Bioshock EP1: Andrew Ryan’s Pipe Dream

By Shamus Posted Wednesday May 15, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 120 comments

Now that the third BioShock game is out, it’s about time to release the first episode of our third season of Spoiler Warning for the second time. The first thing to note is that this introduces our fifth host and the first BioShock game (which is our second first-person shooter and the second game where Josh gets to chug a fifth to cure secondary wounds) as well as our first session to feature a fourth commentator.

Got it? Super.

Link (YouTube)

And so begins the re-release of our BioShock season. This season has kind of become shorthand among the crew for “season which began well but which descended into bile and madness by the end”. We’ll say things in conversation like, “I’m not sure I want to cover Metro. I’m afraid it’ll turn into another BioShock.”

Remember that this game is one of the big catalysts of the still-ongoing DRM debates. Sure, we’ve had bad DRM before BioShock and we’ve had worse since then, but I see this as a point where the debate got hot enough that it began showing up in the news and “what kind of DRM does it have?” became an important question for customers to ask. It’s certainly the point where I entered the fray and became known as “that crank who’s obsessed with DRM”.

Even years later, I’m still not sure what I think of the game. Like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it’s pretty good by modern standards, but pretty thin compared to its System Shock grandsire. I’ve played through BioShock once, and I don’t have any particular desire to do it again.


From The Archives:

120 thoughts on “Bioshock EP1: Andrew Ryan’s Pipe Dream

  1. X2-Eliah says:

    I still think the audio’s just fine…

    Hey Shamus hey Shamus hey Shamus hey have you decided on the next season’s content?

    1. Shamus says:

      I think we have it worked out. We’re probably going to record the first block of episodes this Sunday.

      Should I announce it? Crap. I really should. Also, I need to start photoshopping the title cards. Hm.

      1. Wedge says:

        I’m still clinging to the vain hope that you’ll someday be able to exorcise the demons from your computer that prevent you from doing a Deus Ex season.

        1. Heaven Smile says:

          Dont you mean System Shock 2 season? or haven’t they noticed the version that works on modern computers? It is apropiate given that:
          1)Bioshock Infinite was released
          2)They are reposting Bioshock 1 videos
          3)What better juxtaposition than talking about the grandaddy of these supposed “spiritual successors”, System Shock 2.
          4)Hell, if they REALLY want to go back, they may as well try Ultima Underworlds.

          Either that or the following games:
          Ultima IV The Quest Of The Avatar

          Its a win-win in either case.

          1. guy says:

            Deus Ex ran fine on Shamus’ machine. The stream was what got possessed by Cyborg Satan.

          2. Neko says:

            Incidentaly, System Shock 2 got put on Steam the other day by whatever company has the IP these days. I’m curious to see whether it has any fixes applied to it so that it will run on modern windowses… but I already own it… but that didn’t stop me with Morrowind… hmmm

          3. Humanoid says:

            Go instead for the other half of the Bioshock portmanteau: Bioforge. Added relatively recently to GOG.

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        You should do an announcement of the announcement ETA of the proclamation of the news of what that game is. I hear it’s a thing that gaming industry does a lot. Maybe also a photoshopped teaser image of you photoshopping the teaser images for that season.

      3. Michael says:

        Any chance of a Diecast this week? No Photoshop required!

        1. Shamus says:

          Diecast was originally slated for today, but Josh needed more time. So he uploaded some BioShock to keep us distracted. If he fails us again tomorrow I’ll give his home address to the angry mob and let you settle it yourselves.

          1. Michael says:

            Well, Bioshock is a more than adequate stopgap. And I hope Josh gets well soon. (Because my angry-mob guys don’t like it if they crumble too easy…)

          2. anaphysik says:

            Damn, I wish we had the fan clout to do that with Disclosure Alert.

            On the other hand, if we did then people would have just started camping outside Aldowyn’s dorm/house instead of making the trek every time ;D

          3. Hal says:

            I put on my peasant clothing and equip my pitchfork.

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              Don’t forget your short pants, and your being on fire.

              1. MrGuy says:

                And all was laid to burnination.

                Man, I miss Mumbles. :(

      4. el_b says:

        still hoping youll play bioshock 2, its a lot tighter storywise and you get a huge ass drill!

        1. Neko says:

          Can it be used for drilling other things?

          1. Not if you want it to remain true to the spirit of the franchise!

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Only if you go to space and decide to mine uranus.

          3. Keeshhound says:

            The Heavens, perhaps.


            Drill only run was so much fun in that game.

  2. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Ah, Bioshock. Really good atmosphere. A story that was very good at times, and delivered one of video games’ great twists, but lasted past its welcome. Generally shallow gameplay that gave you a lot of powers but required very little of the player in terms of using them.

    1. MrGuy says:

      OK, set spoiler tags to stun.

      Bioshock vs. Jade Empire. Who had the better twist? Go!

      I vote Bioshock because the “something’s not right here” was telegraphed a bit iu Jade Empire. People hinted about “the hole in your fighting style” multiple times. So the details of the betrayal were a surprise, but the manner of you having an exploitable weakness was not.

