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Found 14 results

  1. BioShock Infinite, the swan song of Ken Levine's now defunct Irrational Games studio, released in 2013 to critical and commercial success. Over the years it has been subject to countless think pieces and theory articles diving into its esoteric world and thick layers of semiotics. It also found itself in something like a controversy surrounding criticism of its use of graphic violence. Despite it all, many point to it as a milestone in game design and praise the depth of its narrative. Now that it has been half a decade since its release, does BioShock Infinite stand as one of the best games of all-time? Is it the best BioShock of the series? Listen in to find out! Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Dragon Warrior VII 'Deeper in the Heart' by Bluelighter, Arvangath, Chris ~ Amaterasu, and Katamari (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03762) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. BioShock Infinite, the swan song of Ken Levine's now defunct Irrational Games studio, released in 2013 to critical and commercial success. Over the years it has been subject to countless think pieces and theory articles diving into its esoteric world and thick layers of semiotics. It also found itself in something like a controversy surrounding criticism of its use of graphic violence. Despite it all, many point to it as a milestone in game design and praise the depth of its narrative. Now that it has been half a decade since its release, does BioShock Infinite stand as one of the best games of all-time? Is it the best BioShock of the series? Listen in to find out! Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Dragon Warrior VII 'Deeper in the Heart' by Bluelighter, Arvangath, Chris ~ Amaterasu, and Katamari (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03762) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Irrational Games, the developer behind the BioShock series, made a colossal change three years ago when it laid off most of its employees and became a small studio. Since then, Ken Levine and his team have been quietly working on... something. No one is quite sure what they've been up to in their Westwood, Massachusetts offices, but they've been hinting at a quieter, more thoughtful story-oriented game. Their mission, that quest for a more personal game, didn't quite seem to fit with a studio name like Irrational Games. To bring their name more in line with their goals, the studio's new name is Ghost Story Games. The studio describes their new studio in a way that acknowledges their past pedigree, but looks forward to something new and exciting: Ghost Story was founded by twelve former Irrational Games developers and our mission is simple: to create immersive, story-driven games for people who love games that ask something of them. While we believe our new games will have strong appeal to fans of BioShock, our new focus allows us to craft experiences where the gameplay is as challenging as the stories. The Irrational Games Twitter has become the Ghost Story Twitter and while the Irrational Games website remains up, the team has moved their focus to a new website under their Ghost Story Games moniker. Best of luck to Levine and his team as they officially bring to a close one of the most successful periods in game development history and move into a clear future yet to be written. View full article
  4. Jack Gardner

