The announcement of Bioshock: The Collection for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 has me giddy at the thought of returning to the twisted, time-bending worlds of Irrational Games’ iconic series.
Sure, I could just replay all of them now on Xbox 360, but what excites me most is that people that haven’t tried the series will get the opportunity to play through one of my favourite video game thought-pieces.
Mostly, I’m looking forward to talking and debating about the characters, the worlds and the ideologies from the Bioshock universe. I could talk all day about the philosophies of Andrew Ryan or Comstock, and I can’t wait to dive back in and reignite discussion around all three games.
For those of you that have already played all three Bioshock entries, I thought we could have a look back over the series’ best moments. Here are mine. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below with your favourite Bioshock moments!
One of the things I loved most about the original Bioshock was how it never treaded a straight line in its critique of Ayn Rand’s objectivism. It denounced it as equally as it praised it, while also providing engaging social commentary on far-right politics as well as the instability and uncertainty that follows far-left revolutions. The opening scene of Bioshock really set the game’s narrative up, introducing us to an eerie, powerful character, and a mysterious underwater world in Rapture.
“I am Andrew Ryan and I am here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? No, says the man in Washington; it belongs to the poor. No, says the man in the Vatican; it belongs to God. No, says the man in Moscow; it belongs to everyone.I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose…Rapture. A city where the artist would not fear the censor. Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small. And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well.” – Andrew Ryan
This breathtaking commentary proposes a confronting and thought-provoking question of morality. Ryan’s dream of a city of men free from God, government and power is at odds with the philosophy he actually furthers, that of irrational selfishness and unbridled power.
Elizabeth song and dance
Around Bioshock Infinite‘s release back in 2013, much of the debate among critics was that of the game’s at-times brutal, visually-distressing violence. Some condemned the violence as being a distraction from the arching narrative, although I always felt that the violence was a vessel to demonstrate the the gap between the powerful elite and that of the common man: when threatened, man will do what is within his power to protect himself. The violence is indeed an important element to compliment the game’s narrative balancing act, between Booker’s own quest for answers, and Elizabeth’s futile attempt at peace and freedom.
Scenes like the above are nice breakaways from the confronting violence that so often occurs throughout Infinite, and I feel that moments like these are used purposefully to balance the realism of humanism with the unworldly nature of Columbia.
“A man chooses. A slave obeys.”
Also known as the, “Would you kindly?” moment.
”A man chooses. A slave obeys.” – Andrew Ryan
Perhaps one of the finest twists in video game history. Without giving too much away, Bioshock‘s shocking conclusion is both its most mind-blowing and depressing, quite the achievement considering the game is riddled with emotional moments, thought-provoking interactions and plenty of stand-out battles and quotes. Few games have managed to build up to such a moment without having already given away the ending, and while on multiple play-throughs it’s a little obvious that this was the inevitable end, no one saw this coming the first time around.
The city in the sky
It doesn’t quite compare to the Bioshock Rapture reveal, but the combination of angelic glare and soothing music does a fine job of introducing the floating city of Columbia. I remember during my first play-through being completely mesmerised by the beauty of the reveal. Where Rapture was drenched in mystery, death and darkness, Columbia was bustling and inviting. It set the tone for a different type of experience to the one we got in the first two games, and it really helped amplify the violence we would soon experience.
The slow drop down to the ground, accompanied by an angelic rendition of Will The Circle Be Unbroken, presented a number of interesting symbols of — and questions about — faith, heaven and hell.
I also can’t forget this emotional moment between Booker and Elizabeth.
One of the most challenging moral choices you could make in a game. Do you harvest the Little Sister for her ADAM, killing her in the process, or do you save her and hope for something better down the line? Genetically altered using the ADAM extracted from sea slugs, Little Sisters were troubled young women who, despite their creepy appearance and demeanour, just needed a little help. Deciding to harvest or save the Little Sister for the first time in Bioshock is something I’m not looking forward to doing again.
The False Shepard Lottery
This scene really epitomises the violence of Bioshock Infinite, but it also sets the scene for Columbia’s brute interpretation of freedom and law. The lottery/raffle scene is Infinite‘s initial statement: this is American exceptionalism, and you better be ready!
Burial at Sea Episode 2 ending
I really struggled emotionally at the end of this episode, because I knew it was the end of Bioshock as we know it. It goes full time-bending Dr Who on us, but it manages to somewhat coherently tie together the loose ends that separate Rapture and Columbia, as well as the characters between.
Return to Rapture
Elizabeth had formed a strange bond with Songbird, her protector…and prison guard. The death upon the return to Rapture was emotionally powerful but also narratively jarring, as the surroundings of the underwater city invoked plenty of confusion.
What are your favourite Bioshock moments? Sound off in the comments below!