With the impending release of The BioShock Collection, we should consider the future of the franchise beyond the remakes.
During the promotion of Burial at Sea: Episode 2, the DLC for BioShock Infinite, Levine revealed that Infinite would be the last game of the BioShock trilogy as he was leaving the series behind to work on new projects. The intellectual property was left in the hands of 2K Games to continue the series with another developer.
After all, BioShock is one of the biggest franchises in publisher 2K Games’ stable so it makes sense that they will not be letting it go any time soon. In fact, all signs currently seem to lead to an active development in the works for the series. The big question is – what will BioShock be without the main Creative Director and Co-Founder Ken Levine?
After Levine’s departure, 2K Games confirmed that the BioShock series will continue with 2K Marin in control. 2K Marin were responsible for the PS3 edition of the original BioShock and are familiar with the series having contributed to the development of both BioShock 2 and Infinite.
If there is any hope for the next installment working out it comes from the fact that Levine had nothing to do with the best of the three BioShock games. Strip away the grime and the convoluted time travel plot holes and you get BioShock 2, the story of Rapture from a different perspective – that of your most dangerous foe the Big Daddy. A complete tonal shift is apparent as the main character, Subject Delta, explores the darker corners of Rapture.
Here the villain’s philosophy is pure collectivism, mirroring the first game’s objectivism and altruistic selflessness. Here we explore a story of what happens next, where as the original focused on what had happened before (just as BioShock Infinite does). BioShock 2 continues the story of Rapture and it’s final legacy to the world.
Bioshock 2 is ultimately the stronger game due to the story, as many of the mechanics and scenery has remained the same the elements in the writing shine through. BioShock is the story of a city turned insane, BioShock 2 is the story of it’s people and the relationships held inside the chaos. It’s a stronger story that doesn’t rely on one twist to shock the player, it’s a slow burn compared the original which held the power of one small party popper.
Most people are aware that Bioshock originated as a spiritual successor to the System Shock series, which was only influenced by Ken Levine in the sequel. Just how much System Shock helped Ken Levine shape the Bioshock that we know and love often gets overlooked. This aspect of the game’s development is set to be highlighted by The Bioshock Collection in the form of an unlockable documentary series called ‘Imagining BioShock’. As players collect Golden Reels throughout Rapture, they’ll be able to see some of the early builds and concepts of the game in a series of clips outlining just how BioShock came to be. The footage here has never been seen before and should shed some light just how BioShock evolved from their previous title System Shock for diehard fans. If only we had some equivalent insight into BioShock Infinite’s own troubled development.
With not one but two new System Shock games in development, it’ll be interesting to see if the series’ development history cycles back on itself. Will the absence of Ken Levine’s influence lead to a lack of direction for the series or will it allow it to flourish and try new things? BioShock 2 shows us that there can be Rapture without Levine. Either way, it’ll certainly be an interesting process to watch unfold.
Bioshock: The Collection launches on 15th September 2016 which includes all three Bioshock titles: Bioshock, Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite. The Collection also includes all the downloadable content.