This Is Why Reviewers Don't Get Invited To (Non-Industry) Parties

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So, I recently started a slightly heated discussion. What was it about? Bioshock Infinite, and how I've gotten rather jaded in just two short years of editorial and reviewing work. The argument started when I stated that, basically, I wasn't looking forward to Bioshock Infinite. Not to go into details, but effectively, my opposing number's opinion is that the game was being taken in a new direction, and my position was that no, it's not a new direction, even for the series. Obviously, the argument is somewhat hurt on both sides by the lack of any solid news coming from Irrational for a while now. But the thing is, neither of us are going to budge on this, while we both respect the other's right to an opinion.

Why do we both think we're right? Because we are. Superficially, Bioshock is going to a whole new place with Infinity, it's going to deal with new themes, have new mechanics, blah-de-dee-blah-dee-blah! Problem is, it's all on the surface to my dark, jaded mind.

Now, even allowing for the fact that the series has recently come back to the original devs (who clearly knew their shit when they made Bioshock, and many other great games associated with their various members), the near identicalities, if you will forgive the Bushism, are higher than the actual "new things".

It's going to be set in a "city forgotten by the rest of mankind", effectively. I've said it before (when the franchise plans were first spelled out a long while back), and I'll say it again... I'm really tired of the formula. The main character will have Partial Plot Amnesia (not the almost total cipher of the first game, but close enough), there will be philosophising through the medium of games that Social Structure/Concept X and High Technology/F*&!ing Magic do not work well together (although the Tech/FM will only be a catalyst), and, from what we were told, there will be escort missions. This is from the JadedJayCam. From the other (equally valid) point of view, they will be discussing something *different* to the other two games. The escort might actually be done well, ala Ico. The partial amnesia, as always, has an important storytelling function. And the different environment will be a change of pace.

Yet, despite knowing full well that the opposing viewpoint is just as valid as mine, simply being a "Half-full/Half-empty" dichotomy, I'm still not looking forward to Bioshock Infinite. I wasn't really looking forward to Prototype 2, and from what I hear, I was right. I'm looking at upcoming releases, and mostly sighing... Sequel, sequel, reboot, sequel, different label... Look, what I'm saying is...

...Becoming jaded is a very real risk for a game reviewer, and an editor. If you ever try to get into this in a paying capacity (extremely hard, with the current conditions), you're going to face this risk. So try and remind yourself of the good things, and keep your balance as best you can.

To continue this example: Irrational made System Shock 2. It wasn't *as* groundbreaking as many people thought it was at the time, but by god, it was still a good game, and, to an extent, it *still is*. Ken Levine really knows his story... He was credited as a master storyteller, and with good reason. And Irrational made Freedom Force, which was brilliantly written cheese on just the right scale they were aiming at. They've got a pedigree, and I shall fight my jaded nature as best I can.

I'm still not looking forward to Bioshock Infinite at the moment... but maybe closer to the time, I will be.

 

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