Category: Opinion


Top Tuesday Number 2: Literature I Love

Nerds still love books, right? As a triumphant return to Intellectual Badasses after a ten day absence, I’ve decide to list a few of my favorite pieces of literature. I’m purposely keeping this list pretty broad in order to cover all pieces of literature that I’ve, at one point, struggled to put down. Here we go:

1. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald’s first published novel was released in 1920. The plot focuses on Amory Blaine, a bold rambunctious Princeton University youth. TSoP explores the effects of greed and status on youth and love.

2. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin: This short story is well worth the 15-20min endeavor. Le Guin provides a dazzling, haunting spectacle of a city that maintains one of the darkest secrets in short story literature. The plot draws a stunning perpendicular existence between one sole sufferer who, by means of torture, warrants life and happiness for the citizens of the vivacious town of Omelas.

3. The Grand Inquisitor by Fyodor Dostoevsky: At a little over 100 pages, this Russian masterpiece highlights Catholicism and some of its massive contradictions, while providing a basis for both belief and disbelief.

4. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: Published in July of 1855, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was revised over the period of eight different publications. Whitman continued to perfect this work until his death in Mach of 1892.

5. Trimalchio by F. Scott Fitzgerald: The first, complete version of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Trimalchio contains several distinct characteristics from it’s future self (Gatsby) for instance, Nick Carraway’s narrative is altered, characterization is altered, and the iconic reveal of Jay Gatsby is magnificently adjusted. I brilliant read for any passionate Gatsby fanatic.

6. The Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski: Bukowski writes from the perspective Henry Chinaski, his not-so-alter ego. The stories speak of Bukowski’s morbid discontentment with the world state and his own personal issues. In classic fashion, Bukowski manages to make weighty complaints extraordinarily poetic.

Bioshock Infinite Ken Levine Theory

*SPOILERS* STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED BIOSHOCK INFINITE, PLEASE! DON’T RUIN THIS MASTERPIECE FOR YOURSELF!

Now that that’s taken care of, I’d like to chat about my opinion concerning Bioshock Infinite’s overall theme. First, let me say that Ken Levine has AGAIN produced one of the most jaw-dropping final moments in video-game history. At first, I thought to myself, “This is bull. Another overly complicated, convoluted Inception-esque crapfest.” Then, I stepped back. I researched the entirety of the storyline, which can be hard to follow on the first completion. Knowing the ending and how the Bioshock Infinite universe(s) function, I was able to replay and discover several subtle clues throughout the gameplay starting immediately from the iconic lighthouse opening segment. Now, I’m not writing this article to debate Bioshock Infinite semantics or plot-holes, of which there are a few. Instead, I’m going to theorize the motif of Bioshock Infinite and what the game’s overarching plot could say about Ken Levine’s latest creation.

A beautiful, destructive parallel existence driven by chance (Image by: tumblr.com)

A beautiful, destructive parallel existence driven by chance
(Image by: tumblr.com)

The Bioshock Universe will always be Ken Levine’s crowning achievement. Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite are two of gaming’s most impeccable masterpieces. That being said, I am left with the topic of Bioshock 2. Ken Levine chose to forfeit his crowning achievement, Bioshock, to 2K Marin for a less-than-stellar sequel. Bioshock 2’s storyline didn’t hit on all cylinders and the gameplay felt like a chore. The atmosphere created by Andrew Ryan grew stale and innovation was lacking. Granted, playing as a Big Daddy was awesome, but it got old quickly. I can’t help but wonder if Ken Levine perhaps felt a little less than satisfied with his decision to profit from a game that sacrificed some of the ideals and tenets that the original Bioshock so eloquently set in motion. With a fall from grace like that, Ken Levine must have felt somewhat ashamed. In today’s world, sequels are pumped to quench audience fever and to capitalize on the opportunities of immense gross income. I can’t fault Levine for doing this with his Bioshock franchise and, for all I know, perhaps these funds were used to help boost production for Bioshock Infinite. If that is the case, then well on you sir because the latest installment in the Bioshock Universe is one of epic proportions.

I have to say, Infinite’s story struck me as what could be Ken Levine’s message to the gaming world. My theory centers on the idea that Bioshock Infinite is Levine’s ode to fans of the original Bioshock who were gravely disappointed with his second installment, Bioshock 2. Here’s how it goes:

In the game, Booker DeWitt is both himself, the ex-Pinkerton agent, and Zachary Comstock, the self-imposed tyrant of Columbia. This is possible through the game’s “tear” concept. Both Booker and Zachary exist as one, yet two, in the same universe due to the Lutece Twins’ creation of  a tear which allows Booker to enter a world in which Comstock is the ruler of Columbia. You discover that Comstock had been rendered sterile by Booker’s decision to forfeit Elizabeth, Booker’s daughter, in order to “wipe away the debt”. What that debt was exactly? I’m not entirely sure the game ever touches upon that. The way I see it, Booker and Comstock represent different aspects of Levine himself. Comstock portrays the greedy mind behind the creation of Bioshock 2, while Booker represents Levine’s attempt to redeem his mistake through the creation of Bioshock Infinite.

