Phew, what a trip. If you guys have been wondering where your adorable neighborhood ZombieWolf went to, it's the fabulous skybound city of Columbia.
My return trips to the undersea city of Rapture have always been a treat, but the darkness and confined tube-like space didn't scare me. Rather, it made me feel like the whole "town squares" and "streets" where anything but. It was unnerving, brand new, but it's not a place I'd live in, regardless of the good points Andrew Ryan brought up about its creation (you know, before the whole Rapture Civil War thing).
The 2nd game made things freakier and more disturbing because some sick woman believed causing the city to further implode in itself was the key to paradise. That and butchering humans, kidnapping children, mutating fanatics and brainwashing her slaves to become new Big Daddies or stock troops. All the while playing Mengele to her own daughter. (one audio diary even says that there will be no love given to her daughter. Because love corrupts and is weak.)
But I'm not a fan of the ocean. I'm not. There's a reason I'm a geology major and not a marine biologist. I'm a fan of the air less than the ocean because of acrophobia.
But why do I like Infinite and Columbia so much?
I don't feel like I'm in the air.
Rapture slams your face into the glass and never lets you forget that you're mere inches away from being crushed by trillions of metric gallons of sub-zero water.
Bioshock 2 hit it up a step; you actually went into the water. Even just walking around it felt "free" (from the claustrophobic pipe roads), but it never let you go. Kind of like a dog with a leash on a walk is "free", but never truly free.
In Columbia, there are no walls. There is no gloom. It's bright, cheery. Happy. I feel like I'm in a hyper stylized town on land rather than in the sky.
It's that illusion that makes the events so horrific later on in the story.
Now I wont get into the story. I'll leave the players to find out (or cheat by looking at walkthroughs). But I will say my opinions on a few things.
I love Columbia. There, I said it. I like more than Rapture. The racism is freaking ridiculous and the Vox are monsters (sheer irony is that I'm a Vox Populi member myself. No joke, I am. It's what I got from playing Industrial Revolution), but I love the idea of a true blue city in the sky. Plus one set in the past than the future? That right there is a million times better than the hundreds of years in the future aerial cities I've been swallowing from books and films for years. (the last being the city hovering thousands of feet above an ocean in the show Firefly)
But the one thing this game did do was shock me.
Because of the Heavy Hitters.
I'm the kind that tends to give more a crap for the baddies than the goodies. I loved Elizabeth to death and will forever love her, but my heart goes first and foremost to the Heavy Hitters (now like there's 7 or 8 types of them. Seriously, who's counting?)
My expectations ranged from genetically engineered cyborgs to Voodoo queens ala Marie Laveau. But I was wrong on most accounts, some for the better, but others because of some....inherent storyline problems.
First off, I need to commemorate the voice actors. Their work here probably surpasses at the very least the 2nd Bioshock game. To make a pyromaniac sound that deranged, or a mindless Washington automaton that psychotic is near impossible.
But Irrational does often choose the impossible.
Because of the voice and lines, I decide to introduce my first voyeur into my trip from Columbia.
*chirp chirp chirp*
Yeah, I know. I've been hurting those guys worse than any new episode of Law and Order: SVU (bad joke, I know), but they're the ones that affected me the most. They're also the main reason why I'm seriously considering scrapping my Bioshock Infinite fan fiction.
Here are the reasons why they affect me so:
1. They cry
No, I'm not kidding. Many of you should know from my previous ramblings that the Handymen were scripted to cry in the very first Infinite trailer released (2 years ago, I think). Their weeping was muddled badly by the rest of the noise of the trailer, so it was ultimately cut out.
But the ones in the game not only cry, they scream.
Alpha Series...yeah...they have haunting "roars". But when a Handyman screams at you, not only does it scare you that a metric ton beast machine is after you, but the fact it's talking to you at the same time is definitely creepy. And I haven't even gotten into why they scream.
2. They're in pain
Big Daddies are always the ones that people refer to as the pained ones in the Bioshock series. Well I'm going to call them on it big time. No Big Daddy feels as much continuous pain as a Handyman.
The Handymen never last a moment without debilitating pain. Breathing, taking one step. Even a single heartbeat is enough to make them go nuts from the pain. One Handyman yelled in combat that his skin was peeling or tearing off. Another whined and said that every step he took was like burning coal. They can't sleep, they can't think. All they want is the pain to stop.
