Archive for March, 2010

Big Sister, Little Splicer

Lets try this again. Maybe my last post satisfied the Internets hunger. Anyways…

Time to expand a bit on the last post, mainly dealing with Big Sister – Player/Rapture relationship and the Splicers this time around.

Big Sister
Yes, there is more. The main folly of the Big Sister (and every killable enemy ever really) is that as time goes on the player gets stronger and stronger. Think back to BioShock, remember your first real Big Daddy fight? That was a hard, but exciting, fight, and killing him gave a certain sense of superiority. Now try and remember the fights from the end of the game. Got anything? Trap crossbow bolts and explosive buck-shot, proximity mines on a gas tank with Telekinesis plasmid, there were no fights. It was a slaughter. Only the very last Big Daddy could be called an actual fight, and that is because he came flying through the wall towards the end of a long grind. By being a killable enemy, Big Sisters share the same fate. Scary and pulse pounding at first, but  then almost trivial later on. The scariest Big Sister fight was the first when she shows up out of no where and you have to fight her off before she just bolts. That fight left me shaken, unsure of how to go on or if she was still in the area.

The first Big Sister kill? Shredded her with Armor Piercing rounds and some rivet melees. Yes, the rivet gun melee is that awesome. When I killed the first Big Sister though, all I could say is ‘That’s it?’. It wasn’t much of anything.  Was she harder than a Big Daddy? Yes, easily. Was it more fun to kill her? Not by a long shot. If more fights had been like that first one I would have loved the Big Sister.

Imagine; you walking around Rapture. Stopping off at a Circus of Value for a few medkits or EVE hypos, then going on your merry way. You see a group of splicers and start planning on how to take them all out when a piercing scream echos throughout the decaying halls. The Splicers all turn and flee, you all know whats about to happen. There is a Big Sister coming. Maybe on these ‘random’ fights (not completely random, there has to be a limiting factor so you aren’t just gibbed by a Big Sister) you stand a chance of lying low and trying to avoid her before she screams in frustration and leaves. You know all to well, you can’t kill a Big Sister, you can only survive.

Much more interesting to me than just Adopting/Harvesting all the Little Sisters on the level then , whoops, Big Sister. Like clockwork, every time. Its not as much fun when you know exactly when and where the main enemy will be showing up. No one ever has to worry about finding one on accident or being stalked by one. Take  care of the Little Sisters, kill the Big Sister, move on. Maybe if you took the evil option you have a chance of spawning a very angry Big Sister. A little… variety perhaps? (Okay, I won’t milk the Spider Splicer quote from the first game for the rest of this. Maybe.) Also, and here is your only spoiler warning, why on earth do we have to fight two as the ‘climactic battle’ between us and the Big Sisters? I beat the whole thing by running in circles spamming Security Bots and letting them do the work. The only time I ever took much damage was when I decided to turn around with some Incinerate! 3 and the Big Sister walked through the flamethrower my hand had become to punch me in the face. Repeatedly. So back to SecuBot spam. Feels like there was a big opportunity for the Big Sisters and they got the short end of the stick.

Shorter section. First off, the new Bouncer Splicer is fun and a blast to fight. Although sometimes I did feel like it was some bad cross-fanfiction about a Big Daddy fighting a Charger (Left 4 Dead 2), that only added to the charm! A bit disappointed that Houdini Splicers either didn’t make a come-back with their own cult from the first game or find a  way to incorporate the Family of Rapture into it. You know, spice it up a bit. Speaking of cults though, would have liked to see more than just some body on an alter before the port-holes. Have fun with it! The best religious moment in the game was fighting the Father in his own church, that really brought across a feeling of religion (or that everyone in Rapture is scared to hell and back and are looking to save themselves from her fall), there should have been a bit of that in the cult meetings too. Starting to wonder though, what happened to all the female Spider Splicers? Maybe without the creepy lady in the ceiling talking about her ‘variety’ I just didn’t notice, but my hats off to you Ms. Creepy-Lady-In-The-Roof, you will be missed (Even if I took a shotgun to your head at some point. It wasn’t personal. Just business).

