Warren Spector, the designer who led the original Deus Ex project, has said on a number of occasions that he’d ideally like to make an RPG/immersive sim that took place entirely within one city block: “My ultimate dream is for someone to be foolish enough to give me the money to make what I call the One Block Role-Playing Game, where we simulate one building, one city block perfectly.” Recently he raised the idea when talking to The Guardian newspaper in the UK, when he said “I really want deep worlds that you can interact with. My ideal game would be one city block – some day I’m going to make that.”
It’s a fascinating idea: the notion that if an environment was detailed enough, with comparable interactions to a real city block, with all its people, mantelpieces, and cockroaches, then it could sustain an entire game at quite a high level. It’s also something that fires the imagination: what would the plot be? What other constraints would such a game place on the designers? Would there be a single bullet in a revolver in a drawer somewhere, which would signal the end of the game when it was fired?
No, the Vox are just as cruel as the Founders because Irrational decided they would be. They wanted to show a city fall, not just the aftermath as in the original BioShock. They wanted a new set of enemies, a literal skin palette-swap, halfway through the game. They wanted to make a point about how any extreme position is dangerous. Even if that position is racial equality, fair wages, or medicine for your daughter dying in Shantytown. Infinite is a game that lets you peck a man to death with crows, but hey, let’s not get too worked up, too extreme, about suffering and social injustice.
Infinite creates a clear moral equivalence between Columbia’s oppressors and oppressed. Both Booker and Elizabeth voice versions of this ‘one no better than the other’ logic, in case you miss the point. Such false equivalencies are beloved by the lazy, the aloof, the cowardly. It’s as if the game almost realizes the absurdity of the scenario it has set up, since it doesn’t even happen in the universe you occupy the first half of the game. You have to cross over to a parallel reality to experience it. It’s like admitting: at least both sides are equivalent in some universe!
"A good reviewer does not fear emotion. He knows that emotion is not the enemy of game reviews but the key. Emotion clarifies. It cuts through all the noise endemic to gaming, and a good reviewer is dogged, even stubborn, about following his feelings to their ends. In this, he is not afraid to contradict himself, and he is often unreasonable (as reasonableness hasn’t done the game community much good so far). He values the polemical and the contrarian, and he knows that criticism doesn’t require a solution or any proof that he could do it better. He is, in all of this, self-aware. He knows how his own point of view positions him in larger debates, but he is not hamstrung by this awareness, unable to argue his perspective because of it."
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