I just beat Bioshock Infinite. Literally just beat it. My fingers are flying as I type this, way too late on a school night. But I just can’t help it. Bioshock Infinite. Wow. But as I digest what I just experienced, a question popped in my head; “Does that story make up for the questionable mechanics?”. Well does it? Shortly Bioshock Infinite’s release, to me, it seemed reviewers were looking for something wrong, in what I had heard was a perfect game. I bought Infinite on launch, but was away from my PlayStation, on vacation, so I started a week behind everyone else. This gave me the opportunity to take in critic’s and friend’s (when you think about it, they’re both one and the same) opinions and compare them to my experience. Another benefit I had coming into Infinite was that for all of my gaming years I had avoid first person shooters. Sure I had played them with friends, but I could solemnly say I had never purchased, played, or beaten a FPS for myself. I always found them disorienting and difficult. That all changed with Far Cry 3 last year. With no real knowledge on what are good and bad first person shooter mechanics and the slew of critiques on Bioshock Infinite, I wasn’t sure if what I was playing (mechanically speaking) was a masterpiece or something in need of improvement. Sure, some things bothered me, like some disorientation or poor lighting, but don’t all first person shooters suffer from that? Isn’t that the “norm”?
So my question is this- Does a game’s story outweigh the game’s mechanics? Can something so well written and executed trump a poor technical decision? It may not even be the plot, but the graphics or the replay value. Are the mechanics the straw to break the camel’s back? After what I just played, story tumps mechanics, hands down. But that is an isolated situation and, like I said before, I am no FPS master. So what do you think? Share your thoughts with me below in the comments section. I wanna hear your reasons and why. Should Columbia be praised to the heavens? Or shot down by it’s own shortcomings?
All throughout their public education kids are taught, when writing a paper, you must have a “hook” to grab the readers attention. This rule is engrained into students minds so much that it becomes second nature. This idea of a hook though, is really in every form of media; books, music, television, movies, and video games. It is the creator’s job to grab your attention within a certain time frame and not let go. In the video game industry it is particularly important due to the large investment in making the game and the fact it is one of the more expensive forms of entertainment available to the consumer. With all that in mind, I wanted to share what I think are the most unforgettable hooks, aka introductions, of this generation. Now I haven’t played every single game of this generation. I am sure I have missed some great games. This list is simply from what I have played myself. But I want you guys to share with me your top 5 and what I’m missing out. Do that in the comments section below this article. So without further ado, here are the top 5 unforgettable game introductions of this generation.
#5: Batman: Arkham City
Bright white lights. Sounds pretty unforgettable right? Good because as soon as you start Batman: Arkham City, that is what you will see. Then you hear a mysterious man call out to wake Mr. Wayne up and apparently you two need to discuss some things. The man is quickly identified as Dr. Hugo Strange, and the fact of HOW you came into his custody is quickly told in a series of flashbacks. Arkham Asylum is shut down and a new super prison is built right it the center of Gotham. Logical right? Bruce decides to take some public action and jump into the political side of Gotham to try and shut this madhouse down. Suddenly the police and S.W.A.T teams show up and arrest Bruce. We fade back to the present and Strange goes on about something called Protocol 10, oh and he knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Strange leaves Bruce and turns on the lights, dazing our hero. In front of you, the wall is a mirror, and you see Bruce all tied up and in handcuffs. THIS is where the gameplay begins. The game prompts you to move the left analog stick left and right, causing you to fall over and break the chair. An alarm goes off and a single guard enters. No sweat, follow the game prompt to counter and you break his leg. Easy. From here you are escorted to the gate of Arkham City Prison. The doors open and you are met by more of Gotham’s thugs. Here is where the game teaches you how to counter, the key to Arkham City’s combat. After picking off the prisoners, you are overwhelmed and taken away by The Penguin and his men. You wake up in some small back alley surrounded. The Penguin goes on about some old family rivalry and slips on some brass knuckles, ready to beat up on Bruce Wayne. Counter and you break his hand AND your handcuffs. You knock out all the men and proceed forward by climbing up a fire escape. Now right before you RISE (ba da chhhh) out of the alley you have the option you walk up to the crying Penguin and uppercut him unconscious. That is SO satisfying. Climb out of the alley and you radio Alfred to deliver a drop within Arkham City. You proceed to climb up an ACE Chemical building to collect your drop and suit up. Yes the prompt literally says “Suit Up”. Then you become The Batman and also earn a trophy/achievement titled “I’m Batman”.
