Tag Archives: Bioshock

Escorting Emma Emmerich is not very enjoyable

escorting emma emmerich

I remembered next to nothing about Emma Emmerich and her little side story involvement in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. I wrote next to nothing because, for some reason, I did recall her cute, chatty parrot. Just not her. I suspect this has more to do with how she throws a wrench into the game’s stealth-heavy gameplay rather than her somber life story and damaged relationship with big bro Hal. Plus, she’s completely dismissible, which is a shame since the game forces you to protect, only to watch, via a cutscene, as she succumbs to her untouchable fate.

See, after taking down the Twilight-loving Vamp yet again, you rescue her from a part of Big Shell that is beginning to flood due to explosions. That’s not really a problem for Raiden, who can swim as good as any otter these days. However, Emma is terrified of water after a traumatic experience as a kid, and she’s also been injected with something that makes her legs extremely weak, meaning Raiden has to carry her on his back while underwater, as well as pull her along when on dry ground. Yup, you are now an officially unpaid babysitter, and you need to get Emma over to the computer room at the bottom of Shell 1’s core; it’s not a far walk, but it’s a troublesome one nonetheless.

The underwater parts were not as tricky as I initially feared. You just had to memorize the path and make sure you went up for air more frequently than before because Emma’s got teeny tiny lungs. I ran into frustration in the sections of Big Shell where enemies were on patrol. First, I tried to sneak her past everyone, but kept getting spotted; the moment the enemy is on us, Emma just sits down and gives up, letting the bullets mix with tears of defeat. That meant I had to get down and dirty and simply murder everyone and everything (sky-high cyphers) just so we could creep leisurely from one strut to another. Ideally, it’s not how I wanted to do things, but sometimes you got to snap necks to ensure the weak-kneed make it out alive.

Oh, and there’s one part where a bunch of bugs are covering the floor and walls near an elevator. Emma refuses to go any further until the bugs are gone. You have two options: clear away the bugs with the coolant spray or knock her out and drag her body along. I did the former, but when doing some light research for this post, I found many “gamers” touting proudly and triumphantly that they knocked her lights out. For shame.

All of that naturally got me thinking about other escort missions, and how I really do loathe being put into the somewhat awkward position of the sole protector of someone who is more fragile than an ancient vase teetering on the edge of a wobbly desk. Here are a few standout examples of escorting gone wrong from other games I’ve played:

In BioShock, towards the end of the story, you have to escort a Little Sister somewhere. Not a problem, you think, given that these ADAM-wielding tiny girls are invincible at every other point in the game where you’ve encountered them. Except no–this Little Sister is special and can take damage from enemies. Strangely, she pays little attention to the chaos of bullets, lightning bolts, and Splicers around her, content in just walking around and stabbing corpses with her needle.

Musashi: Samurai Legend made you feel the weight of the escort mission. No, really. Every time you saved a Mystic–a kidnapped maiden who would, upon saving, help strengthen Musashi’s legendary sword–you had to literally carry her to the level’s exit. And still fight off bad guys. Sometimes you could use her as a weapon to push goons back, but it was often easier to dump her on the ground, clear the area, and then pick her back up again. Rinse and repeat a few more times. Yeah, way too unnecessary.

Now, I’ve only played Dead Rising 2: Case Zero and Dead Rising 2 across the whole franchise, but both of those games have survivors to rescue and bring back safely to your headquarters. Some of them are on a time limit, which is not a big deal, given that everything in these games is timed. However, these trapped bags of fresh flesh feature some of the worst artificial intelligence I’ve come across, and if you don’t babysit every single step they take they’ll most likely run themselves right into the middle of a horde and get themselves eaten to death. Similar to Mushashi: Samurai Legend, you can pick them up and carry them, but that leaves you with few options for clearing a walkable path. I think I ended up rescuing only 12 in Dead Rising 2 in the end. Not surprisingly, these problems also pop up in Dead Island.

G-Police is a game I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to write about yet on Grinding Down, but it is overdue for a GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH feature soon enough. Let’s just say that piloting a slow-moving aircraft while protecting a slow-moving car on the ground as it obliviously drives to its destination while people shoot guns at it is not my favorite part of Psygnosis’ Blade Runner-inspired shooter.

