| Posted 01/09/10 at 03:09 PM||Reply with quote #1 |
|Discuss the Neptune's Bounty section of the game here. |
| Posted 01/13/10 at 12:29 PM||Reply with quote #2 |
|Played through this level again last night, and it really is the least interesting in the game IMO, both in terms of content and gameplay. In both of my previous playthroughs I considered bailing on the game totally during this level.|
It just doesn't seem to be teaching me anything about Rapture. The hotel and the fishery just don't add anything thematically to the story. I can't even remember a poignant audio log from the area (and there are many). And the respawns are an absolute pain because you have to go through the same areas a number of times.
It does have the one standout moment when you're looking at the splicer through the window. It's fairly chilling at that moment. Other than that, I would skip it if I could.
| Posted 01/13/10 at 02:05 PM||Reply with quote #3 |
|I would disagree, slightly. It might not add anything to Jack's story, but it does flesh out Rapture some more. Irrelevant to the plot of the game, maybe, but by having areas like the ones found in Neptune's Bounty available to explore if the player so chooses, it provides more background to the city and makes it more believable as a place, rather than as a set of levels joined to propel the player forward. On subsequent playthroughs it might be a waste of time but on the initial run through the game I would argue it's just another crucial part of the overall experience.|
| Posted 01/14/10 at 07:24 PM||Reply with quote #4 |
|I think the problem with this area is that the gameplay progression at this point makes sense, you gain access to a range of different Plasmids, the Grenade Launcher, the Camera and eventually access to your first "Power to the People" station from which you can upgrade your weapons. In those terms it makes sense to come as the first level.|
However the narrative progression at this point is a little stilted, you've already been held back from getting to Atlas' family by the hunt for Steinman and now you're getting held back by Peaches who is a far less compelling character than Steinman.
I sense the concept of this level was to show what Rapture was like for those who actually had to do the manual labor that kept the place going, and lay down the first hints of the discord between the "haves" and "have nots". I'm just not sure it was clear enough, I wonder if it would have been better to focus this level around a stronger central idea, like maybe focus it on Bill McDonagh and what it feels like to be effectively working class in Rapture. Even then though I think it would have been better to see more of the highs before exploring the lows, if this had come narratively after Arcadia, or maybe even Fort Frolic it would have been a bigger change of pace. As you would have witnessed the extreme highs of Science, Art and Industry in Rapture and then had to go and explore the other side, the side that actually gets stuff done.
On reflection I think a lot of the levels are in the wrong order. Fort Frolic has a thematic conceit that seems to make more sense when directly juxtaposition with the confrontation with Ryan and not separated from it by a whole level. Point Prometheus has a really nice System Shock 2 vibe going on, and a lot of insight into the extremes of science in Rapture but it's placement at essentially the end of the game means it's power is overshadowed by previous revelations.
Groping The Elephant
| Posted 01/15/10 at 01:41 AM||Reply with quote #5 |
|Peaches, the camera search and the subsequent picture taking felt kind of trivial considering Jack and Atlus' situation. I remember thinking to myself, "If this was Fallout 3, I'd just kill him and find another way in." The only interesting part of this section for me was listening to the back-story regarding Fontaine. The environments didn't really capture my imagination as much. |
| Posted 01/15/10 at 06:00 PM||Reply with quote #6 |
|Working through this level now I'm notice how much of an increase in complexity there is from the previous level; both physical layout and the information provided.|
Starting the level most of it is closed off until you find your way to Peaches, and he gives you your errand to run. After that each new area opens up after completing a specific objective, such as locating the camera or photographing the three Spider Splicers. With the unlocking of each area the complexity and interconnectedness (If that's even a word) of the level increases. The final form of the entire level has a more complicated layout that the previous two levels with multiple hubs and spokes instead of everything effectively branching off a single point as it does in Medical Pavilion.
