Bioshock EP10: Fore!

By Shamus
on Aug 8, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

The title of this post isn’t a spoiler to the biggest turning point of the game. In fact, we named this episode after the 1986 album from Huey Lewis and the News, and not after a scene where you bludgeon Andrew Ryan to death with his own golf club.

Damnit. I messed that up, didn’t I?

Whelp, since we’re spoiling stuff: Rosebud is Luke’s father, Soylent Green is purple, Hans Gruber kills Dumbledore, the dead guy in the middle of the room is actually Keyser Soze, and Bruce Willis is a goat.

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From the Archives:

  1. Neko says:

    Dude, give us some sort of Warning for those Spoilers!

  2. Astor says:

    I always hate when people complain how you should have known about spoiler X because the series/film/book/game/whatever was released [insert number of years] ago. Hey, nimrod, in case you didn’t know there’s people being born every day, it’s not their fault if they haven’t been alive enough years to experience all the pop culture that you have. Geesh!

    • Paul Spooner says:

      There’s also the argument to be made that if the primary source of enjoyment in a piece of media is the novelty, it probably won’t have much value in the long run. Works that are enjoyable even if you’ve experienced them before are where it’s at. Nearly every “great” work of fiction or creativity has a large part of the value in the experience as a whole, not just the ending or some major twist. Ultimately, complaining about spoilers is a statement of cynicism on the lasting value of creativity and the existence of intrinsic value.

      • stupiddice says:

        That does not excuse spoilers at all. You can enjoy any sort of media as many times as you want, but you only have one first experience with it, where you don’t know how everything is resolved and the ending is up to speculation. Spoiling any part of the media causes it to lose and sense of wonderment. Like you said, every great work is made of multiple parts, including the twist, which often serves as the climax to the work. Also, some works go to great pains to set up there twist, foreshadowing it at every corner, while others use it take the plot in completely unexpected and new directions. Saying these things don’t matter is in itself a little cynical.

        • Cyanide says:

          Except that they found that spoilers increase enjoyment. I was only a little surprised. Sometimes it’s much better to start with the end.

          • Caffiene says:

            Actually, what stupiddice was saying is exactly one of the biggest flaws of that study (although it has quite a few*).

            The study specifically looked at enjoyment over only one first reading (it even excluded anybody who had already read the text).

            As stupiddice said, in real life you can enjoy a piece of entertainment as many times as you want. I can enjoy the media once without spoilers and then again with spoilers and get both of those enjoyable experiences. The study doesnt tell you that that is less enjoyable than watching the movie twice with spoilers.

            It also only found that spoilers were preferred when presented in the same format as the piece, either immediately before or within the piece itself. Completely different scenario to having a random person spoil something in conversation.

            *As an example of another: The texts in question were selected to be “twisty” and some are quite experimental, to the point that Im told that at least one of the texts is generally regarded as making no sense on the first readthrough. In other words: “Study including at least one text that is unintelligible without spoilers finds slightly more enjoyment when spoilers are given”.

          • Zukhramm says:

            The problem is, not everyone is the same and not every story is the same.

            Also, enjoyment is not a one-dimensional value, the joy of a surprise is different from that of the same story when I know what will happen. Which one is larger is irrelevant. I can read a story twice and get both. If I’m spoiled, I can only get one of them, If not, I can get both, and get more enjoyment (however you measure that).

            • Syal says:

              And some movies (Christopher Nolan’s come to mind) are based almost entirely around not knowing what comes next. Is there anyone who enjoyed The Game more when they knew how it ended?

            • Cuthalion says:

              This! I despise the pretentiousness of throwing that study around to excuse spoiling. IT’S NOT YOUR DECISION! If we’re “doing it wrong”, so be it.

      • Cuthalion says:

        My problem with this is that you’re basically saying that surprise is an invalid device. There’s nothing inherently wrong with something for having an added or different dimension on first exposure. Nor is there even anything wrong with something that’s only good once. Some forms of art are intentionally non-preservable, one-time events. There’s no need to dismiss something because it doesn’t have the particular brand of “lasting” or “intrinsic” creativity or value that you prefer, and no need to spoil others’ enjoyment of it once simply because you don’t think it’s worth their enjoying more then once.

