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Author Topic: Goodbye Bioshock. Irrational is shutting down?!  (Read 891 times)
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« on: February 18, 2014, 06:00:19 PM »

Just saw this on kotaku.  

well, technically, Bioshock by the creators themselves.  

from Irrational themselves:

Quote
When Jon Chey, Rob Fermier and I founded Irrational Games seventeen years ago, our mission was to make visually unique worlds and populate them with singular characters.
We built Rapture and Columbia, the Von Braun and The Rickenbacker, the Freedom Fortress and some of the nastiest basements a SWAT team ever set foot into.  We created Booker and Elizabeth, the Big Daddy and the Little Sister, MidWives and ManBot. In that time, Irrational has grown larger and more successful than we could have conceived when we began our three-person studio in a living room in Cambridge, MA. Its been the defining project of my professional life.

Now Irrational Games is about to roll out the last DLC for BioShock Infinite and people are understandably asking: Whats next?

Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one. And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job Ive ever had. While Im deeply proud of what weve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than weve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers.  In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience.  

I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. Ill be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two.  That is going to mean parting ways with all but about fifteen members of the Irrational team.   Theres no great way to lay people off, and our first concern is to make sure that the people who are leaving have as much support as we can give them during this transition.

Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios. Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and well be hosting a recruiting day where well be giving 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.*

Whats next?

In time we will announce a new endeavor with a new goal: To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable. To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally.

When I first contemplated what I wanted to do, it became very clear to me that we were going to need a long period of design. Initially, I thought the only way to build this venture was with a classical startup model, a risk I was prepared to take. But when I talked to Take-Two about the idea, they convinced me that there was no better place to pursue this new chapter than within their walls. After all, theyre the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place.

Thanks to Irrational and 2Ks passion in developing the games, and the fans who believe in it, BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars and secured an iconic place in gaming. Im handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative. If were lucky, well build something half as memorable as BioShock.

We do our best to update an FAQ in this space as questions come in.

-Ken Levine

I don't know what to think of this.  Bio 1 was a great game, BioInf was decent but I liked the art design and world.  SWAT 4 was awesome.  System Shock 2 is a genre-defining game. 

that Ken is moving away from that is disappointing, but I respect the guy for making a change if he felt the developer stagnating.  
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 06:07:39 PM by Caine » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2014, 06:24:36 PM »

it's too bad he couldn't  just leave the company and start his thing and not lay off people.  Instead, he's laying off the people who made him successful and keeping the company.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 06:38:16 PM by naednek » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 06:26:33 PM »

Quote from: naednek on February 18, 2014, 06:24:36 PM

it's too bad he couldn't  just leave the company and start his thing and not lay off people.  Instead he's taking laying off the people who made him successful and keeping the company.

Yeah, I actually had the same reaction on reading it.
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2014, 07:00:20 PM »

It's his company, he can do what he likes.
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2014, 07:17:48 PM »

Quote from: ATB on February 18, 2014, 07:00:20 PM

It's his company, he can do what he likes.

Can, yes. Should... I won't even go there. icon_cry
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2014, 07:18:21 PM »

This is actually good news. He's obviously planning to go the crowdfunding route, probably Kickstarter, which will give him creative freedom and the ability to create far more interesting and unique games.
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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2014, 07:21:45 PM »

Quote from: TiLT on February 18, 2014, 07:18:21 PM

This is actually good news. He's obviously planning to go the crowdfunding route, probably Kickstarter, which will give him creative freedom and the ability to create far more interesting and unique games.

Nope. Take-Two is still involved
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« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2014, 07:24:49 PM »

yeah, it sucks for the folks that were involved getting laid off.  I think they'll be picked up in no time by interested developers. 
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« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM »

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM »

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2014, 07:53:42 PM »

Quote from: Gratch on February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.

Take 2 obviously doesn't think the other 185 people are worth keeping.
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2014, 08:56:38 PM »

Quote from: gellar on February 18, 2014, 07:53:42 PM

Quote from: Gratch on February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.

Take 2 obviously doesn't think the other 185 people are worth keeping.

