Irrational Games has revealed a new series of monsters in Bioshock Infinite known as heavy hitters, and the first one they have revealed is the Motorized Patriot. The following video shows why Irrational is my favorite developer, the best working in the industry today in my opinion:
Where do I begin? I’m a pretty big Irrational fanboy, and the Bioshock series includes just about everything I like to see in modern video games. With the Motorized Patriot, you have a number of elements going on. When you first see this character, you know everything there is to know about it. At a single glance, you can tell that this is going to be a huge fight to the finish. The robot is damn scary, and when you open the door and see the huge gun shoved in your face, you understand that it’s time to fight.
Another element of video games that I really enjoy is when bosses or tougher characters get beat down as you fight them. This monster loses his face after taking some damage, which makes him look even creepier and more robotic, which gives you an emotional effect, but also it tells you that you’re wearing him down. The very first game I ever saw this effect used in was Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest on the Super Nintendo, where enemies had three sprites for different levels of health. It was a very small effect at the time, but I immediately tuned into it as very effective feedback.
I don’t know if Irrational is doing this intentionally or not, but all the trailers and gameplay thus far have a very real sense of urgency about them. At the time of this writing there are a few major releases on YouTube – the initial trailer(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WDQ4FhslSk), a 10 minute gameplay video released a few months after (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HANw9DJu6h8), and then another 15 minutes worth of gameplay released later on (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2EGC0HQoKQ). Each of these clips, including the Motorized Patriot fight, leave you feeling the need to press on, even the longer clip which begins with several minutes of relative calm. The urgency is there, which is one of the most powerful elements a videogame can offer. When you are pressed with the need to see what’s around the next corner, or you feel like your next major goal is just within reach, you have the trappings of a massively successful video game.
The original Bioshock succeeds for me in many ways here as well. The world just drives me to exploration every time I play the game, which is why I could put the game in right now and play it and be just as into it as I was the first time I went through it.
Finally, I don’t know if anything has ever been written about the sound design in Irrational Games, but it’s really phenomenal. In the 15 minute clip the Songbird is looking through a window for Booker and Elizabeth about 2 minutes into the video. Put in headphones and listen to the spectacular sound effects the bird makes. Actually, watch the entire trailer and notice how useful the sound is – it plays a major role in telling you exactly where everything is coming from.
Irrational has been my favorite developer since the original Bioshock – I went back afterwards and played System Shock 2, which Ken Levine had a hand in, and I can see many of the ideas that were perfected in the original. I’m beyond excited to play this game in October.