I finished Bioshock (Xbox 360 version) last night. The game came out in August of 2007 and was a big hit. You’ve probably already played it.
The game is amazing and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who, like me, missed it when it first hit the scene. It’s a highbrow first-person-shooter with a heaping helping of horror trappings. Dead bodies everywhere and weirdos wearing bunny masks. Good stuff.
Since it was such a popular game, I couldn’t help but hear other people talking about it before I got my own chance to play it. One of the things I kept hearing was that the ending portion of the game was a big disappointment, both in terms of the final boss battle and the cinematic ending scene.
I was satsified by the endgame. There was a boss fight, complete with a little boss fight gimmick, and the ending cinematic was touching (I got the “good guy” ending). The ending was somewhat abrupt, but I don’t think it was bad in any way. The only thing I would have changed would be to maybe let the player walk around the game world after defeating the final boss instead of cutting directly to a cinematic ending scene.
Maybe this is just me, but I’ve often resented the final bosses that get crammed into some first-person-shooters. I don’t need some silly room-sized monster like that ridiculous crap at the end of Doom 2. I want something that fits with the rest of the game, that doesn’t feel like a gameplay non sequitur. Bioshock‘s final boss was ok by me.
GameSpot has a good interview with Bioshock developer Ken Levine that makes for a good read after finishing the game.
GS: Considering that the plot inhabits the gray areas of morality and you’ve included general condemnation of taking things to extremes, why give the player two endings that are on ridiculously opposite ends of the spectrum?
KL: I think that’s a fair question and honestly, it was never my intention to do two endings for the game. It sort of came very late and it was something that was requested by somebody up the food chain from me. It was a reasonable request because I think people want to just have a sense of the different consequences from doing that path.
But you notice, whenever I do my interviews about the game, I never want to talk about the good and the evil choice. When we were developing the game, originally the icons about harvest and save had a neat little angel and a little devil, and I cut that out because I didn’t want that to be clear to the player when he did it in the sequence where Atlas and Tenenbaum are telling the player very different but equally compelling things. And it wasn’t clear what the morally right thing to do was.
I wanted to leave it more ambiguous. But I’m not sure if that would have been the right thing. At the end of the day, there are [aspects of games] that you collaborate on and agree upon.
One of the reasons I was opposed to multiple endings is I never want to do things that have multiple digital outcomes, versus analog outcomes. I want to do it like the weapons system in the combat in BioShock. There are a million different things you can do in every combat; you can play it a million different ways. Looking into the future for the franchise, that’s something I want to [figure out], that by the time you get to the ending of that choice path, you have a sense of your impact on the world through lots of little permutations rather than like a giant ending piece, if you follow my meaning.
And I think we did a reasonably good job with [the endings], but there are just two of them. And this is not a game about A and B. This is a game about one through 1 million, and all those permutations of choice. And as I think about the future of the franchise, that’s where I want to take that.