This is matched with a marked increase in the complexity of the narrative and the number of characters being introduced. There's one area of the level, unlocked just after you speak to Peaches, that contains I think four audio logs in the space of about a thirty seconds of walking. Each by a different person and dealing with a different topic. The first new character introduced Sullivan the head of Rapture Police, or Security forces. In fact his exactly role in Rapture isn't made entirely clear and requires some working out. Then you have Peaches himself, and Mariska Lutz who is leaving messages for her missing daughter.
Mechanically by this point you'll have almost all the weapons available and provided you've acquired enough Adam you could have unlocked most of the base Plasmids and enough slots to wield them.
It feels like so much is pushed at you in this third level that none of it is given the focus it needs to become as memorable as the likes of Medical Pavilion or Fort Frolic.
Something else that amused me this time around was trying to work out how exactly their went about Fishing in Rapture. The large dock area full of mud seems to imply they actually flooded a small section of the Fisheries, letting the fish in and then possibly submarine craft out. An act that seems like a rather dangerous proposition. That this is what they actually did is reinforced by a rather creepy sight you can find underneath one of the main walkways, directly opposite where you find an audio log from Ryan talking about how he should "Do something about Fontaine" you can see a corpse tied to a low pipe, with most of his body submerged in mud. Obviously he pissed somebody off and got tied down there at low tide, to drown when they flooded Rapture... Have to wonder why nobody heard his screams? Or by that point did they simply not care any longer?
A final thought about Peaches (Spoilers for game ending). It's interesting that only two people ever send Security Bots to help you, Peaches and Atlas and in the end both betray you.
Groping The Elephant
| Posted 01/16/10 at 06:18 AM||Reply with quote #7 |
Peaches, the camera search and the subsequent picture taking felt kind of trivial considering Jack and Atlus' situation. I remember thinking to myself, "If this was Fallout 3, I'd just kill him and find another way in."
Unless Peach was a little kid in which case you gotta get those photos because children are immortal.
I think the major downfall of this level is that it has an impossible task ahead of it. It would like to show the working class of Rapture but to do that is to not have a strong central character to base the level around. In Medical, it's understandable to have an egotistical, almost "Messianic in his own mind" surgeon to shape the environ. Similarly, we can easily accept that the top artist in Rapture would exert enough will to transform Fort Frolic into his own personal canvas. But the working class is not defined by individuals, especially in a capitalist society which Rapture is intended to be the perfect distillation of. That said, I think they nailed the atmosphere of working class places. The bars and the factories feel just like what I imagine a seedy wharf at the bottom of the sea would be like.
Peach is, in theory, an interesting character. He's stuck between Fontaine and Ryan, screwed over every which way with no hope of anything getting better. There's that ironic audio tape where he expresses a modicum of hope for the first meeting with Fontaine. My heart should have broke for him right there but it didn't. I just chuckled because that was the extent of my engagement with him. His paranoia came across as forced and, while I'll lay part of the blame for that at the voice acting which was probably the weakest in the game, there was never a truly human moment for Peach where you could come to care about him.
There were several for Steinman. Indeed, there was even a complete emotional journey for him. His hope for granting freedom from the physical restrictions that bind many of us in the bodies we are compelled to reject was positively progressive. One could even see his admirable confidence turning to obsessive pride and then to disillusionment as reality reasserted itself. It's tragic to hear him finally realize that there are limits to every endeavor and that perfection is an unobtainable goal. I feel for him even as I riddle him with bullets.
I want to feel for Peach and so I invent moments in my mind. I see him and Fontaine as the epitome of a successful business relationship long before the pressure brought down by Ryan, working together almost as equals. I see the harvest being brought in and them looking out over the bounty with a identical level of pride. Hands were shaken. This, of course, does reinvent Fontaine to some degree but, given his disappointing lack of redeeming traits, I feel little remorse in making the character more interesting than he exists as is. I do this often and try to ignore my lingering concern over my highly subjective inventions as much as possible.
It's about here that, if you're saving Little Sisters consistently, you'll get your first gift from Tenenbaum. If every LS is dealt with, this almost balances the ADAM loss you take from saving vs. harvesting. And if you like Hypnotize Big Daddy (and who wouldn't? Well, aside from those concerned about the ethical ramifications of hypnotizing someone to fight and die for you) it makes saving far more attractive.
