The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

I’m Andrew Ryan and I’m here to ask you a question

I finally went back to Bioshock and finished it.

I was playing it some time ago, but it pissed me off when I got to Arcadia — my goal was unclear, and I couldn’t figure out the damn map, and that just frustrated me, so I took a break. Yesterday I stopped taking a break and played through the rest of the game in one sitting. That’s how I roll, yo. So now I’d like to talk about some general Bioshock-related mishmash that doesn’t really belong in my proper review. It’s best to assume that this entire post is one big Bioshock spoiler, so don’t read it if you care about that.

As I believe I mentioned in the review, I don’t understand the submarine scene. I’ve even gone so far as to read a long-winded plot analysis written by some mincing leftist who was more keen to explain over and over again why objectivism is such a horrible idea than to discuss the fucking game, and I still don’t come away with any further insight. As presented, the submarine contains Atlas’ wife and son, and then Ryan has them killed, and this sets Atlas off and establishes the conditions for the confrontation with Ryan. Seems straightforward enough, but the snag, of course, is that Atlas doesn’t exist. He’s a character created by Frank Fontaine to push his own agenda, and he explains to you explicitly that his wife and son never existed. So, wait, who got killed in the submarine scene? And why did Ryan kill them? And what was Fontaine’s plan in the event that Ryan didn’t randomly kill them? The whole scene almost seems like an accidental hold-over from an earlier script where Atlas wasn’t the bad guy in disguise.

On the subject of Fontaine, here’s a brief list of industries he’s become a huge player in since his arrival in Rapture:

  • Genetic engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Weapons development
  • Oxygen production
  • Real estate
  • Orphanages
  • Mind control
  • Eugenics
  • Fishing
  • Smuggling

So when exactly does this dude find the time to be a con artist? And what’s the fucking point? He can’t get rich enough by dominating ten different industries? Not only that, but you’d think anybody who could be that successful in all those different fields, plus be able to create, adopt, and sell this Atlas identity at need, plus be able to rally the people and organise a successful rebellion against Ryan, plus successfully present himself as the great saviour of Rapture without letting anybody realise that he’s trying to give that impression — well, a guy like that must have a little bit on the ball, yeah? And yet, when you finally meet Fontaine, he talks like a two-bit thug who can’t even construct a proper sentence anymore, and he does irrational stupid thug things. It makes no sense.

I’m told the developers intended Rapture to present the dystopic society that Objectivism leads to, but I’m not sure I believe that, since, if that was their intent, they clearly were aware that they failed. I’m not going to make any statements about the viability of Objectivism here, but I will note that what brought down Rapture clearly wasn’t any failure in the Objectivist ideal. What brought down Rapture was Andrew Ryan’s lack of faith in his own vision. There is, in fact, a diary in Hephaestus ("Anya Andersdotter – Assassin") in which that’s explained quite clearly. To quote: "I believed in this place. I believed in Ryan. But when it got hard, Ryan didn’t believe in Rapture, didn’t believe in the Great Chain. He believed in power." What we hear from Andrew Ryan is explanations of his high-minded vision, and rationalisations for why he’s compromising all of his ideals for the "greater good." He rules Rapture with an iron fist; there are government takeovers of private industry, public executions, prison camps, mind control. Curfews, limitations on public gatherings, and restrictions on travel. This is not anarcho-capitalism, as any damn fool can tell you. This is big government.

I don’t understand where Ryan got the people to come to Rapture from. Did he explain to them the idea of Objectivism? A lot of them appear to have been expecting some kind of managed economy and centrally-enforced equality. Rapture is filled with the kind of people who complain that Ryan is rich and they’re not, even while they sit around in the bar drinking all day when Ryan’s building cities and industries. Perhaps he should have made sure that only people who knew what they were getting involved in moved to Rapture, yes? As it stands, it kind of looks like he kidnapped a bunch of Massachusetts Democrats while they were sleeping; they woke up and, wait, my government handout booze money is gone? WHAT!

I get the game mechanic of hacking the vending machines to get lower prices, but it goes off the rails a bit when they try to integrate that into the world. So, wait, why on earth would thugs hack the vending machine to pay lower prices when they could, like, bust it open with a wrench and just take stuff?

One final note. The last level is this big bullshit escort mission where you have to walk a Little Sister through a long corridor and try to keep her from getting shot too much. But before you can do that, you have to dress up like a Big Daddy. The reason for all this is that the path Fontaine ran down has all these doors that can’t be opened except by a Little Sister, so you need to be a Big Daddy so they’ll follow you. Now, let’s ignore the fact that it would probably be easier to use some of your grenades to blow the doors up, or maybe set them on fire with your mind, since they’re only wood. I’d like to ask a different question. If that’s the way Fontaine went (and we know it is, since we see him run off and slam the door behind him), and if those doors can only be opened by Little Sisters… how did Fontaine open the doors?

December 19th, 2008 Posted by | Games | 2 comments

A razor and lipstick

I’m catching up a bit on my backlog of reviews. I’ve done Mother 3 and Bioshock, which brings me up to 69, dudes!

I’ll work on some more later, but you’d probably be surprised how long these things take to write.

December 19th, 2008 Posted by | Games, Meta-meta | no comments