It’s about one of last year’s best games: BioShock 2.
Like most people, I loved the first BioShock and I wasn’t alone in fearing what a sequel might look like. I, along with many others, had placed BioShock on some sort of mental pedestal; while it wasn’t perfect, it was a formative experience in terms of how I viewed the medium. Unconsciously, I had turned it into a sacred object that should remain untouched.
To be fair, sequels don’t always turn out well, and an overabundance of them can kill even the mightiest of franchises; just ask Tony Hawk. Thankfully, BioShock 2 is an excellent game that managed to perform a splendid kind of blasphemy: in many ways it is better than the original.
Writing this has left me with few lingering thoughts: First, BioShock 2 has drastically increased my already high hopes (pardon the pun) for BioShock Infinite. Despite my reservations over “franchising” the series, the prospect that some of the best minds behind BioShock and BioShock 2 are working on the same game makes me giddy.
Second, has there ever been a sequel to a game of BioShock proportions that has harmed the first game? Or, to jump into another medium, does the Phantom Menace cheapen A New Hope?
The entire BioShock 2 experience has taught me to assume a more relaxed frame of mind regarding the artistic impact of sequels in general. There is no point in trying to “protect” certain games from the effects of potentially sub-par sequels. At worst, the sequels can be disregarded and one can choose to mentally envision the original as an unconnected entity. At best, a supposedly unwanted addition can expand on the original’s potential and fuse the discrete works into an entity stronger than either one of the individual pieces.