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Every year, as we close the calendar and look ahead to the next, we dream about what enchantments wait in the new year. Hell, with game developers delaying their big holiday titles with greater frequency, we have no choice but to wait, our eyes and minds teased with images of the next new “hotness,” while knowing that our thumbs will soon ache once that title finally goes gold.
Last year I took a different tack, opting to highlight a game that I was dying to play, but fearful that it wouldn’t measure up. I chose Bioshock 2, the follow-up to my favorite game of 2007 (and in my list of All Time Faves for this Decade). I knew Ken Levine wasn’t at the helm, and everything I saw simply gave me a sense of déjà vu. Been there. Done that.
I got a little heat for my completely subjective opinion, so when the time came to put up or shut up, I played the hell out of it. And for the first five hours or so, I was thrilled to be back in Rapture. All the good tidings from exploring those dank environs the first time came flooding back. But then, my initial apprehension revisited me. I realized that nostalgia was steering my thoughts, and this game, while a solid adventure, would never scale the revelatory narrative heights of the first one.
Which leads to a bit of cyclical karma as this snake keeps circling, noshing on its own tail. First I was in love with Bioshock. Then we broke up over Bioshock 2. And now I’m heartsick, seeking a desperate hope that we can really make this work again, with the revelation that Ken Levine was secretly steering Bioshock Infinite over the last two years.
Everything I have seen underscores EXACTLY what I felt this series should have done in the first place. Take the themes inherent to the original game and then EXPAND on them. Bring us somewhere we haven’t been before. And in an expert teaser, we are ripped from what appears to be a watery grave (actually a Rapture-influenced aquarium decoration) and find ourselves in a floating Utopia. With that, Levine has me hooked and has my brain engaged all over again.
Bioshock Infinite is now my MOST ANTICIPATED GAME…
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