    Irrational Games Is Now Ghost Story Games

    Irrational Games, the developer behind the BioShock series, made a colossal change three years ago when it laid off most of its employees and became a small studio. Since then, Ken Levine and his team have been quietly working on... something. No one is quite sure what they've been up to in their Westwood, Massachusetts offices, but they've been hinting at a quieter, more thoughtful story-oriented game. Their mission, that quest for a more personal game, didn't quite seem to fit with a studio name like Irrational Games. To bring their name more in line with their goals, the studio's new name is Ghost Story Games. The studio describes their new studio in a way that acknowledges their past pedigree, but looks forward to something new and exciting: Ghost Story was founded by twelve former Irrational Games developers and our mission is simple: to create immersive, story-driven games for people who love games that ask something of them. While we believe our new games will have strong appeal to fans of BioShock, our new focus allows us to craft experiences where the gameplay is as challenging as the stories. The Irrational Games Twitter has become the Ghost Story Twitter and while the Irrational Games website remains up, the team has moved their focus to a new website under their Ghost Story Games moniker. Best of luck to Levine and his team as they officially bring to a close one of the most successful periods in game development history and move into a clear future yet to be written.
  5. There is always a man. There is always a city. There is always a lighthouse. There is always a remaster. A new launch trailer for BioShock: The Collection has popped up on the internet to convince those who haven't played the series to finally grit their teeth and take a dive into the briny depths of Rapture and the soaring heights of Columbia. The remastered bundle of three games, BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite, can now be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC to experience one of the finest FPS series to date with its complete array of single-player DLC and an overhaul in the graphics department. BioShock: The Collection also includes a commentary for the original BioShock that can be accessed via golden reels scattered throughout the underwater city of Rapture. Players who find all the reels will be able to listen to two hours of commentary from creative director Kevin Levine and animation lead Shawn Robertson. The documentary has been titled "Imagining BioShock." “We’re immensely proud of the BioShock series, and we’ve taken great care in bringing these beloved games to the current generation of consoles,” stated Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K, on the remastered bundle. “Whether you’ve experienced these critically acclaimed classics before or are new to the series, there’s never been a better time to play and immerse yourself in the rich worlds of Rapture and Columbia.” Note that PC players who already own BioShock, BioShock 2, and/or Minerva's Den can upgrade to the remastered versions for free after their release today. If you own any of those on Steam, the remaster should appear in your library as a download next to the original. If you don't own those games on Steam, things get a bit tricky. The first BioShock released almost a decade ago at a time when there were no CD keys, so players who want their free upgrades from a physical copies will need to submit proof of purchase and their Steam account information to 2K Support. You can learn more about this process over on the handy guide 2K has put together.
  6. There is always a man. There is always a city. There is always a lighthouse. There is always a remaster. A new launch trailer for BioShock: The Collection has popped up on the internet to convince those who haven't played the series to finally grit their teeth and take a dive into the briny depths of Rapture and the soaring heights of Columbia. The remastered bundle of three games, BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite, can now be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC to experience one of the finest FPS series to date with its complete array of single-player DLC and an overhaul in the graphics department. BioShock: The Collection also includes a commentary for the original BioShock that can be accessed via golden reels scattered throughout the underwater city of Rapture. Players who find all the reels will be able to listen to two hours of commentary from creative director Kevin Levine and animation lead Shawn Robertson. The documentary has been titled "Imagining BioShock." “We’re immensely proud of the BioShock series, and we’ve taken great care in bringing these beloved games to the current generation of consoles,” stated Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K, on the remastered bundle. “Whether you’ve experienced these critically acclaimed classics before or are new to the series, there’s never been a better time to play and immerse yourself in the rich worlds of Rapture and Columbia.” Note that PC players who already own BioShock, BioShock 2, and/or Minerva's Den can upgrade to the remastered versions for free after their release today. If you own any of those on Steam, the remaster should appear in your library as a download next to the original. If you don't own those games on Steam, things get a bit tricky. The first BioShock released almost a decade ago at a time when there were no CD keys, so players who want their free upgrades from a physical copies will need to submit proof of purchase and their Steam account information to 2K Support. You can learn more about this process over on the handy guide 2K has put together. View full article
  7. Jack Gardner

