Having played and loved Bioshock Infinite already but not either of the first two games in the Bioshock series, I was very excited to play the first game in the series. I love the narrative and character building present in Infinite, and the overall experience of playing the game was one of my favorite experiences… Continue reading Blast From the Past
Having played and loved Bioshock Infinite already but not either of the first two games in the Bioshock series, I was very excited to play the first game in the series. I love the narrative and character building present in Infinite, and the overall experience of playing the game was one of my favorite experiences with digital art that I’ve ever had. I’ve heard and seen so much about the original Bioshock game that I knew it would be good. Given this and my experience with Infinite I was pretty excited to play Bioshock. My excitement proved valid, with the engaging narrative, smooth gameplay and great graphics all creating a very enjoyable gameplay experience. I find it very interesting that Bioshock doesn’t really masquerade itself as some “art game” and is definitely geared toward a variety of audiences, especially some more hardcore gamers. I find that a lot of games now seem to try to achieve an artistic feel by including some sort of meaningful narrative and de-emphasizing every other aspect of the gameplay or at least making it feel more casual. Bioshock doesn’t really seem to do this, with the enjoyable gameplay style complementing the worldbuilding and narrative nicely. I find the graphic and setting contrast with Infinite very interesting, with very dark and dirty surroundings and characters fighting each other in the darkly colored abandoned underwater city of Rapture compared to the almost angelic coloring and character design present in much of Infinite. The religious references in Infinite contrast heavily and poignantly with the frequent drug references in the narrative and gameplay mechanics of Bioshock, bringing up some very interesting thematic concepts. I really like how creepy the first Bioshock feels, with the sound design and soundtrack creating an amazing sense of space and the sense that there’s always something out to get you just around the corner.
Bioshock’s underwater city of Rapture is an environment that physically embodies broken dreams. Built by the visionary Andrew Ryan, the city was meant to represent the high-minded ideals of creative and scientific freedom, along with the optimism of 1950’s America. The freedom that Rapture offered ultimately lead to its downfall, however. The invention of Plasmids and Adam … Continue reading Game Log #3 (Bioshock) – The Dissonant, Diegetic Soundtrack →
Bioshock’s underwater city of Rapture is an environment that physically embodies broken dreams. Built by the visionary Andrew Ryan, the city was meant to represent the high-minded ideals of creative and scientific freedom, along with the optimism of 1950’s America. The freedom that Rapture offered ultimately lead to its downfall, however. The invention of Plasmids and Adam gave citizens new, powerful abilities, but ended up driving the populace into a state madness and obsession. The once-pristine, rusted and flooded environments of Rapture stand as a testament to what Rapture once was and how the errors of man caused everything to quickly go awry.
In Dr. Lerner’s Film Music course, I learned a great deal about how music is used to compliment film, and I find that many parallels can be drawn between video game and film soundtracks. In the case of Bioshock, dissonant, diegetic music can regularly be found playing from phonographs and radios within the game’s world. I am drawn to one particular memory from my first time playing Bioshock, when I found myself pinned between one of these radios and a horde of angry splicers. As Bobby Darin’s rendition of “Beyond the Sea” played in the background, I desperately used the last shells in my shotgun to dispatch my attackers that dashed at me from the dark. When the cacophony of my firing had died down and the splicers lay dead, I finally could take a deep breath. All the while, “Beyond the Sea,” kept playing softly.
Not only did the diegetic soundtrack serve to draw me into the world, but it served to highlight the broken dreams of Rapture just as the broken physical environment does. “Beyond the Sea” embodies late-40s-early 50s American optimism, with its melody and lyrics conveying a sense of cheerfulness and comfort. The splicers that attacked me, on the other hand, were a reflection of Raptures failures and the monster the city had become. The music served, therefore, as a dissonant soundtrack (or a soundtrack that does not match the actions on screen). Dissonant soundtracks are a common filmic technic, and they often emphasize particular themes or emotions by choosing music that purposely counters what is expected in a scene. Like the once-shining statues of Rapture, the diegetic music represents what could have been. Rapture was founded on optimism and creation, and the contrast between the music and reality confirm this. Ultimately, Rapture’s decaying physical environment and the game’s music work together to solidify that Rapture is a land of tattered dreams and corrupted potential.