Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Grr!

As we all know full well and is entirely obvious, BioShock: Elizabeth is a straightforward damsel in distress with a pretty face and a nice dress, and there’s nothing more to her than that. There definitely> isn’t anything surprising or sinister about her: she will be rescued by the big man with the big gun, the mean nasty boss will fall to his doom and everyone will live happily ever after.

Or maybe there’s some massive twist at the heart of the game and she’s not what she seems to be at all? Nah. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Matters are rather different for the third BioShock game than they were for the first. While Irrational’s original had to grab attention from a machinegun-crazed mass audience, their next one comes with built-in renown, potentially affording the studio more opportunity and freedom to indulge themselves in other aspects of the game. Where BioShock’s undersea city of Rapture was, in hindsight, much more of a concept than a functioning place, BioShock Infinite’s floating metropolis Columbia seems to be striving harder to have an explicable and finely-sketched society.

Reflecting this is newly-released ebook novella Mind In Revolt, by Irrational’s Joe Fielder with assistance from Ken Levine, which could technically be described as a prequel but seems more designed to flesh out the social pressures bubbling under Columbia’s utopian surface in the way that the rollercoaster ride of an action videogame might not. > (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jim Rossignol)

As if we hadn’t already heard enough from the man who steers the Irrational Zeppelin through developmental waters, Jim also had a long chat with Ken Levine, the creator of Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. Read on for thoughts that span the sadness of cholera, the mystery of condiments, the joy of turn-based historical war, and some stuff about a game set in a flying city.

I’ve marked out some mild spoilers towards the end of the piece. These are non-specific discussions of the plot themes, but you can decide whether to skip.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

“This is like your nightmare interview here, huh?”>

Nah. This might not be going too well, but I’ve had worse. Much worse. (The most terrible was probably with an executive at one of the industry’s biggest PC game developers a couple of years back, where I had the distinct impression I was interviewing a robot who’d much rather murder me than talk to me).

This half hour with the lead designer of BioShock: Infinite would definitely win a place in my Top 40 Botched Interviews, but it’s not up there in shotgun-to-the-head territory yet. The mutual acknowledgement that it’s been a misfire does wonders too. Eventually. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Some interviews with prominent figures, as in Polygon’s widely-circulated one with BioShock: Infinite lead designer Ken Levine, are held on top of skyscraping Californian hotels. While it’s not something I’ve experienced myself, I can entirely appreciate why this often leads their eventual write-ups to be somewhat defined by awe, be it overt or subtle: a famous figure is encountered in a dramatic setting, the trappings of aspirational luxury around them. Thus, they are inevitably presupposed to be superhumans of a sort, with achievements and a lifestyle far beyond those of mere mortals such as the humble interviewer. This is the tale. Notoriously, this week also saw the outermost extreme of this, in Esquire’s absurd interview with/clearly lovelorn ode to the attractive but otherwise apparently unexceptional actor Megan Fox.

I can’t ever imagine going as far as Esquire, and I’d hope someone would throw me into the nearest sea if I did, but I do understand why it can happen. The scene is set in such a way that the interviewer is encountering, if not a god, then at least royalty. Even on a more moderate level, I have never conducted an interview in a Californian luxury hotel’s roofgarden, and my own interview with Ken Levine last month was no different, but I am nonetheless left thinking about the narrative created in that half hour. What tale could I now tell from just a talk with a guy in a room? Initially, I thought it impossible, or at least redundant, to spin a story out of a short, slightly awkward conversation in a dark little room somewhere in London: this is why Q&As are the standard interview format here. Let’s try, though. I want to tell you about what happened in that interview, and how it felt to me, as well as sharing Ken Levine’s comments about BioShock: Infinite’s characters, pacing and mysteries with you. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

In this concluding part (the first one is here), we discuss boardgame influences, commercial success, what XCOM might mean for the future of strategy, the need for realism within science-fiction, and why XCOM wound up rather buggy.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

'Tell us everything, mutie!'

With Firaxis’ de-hyphenated, largely very well-received remake of the legendary, incomparable, enormous-haircutted X-COM now out there saving the Earth from the worst scum of the universe for several months, now seems the time to sit down with its enthusiastic main man Jake Solomon. What went right, what went wrong and what comes next? As per recent tradition, we had a very long chat.

Covered in this first part – the base, the skills, the missing element of surprise and what they’ve learned if they ever do this again. Edited out to spare you the horror: his Punch & Judy-style impersonation of an Englishman.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. By which I mean, just when you thought I couldn’t possibly muster another marathon interview with XCOM: Enemy Unknown lead Jake Solomon, I did. Later this week he post-mortems the largely brillo remake of the 90s ultra-classic, but firstly we chat about the impending free Second Wave add-on. Skeletal remnants of this set of balance-tweaking toggles were found by modders at launch, but now the full-fat version is ready to go. Here, Solomon talks about why Second Wave was made, how it in some ways makes XCOM more like X-COM and why the add-on’s very existence might just be down to you lot.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Earlier this week, I played around four hours of BioShock: Infinite, which is due for release next March. While this was at a publisher-held event (disclaimer – I ate some free salt and vinegar flavoured Hula Hoops and a small bowl of Moroccan tagine. Alas, I hate aubergine) and I was part of a gaggle of journalists, I was not guided or observed during my playthrough, so I approached it at my own leisure and pack-rat pace. >

It has given me much to think upon, a few examples of which I shall share with you below. I will avoid all spoilers as regards to the events of the plot, but please be advised that I do talk in detail about the setting, its population and its backstory as presented by these initial hours of the game. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

So many friends, loved ones, dead pets, Auotobots and French philosophers have fallen. We’ve each of us made decisions that led to loss of noble life in our attempts to save the Earth from the malevolent alien hordes of XCOM. Briefly, we mourn their loss. Then, all too soon, we move on and forget them forever.

It is time to more meaningfully honour the fallen. Uh, via Facebook. (more…)

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