Or in other words, Bioshock is not a lucrative enough IP without Ken. Bioshock 2 didn't perform as well as Take Two wanted, that might be a reason to not pursue another non-Ken Bioshock.
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2014, 09:41:22 PM »

Quote from: ATB on February 18, 2014, 07:00:20 PM

It's his company, he can do what he likes.

Its not though. 2K bought Irrational years ago so this 'open letter' doesn't say it all with Levine saying its being done because he wants a change. This studio is closing because 2K wants it too.
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2014, 09:43:38 PM »

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 08:56:38 PM

Quote from: gellar on February 18, 2014, 07:53:42 PM

Quote from: Gratch on February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.

Take 2 obviously doesn't think the other 185 people are worth keeping.

Or in other words, Bioshock is not a lucrative enough IP without Ken. Bioshock 2 didn't perform as well as Take Two wanted, that might be a reason to not pursue another non-Ken Bioshock.

Or they can with other development teams in the company currently. I wouldn't write off any new Bioshock games.
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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2014, 05:35:24 PM »

I was bummed to hear this news. 'Bioshock' just isn't 'Bioshock' without Ken Levine at the helm. I understand the reasons why he dismantled the company--more creative freedom--but still, bummed.
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2014, 05:41:45 PM »

Did we really expect another Irrational Bioshock? Bioshock 2 wasn't even done by Irrational. Didn't think they'd want to spend another how many years designing another Bioshock universe. I thought Infinite tied up the story nicely.
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« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2014, 07:23:29 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on February 19, 2014, 05:41:45 PM

Did we really expect another Irrational Bioshock? Bioshock 2 wasn't even done by Irrational. Didn't think they'd want to spend another how many years designing another Bioshock universe. I thought Infinite tied up the story nicely.

Levine has said as much in the past.  I can't find the article, but the gist of it was the Bioshock games take so long to develop, and realistically he could only do a few more games of that scope in his lifetime.  Definitely sounded like didn't want to continue going down that path.
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« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2014, 07:51:31 PM »

I'm likely alone in my opinion, but I felt the Bioshock games were a bit overrated. For sure they deserved to be ranked excellent, but IMO not AAA status in the 90+ percentile range. I'm not convinced another talented lead and dev team can't match what's bee done so far with the series. I feel bad for the staff who lost there jobs and hope they get picked up quickly by other studios.

Quote from: gellar on February 18, 2014, 07:53:42 PM

Quote from: Gratch on February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.

Take 2 obviously doesn't think the other 185 people are worth keeping.

I don't agree with that assessment. This is a trend with many of the bigger videogame studios and publishers, and has little to do with the quality of the saff. IMO this has much more to do with the fallout from over consolidation that occurred last decade. This won't be the last time we see a company cut their losses by dumping a quality dev team.
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« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2014, 07:57:17 PM »

This article on Gamsutra sheds some interesting light on the subject.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/211139/Irrational_Games_journalism_and_airing_dirty_laundry.php
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« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2014, 08:17:02 PM »

Quote from: kronovan on February 19, 2014, 07:51:31 PM

Quote from: gellar on February 18, 2014, 07:53:42 PM

Quote from: Gratch on February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.

Take 2 obviously doesn't think the other 185 people are worth keeping.

I don't agree with that assessment. This is a trend with many of the bigger videogame studios and publishers, and has little to do with the quality of the saff. IMO this has much more to do with the fallout from over consolidation that occurred last decade. This won't be the last time we see a company cut their losses by dumping a quality dev team.

Yeah it wasn't meant to be a judgement on the quality of the staff... it's a judgement on their relative scarcity (or lack thereof) and value in the company. They weren't needed, so off they go.
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« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2014, 08:44:44 PM »

Quote from: gellar on February 19, 2014, 08:17:02 PM

Quote from: kronovan on February 19, 2014, 07:51:31 PM

Quote from: gellar on February 18, 2014, 07:53:42 PM

Quote from: Gratch on February 18, 2014, 07:45:21 PM

Quote from: Ridah on February 18, 2014, 07:38:44 PM

2K still owns the Bioshock IP, I don't get why people have to be laid off. Can't Ken and his 15 disciples depart and the rest of the team continue building another Bioshock game?