      Whereas (for me) the whole “would you kindly” mind control thing in Bioshock was a huge shock at the time, and only really “obvious” in retrospect.

      1. Fleaman says:

        Spoiler failure. Be advised: Strike tags shit themselves after a newline.

        1. MrGuy says:

          Interesting. May be browser-specific behavior?

          On Chrome/Windows 8, all is well. I see everything properly obfuscated. What are you using?

          1. Fleaman says:

            ……….. internet explorer.

      2. wheals says:

        As somebody who hasn’t played either games, and doesn’t even know what the twist of Jade Empire is, those don’t seem to be very…spoilery spoilers. I still don’t know what the twist of Jade Empire is by looking at them, in fact.

  3. I-Spy says:

    Ah, yes, Bioshock. A game I thought told its story through the environment so well, along with being pretty fun to play in the beginning. To completely petering out by the time you go golfing with Andrew Ryan.

    So glad I rented this game instead of buying it. Its certainly worth experiencing once, but then never again.

  4. Spammy says:

    On the one hand I do want you guys to cover Metro: 2033 because it’a fantastically atmospheric game with a host of little details to notice. On the other hand yeah it’s a first person shooter and (I thought) a kind of hard one. I don’t know if I could take it if you got to the Library and spend three episodes cussing out the Librarians as Josh tries to figure out how to get through the level and not make them mad. I never figured it out.

    1. Ryan says:

      The difficulty would be a huge problem with Metro, especially since good (read:Careful) play isn’t super fun to watch, and sloppy play has increasing returns on difficulty as you burn through supplies you should be saving. I never even got to the Library on my last playthrough, I was counting on being able to buy air filters in Polis; there weren’t any, so I had about three minutes of air to get there.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Metro 2033 is pretty good at giving your filters when you run low. Just look around in the levels.
        For example when you start the level after Polis, there are some filters immediatly to your left.

      2. jarppi says:

        You got a point there. I’ve played through Metro several times now and it still requires careful play. So making a season of that propably wouldn’t be the best idea. As someone in the cast said, if you can’t break it just by walking in, it won’t work in Spoiler Warning (propably remember that wrong but whatever, you got the point).

        However, I’d like to see Shamus’s thoughts on Metro 2033 here in the blog.

  5. zob says:

    I’d say first Dead Space is a better game than Bioshock to take on the System Shock mantle.

    1. Mark says:

      Yes! I remember thinking the exact same thing when I first played Dead Space: I would have been delighted to play a System Shock 3 which had the same sort of atmosphere and feel.

      In fact, I heard a rumor once that DS was actually going to be a System Shock game originally, but I’ve never been able to find anything to back that up.

    2. Weimer says:

      I own and love the first two Dead Spaces, but I wouldn’t describe them as anything beyond Not As Stupid Resident Evil IN SPACE.

      What follows is me whining about Dead Space.

      The main difference and the most serious flaw of DS1 is the lack of an antagonist.

      The thing everyone knows about SS games is the antagonist. SHODAN is a very good adversary; She is an instantly recognizable “face” of your opposition and she has stated goals and plans to reach them.

      The EVIL SPACE BACTERIA doesn’t really have any goals or interests other than creation of necromorphs. This is fine in theory, but it turns the necros into the walkers in the Walking Dead, random and undefined hazards to raise the stakes when the writer needs to do so. Since they don’t have any personality or agency beyond Agressive Obstacle, the only thing we have left to care about in the story is the well-being of the protagonist.

      To be fair, DS1 Isaac is totally a character everyone cares about, right?

      This is why I think they introduced the preacher guy as the “face” of the evil cult in DS3.

      Dammit I should stop writing extra long comments.

      1. GM says:

        and hide over half of them too ta dah.

      2. Lame Duck says:

        I would more specifically describe it as Not As Stupid Resident Evil 4 IN SPACE! And being not as stupid unfortunately doesn’t make it smart, it just makes it less hilarious.

      3. zob says:

        I think you should play System Shock 2 again to remember what it was about and how it’s story unfolds. You seem to miss similarities between DS1 and SS2.

    3. anaphysik says:

      Dead Space is also definitely something to check out for the ‘didn’t really bring any guns’ thing that Shamus mentions in this ep. With the exception of the guard rifle (which is available early but pretty weak, especially with how it’s most obviously suited to head- and bodyshots whereas all of the enemies are resistant to those but weak to limb damage), ALL of the weapons that you can find and use (including your initial one) are all tools. Lots and lots of mining tools, perfect for a mining ship. Heck, even the superpowers that you get were designed for technical use (like kinesis for moving heavy machinery around). It’s not some perfect ground-up design paradigm, of course, but it is damn refreshing, and is definitely a cool aesthetic.

  6. JPH says:

    Having replayed System Shock 2 recently, I think Bioshock is vastly superior to it. System Shock 2 has a decent story, pretty good atmosphere, terrible game feel, and horrendous balance issues. I think Bioshock is superior on all four of those fronts, with the possible exception of story because of the last few hours.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I agree with JPH on this one, but he already knew that.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Thirded. Tried playing SS2 and gave up halfway through. Might have been that I’d already played Bioshock and it was better, but I still thought it really wasn’t as good as everyone says it was.