Fable III, besides being a bad game, had a bunch of fetch quests in the form of escort missions. Basically, you’d be wooing someone, and they’d then want you to take them to a particular part of the world. Thankfully, once accepting to do this, you can fast travel to wherever is closest to this spot, and the person will also travel with you. However, you must now actually take their hand into yours and lead them down the path; when enemies show up, you must ensure that they don’t get hurt. It’s not terribly difficult, but it is terribly cumbersome, and the hand holding aspect is so glitchy that you’ll often break contact just going over a small bump.

Lastly, there’s a tiny section in VVVVVV wherein you have to escort a fellow comrade back to the teleporter. He’ll follow you when you walk on the ground, but comes to a halt when you flip up to the ceiling. This forces you to figure out how to move him along the path, without killing either of you. It’s a brief, but difficult–and extremely memorable–moment in a game all about moving swiftly from one platform to another.

Well, this post got long fast.

Do you like escort missions, and, if so, are you clinically insane? Tell me about your least favorite escorting scenario in the comments section below.

The sky’s the superpatriotic limit in BioShock Infinite

bioshock infinite impressions woo

The way my brain works, I can literally come up with any excuse to buy a new videogame. The latest? Well, I’m trying this juicing fast thing for a few days, and the worst days are generally the worst, which I planned ahead for and made sure were on the weekend where I could hide out at home and crawl into bed if the hunger troubles growled too loud. I figured I could also use something new to play on either the Xbox 360 or PS3 as a way to distract myself for several hours. And so, on my way home from picking up more green groceries, I snagged a copy of BioShock Infinite and immediately flipped the cover art from macho-man-centric to art deco. I kinda wish all game boxes came with reversible cover art.

Anyways, before I get into Infinite, let me talk a bit about the original BioShock, a game I came to late that I can appreciate, but had a lot of trouble playing. I found Rapture and its inhabitants to be frightening; no, really. The creaking of floorboards, everything wrapped in shadow, the way voices of enemies would find me in any corner–gah, I can’t. It made for slow playing, as I was continuously anxious about moving to the next location, especially once I got the ability to turn invisible when standing still. But I did eventually soldier on, comprehend what the Internet had been talking about, and finished the game. Never even picked up BioShock 2.

However, the look of BioShock Infinite is too good to ignore. We are no longer deep underwater; in fact, just the opposite. The city of Columbia, which separated itself from the United States for reasons, floats high in the sky among the clouds. Buildings bob up and down, and zeppelins move to and fro, with streets disconnecting as sections of the city move around. Mechanical skylines allow for speedy travel, too, if you’re into high-soaring sensations. You do go inside places as well, but nothing so far has been as stunning as throwing open a door and walking over to a balcony and just sitting the world below, opaqued by a layer of clouds.

You play as Booker DeWitt, a less-than-good man who is tasked with stealing a girl from a locked tower in Columbia to wipe away his past crimes. What his past is all about is a mystery, as is the girl who he is off to steal; her name is Elizabeth, and she has the power to open “tears” to other realities. Stealing her from the tower happens relatively early in the game, and the plot only becomes more complicated from there. In honor of spoilers, I won’t say much more about it just yet though the racial themes presented throughout make me very uncomfortable, much more than the religious elements.

Story aside, BioShock Infinite is a videogame, and just like in the original game, you have magic spells in the left hand and guns in the right hand. At this point, I have four spells unlocked–now called Vigors instead of Plasmids–and my favorite is naturally Shock Jockey, which sends lightning into an enemy, temporarily stunning them just long enough to get popped in the face with a gun. Weaponry is rather standard, with pistols and shotguns and RPGs, and I’ve been most comfortable with smaller guns, relying more on Vigor powers to take dudes down. The Possession one is also great for turrets or the larger-than-life Patriots, letting others do Booker’s dirty work.

I’m enjoying the game despite the turmoil it puts in my non-superpatriotic heart, and a part of that has to do with the fact that, thank Comstock, it’s not very scary. The old-fashioned music and art style puts me at ease, as does being out in the beautiful videogame air, swinging wildly on the skylines. I am definitely taking my time as there is a lot to grok in Columbia, from posters to shop windows to audio logs and those movie things that I can’t recall the name of. It all exists for a reason, to make a world whole. Most fights so far often take place in well-lit areas, and I’ve done absolutely zero crouching, just confidently tossing open doors and seeing what’s on the other side. However, sometimes the movement of the vendor robots freaks me out if I turn around and don’t remember they are there. That said, nothing to keep me at bay here.

I’ll be back later to talk more about BioShock Infinite. Especially that lottery scene.