That was my thought as well.  Odd that they would shut the whole thing down.

Take 2 obviously doesn't think the other 185 people are worth keeping.

I don't agree with that assessment. This is a trend with many of the bigger videogame studios and publishers, and has little to do with the quality of the saff. IMO this has much more to do with the fallout from over consolidation that occurred last decade. This won't be the last time we see a company cut their losses by dumping a quality dev team.

Yeah it wasn't meant to be a judgement on the quality of the staff... it's a judgement on their relative scarcity (or lack thereof) and value in the company. They weren't needed, so off they go.

Ah OK, my bad for misunderstanding you there.
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« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2014, 09:32:03 PM »

Quote from: kronovan on February 19, 2014, 07:51:31 PM

I'm likely alone in my opinion, but I felt the Bioshock games were a bit overrated. For sure they deserved to be ranked excellent, but IMO not AAA status in the 90+ percentile range. I'm not convinced another talented lead and dev team can't match what's bee done so far with the series. I feel bad for the staff who lost there jobs and hope they get picked up quickly by other studios.


I think the first Bioshock I'd call excellent. It was different in a very fun way from just about everything else I'd played and I was totally entertained by it. But BS2 was not up to that and I just played BS infinite a couple of months ago and didn't like it at all.
So mostly I agree with you.
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2014, 10:31:23 PM »

I have enjoyed all 3 Bioshock games, with the first being my favorite. But, the "shock" game that makes me mourn for Irrational more than any other is still System Shock 2. It took me a while to get over how different Bioshock was from that game when I first got it. I appreciate it for its own merits, but I still long for a true System Shock 3, which will likely never happen or be a pale imitation like I hope the new Thief is not.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 10:33:18 PM by JCC » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2014, 10:38:02 PM »

I still don't get all the Bioshock Infinite hate, most of which I've heard from press. It was my GOTY last year and I couldn't stop playing it once I started, and pondered the ending for days after I completed it.
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« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2014, 01:07:11 AM »

Quote from: Jumangi on February 19, 2014, 07:57:17 PM

This article on Gamsutra sheds some interesting light on the subject.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/211139/Irrational_Games_journalism_and_airing_dirty_laundry.php

Good read, thanks for the link.
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« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2014, 01:32:17 AM »

Quote from: th'FOOL on February 19, 2014, 10:38:02 PM

I still don't get all the Bioshock Infinite hate, most of which I've heard from press. It was my GOTY last year and I couldn't stop playing it once I started, and pondered the ending for days after I completed it.


Based on the tone of the internet feedback, a casual reader would absolutely be convinced that Bioshock Infinite was the worst game of 2013, easily surpassing anything like Aliens: Colonial Marines.  I can accept that there are legitimate criticisms that could be leveled at the game, but the sheer volume of concentrated venom people were spitting at BI would lead you to believe it was below The War Z in quality.

I think one element was that a lot of people had gorged themselves on all the pre-release coverage they could get.  When you start a game having seen most of the weapons, powers, locations, and even major plot twists in advance, is it any surprise the final product comes off as disappointing?

Personally, after going out of my way to avoid as much preview info as possible, I entered Bioshock Infinite knowing exactly this much:

Quote from: Me, before playing Bioshock Infinite
1) It's a first-person shooter made by Irrational Games and Ken Levine.  (This was enough to sell me on the game.)

2) It takes place in a sky city named Columbia near the turn of the 20th century.

3) Todd Brakke at No High Scores said there's a girl named Elizabeth who throws things at you, and there are bird monsters named "Skyhooks" that replace Big Daddies as the toughest enemies in the game.



That was literally all the information I had, so all the game play details that other people found "boring" or "predictable" were complete revelations to me.  And I *loved* it!

By the way, the same thing goes for any story-heavy game.  Tomb Raider, Persona 3 & 4, The Walking Dead, Dreamfall -- I can't imagine what these games would be like if I knew every twist and turn before playing them for myself.  I guess that works for some people, or they wouldn't go out hunting for spoilers for games they're already planning to play.