        1. I did like how you were required to return to parts of the ship you’d been in before. About the only thing I’d gripe about with that mechanic is that it was often so linear that to my modern ear, I thought perhaps I was being given a plot choice (which faction to back) when in reality, it’d just be an ambush and I’d be back working for Shodan.

          You might give it another whirl (assuming this isn’t how you played it to begin with) using the latest version of the System Shock 2 Rebirth mod. Mostly this just makes the graphics look awesome, so if gameplay is where it falls down for you, never mind.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Nah, I actually thought the graphics were pretty good for its day (compare to Deus Ex.) My complaint is basically that it felt a lot like Bioshock, but with less ammo and some really stupid design decisions (eg a skill system based around strict pass/fail checks). The survival element could have been cool, but it always felt like an annoyance to me and I was never really scared.

    2. Shamus says:

      For those curious why I’m such a SS2 fan:

      * Genuinely creepy atmosphere: I just never found BioShock all that atmospheric. “Oh no! Crazed Objectivists! Spoooky!” Just didn’t compare to insane AI and the Organic Borg.
      * Actual scarcity: It really does the “low on resources” thing. You sneak, you peek around corners. You make your shots count. BioShock always felt too free with the resources.
      * Actual inventory: Pick things up and save them for later! Use your limited space and choose what’s most important to you. In BioShock? Oh hey, some food! I’ll stash that away in my inventory for later so I – Oops. Looks like my avatar is a stunning dumbass who rams everything down the moment he grabs it. Resource management? Bah.
      * Classes, leveling up: Do I want to specialize in tech, combat, hacking, or PSI? The game has replay value because one build feels very different from another. In BioShock? Pfft. Why make the player face difficult choices and tradeoffs? Let’s just give them everything! In fact, let’s MAKE them acquire all powers in order to proceed!
      * Open level design. BioShock was a corridor shooter where you could sometimes choose between which corridor you wanted to do first. SS2 gave us massive levels with lots of freedom to move around.
      * Enemy variety: BioShock had WAY too many splicers. My gosh. If you cut the splicer population in HALF it would still be too many.
      * Suspense: Related to previous, but I prefer the unpredictable encounters in SS2. In BioShock, the game just HAD to ram a dozen or so splicers down your throat when you went through a room, and then again when you backtracked later, because screw you, player. There was no sense of suspense because the game harangued the player with constant, pestering combat. Attacks weren’t a surprise, they were routine.
      * No pipe dream: Pipe dream is wearisome.

      BioShock was simpler, shallower, shorter, smaller, and a little too pretentious for my tastes.

      1. In my opinion, the most suspenseful and scary part of System Shock 2 is the area in the middle of engineering, command, and the cargo bays.

        For starters, you are low on ammo (usually) here, and unless the zombies (or friggin’ robots) say something, they’re pretty much silent. The doors all make the same noise when opening or closing, so unless you watch every door you open shut after you pass, you never know if it was just the door automatically resetting itself or a zombie getting one doorway closer to you.

        However, SS2 did commit the sin of having unskippable cutscenes.

      2. JPH says:

        It seems like the aspects of System Shock 2 you consider to be strong points I consider to be weak, extraneous bits that were thankfully clipped off in its successor.

        The leveling system was overbloated and poorly-thought-out, with a plethora of stats and skills, many of which were redundant. (Eg: If you sink points into energy weapons, you have chosen incorrectly.) I also didn’t really find System Shock 2’s atmosphere all that interesting; okay, evil AI, that’s definitely not a thing we’ve seen a million times before.

        I’ve got nothing against the inventory in System Shock 2, but I did not miss it at all in Bioshock. Not eating/drinking what you don’t need at the moment is pretty simple, and having to open an inventory just to eat or drink would have been tedious.

        And pipe dream is indeed meh, it’s my biggest problem with Bioshock, but I consider System Shock 2’s hacking minigame even worse. It was based almost entirely on luck, and tying that to a resource is both irritating and completely unfair.

        I hope none of this seems like me saying YOUR OPINION IS WRONG BECAUSE MINE IS DIFFERENT or whatever. Different perspectives, etc.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “I hope none of this seems like me saying YOUR OPINION IS WRONG BECAUSE MINE IS DIFFERENT or whatever. Different perspectives, etc.”

          Hey,you arent allowed to do that on the interwebs!

          My thoughts on the leveling and inventory are that they arent always needed,yet people constantly try to cram them into everything without fleshing them out.Leveling was not that important to either of these two games,and a bit of tightening wouldve made ss2 definitely better.

          Inventory,however,does seem to have a place in these two games.Bs gives you stores left and right,and then crams in a bunch of food,and yet the only thing you can stack are syringes and ammo.

          As for the atmosphere,I really preferred ss2,which is what ultimately led me to finish that one,while I stopped bs somewhere in half,and simply couldnt finish.

      3. X2-Eliah says:

        In BioShock, the game just HAD to ram a dozen or so splicers down your throat when you went through a room, and then again when you backtracked later, because screw you, player.