After a short and lighthearted cutscene, Borderlands is off and running, having you pick your character class. There’s four of ’em, and each relates to typical archetypes a la Diablo II such as the assassin and rogue and tank. I, however, decided to pick Roland, the Soldier class. This is rather surprising and I’ll tell you why: I’m always, hands-down, 100% of the time attracted to stealthy characters. In BioShock, I quickly fell in love and never let go of the plasmid that turns you invisible when standing still. Also, in Fallout 3, one of the first things I did on my very first playthrough was acquire the ninja assassin suit that, more or less, turns you completely invisible. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, I would literally hide in the grass for up to twenty minutes, making sure I got enemy movement patterns down and taking extreme caution in every move I made. The boss battle against The End was simply a bowl full of sushi with extra bliss sauce on top.

Case in point: I like taking my time in a gunfight and planning accordingly so as to not ever actually engage with the enemy, but simply take it down hard and fast from a distance. You’d think then that I’d have picked the Siren, a woman all about sniper rifles and phasing in and out the world. But no, I went for the Soldier. Wanted to try playing a game differently for once, and I’m really pleased so far with how it’s turned out.

So, the first chunk of missions are more or less a tutorial, but they do well to teach you the mechanics of the game, and pretty soon the fights begin to intensify, the loot becomes better and plentiful, and the quest log starts to fill up. I played for about two hours last night, got up to level 7, and finished off the first boss, Nine-Toes (also, he has had three balls).

I think the game looks amazing. Rarely has a cel-shaded game ever let me down, and the way the background blurs as you zoom in with your fire-starting pistol is a beautiful touch. The thick outlines and bright character colors contrasting with the drab Fallout 3-like setting make for an eye-grabbing mix. The draw distance isn’t terribly great though like in the newest Prince of Persia where you can see far and wide and it all looks rock solid. And the menu presentation is slick and easy to navigate, which is pretty crucial when it’s all about looting.

My only hesitation so far is in figuring out which weapon is better, and whether or not I should hold on to it or sell it for money. Here’s a helpful tweet tip from fellow Borderlander Greg Noe: It’s good to know about weapon rareness: white > green > blue > purple > orange

Other than that, I just got to the point where I’ve taken on multiple quests at once and have the freedom to explore them at will. Love the challenge log, too, which are like mini Achievements that give you tasks and reward you with experience points. Makes sense to me. Anyways, can’t wait to head back to Pandora tonight!

Just beat BioShock, still processing it all

I’m happy to report that I just beat BioShock, a pristine example of gaming and genre mixing done excruciatingly well. One-word summary: wow. Three-word summary: kinda crazy game. More words summary? Well, that’ll come later because there’s a lot to talk about, both good and meh. And trust me, I understand how late I am to the party, but I’ve brought everyone their very own ADAM-flavored cupcake…so don’t bite my head off.

I unlocked 42 out of 51 Achievements during my playthrough. I did not actively use a guide, but I did skim a list of things to keep in mind as I explored Rapture to potentially unlock all I could. Going in, I immediately knew that I wouldn’t harvest any Little Sisters, supposedly making Jack’s trek that much harder. I guess it was? I did miss some Achievements though, as shown below:

  • Weapon Specialist (20G, Acquire all upgrades for all weapons.) — In order to get this, you must upgrade all your weapons, but I did not find all the Power to the People stations to do. Only was able to upgrade three in the end, namely the pistol, the machine gun, and the crossbow. Mmm…love that crossbow and its trap bolts.
  • Research PhD (20G, Max out all possible research.) — I missed fully researching the Nitro Splicer to get this. Any time those dudes would show up, my main concern was to shoot first, snap pictures second. Guess that didn’t work out too well.
  • Historian (50G, Find every audio diary.) — Hahaha no.
  • And two secret Achievements — One I won’t spoil here, but it was my fault because I axed a certain someone prematurely, and the other requires beating the game without using a single Vita-Chamber. Not to repeat myself, but hahaha no.

BioShock is definitely a game I’ll remember, but don’t suspect I’ll replay. The only moral decisions are harvesting or rescuing Little Sisters, which ultimately determine how much ADAM you get and whether a certain character is nice towards you or not. Otherwise, it’s the same beautifully detailed Rapture swarming with splicers, gun turrets, and Big Daddies, which is not a bad thing, just not a different thing.

Full review forthcoming. Would you kindly wait for it?

I finally understand the whole “Would you kindly?” thing

I’m making excellent progress in BioShock. In fact, just last night, I played a golfing minigame with Andrew Ryan. Or rather…I watched Jack go over par.

But yeah, “Would you kindly?”