That’s all for now. Next time, Pandora!

Sea of Dreams

Right then, BioShock 2. Now, before the caustic hate goes out, let’s start off with some caustic love. BioShock 2 was very much what I was hoping for in many ways, and being back in Rapture was a blast. Voice acting could have been improved, but I’m biased on account of having to hear southerners every time I walk outside. The whole experience was still as visually stunning as I had expected and immersive as I’d hoped. All in all BioShock 2 was a great game by itself and probably going to be one of ‘Games of the Year’. But there is the problem, BioShock 2 isn’t a stand alone game. It’s a sequel to BioShock. This is where things start to fall apart, and BioShock 2 falls much farther than before.

BioShock was a fantastic game that drew me in and never let me back out until the credits started rolling, and considering how decrepit and insane Rapture was, that was no small feat. I felt like I wasn’t some gamer, but that I was inside the city, just trying to survive long enough to get the hell out. That I was caught up in the battle between Ryan and Atlas not because I wanted too, but because I had too as a means to escape. And because Ryan was a jerk. But that was later on. BioShock 2 on the other hand, you know exactly what you are doing and where you are. There is none of the chaos and decay of before except for that you leave in your destructive wake. You were often in touch with Atlas, but he was more of a guide, either suggesting where to go or begging for help to save his family. Atlas, not Fontaine, stick with me people. He was a human in need, also caught up in the madness of Rapture’s fall. Sinclair on the other hand is hardly hurting for anything, he’s been loaded from the plasmid business and wants to go to the surface just to exploit them too. Hardly a sympathetic character. Tenembaum makes an appearance for all of two levels at best, before disappearing and all but saying ‘This is Sinclair, he is my replacement. I’m on vacation now.’ The good path I took didn’t even have Tenembaum talking to me, it was Elanor instead. The very person I’m supposed to be rescuing.  That was another thing, plasmids/ADAM aside, Elanor just talks way too much. It’s hard to think she’s ever in trouble when she’s shooting something off every time you do something. Would have been more believable if a Little Sister had been waiting for you to tell you a little bit, maybe even team up with you. There was a lot with the characters that either went against how we were supposed to feel about them or just flat out replaced it. Time for a few examples;

-Sinclair; Not very sympathetic until the end. This guy was pretty much a tame Fontaine. Why did Tenembaum simply vanish and expect us to save all the Little Sisters without any word from her? Heck, the only incentive you get at the very beginning is from Sinclair and hes wanting you to waste them all for adam.

;  Less talking. Seriously. Yes, your my little one. I get it. I want to save you. I want to hurry less when you seem fine just because you can talk directly to me at every moment. Her ability to take control of Little Sisters could have easily filled this better, giving us the impression that something more was involved with the Sister in question, but not actually letting us on until later when Elanor revels it was her. Speaking of Sisters…

Big Sister; Too. Many. Period. And they suffer the same problem as Big Daddies in the first game, they are simply too easy later on. It would have been a scarier encounter if you never killed one until the very end at least. Having to fight off some unstoppable force of Rapture would have been better than killing them over and over. And they just spawn too much. When ever you turn in your Sister, one spawns in. Why are we being punished for playing the game? Outside Electrobolt and Insect Swarm I almost never used any other plasmid except for giggles or experimentation. Make them unkillable (Large hitpools, run at a fixed % or time limit), but able to be knocked around and stunned. It’s a fight of survival, a Big Sister is the personification of Rapture, of its power. You can’t kill Rapture, you can’t win. You can only survive. You have to survive the Big Sister longer if you play evil paths, maybe almost kill one before she runs, stealing satisfaction. Maybe Big Sister spawns more often when you play a dark path. There was a lot of potential for the Big Sisters as well, but most of it went into the ‘Big Daddy Replacement’ department as our main killable enemy. She just existeded as a badass enemy to kill for some paltry loot and progress the story. Thats not to say one Big Sister is all you get, there could be several as long as they A) Are running place to place or just did something like kidnap your Sister and booked it, screeching the night away or B) Be watching you from outside or somewhere unreachable. Either one to give you a sense of dread and get you ready for a fight, even if the fight never comes. Rapture is always watching you, are you ready when her anger boils over?