        But… Doesn’t System Shock (2) also have a massive ton of “Screw you, player” things in it?
        E.g. “you are with a wrench vs. 10 guys with a wrench”, “You have no resources left, have a nice inevitable death”, “Didn’t choose the right build so can’t access/beat this part”…

        1. There’s a bit of a difference. SS2 is “old school game hard” where if you go into an area unprepared you will die. If you waste all of your ammo trying to break the unbreakable glass, you will die. If you try to win through every setup by jumping in guns blazing, you will die.

          It accommodates many strategies, but it’s also not like many modern games that might give you a more clever way to get past a hard fight or provide you with more ammo than you’ll ever need. While playing, I eventually got to the point where I feared DoT areas (radiation) more than any of the enemies thanks to weapons/skills.

      4. MrGuy says:

        I would like to point out that at no point in the game were you required to have BEEEEEEES! to proceed.

        Also, I wonder a bit, Shamus, whether some of this is the “their first album was better” phenomenon. You had an amazing experience at the perfect time for you. There was so much new and different you loved. The things you didn’t love blended into the background or were forgiven. It was fresh, new, different, magical. The experience changed you.

        And then the next installment comes around, and the magic isn’t there again. The things that were amazing and new before aren’t new anymore. The thing that was different from anything else isn’t different enough. The magic is gone.

        The things that are different from before bother you. Maybe they’re the reason it doesn’t feel the same? You pick apart the things that are different you don’t like, forgetting the things that annoyed you before that are better now. It all feels so…derivative. You revolutionized the world last time. The least you could do is revolutionize it again.

        Or maybe it’s you that’s changed.

        “Born to Run” is by almost any reasonable measure a better album than “Nebraska.” But that doesn’t mean there are people who will defend to the death the opposite opinion. To each their own.

        1. Shamus says:

          The fact that BEEES were optional really has no impact on the point that the game didn’t ask you to make hard choices. “Hm, this time I’ll get bees, and then next time through the game I’ll get… not bees?”

          I don’t think it’s nostalgia glasses: I wrote a novel based on System Shock 1, but I credit SS2 with being the superior game by far. If I was just viewing things based on emotion and an idealized past, I’d be holding up the first game as superior.

          SS2 hits several notes that we just don’t see in a lot of other games: Solitude and isolation, first-person perspective, leveling up, open-ended environments, and scarcity. Sure, other games have one or two of these, but precious few games have all of them. It’s a bundle of my favorite things combined, and a lot of other people look at it and say, “Nice. But it would be way better if they got rid of the inventory and the leveling.”

          That’s the way the market goes sometimes. I’ll admit my preferences aren’t popular, but I’m sure they’re real. :)

          1. I also loved the solitude and isolation, but a little voice piped up in the back of my head:

            “They set it up so you’d be the only one left on the ship because they didn’t have the game assets to put in loads of enemies, let alone allies, at once, genius. That’s why all of the bodies eventually vanish.”

            1. Cybron says:

              Restrictions breed creativity.

              1. Blov says:

                Having played through SS 2 (I got to the final level and didn’t really enjoy the aesthetic or layout of that level at all then quit and my computer wiped before I picked it up again, ho hum) after Bioshock, I have to agree with Shamus that the combination is pretty unique and special. I’d maybe add that I think it gave you a lot more in the way of real options than Bioshock does – I think if I played through the first deck of System Shock 2 four times I could easily run through four very different builds which would approach a lot of the interesting little problems of the level very differently (so, sprinting past turrets vs. telekinesis vs. shooting them out vs. hacking vs. just leaving the extra resources you get by passing them). I played my game using a psionic to stop weapons degrading and small arms, whereas others just go for the melee powerhouse or for psionic ludicrousness and those are all real choices and change how the game plays.

                On Bioshock I can basically hack or destroy a turret and will always have zap and might be able to get hide from cameras but turrets aren’t a huge deal anyway. Not that SS 2 didn’t have a few problems with the opacity and balance of its RPG system but I think today it holds up as being something more special as a gameplay experience than Bioshock.

  7. guy says:

    Coincidentally, I picked up System Shock 2 yesterday.

    I forgot how hard videogames of that era could be. When one has a wrench and is fighting ten guys who also have wrenches, one is in trouble.

    1. Shamus says:

      I just played around with the game yesterday, contemplating another play-through. One thing that I’d forgotten is how they hadn’t standardized the controls yet. The game didn’t default to WASD, but to some goofy offshoot where A and D were for turning and Z and C were for moving left and right. There are a lot of little oddities like this in the game – things which didn’t seem unusual at the time but which seem outlandish today.

      Although at least the controls could be rebound. Nothing beats the original System Shock for finger-twisting controls.

      1. I seem to remember a LOT of early FPSes were like that. Didn’t a lot of them think that using “Q” and “E” (or something similar) for turning left and right (what we in the future use the mouse for) was a great idea? Then when you could finally look up and down, they used PgUp and PgDn with the End key returning your POV to being level with the ground.

        I guess part of it was that they wanted players who didn’t like using the mouse to have substitutes, but they certainly didn’t put it through much market testing. Or their playtesters were all double-jointed polydactyls.

        We should have a national holiday for the day when “C to crouch, X to jump” were finally removed from the industry standard control setup.

