or "No Way." The poll closes Friday, April 6, and the official results will be released on April 17.

Time's description of Levine credits BioShock as helping to spark the "games as art" debate, and says his games "elevate the conversation" while pointing to BioShock Infinite as an upcoming example of his politically-tinged design. Currently the results give him over 90% "Yes" responses, putting him in second place to Adele for the most votes in favor of inclusion. Then again, Adele has the most "No" votes as well.

Pincus is honored more for his business acumen, racking in $1.8 billion to join the Forbes Billionaires List, and having recently purchased Draw Something developer OMGPOP. His results so far aren't quite so high, but ultimately Time may decide he deserves a spot since the final decision comes down to editors.

Time has credited game developers in its Top 100 lists before; Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto made the list in both 2008 and 2009. If Levine or Pincus do make this year's list, that's pretty good company to be in.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Progress moves slowly in Hollywood. Take BioShock and its associated movie project. The film has stalled over and over again, and now it's hit another roadblock. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, the director brought in after Gore Verbinksi left the project, has said that he's no longer attached.

"To be honest, by now, I'm completely out of that, and developing other stuff," Fresnadillo told IndieWire (via Gamasutra). "Right now it's on hold. The studio and the video game company, they have to reach some kind of agreement about the budget and the rating."

The budget has long been a major consideration for the project, which is no surprise after so many high-profile video game adaptations have flopped. The ratings issue is particularly notable for fans, since the mood of the game would lend itself to an R-rating -- but R-rated movies don't usually bring in audiences the way PG-13 films do. As of four months ago, BioShock creator Ken Levine said the project is "still in the conversation," but was non-committal about plans. Now that the project has been put on hold yet again, it's hard to tell when we'll hear more.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Better late than never, as the saying goes. BioShock 2 will be coming to the Mac platform in January of next year. The port is being handled by Feral Interactive, the studio behind the Mac versions of Mafia 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and the original BioShock.

The game will retail for $34.95, and will be offered as a digital download from partners and the Mac App Store. The announcement mentions that it includes the "Fall of Rapture" multiplayer mode, but doesn't give any indication that the excellent Minerva's Den downloadable content will come to the platform.

The minimum system requirements are a 2.0 GHz Intel Mac with at least 4GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, and 256MB of graphics memory. The game doesn't support ATI X1xxx series, ATI 2400, NVIDIA 9400, NVIDIA 7xxx series, or Intel GMA series graphics cards.

"BioShock 2 shows Rapture in a completely new light," said Feral managing director David Stephen, in the announcement. "By allowing players to be a Big Daddy, it explores the emotional consequences of the Rapture project."

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