Bioshock Infinite: Tearing It Apart

BioshockInfiniteartfeat

Hello! Everyone and their mother seems to have one topic on their minds at the moment, and that is Bioshock Infinite. Not only is it a fine shooter, it also managed to put a brave, deep story at the forefront, ahead of all the kerblammo, crow flinging action. A story which, while it may seem convoluted and full of holes, adheres to the set of rules it lays out within itself, with little in narrative retconning that so many other pieces fall afoul of (Lost springs to mind right now.) Mostly, I just really want to talk about it.

Oh, I should probably mention that this is the first and only warning you’ll get for a MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!!!

Darth Vader is Luke’s father. And now for Bioshock Infinite.

First off I want to address the Luteces. Despite the reasonable amount of Voxophones I collected, it wasn’t until the very end I actually picked up they were the same person, just with a differing chromosome, depending on which universe they appeared in, Rosalind being the “Comstock universe” Lutece, and Robert the “Booker universe” Lutece. In fact, the whole narrative exists off of their back/s. The story goes that Rosalind was measuring a particle in her universe, while Robert measured the same particle in his universe. This allowed them to communicate between their respective universes. After their dealings with Comstock, he had Fink sabotage the Lutece’s tear generator, aiming to kill them. Instead he freed them, allowing them to travel between universes at will. This allowed them to aid all the Bookers across the universes in taking apart their various Comstocks.

Bioshock Infinite Lutece'sThe fact that they were able to manipulate the same particle in differing universes at the same time, is the first point that largely proves all of these infinite universes move along at the same time, i.e. three PM in one universe is three PM in every other universe. The Lutece field is then used by Comstock to keep Columbia afloat. In fact, you have to wonder what Robert Lutece would do with the inevitable same discovery if the Comstock universe did not exist, of course, this kind of pondering is largely pointless, given that in order for the DeWitt universe to exist, the Comstock universe must exist.

In fact, the Lutece “siblings” are almost the poster child (children?) for the game’s overriding theory, which is almost close to the third law of motion, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every universe, the probability of something is 50/50. The Lutece child is a boy or a girl, Booker takes baptism or not and so on. However, there are constants (which will be a familiar concept to any viewers of Lost), things in every universe that rarely change. For the Luteces this is the coin toss. Their board shows 110 heads calls to 22 tails calls, meaning they have already asked 122 Bookers to call it, leading us to believe that since your call comes up heads (regardless of which option you pick), they are only interested in universes where the heads side is shown. Again with the option of the bird or the cage badge, while you as a player are shown free will, it doesn’t have any particular outcome on gameplay.

Bioshock Infinite rapture 2

Now, let’s focus on the great big underwater elephant in the room. Rapture. I doubt I was the only person out there who nearly lost their mind when the flash died down and there we were, back in the place where this all began, so to speak. A lot has been made of the return to Rapture, and while as a nod the past games it was impressive, it isn’t important in and of itself, if only to further the story and reinforce a few smaller concepts. First off, it seems to be the quickest way to eliminate Songbird, designed to rule up in the sky, the water pressure is the quickest way to kill him outright. However, there is a line in Infinite, delivered by Elizabeth, that makes you think about Bioshock‘s story. “There is always a lighthouse, always a man, always a city.” Across the infinite universes, those three things always stay the same. Which at its most basic is the plot to Bioshock. However, scratch a little beneath the surface, and the parallels run much deeper. The character you play as and the bad guy are both connected (Bioshock‘s Jack is a clone type thing of Andrew Ryan, Booker and Comstock are the same guy), there is a girl who is protected by a giant metal guardian that is an important part of your character (Big Daddy and Little Sister, Songbird and Elizabeth). In fact, the Little Sisters and Elizabeth are dressed so similarly that it cannot be mere coincidence. The story of Infinite goes so far to allude to the fact that the Vigours and Songbird are based on designs taken from a tear that looked into Rapture, much in the same way that the modern music in-game was explained to be.

