If you’ve been following Bioshock 2 at all you have probably seen the pics of the new Game Informer cover. Following the same logic that created Poochie the Dog (the animal hierarchy goes mouse, cat, dog…), the BS team has created the Big Sister. I could speculate about how creatively bankrupt the design seems but really it’s the least of the problems of Bioshock 2.
As far as I can tell, Bioshock 2 is an admission that games are not art, or at least that Bioshock was not art. Despite the short and underwhelming ending, the setting, atmosphere, plot twists and most importantly, ideology of Bioshock made it an amazing game. Announcing a sequel to a completed story arc indicates that the team is somewhat unaware of why their game was good (or that their publisher gave them clear orders).
Bioshock was more than a game, it was a statement (perhaps when enough games reach similar heights it will no longer be necessary to qualify a great game as being more than a game). It used interactivity to entertain but also immerse us in an idea. Will Bioshock 2 offer more critique of objectivism? What more can be said while remaining accessible and immediately compelling in a video game? How can a return to Rapture not touch on philosophy without just ignoring lofty thought altogether?
Fine, I am being over dramatic and nothing about Bioshock 2 can change what’s printed on the original game’s disc, just as the wildly unpopular American History X2, which featured an all female cast, did nothing to change how good the original film is. Still, this is an insight into the minds of developers and publishers. What they create and why it works is significantly less relevant than how many copies it sells. They think the best way to follow up a game that captures our imagination is to improve the mechanics and add more features and weapons. Thanks god some people have integrity and we won’t have to suffer through a sequel to Ico, with two new swords, new acrobatic moves and a skateboard!
And so every other year for the next decade we will get games with the words Bioshock written on the cover. I suppose it’s possible that BS2 is a devastating critique or material excess, communal society, religious irrationality or some other concept, I am just more than extremely skeptical. Character designs like Big Sister don’t help.