As most of you know I have been doing a lot of traveling lately and unfortunately it has left me with very little time to play games. BioShock, probably the one game I have been the most excited about in years, has had to take a backseat until I could find time to play. I was able to sit back down with it today and find myself once again wandering the halls of Rapture and being reminded of what a truly remarkable game it is.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Ken Levine at E3 and a nicer guy you will never meet. He emailed me with his support during the time of our site hack and when I saw him again at the BioShock launch party he treated me like an old friend and even introduced me to his lovely wife. So when I received an email saying he wanted to talk to me while I was at PAX, I made sure to make some time to speak with him. He asked if I had heard about the flack they had been getting over the whole widescreen issue as well as the issues with the copywrite protection on the PC version. I said that I had and then he proceeded to give me his side of the story.
Now, before I go into exactly what he said, I'd like to give you my stance on these issues. In my personal opinion, the widescreen thing is a complete non-issue. The game that you are seeing on your TV, whether widescreen or 4:3, is what the artists intended for you to see. If the designers chose to give 4:3 viewers a little extra sleeve and ceiling to make up for the loss of the sides of the picture, so be it. Not seeing those bits certainly hasn't ruined my experience with the game and if someone hadn't posted that image on the internet, you would have never known what you were "missing" anyway. It all seems rather silly to me for people to refuse to purchase the game based on something so minor.
As for the PC issues, I will admit that I am not a big PC gamer, but the opportunity to load the game up to three times on two different computers seems like plenty. I mean, yes, it's an amazing game but how may computers do you really need it on? That said, I do understand the frustration of PC users who were not able to activate their game due to server overloads on launch day, but this is more of a 2K issue and not really something that has anything to do with the game itself. The other thing that really seemed to set people off was this root kit that was installed with the PC version. Well, I hate to break it to those that complained, but every game that uses Sony's copyright protection does this. So the big question is, why target this particular game when it's certainly not the first or the last that will use this method.
Like I mentioned earlier, Ken Levine is a nice guy and this niceness extends not just to people he meets in person, but to anyone who purchases and plays his game. When I spoke to him, the poor guy was supposed to be on vacation, basking in the knowledge that he had just put many years of work to rest and that people were loving it. Instead, he's scrambling around trying to satisfy the needs of some vocal, angry gamers. He did admit that the PC issues were something that shouldn't have happened and he has done everything in his power to help resolve these issues to people's satisfaction. They upgraded the install to five installations on up to five different computers which in my mind is more than generous. He also mentioned to me that it was his idea to offer the orchestral soundtrack for free download on the Cult of Rapture website. "Moby is great and all," he said, "but I didn't feel that it was what the game was about. We had such a beautiful soundtrack, it seemed a shame not to make it available."
This attitude of customer satisfaction is something that has surrounded BioShock from the beginning. From the voting by players for the contents of the Limited Edition to the added bonuses of the art book and downloadable soundtrack, the former Irrational Games has bent over backwards to accommodate gamers. Their launch party was even billed as an "appreciation" party and the guests were not just people who worked for the company, but members of the press and long time active forum members from The Cult of Rapture. Customer relations are important to them because they are important to Ken Levine.
To wrap this up, I'll just say that I think it speaks volumes about the quality and artistry of BioShock as a game that people could find nothing to complain about other than these (in most cases) minor technical issues (and non issues). Ken Levine and his crew have created a great game that people will still be talking about in ten years, long after people have forgotten these minor bumps in an otherwise smooth and beautiful road. I'm sure some of you may be thinking that only a fanboy would spend this much time soapboxing for a video game, but once you play BioShock I think you will see that the experience it gives you far outweighs any perceived notions of what you may be missing.