Under the Sea (Again)

A good while back I had decided that if I had to choose any game to be remade for current gen consoles, it had to be BioShock. Mainly because it has always been one of those gaming experiences that stuck with me. So much so, that I even read (most of) Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in order to get a better understanding of antagonist Andrew Ryan’s objectivist vision for his underwater city.

The universe must have been listening because all three games have just been released in an updated collection that also includes all of the DLC. What was a girl to do but ask for it for her birthday? I have had it for about a week now and I finally got a chance to sit down with it for a short while today on my Xbox One.

I always remember the BioShock series first and foremost for its visuals. Even back in 2007 I was astonished by the art deco detailing of the city of Rapture which was set off by the glow of neon lights through deep sea view windows. Unfortunately, these art deco interiors are also splattered with blood amid the chaos you find the city in. They have done a great job with the remaster. The first thing I noticed was the light and shade of the environments. I am particularly enjoying the very scary dark corners set off brilliantly with flickering light bulbs that cast brief moments of shadows from enemies. I also have quite a thing for water in games, and the water that protagonist Jack lands in at the beginning is stunning. I would insert a picture here, but I only discovered today that screenshots have been blocked on the Xbox One. I am very disappointed with this as I was looking forward to documenting my return to Rapture.

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Here is a very professional example of how nice the game looks. Trust me.

For me to purchase a remastered game it takes more than just wanting to see if it looks any better than it did nine years ago. In the small amount of time I played today, I was harshly reminded of how atmospheric BioShock is. Let me paint the picture for you. You (as Jack), survive a plane crash and have to swim through burning rubble to a lighthouse whose door closes behind you as you enter, leaving you in complete darkness until a few lights decide to switch on. Spooky right? Not the worst of it. Once you reach the city of Rapture the first thing you see from your bathysphere (the transport used to get under the sea) is a person being literally ripped apart in front of your eyes. The murderer in this case then starts to attack the glass of the bathysphere and all you can do is stand and watch. It is the worst. You get out eventually and have to navigate your way around the mostly dark entrance with random voices and the interjections of Garry Schyman’s biting string section from the score niggling at your ear. Did I mention that you have no way to defend yourself at this point? Also that the first weapon you eventually get is a wrench? You are very exposed first few moments of the game. Eventually you do cool get powers (like bees shooting out of your hand) and some guns. They might make you feel a tiny bit more secure, but there are many shadowy corners for enemies to hide (toilet cubicles are the living worst for it).

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Here is a professional photograph of Jack’s first weapon.

I will motor on with playing the collection even though I have many other things I have started already (The Witcher 3 being the longest). After all the first BioShock clocks in at twelve to twenty one hours depending on how thorough you want to be. It is also October. What better way to spend this spooky month than fighting off murderous addicts to Perry Como’s “Papa Loves Mambo” (also a real thing in these games)?

BioShock The Collection is out now on PS4 ,Xbox One and PC. I would definitely recommend even buying a cheap second hand copy of the individual games for the PS3 or Xbox 360 if you have not sold your soul to current gen just yet.

Mass Effect Andromeda Ramblings

I had stored Mass Effect away in my heart next to the hole I let the Harry Potter series also slip into. As far as I was concerned, Mass Effect ended with my Shepard along with all the hopes and dreams I had for the galaxy at large. I was happy that I didn’t have to experience any more emotional turmoil at the hands of the 70+ hour trilogy (dramatic, I know). Yet in 2015, Mass Effect Andromeda was announced to the world.

BioWare community manager Chris Priestly quickly shut down any hopes of the game continuing what the trilogy had set up after the game was announced. That should have solved my issues with wanting to put the Shepard thing to bed but I was still unenthusiastic. As a result I have avoided reading too much about Andromeda. Which is a miracle considering how the entirety of Dragon Age Inquisition crossed my path in the form of online chatter long before release.

The only information I have really acquired is the announcement that you will be accompanied by your brother or sister depending of which gender you pick to play as. Cool concept, pity BioWare love to kill your fictional siblings/parents/loved ones, not the family dog though…yet. I have met the family announcement with a heavy side-eye for a different reason however. Creative lead Mac Walters announced that you see their dad in one of the earlier trailers in an interview with PlayStation Access. Also very cool. That was the full Ryder family now revealed according to Walters. I really hope the non-existing matriarch of the family surprises us with a mention that she is having a great time somewhere across space. If she will be used as a motivational corpse for the plot I would rather they forgot about her. It is a wonder that any fictional character does anything when they do not have a dead or endangered woman in their life!

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The female half of the Andromeda protagonists

The latest game-play footage caught my attention also. After all, how could I resist that 4K magic? The game will apparently look good on everything but the player in the video advises you to “find” a 4K screen just to watch him play four minutes of the game. The game definitely looks quite different to the previous Mass  Effect games. The environment seems more open, exploration being a big thing in this game. The layout reminds me of the environments of Dragon Age Inquisition somehow. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they fill the space better than Inquisition did. I do not need to spend time running through a large empty space just to find a tiny collectable rock. It is pretty and definitely has depth. I might have an issue looking at a protagonist walk like they are holding in a fart but I am sure I will get over it.

It looks like out of the three companions in the preview clip, two are human. Possibly one is Ryder’s sister. That is a bit underwhelming but I would prefer them keeping the more interesting companions quiet until closer to release. There is one alien species represented, an Asari. She looks very out of place as instead of armour she has a belly revealing kind of biker jacket and cargo pants on. She seems a bit more rough and ready than most of the Asari we are used to seeing which could make for an interesting companion.

Can we talk about this though:

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4K crotch.

Anyway I am far more intrigued by Andromeda after seeing some proper footage. I do hope they reveal more information about the game as tactfully as they have been. There is few things worse than coming into a game first time knowing too much.

Check Andromeda out in all its glory below