        So, please, bear with the people who aren’t enjoying it right.

    • Dave B. says:

      Sure, it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to have seen every movie that you have. But, it is equally unreasonable to expect people to keep those twists a secret forever. Eventually, they will want to discuss the whole story, twists and all, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

      • Cuthalion says:

        They could discuss them with people who’ve already seen it… Isn’t that the point of discussing it twists and all? There are plenty of ways to have a private conversation these days.

        • Dave B. says:

          Yes, people can discuss movies privately with other people who have seen them. But look at cases like Star Wars where the reveal of a big twist is one of the most (mis)quoted lines from the entire franchise! That’s what I mean when I say you can’t stop everyone from ever discussing a movie.

      • Astor says:

        “[…] there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”
        They can use the spoiler tags!

        It’s a question of (online) etiquette.
        a) Generally, people don’t like being spoilered.
        b) There’s no particular reason to believe – much less to demand – that individuals *should* know a certain group of arbitrary, however old and/or famous, twists or spoilers.
        c) Hence, be mindful not to spoil things for others.

        • Dave B. says:

          I personally have no problem with following online etiquette whenever possible, but allow me to play Devil’s Advocate:

          a) Most, but not necessarily all people care about spoilers. I’m sure there are people who just can’t be bothered to spoiler-tag anything. That doesn’t absolve them of any responsibility, but it means that everyone else has to be extra careful, lest they accidentally have something spoiled for them.

          b) I agree that nobody has a “responsibility” to have seen any particular movie. Yet, I doubt many people have the patience to spoiler-tag everything forever. Right here in these comments, I see advocates of a spoiler “Statute of Limitations.” I like the idea, but no one can really agree on how long that should be, and that makes it much more difficult in practice.

          c) Yes :)

    • droid says:

      I personally don’t believe in spoilers. When I encounter a new book of fiction I choose a random point in it and if it is any good I read it to the end, then start at the beginning to get to the point I started at. (The random sample is for science! and also to tell if it is good before I invest the time to read the whole book.) What makes a story good isn’t that it uses a specific twist, it is how well the twist is crafted.

      This algorithm works less well for video games.

    • Wedge says:

      Things that are particularly old, though, have become part of the popular consciousness and it’s ridiculous to expect people not to talk about them. Everyone knows Vader is Luke’s father, or that Rosebud is his sled. I’m a fan of the “statute of limitations” rule on spoilers, for that reason.

      Still, Bioshock is (even today) probably recent enough to warrant treating spoilers seriously.

      • Cuthalion says:

        This. There are some things that are old enough and popular enough that it makes sense to really only avoid spoilers for children (to give them the chance to experience it for the first time) but not for adults (because it’s useful to be able to use those allusions in public).

        But just because something is OMGFIVEYEARS old doesn’t make it reasonable to expect everyone who has wanted to see/hear/play it to have done so. We don’t live in appointment television land anymore.

  3. Corpital says:

    Josh dying because he tried to clear the trap bolts with telekinesis and Reginald Cuftbert instead taking the bolts and ramming them into his arm because there might be drugs in them never gets old.

    Nothing else to say about it, all the bile and hate will be stored for the next episodes. Well, one little thing: Is it really bludgeoning, if the blunt thing pierced Ryans skull and gets stuck?

    One question, though: Who else, back then, completely forgot about the second half of the game and suffered a sudden recollection of grind and madness?

  4. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Fontaine putting on the act makes perfect sense-

    Fontaine can control you with the phrase, but it’s a very blunt sort of control. If the main character had known the entire time, he might have found a way to resist. He might have killed himself. He might have found a moment where he could derail Atlas’ plans. He might not have been as effective as if he really believed in what he was doing.