    The Best Games Period - Episode 31 - BioShock

    When BioShock launched in 2007 for Xbox 360 and PC, it transported players to a world lost to time and some not-so-subtle Randian-inspired madness. Players navigated a city embroiled in self-obsessed insanity brimming with otherworldly powers and twisted human forms. One part horror, one part action, BioShock was one of the first hugely popular mainstream titles that people could point to and say, "This game? It's not only about mature action; it's about mature ideas, too!" Nine years later with a remaster on the horizon, is BioShock one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Super Smash Bros. Melee 'Hank Jankerson's Wild Ride' by LongBoxofChocolate (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03376) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  8. When BioShock launched in 2007 for Xbox 360 and PC, it transported players to a world lost to time and some not-so-subtle Randian-inspired madness. Players navigated a city embroiled in self-obsessed insanity brimming with otherworldly powers and twisted human forms. One part horror, one part action, BioShock was one of the first hugely popular mainstream titles that people could point to and say, "This game? It's not only about mature action; it's about mature ideas, too!" Nine years later with a remaster on the horizon, is BioShock one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Super Smash Bros. Melee 'Hank Jankerson's Wild Ride' by LongBoxofChocolate (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03376) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  9. After months of teasing, 2K confirmed today that a complete collection of remastered BioShock games will be making its way to retailers. BioShock came out almost a decade ago, so the update will significantly revamp one of the definitive series of the last generation. The collection includes all three BioShock titles, all single-player DLC, all scaled up to the current generation of technology. As Irrational Games has undergone a break from 2K and been radically restructured under series creator Ken Levine, 2K has partnered with Blind Squirrel Games, which has been involved in the creation of games like Borderlands 2, Sunset Overdrive, and BioShock: Infinite. The bundle includes a lot of goodies that may be of interest to BioShock fans that they might not get to see anywhere else. A never before seen video series called Director's Commentary: Imagining BioShock which features Ken Levine, creative director of BioShock and BioShock: Infinite, and Shawn Robertson, the animation lead on the same titles. In addition to the core games, DLC and exclusives that have been in other editions of BioShock releases will be included in the remasters. BioShock will include Museum of Orphaned Concepts, a digital museum of the different ideas the team at Irrational altered or scrapped as they worked on the original title - unique to the double pack release of BioShock and BioShock 2, and Challenge Rooms, a series of enemy encounters and puzzles with achievement rewards. BioShock 2 will not be including its multiplayer mode or DLC, but it will come along with the Minerva's Den story DLC and the Protector's Trials, which places your in the suit of an Alpha Big Daddy prior to the events of BioShock 2. BioShock: Infinite comes with the excellent Burial at Sea story DLC packs, the Clash in the Clouds survival mode, and the Columbia's Finest Pack, which awards additional in-game resources and weapons. 2K noted in its reveal that the PC version of BioShock Infinite isn't being remastered "because it already meets current-gen console standards and runs smoothly on high visual settings." BioShock: The Collection will release on September 13 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
  10. After months of teasing, 2K confirmed today that a complete collection of remastered BioShock games will be making its way to retailers. BioShock came out almost a decade ago, so the update will significantly revamp one of the definitive series of the last generation. The collection includes all three BioShock titles, all single-player DLC, all scaled up to the current generation of technology. As Irrational Games has undergone a break from 2K and been radically restructured under series creator Ken Levine, 2K has partnered with Blind Squirrel Games, which has been involved in the creation of games like Borderlands 2, Sunset Overdrive, and BioShock: Infinite. The bundle includes a lot of goodies that may be of interest to BioShock fans that they might not get to see anywhere else. A never before seen video series called Director's Commentary: Imagining BioShock which features Ken Levine, creative director of BioShock and BioShock: Infinite, and Shawn Robertson, the animation lead on the same titles. In addition to the core games, DLC and exclusives that have been in other editions of BioShock releases will be included in the remasters. BioShock will include Museum of Orphaned Concepts, a digital museum of the different ideas the team at Irrational altered or scrapped as they worked on the original title - unique to the double pack release of BioShock and BioShock 2, and Challenge Rooms, a series of enemy encounters and puzzles with achievement rewards. BioShock 2 will not be including its multiplayer mode or DLC, but it will come along with the Minerva's Den story DLC and the Protector's Trials, which places your in the suit of an Alpha Big Daddy prior to the events of BioShock 2. BioShock: Infinite comes with the excellent Burial at Sea story DLC packs, the Clash in the Clouds survival mode, and the Columbia's Finest Pack, which awards additional in-game resources and weapons. 2K noted in its reveal that the PC version of BioShock Infinite isn't being remastered "because it already meets current-gen console standards and runs smoothly on high visual settings." BioShock: The Collection will release on September 13 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. View full article
  11. Jack Gardner

    More BioShock Movie Concept Art Surfaces

    The film adaptations of BioShock might both be dead in the water, but Gamespot managed to unearth some of the concept art from the cancelled Gore Verbinski project. There are ten images in total released by artist Kasra Farahani and can be viewed on his website. The art appears to show Rapture's power generators, fueled by Little Sisters. Big Daddies stalk the halls and fight marauding hostiles. Solitary figures absorb blue liquid from overhanging IV tubes. It all looks dour, gloomy, and wistfully beautiful. It is hard not to wonder what the finished film might have looked like. This isn't the first time that concept art has leaked from the cancelled BioShock films. After the initial $200 million budget was slashed to $80 million and Gore Verbinski left the project, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was brought on with a new vision. Ken Levine ultimately shut down production on Fresnadillo's version of BioShock, concept art of which can be found on the portfolio of Jim Martin.
  12. The film adaptations of BioShock might both be dead in the water, but Gamespot managed to unearth some of the concept art from the cancelled Gore Verbinski project. There are ten images in total released by artist Kasra Farahani and can be viewed on his website. The art appears to show Rapture's power generators, fueled by Little Sisters. Big Daddies stalk the halls and fight marauding hostiles. Solitary figures absorb blue liquid from overhanging IV tubes. It all looks dour, gloomy, and wistfully beautiful. It is hard not to wonder what the finished film might have looked like. This isn't the first time that concept art has leaked from the cancelled BioShock films. After the initial $200 million budget was slashed to $80 million and Gore Verbinski left the project, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was brought on with a new vision. Ken Levine ultimately shut down production on Fresnadillo's version of BioShock, concept art of which can be found on the portfolio of Jim Martin. View full article
  13. Jack Gardner