Alex the Great; Alex is no Sander Cohen. Hes not really relatable, nor do you interact much. Except for his cameras flying around screaming at you. Now, he was a blast to fight against, since to him you are just some errant employee. That was fun, but you never get to really interact with him. And no, flowers don’t count. The Quadtick was fun, if slightly disturbing, as it should have been. Alex didn’t really have much, and seemed to be in the dark about what he himself had said before. By the time I was done with the whole thing, Gil had asked for death enough that I just flipped the switch and walked off. Bring characters closer to home, not sitting in a jar eating pudding and yelling at us while hardly knowing what it is we’re doing. Especially when he said it in the first place, and he had control over much of the security systems at first.

Sofia Lamb; *sigh* Now I have to be nice. Sofia. Lamb. Hands down one of my favorite people in Rapture. She is the root of it all. Bringing a religion to the vacant city, turning everyone into her own cult to support her dreams of utopia, but at the same time taking the brief moments to talk to you. Not as an enemy, but a simply misguided soul. Of course everything falls apart later, but until  the end, she was entirely well done. Side note- If there is now some state sponsored religion in Rapture, why did all the splicers stop singing the ‘Jesus Loves Me’ song? That really brought home how much Rapture had fallen in the first one. A little more than cultist shrines would have been nice. Or maybe they still sang it but I just couldn’t hear it over the melodious sound of *drill*.

The other major problem with Rapture was… well, Rapture itself. This place was cracking leaks and colder than a witch’s tit 10 years ago. Why does it look the same? Rosies aren’t that good at keeping it together. The place should have been more decayed, fused more with the ocean around it. One of the best moments is when you fall through several floors in a building until you hit a flooded pipe system you can walk through. The whole city just seemed too… clean. Which should have been hard for Rapture to pull off overall. Being outside was put up as being one of the highlights in BioShock 2, being with the ocean that surrounded you in BioShock, but that only happens once, maybe twice. When an angry Big Sister knocks the windows out, and when you come over a hill to view Rapture in all it’s splendor. Other than that, the ocean felt entirely interchangeable with a damp hallway. Nothing of significance, but it could have been so much more.  A little more freedom would have really opened the ocean. Even if you end up in the same place, two or three paths would have broken up the monotony and given a bit more replay value. Also more of the adam slugs. Randomly. Flooded building would have also put you and the ocean together, while showing how far the city has and is falling. Decay and death is a good thing here, and the little pockets of life you find around the Lamb Religion serve to highlight that darkness.

Those are the two main things that would have really sent BioShock 2 flying high, even as a sequel to BioShock. As it stands BioShock 2 was a great game, but a bit of a disappointment compared to the predecessor. The only character who really lived up to her ancestry was Sofia Lamb, the new version of Ryan and Fontaine combined. Well, she was better than what that sounds like. There was so much potential, couldn’t fit everything in one post, maybe more about the Big Sisters and Splicers in another post.

Phantom Raising

Hello all, this is Kanako. This is my adventure into both the world of blogging and criticizing video games. Here is a place where I hope to show what went wrong with a game, and how than could be avoided. Where so much more could have been, to make a much better play experience.  Thus the title of the blog; Gaming Phantasm. What can be seen in a game, but has no physical form. And don’t start yammering about my use of  ‘physical’. Roll with it. Anyways, first actual article should be up within a day or two, and will *spoiler warning* be about BioShock 2. What  happened, and why BioShock 2 ultimately failed as a sequel but would work pretty well as a stand alone game. Until then.