The worst though was when a Handyman begged me to shut him off. I've had NPCs cower before begging to live, but never one actively begging for a bullet.
3. They're Pacifists
I must be bloody joking about this. But I'm not. I need verification of this myself, but there's a Handyman listed somewhere under a banner filled with "sinners" (dead people basically) that reads Pacifist.
Now how the heck does something that actively says things like " I'll make you feel the pain that I feel" or " I'll tear your legs apart" be a pacifist.
My guess is, and is proven by some shouting from the Handymen themselves, is that they can't control their bodies. There's most likely a alternative control system installed in the Handymen that makes them become cyborg puppets for another outside group. When they're not in battle, they're probably flooded with enough drugs to knock out an elephant. But when the fight starts, they're probably flooded with adrenaline that surges the pain and makes them lash out.
In short, all of them are essentially Augustus Sinclair from Bioshock 2....only worse. Much, much, much worse.
And lastly, the most important reason they affect me...
4. They're humans with families
At least one has a wife, and the story behind him is only vaguely hinted at. But the end result is both horrific and heartbreaking. Especially what happens to the Handyman in question.
Others might even be parents. But so far nothing has been said about that (chances are it's clearly avoided in order to give a distinct difference between Big Daddies and Handymen, even though they'd probably function the same if children where around them).
Most of these things I didn't even consider when I was following Infinite. I just brushed them aside, kind of like "oh, it'll just be post-op pain, but everything is psychological". Now I know that the way these guys are treated and abused makes my stories about them impossible. Ignoring the whole theme of Bioshock Infinite of course.
And the fact there was only like 5 Handymen in the game pissed me off a bit. And no freaking mustaches. I'm sick and tired of the generic Heavy Weapons Guy mold. Give me the mustache! (truthfully I like the scarred bald headed look. But at least Big Dads have variation. There is one variant Handyman. Only one. And he looks like a freaking racist, intentional or not.)
Another one that disturbed me and also is the reason for a lot of anger are the Boys of Silence. They're no longer hunting you, they just scan.
So...blind teens can now see you, even though they have no eyes? What where they smoking for ditching the idea presented in the Heavy Hitters video?
Now I moan and groan because I'm a huge fan of the Boys. They're second only to the Handymen. I amped myself up all the game for them...and all I get are scanners. If I wanted to see scanners, I'd go watch the David Cronenberg film Scanners.
But their story is incredibly restricted and non-existent. You have to guess because they're never mentioned in audio, at least outright.
You go through a Boy of Silence orphanage (there is no other freaking thing the place can be to be honest) and there's audio talking about a future corrupted Elizabeth and her "children".
The fact that the Boys can "teleport" makes me think less that they're just dimensional people given abilities like a Houdini Splicer, but more like they might have been children or even babies that she stole or obtained and raised them to be her unseeing slaves.
So in a really messed up way...Elizabeth is the mother of the Boys of Silence. That is extremely original, and if it's true, it ruins my thoughts on Boys of Silence having individuality. They probably flock to Elizabeth like puppies, desperate for attention.
The other hitters are...adequate. The most successful are the Patriots. The problem is that they're everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.
The Siren is restricted to one, but at least there's a good enough explanation for it. Still freaking wanted a zombie Handyman battle.
Oh, and Songbird is a joke. Really. The only good thing with him are the end segments.
The best semi-Heavy Hitter (hits heavy but I don't count in the "big 4") is the Fireman. The name sucks because you think hoses and extinguishers, but I'm a pyro in video games, so I immediately got attracted to them.
They also have the best voices. Cursing, ranting, throwing burning puns at you. Is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall good.
Now I'm ranting. But I have to make myself very clear...this is NOT a bad game. It's extremely good. But something happened to severely alter the stuff promised. There is future DLC that gives hopes to at least trying to fix the issues, but after the content given in the first game, I hold out little hope for something good.
Unless it's like Bioshock 2. Minerva's Den was its saving grace (even though it was excellent as a return to Rapture).
In truth, I'd totally see myself visiting or even studying in Columbia. Better the illusion of freedom than the stark reminder of being an animal in a cage all the time.