    Why risk it, when Fontaine can lay a sob story on top of his control phrase with so little effort? Why not make your plan more robust and less transparent when all it costs you is a little bit of acting? Plans without contingencies are what failures are made of.

    • Corpital says:

      The main problem, like the crew assumed, is Ryan. He apparently knew about the modifications to his “son”, but didn’t know you were this son. Probably not everything, but at least the “Would You Kindly…?”.

      The main character, even if he knew, wouldn’t be able to do anything against the person controlling him, if said person had minimal ability to reason. With Fontaine proved several times to NOT have.

      It might end up like a contract with a D&D genie after negotiations for a wish, but anyone with the apparent ability to observe every single movement of the protagonist should be able to spam “Would you kindly not do anything that might impair your ability to hear me”, “Would you kindly not do anything, Ryan tells you”, “Would you kindly do [whatever] NOW without any delay” etc.
      It is studid and, essentially, save-scumming…but it should work. Well, except for the fact, that Fontaine speaks like a heavily sedated narcoleptiv.

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        That would be more work- and less reliable- than just letting him think he has a good reason to do what you want him to do. We don’t know how open ended the instructions can be in the first place, and hoping that you’ll never loose sight of your subject or nothing will happen to prevent him from hearing you at any point are a bit risky.

        • Tim Charters says:

          Also, Atlas/Fontaine lost radio contact with you at least once (when you had to do chores for the guy who killed people and covered them in plaster). We don’t know how long the “spell” lasts, so if Jack had known he was being manipulated, that might have been enough to end the whole charade. Trusting that he would always have perfect radio reception, or that the radio would never get damaged even though Jack constantly gets into gun and plasmid fights, would be a pretty big risk.

          • Corpital says:

            Pretty good points. I admit defeat.

            It would still have been a sensible option between Ryan getting suicided and you falling down the ventilation shaft.

  5. Neko says:

    One thing I kept anticipating as a twist after this point in the game, but which never actually played out, was the Vita Chambers. Weren’t they keyed to Andrew Ryan’s DNA or something? I seem to recall an audiolog or two that touched on that as the reason he built them – so that he and his cronies were basically immortal.

    I thought “Aha, that’s why he didn’t appear to fear death – he’s planning to just get revived elsewhere and continue his nefarious plans!”. But it was never mentioned again.

    Perhaps it was an early plotline or opening for a sequel that never got used.

    • Robyrt says:

      Yeah, Ryan could have used a Vita-Chamber, but you can see that the one in his room is turned off. It’s more of a justification for how the player can respawn without going all the way back to the last checkpoint.

      Of course, like many good ideas, players will immediately use the Vita-Chamber to have less fun with more efficiency.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I believe you can find a Vita-Chamber that has explicitly been turned off near Ryan’s office.

        • MrGuy says:

          Which makes perfect sense until it doesn’t. YOU can revive at ANY vita-chamber you’ve been near recently. And they will merrily chain back until there’s one that works, even if you haven’t “activated” the closest one yet.

          So having the closest vita-chamber be unusable shouldn’t really matter. Unless Ryan has NEVER walked near a vita-chamber, there’s one SOMEWHERE that should be reviving him.

          • Muspel says:

            That’s more of a gameplay convention. Lore-wise, you can only be revived by nearby Vita Chambers. The game treats them like checkpoints, though, because if it just stuck you in whatever one was nearest, you might be able to skip past certain sections.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Whelp, since we’re spoiling stuff: Rosebud is Luke’s father, Soylent Green is purple, Hans Gruber kills Dumbledore, the dead guy in the middle of the room is actually Keyser Soze, and Bruce Willis is a goat.”

    And they are all tyler durden.

  7. Sydney says:

    I would watch those versions of all of those stories. Especially the last one.

  8. Spammy says:

    Maybe I’m spoiled now by games which offer more player choice and force the player to take actions that are normally reserved for cutscenes, but I wonder now why they didn’t have the player kill Andrew Ryan. Lock your feet in place and make you click to bludgeon him to death. It seems a little more odd considering how if you study the area immediately before Ryan, it’s a large open area with all the vending machines, exactly like there’s going to be a big final boss-fight there.