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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2014, 01:49:15 AM »

Quote from: th'FOOL on February 19, 2014, 10:38:02 PM

I still don't get all the Bioshock Infinite hate, most of which I've heard from press. It was my GOTY last year and I couldn't stop playing it once I started, and pondered the ending for days after I completed it.

I think most of the people who didn't like it felt it had an engaging world/story/characters that then required you to run around it needlessly blowing stuff up.
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« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2014, 03:58:08 AM »

yeah, that's definitely a part of it.  here's my take on the negatives as I see them:

your only interaction within this beautifully made and well designed world is through a gun and one small opening area.  all civvies you find disappear into thin air once you leave their immediate area after gunfire erupts, aside from the one store early on where the owner reacts if you try to rob the place.  the alternate paths are basically non existent except when you have the rails and clearly defined tears.  those tears are fairly standard and don't go far enough with their potential nor do they come across as they were first described or demo'ed.  The mid-story twist with the rebels takes a predictable turn just when you expect it.  the ending, while memorable, has a clear fan service moment when it should have been part of the third act from the start.  and to top it off, the combat has more in common with Serious Sam than it does any of Irrational's previous entries.  it's all run and gun and use a few choice special powers in specific ways. 

this is not to say that I hate BI, but I did play it feeling the weight of the previous generation's limits.  I was hoping for another game in the same mold built for next gen systems so they could make Elizabeth's AI the way they intended to, flesh out the enemy AI and improve the quality and variety of the tears.  give you more options in combat and more than just static fight arenas.  I can't remember who, but it was written that in BS1 and 2, your experience was that of being in an independent world where combat could occur on your terms, BI was like walking into the thunderdome:  you always knew when a fight was about to break out. 

sadly, now that he's retreating from this approach to design, we won't get to see Ken's sequel to this or System Shock.  whether a good dev can step in and make something more is up for debate.  there's been more examples of failed attempts by new devs than successes. 
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« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2014, 04:17:26 AM »

Quote from: Teggy on February 20, 2014, 01:49:15 AM

Quote from: th'FOOL on February 19, 2014, 10:38:02 PM

I still don't get all the Bioshock Infinite hate, most of which I've heard from press. It was my GOTY last year and I couldn't stop playing it once I started, and pondered the ending for days after I completed it.

I think most of the people who didn't like it felt it had an engaging world/story/characters that then required you to run around it needlessly blowing stuff up.

I felt this, but I also felt that the combat was also just not fun to boot.  I liked Bioshock 1 and 2, but for some reason the combat here just was not fun.
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« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2014, 02:46:48 PM »

I get what people are saying here didn't work for them in the game, but it is odd to see the press who lavished high raise when it was released come down on so hard.  

BI got As almost across the board (which, by the way, doesn't make it a AAA title, that has to do with how much money/effort was put behind it as a release), sitting within the top 5 releases of last year on GameRankings.  Why all of a sudden is it garbage?
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« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2014, 03:17:18 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on February 20, 2014, 02:46:48 PM

I get what people are saying here didn't work for them in the game, but it is odd to see the press who lavished high raise when it was released come down on so hard.  

BI got As almost across the board (which, by the way, doesn't make it a AAA title, that has to do with how much money/effort was put behind it as a release), sitting within the top 5 releases of last year on GameRankings.  Why all of a sudden is it garbage?

I'm not certain, but perhaps some of the newness of the plot wore off and left a lesser feel for the actual gameplay.  I actually didn't like BI as much at release.  I didn't like the setting nor the combat but played it to get to the end for the plot, and even that felt a bit overblown and not as "personal" as the first one (which is one of my favorite games of all time).  I'm not much of a sci-fi guy and BI I felt was more towards that whereas the first one was more towards the emotional aspect of story telling.  All that said, I have seen this with movies where everyone is all about a movie once a twist or surprise unfolds only in time to not look back so favorably on it as the eighty minutes that lead up to the end were really not that good (The Usual Suspects is a movie that comes to mind for this example).  Perhaps that's what's happening with BI?
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« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2014, 03:47:02 PM »

Quote from: Travis on February 20, 2014, 03:17:18 PM

All that said, I have seen this with movies where everyone is all about a movie once a twist or surprise unfolds only in time to not look back so favorably on it as the eighty minutes that lead up to the end were really not that good (The Usual Suspects is a movie that comes to mind for this example). 

whaaaaaaaaa...?!?!?!
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« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2014, 03:55:50 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on February 20, 2014, 02:46:48 PM

I get what people are saying here didn't work for them in the game, but it is odd to see the press who lavished high raise when it was released come down on so hard.  