The reason I selected Batman: Arkham City is the way it flows. It quickly and clearly explains the backstory of the game. As you progress through the intro it easily explains the game’s core mechanics. It’s simple, elegant, and epic. Most player’s are shocked to hear the antagonist also knows Batman’s secret identity, which compels the player to find out why and how Hugo Strange found out Bruce’s secret. I also love how players get to experience the transition from Bruce Wayne to Batman. It is a rare moment to see our hero actually suit up and it’s even cooler to fight your way to the Bat Suit. It is definitely satisfactory to hit that “Suit Up” button and become The Batman.
#4: God of War 3
“My vengeance ends now.” The first words out of Kratos’s mouth in God of War 3. You KNOW it is about to get crazy. The third main entry in the saga picks up immediately where God of War 2 left off. I mean immediately, it doesn’t miss a beat. Kratos has used the Sisters of Fate to go back in time before the Great War and bring the Titans to the present to aid him in the destruction of Olympus. They are climbing the great mountain, ready to tear it to the ground. Zeus, King of the Gods and Olympus, begins a speech, bringing the gods together to stop this threat. He uses words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ to unite the Olympians, but in the same breath call it “his mountain” and that HE “will wipe out this plague”. This is a great glimpse into the huge ego of Zeus. The gods unite, and attack. You see Hermes, Hades, Helios, Poseidon, Hercules (a demigod, but he still shows up), and, of course, Zeus. A few Titans are taken out and Poseidon jumps into the sea, becoming this giant whirlpool, sea crab/horse creature. And that is your first boss battle. You climd around Gaia, defeat some undead minions, then the battle begins. This huge sea monster attacks the arms of Gaia and you must free her to ascend to Olympus. After you defeat Poseidon’s creature, you fling the god to the mountain and follow. Then the series’s iconic circle button mini game begins. But instead of sticking to a third person few of beating Poseidon to a pulp, the camera switches to a first person view; Poseidon’s view. From this, you see truly what a monster Kratos is and just truly how far he is willing to go. Right at the end of the minigame, the final prompt is L3 + R3. As soon as I hit those buttons I realized what I had just done. I had blinded Poseidon and crushed his skull. That is still, what I believe to be, the most gruesome kill in all of God of War. No one will ever forget hitting L3 + R3 to kill the god of the sea, which is one reason why God of War 3 has such an unforgettable introduction.
#3: Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 was widely considered one of the best games of 2012 and even won a couple of Game of the Year awards. With it’s open world style, combined with a dark, gritty jungle and spot on first person shooter mechanics, it is easy to see why it received such critical acclaim. What was so enticing about this game to me was the villain, Vaas. A true psycho, Vaas’s performances on screen are masterful. You cannot take your eyes off him.
The game starts by showing some previously recorded footage of a bunch of rich, spoiled young adults partying around some islands. You instantly grow to hate them. Then the screen pulls back; you were watching it all on a phone. Your hands are tied, your mouth taped shut, and the man of the hour begins to talk. His plan is to sell you back to your parents for a handsome amount of money, while setting you in your place along the way. Across from you is your brother Grant, also restrained in the cage. Vaas is called away, leaving a single guard outside the cage. Suddenly Grant breaks lose and frees you. He thinks of a plan and you call the guard over. Grant quickly kills the guard, something he learned in the Army, while you freak out that the man is dead. This shows how innocent your character, Jason, really is. He doesn’t know how to fight and survive, let alone kill a man. Which makes it all the more intriguing because you know he becomes an insane killer, just like Vaas. You want to play the game to find out just how Jason gets pushed so far. One part of the answer reveals itself not much later when, just as you and Grant are about to escape Vass’s compound, Grant is shot. In the neck. Jason starts panicing, holding down Grant’s wound, trying to stop the bleeding. In the background you hear Vaas ranting, very faint and distorted. When your brother is dead, your sense come back and you look at Vaas and he yells “RUN FORREST, RUN!” and you bolt. Gunshots and men pursue you in the dark, dense forrest. All you can do is run, jump, and climb your way to safety. You make it to a bridge, which is shot down by a helicopter and you fall into the river below. As you float away, an arm reaches in and saves you, then the credits roll. Welcome to insanity.