This is a phrase I’ve seen tossed around on forums and Interwebz postings all the time, and thankfully, I never investigated further. I mean, I knew from what little I previously played of BioShock that Atlas said it a few times, and I chalked it up to be a stylistic quirk of his. Little did I know, little did I know. It’s pretty neat that this, these three wee words, is actually pivotal to the plot, to Rapture.

We’re always being told what to do in videogames: collect seven stars, defeat the evil wizard, find a way out, drive Mumbo Jumbo to his apartment, bring someone the head of the youngest cabana boy, and so on. It’s refreshing to finally have a game reference this; not only reference this, but bend it, break it, make it their own twisted weapon to justify the means. Ultimately, we’re going to keep playing BioShock regardless of what Atlas wants, which is exactly what the developers are banking on, us hamming it up in the palms of their hands, completing the circle.

I mean, it’s like Andrew Ryan sorta said, “A man chooses, a gamer obeys.”

Ka-ching, ka-ching in BioShock

At the urging of Greg Noe, I popped BioShock back into the disc tray. It’s definitely a game that I’ve only ever been able to play in small chunks. Anyways, after dealing with the forests of Arcadia, I made my way to Fort Frollic thanks to Sander Cohen’s teasing and noticed some slot machines off to the side. Vaguely, I remembered there was an Achievement tied to them. Win a certain amount? Hit the jackpot three times? Not bothering to look it up, I gambled away $10 and on the very first pull, I kid thee not, I hit those magical 7s and unlocked the following:

Lucky Winner (10G): The player has hit the jackpot at a slot machine

If only it was that easy to get rich in real life, right?

Big Daddies Mean Business

I do not love BioShock.

In fact, I do not even have that great of a time while playing it, but I’m trying to work through it. There’s a lot to admire though–the worldbuilding, the atmosphere, narrative tricks, the depth (yup, pun intended) of the game–but for the time being I’d just like to talk a bit about Big Daddies.

These are Adam Sandlers fictional folk of BioShock‘s Rapture that have had their organs and skin grafted to hi-tech diving suits. They are also armed with a drill-hand or rivet gun. They are never armed with featherdown pillows. Due to some mental reconditioning, they roam the underwater city for one purpose, and one purpose only: to protect Little Sisters. Now, Little Sisters are creepy children that harvest ADAM from corpses, and ADAM is all the rage with the Splicers these days, so they definitely need some a-protectin’ from those with butterfingers.

My favorite aspect of Big Daddies: they are incapable of speech.

A good chunk of BioShock gameplay is listening. You sneak into a room and listen to Splicers in the distance talking about whatever it is crazy people like to talk about. Marshmallows? 4 8 15 16 23 42? You move across some wooden planks and hear them creak out in anguish beneath your feet. You find an audio recording of a New Year’s Eve party gone wrong and then see the aftermath for yourself. You creep around a corner and hear…a long, guttural groan. Like a whale in pain. Only it’s getting louder, and something is stomping your way.

Enter the Rosie or Bouncer. Sometimes there’s a Little Sister with them, sometimes you have to wait for it to pound on the wall a few times. Either way, I constantly found myself anxiously watching them from afar. Interestingly enough, they move like they look like they should: slow, methodical, careful not to step on their friend. It’s only when they become angry or on the defense do they turn into these fast-moving death-enablers.

You can totally walk by them without incident. Conversely, you can totally walk by them and be an inch too close to their Little Sister and they will freak out on you. Not completely attacking, but making sure you get the point to stay away. This? Loved it.

For those curious, I just got past the part with the bees and smoke stations. So no spoilers please. At this point, I’ve probably fought five or six Big Daddies, and then saved every Little Sister from being harvested. Your reward is a better conscience; your punishment is less ADAM. And you don’t have to even fight the Big Daddies, but you’ll be missing out on ADAM, which helps to upgrade your weapons and such. Each Big Daddy fight is draining; that statement is twofold because these Big Daddies literally drain me of every first aid kit, EVE hypo, and ammo clip, but the fights are extremely nerve-wrecking and frantic. Which is funny when you consider you can’t actually die in BioShock. If you do die (?), you are re-born at the nearest life chamber, with Rapture exactly like you left it. Meaning you could run right back to where that Big Daddy handed you your wrench-wielding ass and take another whack at it.

But the point of all this rambling is that the Big Daddies are amazing. Not just from a gameplay standpoint, but they hold their own narrative and tell it through their one-way actions. That’s extremely impressive for this day and age when a lot of story is spoonfed. Every time I hear a stomp, stomp or a Little Sister whispering about angels, I get excited. And scared.