        1. Fleaman says:

          I knew a guy who played first person shooters using left-click to shoot and right-click to walk. I don’t know the rest of his scheme since we burned him at the stake after learning about that part, which I guess was kind of an overreaction and left a hole in our Left4Dead team.

          Transitional controls, man. Have you ever looked back at the N64 controller? How were we shaped back then?

          1. Shamus says:

            The right-click to walk might be a holdover from the Quake era. There were actually pro players who did this!

            It was observed that people could reverse direction left-to-right faster than forward-to-backward, because in WASD, A and D each had their own finger but W and S shared a finger. The thinking was that lifting your finger to move between W and S caused you to stand still for a few critical milliseconds.

            I don’t know how true this was. I can’t help but think holding down right mouse button so much would lead to some serious carpel tunnel. But this was a thing people did.

            1. AlecW says:

              I used right-click-forwards until the mid 2000s, a weird habit I picked when I finally got converted to mouse look during the QuakeWorld / HLDM era.

              The problem is I still can’t play HL1 without it, the muscle memory is too deep, which really screws with me now. I played a LOT of HLDM, was seriously competitive actually.

              Shame HLDMSource is totally broken :(

          2. Michael says:

            I right-click to walk. Or, with luck, auto-run. F & J to strafe, H jump, G retreat. And I always have to invert mouselook.

            But I am oooooold. My first gaming platform was a Commodore PET. You young whippersnappers with your WASD don’t know you’re born. I remember when this were all fields…

          3. swenson says:

            That is horrifying to me. I have my very specific set of controls that makes perfect sense to me (based off of Valve games, I must admit, because Portal was the very first FPS I ever played and HL2 was the second); anything from days of yore just makes me want to run away and hide. Seriously, did you people have extra fingers back then? Or were you all just quadruple-jointed?!

            Of course, none of this is necessary these days, what with one button to do everything. I really need to dig around and see if there’s a way to separate out some of ME3’s Awesome Button functions.

      2. Neko says:

        This is the point in the discussion where I must shamefully admit that while I played SS2 to death, I could never quite get into the original thanks to the controls. I love the DOS-era games, but it started to feel like maybe I should print out little labels for all my keys.

        It’s still on my stack of games to Get Back To And Finish, Someday.

  8. Colin says:

    I understand the comparison between Bioshock and Human Revolution in terms of their relation to their predecessors, but I still cringe a little to hear the two games mentioned in the same vein. If Human Revolution deserves to be called “thin”, I think it would be apt to call Bioshock “starved and emaciated”.

  9. Astor says:

    As someone who loved System Shock 2 I think Bioshock was a very worthy spiritual successor. Of course, it was simplified but I think the simplifications were largely (not completely) in order to obtain a rather tight and well polished system. SS2 for all it’s awesomeness and paths of progression could be “broken” at times.

    So I guess it’s time to watch the Bioshock season and see what the complaints are!

  10. Nano Proksee says:

    I uninstalled this game right after the scene in the locked room. Way to scary for me. It will be good to watch this season.

    Also, yay! Mumbles!

    Also, in regards to being a good story-teller and give the spectator a real fear of death, George R. R. Martin solved that by killing main characters left and right, and it worked pretty well. Always terrified of turning the page in my favorites characters chapters.

    1. Nick Lester Bell says:

      Had the exact opposite effect on me. Once he started killing characters, I knew no one was safe. Which meant there was no reason to get attached to any character. Once I stopped attaching to characters, all I had was a long, meandering plot that I wasn’t invested it. I stopped reading at that point.

      1. Harry says:

        This seems very bizarre to me. You can’t get attached to characters if you’re worried they’re going to die? I’m the opposite in that I find a story where I know that all the main characters are going to be safe and have a happy ending is just dull.

        I’m not raggin’ on you if that’s how you like your entertainment! I just can’t really understand the reasoning behind it, I guess.

        1. Nick Lester Bell says:

          For me, “everyone will die” is just as dull as “no one can die”. I never cared about the fate of Westeros. I cared about the characters and their struggles, specifically Ned Start . Losing that anchor started my disinterest. As the bodies continued pile up, it became a game of waiting for people to die, rather than hoping for any of them to succeed. I found it less and less interested, and no one managed to re-capture my attention. So I gave up on the whole series.

      2. swenson says:

        I am a combination of both of these. Once people started dying, I was terrified for awhile… and then somehow in the third book or so, I stopped caring about people and this strangely made the books even more interesting to me. Not having to worry about this character or that character let me just enjoy the ride. When somebody dies, I’m now more like “oh, that’s an interesting development” as opposed to “NO NOT THEM ANYONE BUT THEM.”

        That all being said, if Dany, Tyrion, or Arya die, I’m going to riot. Anybody else is fair game, even if I would still be a little sad at a couple of deaths.

      3. From what I understand, at least one character IS safe, and that’s his self-insertion character. Take a wild guess which smart-mouthed and often abused character that is?

  11. Newbie says:

    Rutskarn: “AH! Giant Eagle. That’s not an enemy in this game is it?”

