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Rapture and Columbia: A Comparison

Rapture, and Columbia. One, a waterlogged, claustrophobic nightmare of a city. One, an open, airy, idyllic, elitist metropolis. Both a perfect example of civil implosion and its effects: e.g, an unsettled populace. And when I say 'unsettled', I'm being polite.

As a fan of BioShock in its entirety, I was worried (like many others) when BioShock Infinite's location was announced: Columbia. I was taken aback by the rash decision to switch from Rapture - by no means a tired pony - to Columbia, a city which, on first appearance, appears to be a radical depature from Rapture, where the first two games were set.

But, after watching the gameplay demo of BioShock Infinite this morning, I was pleased to note first and foremost, the similarities present between Rapture and Columbia. Allow me to list them.

The sense of elitism is still at hand. The entire city is a spectacle - like Rapture. Instead of pulling off a stunt like...say, building a city underwater, Columbia's architects have evidently decided to build themselves a metropolis high above America, touching the clouds. Also present - from what I gather - is a broken-down society: the elite of Columbia are small fry to the rulers. A few examples of this include the woman brushing the steps of her establishment, although her property is burning merrily in the background. The thoroughly-racist preacher, so far unnamed, and his mysterious partner, Charles. The barful of drunken aristocrats - toasting to themselves as their city falls apart. They share many similarities with the inhabitants of Rapture - in themselves an insane populace not driven by supernatural forces, but by the life they are forced into, in the search of ADAM.

The residents of Columbia don't seem to suffer from the same dependency problems, but the release of BioShock Infinite will illustrate the rate of social decline seen in Columbia.

Fallout 3; A Moan

I've been playing Fallout 3 - again - and due to the amount of time spent playing it and the amount of hype surrounding Fallout: New Vegas I've compiled a mental list of complaints and grumbles. And a sort of wishlist. Here we go:

The AI: Crucial to every game, the AI in Fallout is stupid. There is no other word for it. The enemies simply run at you - or shoot at you, coverless. For instance, a mole rat will simply beeline into the sights of your assault rifle; I have no idea how they survived the holocaust. A Super Mutant will stand proud, firing, reloading, firing, reloading until you blow its head off. Really, things need to change. The only reason enemies become more or less difficult to bring down in Fallout 3 is due to the amount of HP they have. A Super Mutant Behemoth is not really a significant foe; however the boring amount of chipping down the player has to waste ammo on makes it seem like one. Bringing down these bus-sized malingerers should be an achievement, not a mere footnote.

The engine: The engine is nowhere near as polished as the Unreal engines continually being worked on. Characters in Fallout 3 are clunky, and don't run as smoothly as they really should. Graphics should be improved in Fallout: New Vegas - I know Fallout 3 can be beautiful, at times, but this is always viewing something in the distance. To be fair, the graphics in Fallout: New Vegas do look improved, and the vivid neon will prove to be a striking addition to what I have previously described as 'Fallout 3.5'.

The story: I don't really have too many gripes with the side quests or extended ending, however, the original main story was a letdown, at least at the end. For such a huge game, it felt as if someone in the Bethesda office spilled coffee over the script the day before the game was due to be released. Simply cutting off the player, killing him, was as cold-hearted and brutal as turning off a life-support machine.

There are, however, certain things Fallout 3 does beautifully for me, keeping me close at hand and continually playing.

Point Lookout: My number-one holiday destination and opinion of what the original map should have been, Point Lookout adds a bit of much-needed creepiness to a game which could have had a few more eerie moments, as opposed to the simple-yet-effective, purely accidental shocks the player receives when an enemy pops out of a door or clunks down the corridor behind them. It is a beautiful and poignant achievement; landmarks such as the Jet Crash Site give the player a really vivid flavour of what those two pilots went through in their final hours, days. I even left the 10mm ammo scattered about laying there where they were dropped as a memory. Seeing a cabin deep in the wetland, a shining beacon on the horizon not dissimilar to a ship on a dark, heaving sea stands out in me memory as if I experienced the sight physically, sweaty hands clutching the butt of a .32 pistol.

The Wasteland:A beautiful expanse of barren, scorched earth, the place is inhabited by an eclectic bunch of folk in assorted abodes who narrowly avoided being toasted by some Chinese bomb. I like it - reminds me of my hometown.

Blowing up old cars: 'Nuff said.