BI got As almost across the board (which, by the way, doesn't make it a AAA title, that has to do with how much money/effort was put behind it as a release), sitting within the top 5 releases of last year on GameRankings.  Why all of a sudden is it garbage?

I think it's just good old 'hateration'. Haters gotta hate. And gamers love to hate. My only criticism with 'B:I' was that one of the final twists felt awkward.. but the game was excellent to me.
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2014, 05:00:52 PM »

Quote from: th'FOOL on February 20, 2014, 03:47:02 PM

Quote from: Travis on February 20, 2014, 03:17:18 PM

All that said, I have seen this with movies where everyone is all about a movie once a twist or surprise unfolds only in time to not look back so favorably on it as the eighty minutes that lead up to the end were really not that good (The Usual Suspects is a movie that comes to mind for this example). 

whaaaaaaaaa...?!?!?!

Not to get too off topic, but yeah, I and a few other think that movie wasn't good and all the praise came from the ending.  For some muscle, here's Ebert's review:

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-usual-suspects-1995
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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2014, 06:48:11 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on February 20, 2014, 02:46:48 PM

I get what people are saying here didn't work for them in the game, but it is odd to see the press who lavished high raise when it was released come down on so hard.  

BI got As almost across the board (which, by the way, doesn't make it a AAA title, that has to do with how much money/effort was put behind it as a release), sitting within the top 5 releases of last year on GameRankings.  Why all of a sudden is it garbage?

not sure where the hate is coming from, but to me at least, it's the sense that the game is better than its component parts and when you break it down, there are areas that could have been better.  a good test of whether the honeymoon effect is affecting your opinion would be does it stand up to a 2nd playthrough.  does the combat drag down the game?  is the game as enjoyable when you know the story?  I don't think it fairs as well as other games last year.  
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« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2014, 09:23:37 PM »

Quote from: th'FOOL on February 19, 2014, 10:38:02 PM

I still don't get all the Bioshock Infinite hate, most of which I've heard from press. It was my GOTY last year and I couldn't stop playing it once I started, and pondered the ending for days after I completed it.

I certainly didn't hate Infinite; I enjoyed it and played it to completion. I think the problem was unrealistic expectations from the audience.  The original Bioshock was one of those games where everything just clicked, and the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.  Infinite's "parts" were all well done and polished to the nth degree, but it never transcended those parts like the original did.  And I think that's what most people were expecting; which is kind of like asking lightning to strike twice.  Even the best developers can't hit a grand slam each and every time, but Levine's track record has been stellar and most gamers expected he could simply do it again.  He came damn close, but Infinite didn't have that certain je-na-sais-I-don't-know-what that his previous Shock games had.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 09:25:52 PM by Laner » Logged
Greg Wak
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« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2014, 09:54:57 PM »

Quote from: Laner on February 20, 2014, 09:23:37 PM

Quote from: th'FOOL on February 19, 2014, 10:38:02 PM

I still don't get all the Bioshock Infinite hate, most of which I've heard from press. It was my GOTY last year and I couldn't stop playing it once I started, and pondered the ending for days after I completed it.

I certainly didn't hate Infinite; I enjoyed it and played it to completion. I think the problem was unrealistic expectations from the audience.  The original Bioshock was one of those games where everything just clicked, and the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.  Infinite's "parts" were all well done and polished to the nth degree, but it never transcended those parts like the original did.  And I think that's what most people were expecting; which is kind of like asking lightning to strike twice.  Even the best developers can't hit a grand slam each and every time, but Levine's track record has been stellar and most gamers expected he could simply do it again.  He came damn close, but Infinite didn't have that certain je-na-sais-I-don't-know-what that his previous Shock games had.

I think this is a fair description of how I felt. While the individual parts were well done, they never really came together for me.
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