Another bone of contention is the poster on the wall, showing the bathyspheres in Rapture as locked down, only available for use by Andrew Ryan (and his sort of clone Jack). Yet Booker uses a bathysphere on his visit to Rapture. This doesn’t instantly mean he is part of the Ryan dynasty. Mostly it is probably as part of his role as Booker DeWitt, most important man in the universe (TM). It’s a symbolic thing, showing that the Rapture storyline is a parallel to the Columbia storyline, and unless DLC sheds some light on the connection, it was probably just a quick way to introduce the idea of infinite universes using an already existing idea. Another point, is that at a specific point in Bioshock (Fitzpatrick on the exploding piano) there is a sound in the background, that is the sound of the Songbird dying in Infinite. However, the only video where the sound is really clear enough to distinguish is a video uploaded by IGN (and linked to by the easter egg/reference page of their own Infinite wiki) in August 2012. Given that IGN got a whole bunch of exclusives on Infinite (including a review about a week before the rest of the internet) is it really hard to believe that there could be some kind of subterfuge at work? Like why upload what seems like such a random segment of gameplay? Unless someone can source a video from before that one with the same noise clearly visible, then I’ll take it to be a thing. Until then it’s a viral attempt of Mogren proportions.

Bioshock Infinite ending

And finally. Paradox. Bioshock Infinite deals with both time and dimensional travel, yet manages to avoid any paradoxical storytelling at all. And it does this through the metaphor of ‘smother the baby in the crib’. Or ‘drown the man in the pond’, it’s all semantics really. No matter what Booker does in whatever universes he crosses into, so long as he gets drowned at that point, before the choice is made to baptise or walk away, then neither a Comstock or a Booker universe can exist, thus meaning the events of Infinite are rendered moot. Of course this leads into the idea of does anything we do in any video game really matter? But that’s a fatalist deconstruction of our hobby which should probably be done by someone with a degree in social studies, or a severe hatred for video games. Anyway, Anna cannot be born, she cannot become Elizabeth, Columbia will never exist. The only really open question to this is what becomes of the Lutece siblings? See also, the epilogue. A cyclical continuation of events (there must always be a Booker and Comstock), or has Booker finally been given a second chance? Again, this is why story based DLC exists, to fill in these little niggling plot points. Hopefully.

Oh, before I forget. Brief mention to the respawn screen of going through the door to Booker’s office. Some people say it’s him trying to cobble his memories back together, some say it’s another Booker in another universe trying again. I personally subscribe to the alternate Booker theory, I like the idea that you play as a completely different yet exactly the same person. It adds something interesting to the game, almost making you not want to die, carry on as one Booker entirely. It almost seems similar to the Zelda timeline, wherein a whole set of games and subplot exists depending on whether Link manages to survive Ocarina of Time or not. In fact challenge mode time! Play through Infinite with no deaths. If you die, start again from the beginning. Feel hate for your fellow man when completed. See also, the amount of discourse dedicated to whether the game needed to be a shooter/how good the basic combat is. Answers, yes the game needed to be a shooter. Between Wounded Knee and the Pinkertons, Booker has lived a violent life thus far, and so violence is par for the course. As for the actual quality, it’s perfectly acceptable. It does what it needs to do. All the people worrying about getting by turrets from nowhere and guys from across the map probably aren’t going to encounters prepared. Warp cover in where available, if not then a turret or mosquito. And max one gun as quickly as possible. Better yet, stop whining about it. Why do we always have to call out a negative?

So. Final thought time. Ken Levine is a genius. Bioshock Infinite will be talked about for a long time to come yet. If there is another Bioshock game, will it tie in with the idea of an infinite amount of universes? Will the whiners mean the next Bioshock is a tablet point and click game? What do you think? Did you draw your own conclusions on the story, or did you get largely the same impression as I did? Want to disparage my ability to write and my family? Just pop it all in the comments down there. You know you want to.

 

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