I've heard some say that it's wrong to have the moral choice not give a larger incentive or disincentive to decide one way or the other. I can only think of one way this would be made a meaningful point. If the game's difficulty was such that, attaining extra ADAM made the difference between living and dying. This perhaps would necessitate the removal of the Vita Chambers. Hard with them on though is still quite a task. Then, I could see how it would be a test of whether or not you were willing to kill innocents to aid in your own survival. It would probably also make me quit playing because I don't like overtly difficult games.
We face off against Rosie Big Daddies here for the most part (entirely?) and I confess to finding them rather boring. I understand that they present variety from the Bouncers but their differences makes them more like the Splicers which one already spends too much time fighting. It's an armored combo of the Nitro and Leadhead Splicers that just does and can take more damage. Not a particularly compelling experience when you're getting shot at most of the game. The Big Sister in the next game seems to diversify the Big Daddy line in a more enjoyable way, by drawing on the talents of the more agile Spider and the plasmid equipped Houdini Splicers.
We saw the Spider Splicer before but didn't get to fight her. I find them an endlessly entertaining enemy with their constantly surprising speed and agility. Their ceiling walk always reminds me of the deleted Exorcist scene where the possessed girl goes down the stairs in a similar manner. So inhuman. Zapping them with Electobolt and watching them slam into the floor is always a pleasing sight.
I dislike the whole unwinnable battle concept because I'm always wondering what scale the artificial end point is on. Do I have to deal X amount of damage or wait X amount of seconds till this Spider Splicer flees and I an go about the story? I prefer there to be a clear sign to indicate the proximity of the end of the battle like if Peach had some sort of countdown till when he released the security bot. With that, I feel tension that I just need to survive another few seconds. Without, I'm just wondering when it's going to end already.
The amount of hackable devices in the Wharfmaster's Office is jaw dropping. So many turrets. Sadly, try as I might, I almost always lose one to cross fire from the one's I've already hacked. There's usually some Splicers that follow you in there and I feel sorry for them. They never stood a chance.
The audio tape "Timmy H. Interrogation" and the remains of that event are quite disturbing especially in the assertion that being tortured to death through electric shocks is somehow better than whatever punishment Fontaine would dole out for turning against him.
Anytime religion gets invoked down in Rapture, creepiness is almost guaranteed. Here, it's the Spider Splicer behind the glass singing "Jesus Loves Me." Chilling. Then, photo taken, he scampers up the wall, doubtlessly so he can sneak up behind you later and scare the crap out of you. "We thought we were hidden from Him down here in the mirk but He sees everything." God as all seeing and judgmental voyeur. There's certainly some regression from New Testament forgiveness to Old Testament wrath.
That Research Camera can have a powerful effect on the difficulty. Properly used, it can almost lower one down a whole level. Hard becomes Normal, Normal becomes Easy, and god knows what to call Easy with full research done. And the tonics you get from it are my favorite in the game (Natural Camouflage, Static Discharge 2, SportBoost 1/2, and Wrench Jockey 2). At the very least, Research can effectively negate the difficulty ramp that exists in the game when the Splicers/Big Daddies get upgraded/elite versions later on.
One of my favorite little details is in this level. There's a Big Daddy outside Rapture on the sea floor just plodding along, disturbing a school of fish as he goes about his business. I could just stare out the windows of Rapture all day if I wasn't so terrified of something stabbing me in the back. If I lived there, I don't think I'd get any work done ever. I'd just be awestruck. Although I guess the effect would diminish and my wondrous new home would turn commonplace and that would be tragic. I think more about this and wonder about the effect of living in such a place on the mind. The potential for psychological problems is not unheard of in the isolation of space and this is very much akin to that.