    Rutskarn was writing Bioshock Infinite as this season was ongoing. I’M ON TO YOU RUTSKARN!!!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      It was actually foreshadowing,and only Rutskarn caught it.He truly is a god amongst men.He is The Star Child!

    2. anaphysik says:

      Wow, that’s a long delay Ruts was on. Nearly TWENTY SECONDS?! Ouch. (Disclosure Alert runs on a ~5-second delay (and hence Aldowyn is always five seconds stupider), and if we notice it being much longer than that, we just refresh the twitch stream.)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well one can allow for 20 seconds of dead air when one is regular (almost) every week.

        What Im saying is,upload the continuation already.

      2. Alexander The 1st says:

        And that’s why you can run an Alpha Protocol run – 20 seconds would be impossible for the conversations in that game.

  12. Thomas says:


    The start of Bioshock is really good, everything gets introduced in such a cool way. I think it helps that you can move around for all of it and it’s a while before dialogue kicks in. That moment when you see the No Gods banner suddenly pop up from the dark
    EDIT: Still don’t like the cartoony art style. I think thats just me though

    1. wheals says:

      “The start of Bioshock is really good”

      I’ve never played Bioshock, and all I knew about it was “blah blah Ayn Rand blah blah DRM blah blah Fountainhead” when I first watched this episode, a few years ago. I had seen the SW of all the other bad games (therefore, the ones I didn’t mind being spoiled about) at that point, so I decided to watch their worst game besides Fallout 3.

      So, there’s this plane crashing out of nowhere. No setting, I don’t know when this is taking place. Somehow, you’re fine but every single other person is dead. You get out of the plane and jump into a ship for no reason. It then takes you to… some kind of underwater city? What? Is that normal for this universe? There’s an elevator somewhere, I think. You run around totally alone. Is everybody else dead or something? No clue. Josh finds a needle, and being Josh, injects himself. Now he can shoot lightning out of his face! Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be set in some sort of realistic setting? He then proceeds to shoot things that are standing in the same puddle of water as he (wait, why isn’t this place completely flooded or completely dry?) with no harmful effects. All the while, Mumbles is NOT mumbling, Rutskarn is cracking puns, and Shamus is complaining that this game is not System Shock.

      If that’s a “really good” start, I don’t even know what a bad one would be. Fallout 3, I guess.

      1. Ithilanor says:

        Well, it really depends on immersion and atmosphere, as they were talking about in the episode. Watching the game instead of playing it removes you from that, not to mention having four people talking about things and goofing off; you won’t get the full experience.

      2. Thomas says:

        It’s like we’re two entirely separate people, you were listing all that stuff off and I was thinking ‘yes isn’t that brilliant’ and then it turns out they were meant to be negatives. I guess you must be a sci-fi over fantasy person, because in media res and a sense of ‘wow I have no idea whats going on’ fill me with delight

  13. Humanoid says:

    Yay, the Bioshock episodes were the only ones I had missed watching first time around – i.e. around the time Viddler committed corporate suicide.

    Was suffering so much SW withdrawal that I tried to watch the HL2 episodes for the third time – and suffered motion sickness and had to lie down for a half-hour as a consequence for the third time. A different episode each time too, so it’s not any specific scene, and I only got 10-15min in each time.

    It’s mildly surprising because I’m not usually prone to the problem: there’s only been one game that’s ever given me motion sickness from playing it, and it was so unremarkable I don’t even remember which game it was (I think it was just some random demo from a magazine demo CD), and these particular videos are likewise the only videos to have had that effect. Of course, I don’t know whether actually *playing* HL2 would have any negative effect, because I’ve never tried it.

    1. guy says:

      Half-Life 2 gives me motion sickness sometimes, only game that’s ever done that. I’m not really sure why, since all the obvious explanations apply as well if not better to other games that don’t.

      1. Eldiran says:

        Me too! It’s the vehicle sections, for me. The movement, and the fact that your camera view is independent of the vehicle, is just too realistic for me. Which you would think would be a good thing…

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      Of the games I can remember, HL2 is the most likely to give me motion sickness (aka nausea). It doesn’t happen always, but.. well, it is there. There’s just something about the movement in that game..

      Also, Games that share HL2’s engine (Like portal, Portal 2) have that issue.

      I’ve tried all kinds of fov settings, I don’t think that’s the issue in this case. Probably more to do with how the engine handles movement accelerations…?

      1. Humanoid says:

        Hmm, consulting a Wikipedia list of Source engine games, the only one I’ve played is VtM:Bloodlines, and I didn’t have a problem with that.

        Maybe building it on an alpha version of the engine (exaggerating a little) was a good thing. :)

  14. Lame Duck says:

    Bioshock is a game that I loved at the time, but I’ve never been able to successfully replay. Honestly, I think the only element that is unequivocally good is the setting and without the novelty of the first playthrough, that just isn’t enough to keep me playing.

    I don’t know, maybe I’ll manage to complete it again someday.

  15. Lachlan the Mad says:

    I will pay you to do a Myst game. Seriously, I will pay you.

    I mean, I won’t pay you *much*. Like 5 bucks or something. But I’ll pay you!

