Blockbuster games are getting pretty amazing. Publishers can sink hundreds of millions of dollars into projects, confident that they’ll get their investment back a dozen times over. I mean, just look at some of the throwaway set pieces in Black Ops 2? Here’s a world, painstakingly sculpted out of pixels and wireframe, but you never touch it. It’s all backdrop to the man-shooting, because if you stop to look around and, god forbid, interact with the environment in a meaningful way, you might get bored or something. It’s clear that developers have amazing tools at their disposal. Isn’t it about time they use them?
At this point, games are pretty bad at telling human stories, and they’re even worse at telling them though gameplay. However, exploration and home-building are things that games do very well. Series with Shock in their titles have usually been banner-carriers for good narrative in first-person action games. Even if Bioshock never reached the bar set by System Shock 2 (as far as I’m concerned), it achieved something that still has us talking years later.
So that’s what I expect from Bioshock‘s true sequel, Bioshock Infinite. A fantastic world to explore and a well written story to guide me along. After the ham-fisted take on Objectivism in Bioshock, I’m tempering my expectations for a reasonable philosophical engagement, but I’m looking forward to a truly absorbing experience, something that only seems to come around once every few years. That, and it plays into all my fantasies about airships.