    • cavalier says:

      Could have been intended as a boss fight. Or, if you want to give the designers more credit, it was suppose to look like one. The player thinks they are going for the final confrontation but it’s actually the big reveal/plot twist.

      • Fleaman says:

        It’s probably a trick. A lot of gamers are extremely sensitive to things like a checkpoint in the lull after a long action segment, or a big wide open room that you had to pass through a one-way door to enter. Setting up and then subverting the expectation that a boss fight is coming up is super easy.

  9. RTBones says:

    You know, when you’re climbing Jacob’s ladder with the usual suspects, it really is hip to be square….

  10. The blood splatters on the screen kinda-sorta made sense for games like Fallout 3/NV in that I figured they were there for people who played in the third person (so you are, in fact, the camera). There should still have been an option to turn it off or choose a less odd-looking option (red flashing on the border of the screen, your health bar changing color, etc.).

    • DerekTheViking says:

      Options would certainly be nice – certain schemes just don’t work for me at all, but others might find the more in-your-face stuff breaks immersion. I’ve got a particular problem with Just Cause 2 at the moment, which leaves the cues waaay to late, starting with just dropping your tiny health bar which you never notice in natural play and no other feedback until you lose almost half your health, at which point you get an audio cue (your heartbeat); only once you are on death’s door do you get the big visual cue of desaturation.

      I know that the doom-marine grunt gets annoying, but at the very least I think a game should have something that draws your attention on every single hit. If you don’t even notice that you are in range until you’ve lost half your health, that’s a problem.

      On a similar note, one thing that I actually really liked from ARMA was the peripheral-vision system, where a small lens-flare on the edge of the screen would tell you if an NPC was visible off to that side (I can’t recall if they had to be moving). Given the limited FOV of most games, I thought this was a really elegant solution to fighting in wide-open spaces.

  11. Felix says:

    I’ve always thought the vita chambers would have made more sense if it was simply stated that they functioned for everyone. Sure, they are sci-fi gibberish to begin with, but if you make them universal then you avoid half the argument (why only the player) AND explain why there seem to be unlimited splicers. I suppose that would add difficulty with the main boss deaths, but you could add in some little bit where you activate a console that eliminates their genes from the system or something.

    • Viktor says:

      Make them cost a non-negligible amount of Adam. Then, you have the bosses die/respawn between stages instead of just running away, and your goal is to run them out of Adam. Splicers can respawn, too, but the vast majority of them are broke by now. That fixes a lot of related problems too, such as spawn-rushing Big Daddies and the utter lack of any real resource limits in the game.

    • Fleaman says:

      I was kinda hoping they’d pull that in Borderlands. Like, you’ve really only been fighting like the same five hundred bandits over and over. They just keep getting reconstructed by the New-Us, but they’re so dumb and insane that no one notices. Like, you just find ECHO recorders from Jack ranting at Hyperion’s board of directors, “So, okay let me explain this, I’m trying to purge a planet of its horrifying, frothing-at-the-mouth, and you’d better believe unwashed masses. So can you guys swing it so that, just maybe, we could stop resurrecting them all when I kill them?!” And the board just wring their hands and mumble something about quarterly earnings, and Jack says “Keep it cool, Jack, this’ll all be a funny memory when you’re a god.”

      Although, Vita Chambers are WAY less problematic than New-Us when it comes to plot holes, since Bioshock at least made an effort and said they only work for people related to Ryan, and New-Us at least work for all ten Vault Hunters, except for that one time, importantly. Kinda weird that they didn’t do anything with that, since it’d be super easy to justify – Jack wants them all turned off so he can kill everyone, but Angel is keeping them operational for the Vault Hunters. And when she dies, that stops happening (while you’re talking to Roland in the Control Core, a New-U would conspicuously retract back into the floor behind him), so that’s why she and Roland stay dead. Afterwards (probably by the time you’re done with Marcus’s loot stash), someone like Mr. Blake decides it’s time to give himself another promotion and secretly turns them all on again, but not for Jack. Simple. Nothing that couldn’t be explained in a few ECHOs.