The removal of my weapons before the Peach boss fight has never been all that effective a restriction on my play style. They let me keep my wrench. And if I'm just taking Splicers on...then they'll be no shots. After my first run through of this battle, I effectively memorized the location of every machine in the room and just go on a hacking spree. Perhaps it would have been more of a challenge if all the plasmids didn't have so much opportunities for prime usage. There's oil slicks, explosive barrels, and electrifiable water. One can do the same tricks as with Steinman and escape relatively unscathed.
Weapon upgrades are always a very boring moment for me. I seek these Power to the People stations out but only out of completeness. A significant element is lost from Poseidon Plaza later on if you don't. But I feel like I'm looking at a menu of items I couldn't possibly care less about. I end up getting my Shotgun upgraded because I use it against Big Daddies. Electric Buck FTW.
The ghosts of the two smugglers reveal the entrance to the Smuggler's Hideout and I, at this point, thought that the ghosts were going to be the collective consciousness of all the people who died in Rapture as a result of Fontaine and Ryan's war. They were appearing to me, in effect, to get me past obstacles and in the right frame of mind in order to set things right. This is tragically not really the case or at least it's never directly hinted at, to my knowledge.
Last note, love the little bit of music that plays as you leave the Fisheries. It's a bit of revelry that sounds pitch perfect for the trappings of a fisherman's world, all the more haunting after you've seen what ends all the working class stiffs met in Neptune's Bounty.
Busky3@gmail.com for Gchat
| Posted 01/17/10 at 05:52 PM||Reply with quote #8 |
|This level introduces one of my favorite key Bioshock innovations: choosing when and where to fight the Big Daddies. You meet one almost at the start of the level, in the first room. And all three times I've played the game I've foolishly tried to take it on right then, stubbornly reloading / resurrecting until I bring it down. That's exactly the wrong way to play. You're much better off leaving the Big Daddy until later. You'll have more plasmids and tonics, bigger guns, a grenade launcher. You'll also be able to pick better battlegrounds, like the security office with a bunch of turrets you've hacked to help you. And finally, if you kill the Big Daddy early then you miss the opportunity to take its picture. It's a good lesson, leave the Big Daddies for when you're ready.
This level isn't my favourite either. Mostly because it's so easy to get lost and there's so much backtracking. I can't even be bothered to pick the narrative apart very much, so thanks to the folks above for trying. I would like to give a shout-out to the poor unfortunate Lutz family, though, with a side story told via audio diaries and one really heartbreaking scene in the locked hotel room. Grace notes like that make Bioshock a complete story.
| Posted 01/17/10 at 06:06 PM||Reply with quote #9 |
|Something that stands out... or rather doesn't, is the manner in which BioShock handles the topics of sex, and racism within Rapture. Though violence is obvious and explicit other mature topics are handled in a much less blatant fashion. A product of it's time, there's clearly a degree of racial prejudice at work even in the supposedly meritocratic world of Rapture. One of the splicers refers to her "negro servant", while in an audio log found below the Wharfmaster's Office Tenenbaum talks about how she can: "... bend the double helix... black can be reborn white, tall, short, weak, strong..." the clear implication that being white is better than being black.|
Listening to some of the Peach Wilkins audio logs he becomes a much more sympathetic character, especially in the one Bus mentioned, where he talks about Ryan: "He's up in Fort Frolic banging fashion models... we're down in this dump yanking guts outta fish."
His belief and faith in Fontaine seems logical at first until you hear the first audio log from Fontaine himself and realize how detached he is from the rest of Rapture. Such wishful thinking on the part of Peach makes he far more than the cliched paranoid you see him as earlier. It's a shame he only gets humanized after you've had to kill him. It would have reinforced the tragedy of Rapture if you'd started to feel sorry for him only to then have to kill him for your own survival.
When you face Peach he forces you to sacrifice your weapons into a Pneumo-Tube, and you can collect them from another one further on. They are dotted throughout Rapture and I believe at one point there were going to provide a Resident Evil style inventory for the player, so you could put extra stuff in one and pick it up later at another; though I'm not absolutely certain about that.