    The End of Irrational Games as We Know It

    Yesterday, Ken Levine, the head of Irrational Games, announced that following the release of the final DLC for BioShock Infinite he would be massively down-sizing his studio to focus on smaller, replayable, digital-only games. For those of you interested in Levine's goodbye letter, you can read it over on the Irrational website. For those of you wondering what happened, I'll try to break down the situation. Bear in mind that no one right now knows what went on behind closed doors between Ken Levine and publisher Take-Two Interactive and that some of this analysis will dip into speculative territory. Here are some of the things we do know: Irrational Games was the studio that created BioShock and BioShock Infinite, two of the most widely acclaimed titles of the previous console cycle. About 90% of Irrational will be out of a job when all is said and done, leaving Ken Levine and about fifteen other people with a place in the studio. Ken Levine wants to be a part of a smaller team with more creative freedom and not just be a BioShock IP machine. Finally, 2K now has the rights to the BioShock series. What initially struck me about this announcement wasn't excitement regarding Ken Levine's next project or that we can expect to see more games like BioShock 2. I just couldn't stop thinking about how huge Irrational Games was and how over 100 incredibly talented programmers, artists, writers, and scripters will now be looking for work and contemplating relocating their families because... well, we don't really know why. Taken on a surface level, it could seem like Ken Levine and his creative desire to return to a smaller studio might be the reason so many people are out of work or that Levine saw the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship with his closest development leads. However, I don't think that's the case at all. I don't know Levine, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he genuinely cares about his employees. In his farewell message, Levine mentions that he had been planning on striking out as an independent developer. After meeting with publisher Take-Two Interactive the company convinced Levine to stick with them along with the smaller team he desired. I find it likely that Take-Two Interactive saw this as a way of keeping their high-profile industry auteur while also drastically cutting costs. Maybe BioShock Infinite didn't make back quite as much money as the publisher would have liked, given the AAA budget and massive marketing campaigns. Perhaps the commercial failure of other projects like XCOM: Declassified put pressure on Take-Two to save money elsewhere. Whatever the case, Take-Two probably saw this as a win-win business scenario and gave Levine the go ahead to work on his smaller project. Ultimately, the reason these talented game makers and world builders will cease to be a part of Irrational isn't, as I'm sure some fanciful journalists might like to believe, the result of one man's creative callousness or hubris, but rather a cold, mundane business decision. Someone somewhere crunched the numbers and they stacked up against the continued existence of Irrational Games as we know it. This is how the video game industry works these days. Take-Two has every right to make this move. At the same time, business decisions like this that lead to the difficult and often harsh working conditions that plague the people who make the games we enjoy. Irrational's situation is just the most visible symptom of a larger problem. As for Ken Levine and his remaining team, what kind of a game can we expect to see out of them in the next few years? Reading between the lines, Levine wants to make a game that focuses on telling a compelling narrative while also being replayable and digitally distributed. This might seem a bit odd because most games that focus on narrative aren't necessarily the most replayable games. However, if you played BioShock Infinite, you might remember that throughout the game you made a handful of small choices. Admittedly, those choices had little impact on the overall story of Infinite, but what I thought was awesome about those few moments was how well they were woven into the core game. If I were to go out on a limb, I'd say that Levine wants to make a game similar to The Stanley Parable, a game whose narrative changes organically depending on how you play the game and respond to scenarios rather than with onscreen prompts or pauses in the gameplay. To me, that seems to fit with the ideas being highly replayable while also focusing on its narrative. It would also explain why such a long period of design would be required. I would also hazard a guess and say that it might be an FPS, given Levine's history with that genre. It really sucks whenever a studio loses so many great people, especially when it is one of the most talented game developers in the AAA gaming space. My heart and prayers are with those people and their families. As one of my colleagues put it, "Maybe the next great indie developer will rise out of the ashes of Irrational. Good could come out of this yet." What do you guys think about Irrational's ending? Also, here is a link to one of my favorite "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" covers.