#2: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
I had asked for a PS3 for three years straight for Christmas. Three years. I finally got one and it was none other than the Uncharted 3 bundle. 320gb PS3 and Uncharted 3. The Uncharted series has always looked spectacular to me and I was stoked. But I had the third game. I needed one and two, or at least play them first to understand everything. I found a friend with Uncharted 1 that day, and played and beat it all in one sitting the next day. Okay enough rambling, but why the backstory? I want to set the stage for just what I saw and experienced when I got to play Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The whole generation I had never seen anything truly above 480p because of my Wii. I never got huge, grand adventures around the world in game on my television. When I popped in Uncharted 2, I was blown away.
The game opens with a quote from Marco Polo on his death bed. He said “I did not tell half of what I saw for I knew I would not be believed…”. Then a fade from black to the cutscene. We see a train in some rough shape, probably from a gun fight earlier or something like that. The camera pans to Nathan Drake, who just wakes up from unconsciousness. Both Drake and yourself quickly realize that he has lost quite a bit of blood. Drake then looks out the window and sees a mountain. Sounds pretty normal considering the area, the Himalayas, except for one tiny detail; the mountain is sideways. Suddenly items are falling toward Drake and the fact sinks in that the train is vertical. Drake falls from his chair, our the train and barely grabs onto a rail. We see all around fire and smoke and the train car hanging off a cliff. Now the gameplay begins. You shimmy Drake along the rail and up the train car. But the process is slow, you hear Drake wince in pain. You feel the struggle with Drake. Boulders are falling down, slowing you down even more. Once at the top of the vertical car, the rest of the train starts to fall. There is a rush of adrenaline every time I play that sequence. I jump and run as fast as I can to make it to solid ground. Drake makes the jump and barely grabs a ledge, pulls himself up and passes out. The game then fades to a cutscene from a few weeks earlier that establishes characters and the backstory.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is truly a fantastic work of storytelling, gameplay, and cinematography. I always get a pleasure out of playing it time and time again. And of course, I will never forget my first time climbing up that train.
What can I say about Bioshcok Infinite? I suppose I could talk about the intro, and I will, but there is just so much to talk about the game. At the time of writing I am half way through the campaign and just…wow. Go play Infinite. You’ll be glad you did.
The game opens with a few lines between the main characters, Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth. Then we are in a boat. There is a storm and a man and woman are rowing Booker to a lighthouse in the distance. The two are bickering back and forth about whether the lady should row or not. They are paying no mind to Booker. The only real communication between them in when said lady passes Booker a box filled with a gun, picture, and a few other items. They arrive and leave Booker on a dock in the rain. You walk up to the lighthouse door and knock. On the door is a bloodstained note, which says “DeWitt− Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt. This is your last chance!”. You proceed to walk inside, greeted by a simple picture that says “Of Thy Sins, Shall I Wash Thee” above a basin of water. You climb the stairs, met by more pictures with similar religious text. Then you reach the third floor. In front of you is a bloodied body, sack over head, with a note telling Booker not to disappoint (there are quite a few notes in this intro I just realized). Barely phased, you continue your climb to the top of the lighthouse, where you find three bells and ring them. Then things get weird. The sky booms with noise and glows a terrible red color. The gate creaks open and a single, red chair rises from the floor. Seeing no other option, you sit down. Suddenly harnesses secure Booker and parts start moving and counting down to ascension. Five, four, three, two, one…BOOM! You shoot up fifteen thousand feet, burst through the stormy clouds and see the floating city of Columbia. During that entire sequence I held my breath, just like Booker. I even pushed my feet into the floor, trying to slow my ascent. And Columbia was beautiful. A chilling piano plays in the background as you glide down to the surface of Columbia. Then your adventure begins.
Watch Bioshock Infinite’s introduction below
As this generation comes to a close, it’s nice to look back and remember the best moments this generation had to offer. These were mine. What are yours? Share your top 5 unforgettable game introductions below in the comments and tell me what I’m missing out on.