Perhaps this is how Ken Levine feels after disappointing a loyal fan base (Image by: clippingerror.com)

Perhaps this is how Ken Levine feels after disappointing a loyal fan base
(Image by: clippingerror.com)

Elizabeth is Levine’s baby, the Bioshock franchise. His forfeiture of the title to 2K Marin could be seen as Booker’s forfeiture of his daughter to the Lutece Twins for some unknown debt. Bioshock Infinite’s borderline obsession with incessant references to the ceaseless multiverse is a representation of Levine’s struggle to create something outside of the Bioshock Universe. It is, to say, that everything Levine will create for the rest of his career will be measured by the success and prestige of his original creation, Bioshock. To me, this presents a sad paradox for gamers. As a genuine Bioshock enthusiast who has purchased each special edition Bioshock set, it pains me to think of Levine moving away from the Bioshock Universe which he has so perfectly crafted. However, a return to the franchise seems either unavoidable or impossible. Either Levine accepts the fate lectured through Elizabeth, that all universes are connected, or he breaks from that belief and creates a different, unique title from his seemingly endless imagination. Perhaps that is the symbolism behind Booker’s drowning at the hands of his daughter, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth hauntingly stares through the river ripples (Image by: gameinformer.com)

Elizabeth hauntingly stares through the river ripples
(Image by: gameinformer.com)

Perhaps Levine feels suffocated by the immense pressure to create another title of the same caliber as Bioshock or Bioshock Infinite. His own masterpiece has been his downfall in that his work must now always live up to a heretofore unreachable perfection in the FPS genre. Will we see another installment in the Bioshock franchise or is this Ken Levine’s ode to the Bioshock Universe? Would you rather him work on another Bioshock title or leave this all-encompassing conclusion as is? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dennis Dyack, creator of Eternity Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, announced last year that he would be kickstarting a project called “Shadow of the Eternals“. Since its initial kickstarter, Shadow of the Eternals has launched two more kickstarters in hopes of reaching its target funs. The original kickstart asked for $1.5 million. Since then, its latest kickstart has plummeted to half of its original asking price, $750,000. The lack of enthusiasm shown on behalf of Silicon Knights’ Eternal Darkness fans isn’t too shocking.

A return to a dark, haunting sanity-tester would be refreshing for gamers everywhere (Image by: cubed3.com)

A return to a dark, haunting sanity-tester would be refreshing for gamers everywhere
(Image by: cubed3.com)

  1. The term “spiritual successor” is a term gamers have grown to mistrust. Many games have been developed in the vein of another games image and resulted in garbage titles that were almost unplayable.
  2. Eternal Darkness is a game of its own breed. Yes the title was extraordinarily unique and boldly innovative, but seeing features like the sanity system for a second time will not garner the same appeal.
  3. THE GRAPHICS. Dennis Dyack and his team of Eternal Darkness enthusiasts chose to broadcast their game to the world using subpar graphical specs AT BEST. The trailer they showed, which can be viewed below, was nothing more than a graphically adept Gamecube excursion. I remember watching the reveal trailer with my brother, who at 27 years old still chats of Eternal Darkness’ excellence, and laughing at the bumbling beast glowing red with embarrassment onscreen.
  4. Honestly, this is just a peeve. I understand that reveal trailers don’t always explain the plot or storyline of the game, but if graphics weren’t your main concern storyline certainly should have been. In a game like this, those are the two modus operandi. You either work to make graphics astounding or you put your mind to the grindstone and create a memorable story. I have no doubt that Dyack and his team have developed an amazing plot for Shadow of the Eternals, but the reveal trailer did not even begin to scratch the surface.
  5. Dennis Dyack’s plan to release this game episodically is a risky, innovative method of sales. However, I think his mindset is completely off on this one. To me, something about episodic release screams “bush-league”. 

After all of this nay-saying and verbal beating, I have to speak in the memory of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. For as often as spiritual successors fail, I believe this one will work. If you watch any footage of Dennis Dyack commenting on Shadow of the Eternals, you will witness his belief and passion for the project. With a game like ED:SR as its nexus for inspiration, Precursor Games’ Shadow of the Eternals should be one hell of a game. I’ve donated to the kickstarter campaign and I think you should too. Nintendo is starving for more innovative, adult games. If this title can produce a worthy stream of success, perhaps Nintendo will realize that their fanboys of old have grown up and now crave bigger and better things.

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