  14. Yesterday, Ken Levine, the head of Irrational Games, announced that following the release of the final DLC for BioShock Infinite he would be massively down-sizing his studio to focus on smaller, replayable, digital-only games. For those of you interested in Levine's goodbye letter, you can read it over on the Irrational website. For those of you wondering what happened, I'll try to break down the situation. Bear in mind that no one right now knows what went on behind closed doors between Ken Levine and publisher Take-Two Interactive and that some of this analysis will dip into speculative territory. Here are some of the things we do know: Irrational Games was the studio that created BioShock and BioShock Infinite, two of the most widely acclaimed titles of the previous console cycle. About 90% of Irrational will be out of a job when all is said and done, leaving Ken Levine and about fifteen other people with a place in the studio. Ken Levine wants to be a part of a smaller team with more creative freedom and not just be a BioShock IP machine. Finally, 2K now has the rights to the BioShock series. What initially struck me about this announcement wasn't excitement regarding Ken Levine's next project or that we can expect to see more games like BioShock 2. I just couldn't stop thinking about how huge Irrational Games was and how over 100 incredibly talented programmers, artists, writers, and scripters will now be looking for work and contemplating relocating their families because... well, we don't really know why. Taken on a surface level, it could seem like Ken Levine and his creative desire to return to a smaller studio might be the reason so many people are out of work or that Levine saw the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship with his closest development leads. However, I don't think that's the case at all. I don't know Levine, but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that he genuinely cares about his employees. In his farewell message, Levine mentions that he had been planning on striking out as an independent developer. After meeting with publisher Take-Two Interactive the company convinced Levine to stick with them along with the smaller team he desired. I find it likely that Take-Two Interactive saw this as a way of keeping their high-profile industry auteur while also drastically cutting costs. Maybe BioShock Infinite didn't make back quite as much money as the publisher would have liked, given the AAA budget and massive marketing campaigns. Perhaps the commercial failure of other projects like XCOM: Declassified put pressure on Take-Two to save money elsewhere. Whatever the case, Take-Two probably saw this as a win-win business scenario and gave Levine the go ahead to work on his smaller project. Ultimately, the reason these talented game makers and world builders will cease to be a part of Irrational isn't, as I'm sure some fanciful journalists might like to believe, the result of one man's creative callousness or hubris, but rather a cold, mundane business decision. Someone somewhere crunched the numbers and they stacked up against the continued existence of Irrational Games as we know it. This is how the video game industry works these days. Take-Two has every right to make this move. At the same time, business decisions like this that lead to the difficult and often harsh working conditions that plague the people who make the games we enjoy. Irrational's situation is just the most visible symptom of a larger problem. As for Ken Levine and his remaining team, what kind of a game can we expect to see out of them in the next few years? Reading between the lines, Levine wants to make a game that focuses on telling a compelling narrative while also being replayable and digitally distributed. This might seem a bit odd because most games that focus on narrative aren't necessarily the most replayable games. However, if you played BioShock Infinite, you might remember that throughout the game you made a handful of small choices. Admittedly, those choices had little impact on the overall story of Infinite, but what I thought was awesome about those few moments was how well they were woven into the core game. If I were to go out on a limb, I'd say that Levine wants to make a game similar to The Stanley Parable, a game whose narrative changes organically depending on how you play the game and respond to scenarios rather than with onscreen prompts or pauses in the gameplay. To me, that seems to fit with the ideas being highly replayable while also focusing on its narrative. It would also explain why such a long period of design would be required. I would also hazard a guess and say that it might be an FPS, given Levine's history with that genre. It really sucks whenever a studio loses so many great people, especially when it is one of the most talented game developers in the AAA gaming space. My heart and prayers are with those people and their families. As one of my colleagues put it, "Maybe the next great indie developer will rise out of the ashes of Irrational. Good could come out of this yet." What do you guys think about Irrational's ending? Also, here is a link to one of my favorite "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" covers. View full article
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