  12. Mumbles says:

    I was born in 1986! Yay!

  13. Redingold says:

    I have to say, I don’t understand why Ryan did what he did. I get that the point was to demonstrate that despite your superior martial prowess, he was still winning ideologically, and he demonstrated this by choosing to die and forcing you to obey him, and then destroying his city so that Atlas couldn’t have it, but I don’t see why he decided that this was the best course of action.

    Suppose instead that Ryan had just said “Would you kindly put a bullet in your head?” and you had done, how would that have been a bad thing for Ryan? Atlas would’ve lost his one advantage, Rapture was still mostly intact, and Ryan still had some influence over the splicers. I see no downside here for Ryan.

    Ryan’s suicide makes sense if he thought he’d lost, because he would’ve turned it into a pyrrhic victory and shown that he was still superior intellectually and ideologically, but he quite clearly hadn’t lost, and so it makes no sense to me.

    • Grudgeal says:

      That would probably have run counter to his earlier statement that he can’t bring himself to hurt you now that he knows your identity.

      I mean, beyond all the times you’ve already died due to his traps and splicers and have been brought back by the Vita-Chamber up to that point, obviously.

      • MikhailBorg says:

        I think there’s a good case to be made that Ryan was no longer making rational decisions at this point. For example: his city is falling down around him, and he’s playing solo golf.

        • MrGuy says:

          Really? I think the final scene is Ryan’s moment of clarity after living in a delusion for months to years. Ryan hasn’t locked himself away thinking to live a quiet old retirement alone in his office.

          He’s been laboring under the illusion that his city was salvagable. That killing Atlas would somehow magically make everything go “back to normal” again. He’s obsessed with the idea. Atlas – the one roach he can’t seem to exterminate. The defiant recordings that “Rapture WILL rise.” But it doesn’t matter. The revolution has come and gone. His city of the best and brightest is replaced with the dead and insane.

          It takes realizing that his only son has been turned against him to realize it’s all hopeless. He realizes killing Atlas won’t fix anything. Rapture, his life’s work, is long dead.

          So he stops fighting. He decides to put the remains of Rapture out of its misery. And while he can’t save his son, he can at least show him what he’s become, to try and make his son understand why they both have to die…

          Which is why, I guess, that it makes no sense that there’s a way to reverse the self destruct. Or at least, if there was, why he didn’t hide it the key well enough to not be findable in time. Heck, even if the key was Ryan’s DNA, he could have ordered you to burn him to cinders if he’d needed to.

  14. Factoid says:

    I know Shamus is just joking here, but did anyone seriously think the title to this episode was a Spoiler? I mean if you already know what’s going to happen then yeah, it’s a spoiler…but what’s someone who has never experienced the game going to think. Maybe there’s a golf club in the level? Maybe you throw something and it accidentally hits someone it shouldn’t have?

  15. Heaven Smile says:

    Why do we regain control after killing Ryan in a cutscene? why not go all the way and make us watch our avatar do the action of putting the thingy in…the other thingy? If the game had a time limit because of the reactor exploding, we could have our “MAN CHOOSES” ending by NOT moving to the machine and give Atlas what he wants, by just doing nothing until it blows up.

    I never understood why Ryan has MORE control over you than Atlas did. Why would you design a weapon that can work against you, or works better when OTHERS use it? and why didn’t you lose control ASAP you heard the Would You Kindly at the beginning of the game? why its is more effective NOW than it did before? if the effects are more strong the more time passes, then the player SHOULDN’T be able to control its avatar AFTER how Ryan controlled you without you resisting.

  16. Nidokoenig says:

    Every time we get a look at the orange water I think “Is this the real life? Is this just Fanta sea?”

    34:29, in the suitcase: Is that a plush Big Daddy drill? Kinda want.

