The Mumbles Problem: ClusterF**K

Most of you know this is on YouTube already, but I like writing little afterthoughts to the video. You know the weird thing about Bioshock? I remember it being a clusterfuck. Most people I talk to say it’s a clusterfuck. That one time I did an LP of it was a complete slogfest clusterfuck. And, yet. When I looked for footage of Bioshock, I couldn’t find the waves of baddies that I remember. I think the game has a way of riding you. Like when you get homework assignment after homework assignment piled on you at school so by the end of the day you just want to fall into a pit and die. It’s like a test in patience, a long, drawn out erosion of the soul.

And, yet. I still like the game. A lot. The aesthetics, the minor characters and the themes really hooked me. Yes, I know the game should have ended when Andrew Ryan took a golf club to the face, but everything leading up to that point was fun and interesting. Like, remember that part where the woman is cooing at a baby carriage and then after you mow her down you realize there was a gun in there? That’s something I’m never going to forget. Even if I don’t really know what it means.


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9 responses to “The Mumbles Problem: ClusterF**K

  1. Yeah, Bioshock was great up until Andrew Ryan. If I recall correctly, the waves of baddies didn’t come into it that much before then. Maybe a few times, but I played through the game twice, and before smashing Ryan there wasn’t that much of a clusterfuck going on, right?

    As for that woman, I seem to recall she took the gun out and started shooting me, but it’s been a while, so I might remember that wrong.

    • You know, it might be possible I killed her before she could shoot me. I remember having a lot of “bitch u crazy blam blam blam” moments in that game. Either way that’s a pretty fantastic image.

  2. arron

    Bioshock had areas that were areas of pitched battles all over the game like in Fontaine Fisheries, Fort Frolic and Apollo Square. It didn’t feel like the creepy almost dead place that it should have been. Something like System Shock II is was a better model (i.e less is more), with perhaps one or two tough things to fight at a time. The creepiest thing about System Shock is where all the bodies are. When you find some stacked up following a massacre, it seems odd by comparison despite knowing that everyone is either no-longer human or dead. Dead Space is supposed to be EA’s attempt at System Shock on modern machines and it’s a shadow of what it could have been psychologically.

    • arron

      Probably the scariest moment in the early stages of the game is when you’re wandering amount the medical area and you look at some bed, only to find out there’s a Splicer behind you..who has crept up silently without you noticing. Definite change of underwear moment then.

      And the flooded room with all the plaster statues in Fort Frolic. Worth of a “Weeping Angels” episode there when you realise that something is moving down there, but it only seems to move when you’re not looking at it. This fear is ramped up following the early part of the level when you realise that the first batch of plaster statues you meet all suddenly go missing when you come back to them..

      Such simple tricks, but they effectively put you on edge a lot more than swarming a room with nutzoid drug addicts after a pound of Adam..

      • The Fort Frolic shit was legit scary for me. There’s this one audio tape where Cohen just looses his shit and I remember it just bugging me out for days after I listened to it. In fact, a lot of the audio tapes made the game especially interesting. I heard the second game does a good job with that, too.

      • arron

        Hmm, tried to reply to Mumbles – reply link is missing!

        I think there’s something about madness especially when it’s someone you know. It’s happened a few times to me know and it’s the most terrifying thing in the world to see someone who you’ve known for years literally crumbling before you in your hands. It’s such an impossible situation because there’s nothing you can do about it. It also probably didn’t help watching Requiem for a Dream the same day it happened.

        I think that’s why Sander Cohen is such a scary character compared to say Steinman. Steinman turns into a surgeon psychopath..and you just shoot him. Cohen on the other hands when you meet him is probably in the most sane state he’ll ever be..the audio log about the bunnies shows how desperately bonkers he is when he is on his own. And you’ve got to co-operate with him to get out of that madhouse of a level. SHODAN and GLaDOS may despise humans and jerk your chains out of logic and expediency in their various missions..but Cohen turns it on and off like a switch for no reason at all. You’re just some kind of insignificant plaything for an insane cat that is only alive on a idle whim.

      • Perivale

        I will admit that I didn’t tend to find the enemies creeping up on me scary, just extra irritating! Couldn’t they see I was just trying to enjoy the ambience and look at the gorgeous architecture? At least when they weren’t creeping up on me I could just mow them down and return to enjoying the city itself. When it comes to Bioshock I’d have happily paid for an empty Rapture simulator where you just wander around and look at the city while collecting audiologs. I think I’m a bit weird…

  3. avpix

    Very nice video, Mumbles. I think that a large part of what makes clusterfucks not fun is that the player has no meaningful way to determine if they are getting better at the game. Once self-improvement is out of the picture, any game seems to become a massive grind where the only thing that matters is how much time you’ve invested. This turns the game into a calculated decision, where the player starts looking for big goals (e.g. hitting the level cap) as a reason to keep playing, instead of playing for the entertaining experience it provides. The big goals are usually empty or superficial (level 80 is just a number, after all), so the player stops playing.

  4. aquagosh

    The epitome of frustrating clusterfucks in Bioshock is when you have to get the enzymes from the beehive room. You turn on the smokers to settle the bees, and in rush a bunch of splicers. And no matter how many times you turn on the smokers, more and more splicers spawn and just thinking about it makes me ….RRRGH!

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