    1. JPH says:

      They should set up a Spoiler Warning: Myst Edition kickstarter!

      It doesn’t matter whether or not money is actually relevant to them playing and recording Myst. I mean, just look at Penny Arcade’s shenanigans!

      1. Humanoid says:

        It may yield more cash if they did the opposite, take money to not play Myst. “Unless you collectively cough up $1m, we’re going to spend the next half-decade and beyond playing through the various iterations of Myst!”

        1. Keeshhound says:

          Do the Curiosity: What’s in the box? thing. Start at $50. Everyone can either donate against that $50 to get a Spoiler Warning: Myst, or they can donate with to raise the amount that needs to be donated against.

    2. Tom says:

      Query: should they do one of the not-very-good Myst games (i.e. the ones they outsourced to a studio other than Cyan) so we can have lots of the frustrated bile and Rutskarn Meltdowns we all love, or one of the good ones?

      1. Lachlan the Mad says:

        They should do Myst III. I don’t know who made that one, but out of the games I’ve played (I’ve played 4/6, missing Myst IV and Uru), Myst III is far and away the best, mostly because of Saadrevo and the beautiful endgame Age. And I really want to see how Josh (or whoever is playing) does in that endgame, and see if they can get up to the super famous line…

        Saadrevo: NOOOOOO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOO!

        1. Tom says:

          The first two were all internal development by Cyan. Myst 3 was done by Presto, Myst 4 by Ubisoft and as far as I’m concerned, it shows – they feel noticeably different to play. They kind of feel like the dreaded Myst Clones of the late 90s even though they’re officially sanctioned.

          Uru was done by Cyan (the outsourcing of the other games was so they could focus all their attention on it), and I understand Myst 5 was basically stitched together using Uru’s assets after that online venture was abandoned.

          Myst 4 is by far the worst (though 3 has its low points: even an actor as good as Brad Dourif can only do so much when he’s only allowed to use one word!); it cheerfully rides roughshod over prior canon, it has gameplay elements and a stupid dream sequence completely incongruous with the rest of the series, and the writing just gets real cheesy, real fast.

          I reckon Myst 2 was the best; it’s an obvious labour of love with really tight production values, for all that it’s so incredibly old now.

          I concur that Myst 3 would probably be the right choice for a Spoiler Warning, though – not bad, but it’s got a few dodgy bits, plenty of design issues to talk about and, indeed, excellent potential for hilarity during the endgame!

          1. Lachlan the Mad says:

            Out of the ones that I’ve played (I, II, III and V), V was definitely the worst. This wasn’t because of poor-quality puzzles or bad writing; it was because of that f*cking tablet. The game hands you the tablet two minutes in and expects you to be fully proficient with it by minute three, with absolutely zero tutorial.

            I really liked II, but it was crazy hard, mostly because *nothing* about the game was self-contained. In Myst I, puzzles didn’t carry across from age to age (except for the Mazerunner puzzle, and that’s the reason why people remember that one as the hardest — it’s basically impossible unless you’ve memorised the sound cues from the Mechanical Age). But in Myst II, because the entire game took place on one Age, every single puzzle was linked to every single other puzzle. It was truly awesome when you figured it out, but the figuring involved a lot of what TVTropes would call “Guide Dang Its”.

            Myst III is still my favourite, if only because of the supremely brilliant endgame. It hits about the right difficulty for me, and that’s great.

  16. MikhailBorg says:

    I never finished this season because I hadn’t finished BioShock, and well, ***Spoiler Warning***, sweeties.

    Finally got around to finishing BioShock last month (mainly because BioShock Infinite looked interesting enough to play when it’s ported), so thank you for reposting this series.

    I have a terrible habit of not finishing games. It really sucks (and is sometimes liberating) when I realize that my OS has updated to the point where it won’t run some of them any more.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,the next season will be myst then.25 episodes of unsuccessfully trying to solve the first puzzle via brainstorming and faqs,followed ragequitting.

    1. Humanoid says:

      As compared to the stunning successes that were the Cherry Blossom Murders and Batman: London City.

      I know the latter was Ruts, but I’m hearing in my head Josh proclaiming “I’m the best at adventure games”.

    2. People, come on.

      Zork. It’s gotta be Zork.

      1. swenson says:

        I’m rooting for Nethack, myself. Think they could stream that without it looking like somebody’s computer got possessed?

      2. MrGuy says:

        Why play Zork when you could play HHGG?

        1. swenson says:

          Oh, good old H2G2! I still question whether anyone actually won that game without cheating. I just don’t understand how it could be possible. It’s just so… well, you know. Evil.

          1. MrGuy says:

            It depends on what you call “cheating.”

            This was still in the age of Invisiclues – the “hint books” you could buy from Infocom, which had hints on certain puzzles written in invisible ink that came out when you used the special pen on it. There were varying levels of hint, from maddeningly vague to (evenually) pretty specific. There were even false “things to get stuck on” just to shame the people who tried to read all the clues. Ah, invisiclues! I miss you so. (Incidentally, this would be an awesome concept to bring back for GameFAQ’s – ways to get “just a little hint” without solving the puzzle for you. But I digress).