    The “Code Yellow” thing is weird. I mean, if someone just hops to something if someone says “Would you kindly”, that’d be weird, but it’s not out of the realm of believability that it wouldn’t arouse suspicion, people usually use that phrase with an expectation the person is going to do it. The idea that someone might just drop dead if someone says Code Yellow is silly, it’s far too big a risk for far too valuable an asset. You use something that will never come up, like Flatlander woman or Laputan machine.

  17. MrGuy says:

    I can almost imagine the pitch meeting for BioShock.

    “In the 1940’s, a die-hard objectivist billionaire named Andrew Ryan decided to build his utopia at the bottom of the sea – Rapture. A rich world built on the principal of self reliance. But Ryan had a falling out – an epic struggle with a ganster named Fontaine that pitted Ryan’s beliefs against survival of the city. War ensures.

    “Years later, the protagonist survives a plane crash to find himself in the ruins of Rapture. The city’s been ruined by war and strange genetic enhancements. He’s guided to fight his way out of the city by an apparently kindly stranger named Atlas. We build to a dramatic confrontation with Ryan in his office. But get this! It turns out the protagonist is Ryan’s son, and he’s been mind controlled by Atlas this whole time. Atlas is actually Fontaine! In a dramatic scene, Ryan reveals your “benefactor’s” betrayal, and realizing he’s defeated, orders you to kill him to prove his point!”

    The assembled video game execs are breathless, on the edge of their seats. You can hear a pin drop as the executives wait for the speaker to continue. Finally, able to stand the suspense no longer, one of the executives blurts out “So what happens NEXT???”

    Long pause.

    “Um….well….I guess you..fight your way through the city, kill Fontaine, and, um….live happily ever after?”

    • Ithilanor says:

      Instead of the correct answer, which is clearly “The Aristocrats!”

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Yup, the big ending should have been something to do with that other big phrase in this episode:

      “A man chooses, a slave obeys!”

      Up to that point I’m generally okay with it being very linear, but after that section I felt like there really should have been more of a choice of how to proceed. It really needed to give you choices to make and ways for the player to feel like they are driving the plot forward rather than continuing to be a puppet.

  18. patrick johnston says:

    The worst thing about the ending is that it so easily could have been better. If the final fight had been against Atlas and not Fontaine it would have been much less of a let down. I realize that they were the same character the entire time but if they had cut that entire concept and just kept it as Atlas the character would have been so much stronger. He could have been a man of purpose corrupted in his quest to destroy Ryan until he became just as evil as the man he was fighting.

    That isn’t even the only way to improve the plot. There are so many ways you could quit effectively continue the plot after Ryans death. The main problem is that it feels like they didn’t care to. His death was the main climax of the game. They only continued so that the game didn’t feel to short and so that they could give you a big final boss. The entire last part feels like they made their game and then let the intern finish up the last two hours because the big boys couldn’t be bothered.

  19. Jace911 says:

    @Shamus: there’s a typo in your post, it’s “goasts” not “goats”.

  20. ACman says:

    -“Do you like Huey Lewis and The News?”

    -“They’re okay.”

    -“Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically.

    The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humor.”

    -“Hey Halberstram?”

    -“Yes, Allen?”

    -“Why are their copies of the style section all over the place, d-do you have a dog? A little chow or something?”

    -“No, Allen.”

    -“Is that a raincoat?”

    -“Yes it is!….

    In ’87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is ‘Hip to be Square’, a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics.

    But they should!

    Because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself….

    Hey Paul!”

    -“Wha..”

    -“YAARRGGG!!!!!!! TRY GETTING A RESERVATION AT DORSIA NOW, YOU FUCKING STUPID BASTARD! YARRR! YOU FUCKING BASTARD!”

    It’s hip to be square. Hip to be square.

  21. anaphysik says:

    To be fair, Ecclesiastes 3 (well, 3:1 to 3:8) is pretty damn good poetical stuff, even to godless monsters like myself.

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