Groping The Elephant
| Posted 01/18/10 at 12:04 PM||Reply with quote #10 |
|I feel like one major problem with Peach Wilkins is that he simply doesn't talk enough. True, his voice acting is probably the weakest, but it seems like out of all the characters which have levels dedicated to them that Peach (with the assumption that this level is his) has the fewest lines actually said to the player.|
Every other 'major' character either speaks to Jack directly via his radio or through a great number of audio logs. Peach does both but not nearly enough for me to care about him.
I am a big fan of the underwater Big Daddy as well. It catches your eye as you walk to that corner and I find myself watching it. If I'm not mistaken, it also walks back the other way giving the impression that whatever it set out to do... it has finished.
James Bishop | PSN: onlyixon | Steam: OnlyIxon
Moderator - Another World
| Posted 02/01/10 at 08:54 PM||Reply with quote #11 |
I agree on the overload in this level - having played through it the first time, I had a hard time focussing on any one element. There are more audio-logs than I can listen to in peace, there is the "rose-splizer" (who was pretty damn scary for me, because it kept on killing me over, even when I was protected by a Big D), there are the new weapons, tons of plasmids, the camera and so on...Some more random observations:
Retrospectively, I pretty much rushed through the first two levels, so the learning-curve here was pretty steep.
For example, it took me a whole series of deaths to realize that you actually don't HAVE to take out the first Big Daddy the first time you get around him (so far, they always acted kinda hostile toward me, so no reason to think that the would behave any other way this time around). And, curiosly, I still think the Vita Chambers feel were artifial - more artifial than the old safe/reload-routine. Guess old gamer habits don't die easily, or maybe it feels too much like cheating not doing so (I mean, being revived with the enemies halfway down? In the old days, we certainly called this cheating.)
I liked the Plasmid-only boss fight - probably because in my current state, fights like these still pose a real challenge. It's getting easier though, with all the Plasmid-slots stocking up and me finally having figured out how to hack turrets (this, too, was not all that self-explanatory).
As I said, I was too busy putting all the new pieces into place for having had any sense of narrative advancing, spatial, charater-driven or whatever.
For me, the gameplay challenges made up for it - but then again, Bioshock starts feeling at times like just another shooter.
(With two exceptions: The crucified Timmy H., and the strolling Big Daddy. One was a pleasure to behold, the other one not so much.)
The beginning of the level is pretty great in the way that, if you wait for a moment, you can see the splizers go after the Big Daddy and the ensuing fight, hiding just out of sight. In these moments, Rapture really feels like some sort of living eco-system. I found it kinda strange, though, that once you show up, the slizers are way more interested in killing you (the "Monster") instead of chasing after the girl.
I was pretty astranged, though, when nearing the end of the level, I was smashed over the head with a message telling me that I didn't yet harvest/rescued all of the Lil' Sisters. On one hand, it was well meant, but a voice out of nowwhere, and feeling pretty clumsy - I mean, either you give the player the choice of advancing after his likings, or you communicate it in another way. On the other hand, though, it made me realize that before this point, I somehow always thought that I could backtrack any way I was willing to do. Maybe it stems from playing System Shock 2 back then, or it speaks for the organic level-design. Either way, I always kinda thought of Rapture as that one, big space with ways that might have to be openend up, but stay open then for your exploration.
On second thoughts, it cleary makes sense that you are not allowed to do so - but it felt a little disappointing, actually.
| Posted 02/02/10 at 03:59 PM||Reply with quote #12 |
|It is possible to return to previous levels, but I only found this one when reading about BioShock 2 and hearing that the ability to return to levels had been removed for the sequel.|
Groping The Elephant
| Posted 02/03/10 at 02:13 PM||Reply with quote #13 |
|Bioshock progresses pretty linearly, so there is almost never a need to backtrack. Cohen is about the only reason I can think of offhand. Or to get a plasmid that stops being offered at the Gardens.|
The first couple of posters to this topic noted how Neptune's Bounty was their least favorite level. And it is for me too. But I think a large part of my - frustration is too strong a word - with this level is the sudden ramp in difficulty. The previous chapters have been staged in relatively small spaces clustered together and strung together with corridors branching from a couple of principle hubs. By the time you take down Steinman, you are actually quite powerful, and should be able to take out splicers with ease. And then get humbled by the Big Daddy.