            I remember my very favorite invisiclue ever was from HHGG, during the babelfish puzzle (a.k.a. the greatest/worst video game puzzle ever). After the invisclue gives a suggestion that turns out not to work, the next clue reads “Grown men have been known to weep at this point.”

            Get offa my lawn.

  18. rrgg says:

    In retrospect the really odd thing about the injection scene is that they don’t even toss in “Would you kindly stick that needle thing in you.” I mean they gave themselves a massive get-out-of-plot-holes-free card and didn’t actually bother to use it?

    Anyways for the record, I only just got around to playing this game a few weeks ago an I actually liked it quite a bit, definitely more then infinite.

    1. Tom says:

      I think that may be a bug. I think I read in some transcript somewhere that a line actually was recorded for that.

  19. Nick says:

    It’s interesting watching this after playing Bioshock Infinite and wondering how much of it was planned this far in advance…

  20. Blov says:

    I still think Bioshock 2 was a much better game, if only because it really harnessed the open worldy elements of it. The problem with Bioshock was that it was open worldy without taking advantage of that at all. By contrast, the upgradable powers of 2 and the focal points of the defending the little sisters made for really good gameplay. Also, big sister fights were fantastic.

    Also, the interactions with the various antagonists gave you got moral choices that were real and one of which at least made me do the thing I hadn’t been planning to do and then acknowledged that.

  21. anaphysik says:

    Rapture’s glass architecture isn’t impossible because Andrew Ryan has made sure OSHA doesn’t exist, remember, /DUHHHH/ ;P

    OSHA wasn’t actually around until ~1970, ten years after the game takes place, but that’s the point of this strike text.

    1. Keeshhound says:

      I unironically love that they addressed that in some of the audio logs. If you collect them all, you’ll run into at least three that have Bill McDonaugh castigating someone for not doing proper maintenance, usually ending with a threat along the lines of “when this goes tits up, I’ll be sure to tell Ryan who didn’t bother to keep the pipes heated/check the rivets/make sure the airlock was sealed/etc.”

      So, you know. There was one guy who cared about safety.

      1. MrGuy says:

        No. Rapture’s glass architecture is impossible because it’s impossible. Not because OSHA or some other standards body says so. Ain’t no glass that strong. Ain’t no way those shapes resist that amount of pressure without failing at the natural weakpoints at the corners. Ain’t no way a pinprick in one of those panels doesn’t almost immediately and catastrophically destroy the facility.

        Physics is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Someone fix this man’s sarcasm detector, please. It’s in an awful shape, dangerously close to violating the regulations of several standards bodies.

      2. anaphysik says:

        McDonagh’s audiologs were far and away the best and most memorable to me. Loved that character.

        “You might want to cogitate on this: ocean water… is colder than a witch’s tit.”


        “I /love/ Mr. Ryan. …But I love Rapture. If I have to kill one to save the other… then so be it.”

        Very well-acted and -written character.

  22. swenson says:

    I actually only started playing Bioshock recently. I know from what I’ve heard it gets stupid later on, but I’m going to ignore that in favor of thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere, the way the worldbuilding is presented to me, the rewards for obsessively rooting through every corner (I can honestly say every game I enjoy has rummaging through everyone’s belongings as a core gameplay mechanic), and the general all-around fun I’m having.

    I am not very good with scary games, though, so I’m playing it in sunlight. Splicers are rather alarming and soak up more damage than I would like.

  23. rayen says:

    for all that this game turns into a bile filled hole you could fit rapture in, i forgot how well this season looked and sounded compared to the earlier ones. also those end credits look really nice. i know it’s an out of the box text effect, but it’s one of the better looking ones and fits well with the music.

    please don’t ask why the thing i most interested and commented on was the end credits of a LP video…

  24. anaphysik says:

    Egads, Josh! That ear-splitting musical edit right near at the end of the credits (at 34:45 specifically)!

    To be fair, you got way awesome-er at doing that in later seasons. So much so that I often consider your edits to sound better than the MacLeod originals.

    For Disclosure Alert, I naturally only considered tunes that were already really short (Private Eye lasts just as long as our credits sequence), because LAZY.

  25. Bearded Dork says:

    I think the next Spoiler Warning should just be Pipe Dream.

  26. djshire says:

    I have been waiting for this for so long, I’m so excited, bees burst out of my arm.

    1. swenson says:

      …you may want to see a doctor for that.

  27. Gilfareth says:

    Rutskarn: “No game has started you off without a weapon and had an NPC actually attack you…”

    Erm… do you not remember Half-Life?

  28. AlecW says:

    Shamus I don’t feel that the comparison in the artcle between DEHR and BioShock is fair.

    HR was a far more mechanically deep and system-rich game than BioShock.
    Its narrative was less reliant on twists and surprises, and its immersion was less reliant on an impressive new environment/graphical effects you hadn’t seen before.

    For those reasons and more, I immediately wanted to replay DEHR upon completion, and will doubtless attempt another playthrough down the track with the DLC – whereas I will never bother to replay BS1.

    Human Rev simply succeeded as a proper modern ‘first person immersive simulator’ game, in the true vein of SS and DE, and Bioshock did not.

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