Death to death achievements!

In videogame terms, I die a lot. It’s one of the best ways to learn how to play, dying. Unsure if you can make that jump across the gap? Try. Think your rocket launcher will blast a hole beneath your feet to fall through? Try. Curious as to how long Banjo can hold his breath underwater? Try. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh…you died. Hmm. Let’s put quotes around it actually.

Oh…you “died.”

Well, try again.

Back in the day, you could die as many times as you had lives or hearts or hit points or whatever. You had something, and if you ran out of it, you ceased to exist. Also, falling off a cliff generally never worked out well.

Recently, dying in videogames is becoming a thing of the past. Suffer too much damage in Fable II, and you fall unconscious for a bit, only to wake with some scarring and experience drain. Charge head first and unprepared into a Big Daddy battle in BioShock and you’re revived in a nearby Vita-Chamber unscathed. Miss a Prince of Persia jump because you are too busy oogling all the pretty colors? Don’t worry. Elika will save you. And in the LEGO games I’ve been enjoying recently, you just explode into bits and reappear in a second or two, ready to punch, shoot, and collect all over again. No big deal.

Now, the debate currently is not towards dying in videogames/not dying in videogames. Instead, it’s about achievements linked to these. They are never fun, and they are rarely for those that die a lot (e.g., me). Instead, the challenge is always to not die…or die a small amount.

Sifting through my Xbox 360 collection, I found a couple death-themed achievements, and sadly, I’ll most likely never unlock them. First, they are full of The Stress. Second, they are a lot of work. Third, I’m really not a cheater, and so the whole save/restart a level if it doesn’t work out seems a bit silly to me. Doing it that way is not really achieving anything in the end. Anyways, here’s some I found:

Kung Fu Panda: Invincible (50 Gamerscore) – Make it through the entire game without dying.

BioShock: Brass Balls (100 Gamerscore) – Complete the game on Hard difficulty without using a Vita-Chamber.

Prince of Persia: Be Gentle With Her (100 Gamerscore) – Elika saves you fewer than 100 times in the whole game.

Yeah, right.

Christmas loot

I made out very well this holiday season, finding the following beneath the Christmas tree:

Touchmaster 3 – Haven’t played any yet because I’m going to be doing a half-hour handheld review for The First Hour. I did, however, look over my fiancee’s shoulder a few times as she jumped between games. Seems like an interesting mix of mini-games. More to come later…

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks – Only an hour into the game or so (just received the whirlwind tool, to be more specific), but I’m looking forward to more already. I’m not quite as put off as I was upon initially starting The Phantom Hourglass.

Lastly, I got this big boy:

Bioshock – I tried the demo a few months back and enjoyed it more than I expected. So now I’m ready to head deep underwater into the throwback city of Rapture. Wish me luck. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m not terribly great at shooters unless they are a mix of RPG/shooting.

These three should keep me busy for quite some time. Plus, there’s always Fallout 3. Always…

Summing up three Xbox 360 demos as of late

I sure do miss the days of getting demo discs in the mail with a magazine subscription, but it is awfully nice to be able to pick and choose the interesting ones and then just download them directly to your system. Here’s what I tried this week:

Avatar Drop


A simple concept, but surprisingly fun. You are in control of your falling Xbox avatar, and the goal is to get through different colored rings and collect points. It’s silly and enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to trying the trial run again with a second player.

Darkest of Days


Hmm. Honestly, I had no idea what this was, but I had a moment of free time and so I checked it out. I guess it’s a time-traveling shooter, where you are someone sort of important and your job is to hop to and fro to key places/moments in time and protect individuals much more important than you. The set pieces were neat and well-executed (Custer’s Last Stand and the Battle of Antietam, particulary, if my history knowledge is correct), but the graphics seemed unpolished and last-gen. Although I appreciated the usage of “clusterfuck.”



Yes, I know. I know. It’s almost 2010, and this is the first time I’m playing Bioshock. Call me what you will. Anyways, the demo opens up with a plane crash and then, rather quickly, you are in the magical underwater city that is steampunk and retro and dystopian at the same time. It’s a mix of shooting/hitting creepy people dubbed Splicers and zapping them with magic from your left hand. The atmosphere of the place is beyond creepy, and I liked a lot of the tiny details. If anything, this demo made me realize that I’d probably enjoy this game (though I played it on easy and still had some trouble, but that’s just me).