Neptune's Bounty immediately opens into a large, two-story space (after funneling you through a tight, twisty passage, giving that much more impact to the large space), with splicers attacking from front, above, and behind; with turrets on either end; and a Rosie who likes to wade around in the crossfire. And it isn't until Peach sets you out on your errand that the environments scale back down to something that you can usually control. I think once I got past the confusion of the first couple of spaces, I enjoyed the progression of this level more.
As for the main character of this level, I think it is Fontaine. Yes, Peach is the boss of the level, but you also have Sullivan (via audiologs in his office) and Rose (who is the first to welcome you to the level). But everything about this level, in the set pieces and audiologs, is pointing towards the smugglers. We've already been introduced to Ryan, now we're getting a look at Fontaine. And Peach's downfall is the most revealing. It's only after fighting the addled Peach that we learn he was being pinched between Ryan and Fontaine - it's no wonder he locked himself in his freezer and became paranoid.
Surmising now, I think this level lost a lot during development - perhaps trying to do too much in one go, early in the game. My understanding of one of the original aspects of the game was that the splicers would be organized in factions. That there would be a working social/political structure that the player would have to interact with, perhaps taking sides, etc. From that context, Peach's interest in the research camera becomes much more convincing as a plot piece, and not just a way to sell you a game mechanic. The spiders have invaded Peach's territory, and he fears them and their abilities. He's interested in gaining leverage against them. What if, in the course of taking the pictures, you also learn Rose's side of the story? What if she becomes the more compelling character, though perhaps more obviously untrustworthy? I can see the final confrontation with Rose being a branch point, to side with her or Peach.
| Posted 02/08/10 at 09:12 PM||Reply with quote #14 |
|I really like that idea, Loberto, in your last paragraph. God, I hope they do that sort of thing in the sequel.|
I think the reason why I never even considered backtracking as a possible action is because, when you get into a bathysphere, I believe the next level is automatically highlighted to direct you forward. And so I never moved that selector one iota. Just got in and clicked through to the next loading screen. Probably for the best that they got rid of it for the sequel.
Busky3@gmail.com for Gchat
| Posted 02/18/10 at 08:41 AM||Reply with quote #15 |
|As I progress through Bioshock again after completing the sequel, it feels like a whole new experience. I was scared out of my mind the whole time during my first visit to Neptune's Bounty, and I never really felt like exploring, but now I'm searching every nook and cranny for new wonders.|
Although I agree with you that later areas are more interesting and dramatic, I feel like Neptune's Bounty has some incredible scenes. The story of the Lutz family who witness Rapture's transformation through their daughter's kidnapping and decide to end their lives. Their demise broke my heart, much like Meltzer's story in the sequel. I was also mesmerized by the hulking underwater Big Daddy, simply minding its own business, completely unaware of the Raptures current state. The rosy seduction of the first Spider Splicer as you first enter the wharf is also brilliant and the game excels at introducing new types of enemies.
The thing that surprised me most during this second visit is the amount of information and hints that are given away so early in the story. The audio diary by Sullivan on the Bathysphere keys gives away enough information to guess the main plot twist, if one listens carefully and isn't too busy fighting with Big Daddies.
Moderator - Another World
| Posted 02/23/10 at 11:54 AM||Reply with quote #16 |
The audio diary by Sullivan on the Bathysphere keys gives away enough information to guess the main plot twist, if one listens carefully and isn't too busy fighting with Big Daddies.
...wich of course everybody is. Discovered the same thing as I was going through all the audio-logs again, post-Ryan encounter, and was thinking the classical: "How the heck did I not see coming this?!"I actually admire the confidence the designers had in their own capacity of guiding the player's awareness - after all, if (s)he wasn't too busy, all the magic would just go "puff" -, much like a good illusionist would have.
I guess you could interpret a whole lot of the game from that perspective, come to think of it.