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Looking Back at ‘Bioshock Infinite’



“Are you afraid of God, Booker?”
“No, but I’m afraid of you.”

These are the ominous words that open Bioshock Infinite, a promise of terrors and wonders to come, and a sly hint at what the game is really about.

With the recent announcement that the Bioshock trilogy was being remastered, we thought, why not go back and play the original versions before the big three return.

This project begins with the latest in the series, and that is, of course, the somewhat divisive Bioshock Infinite. Divisive you say? Well, amazingly, yes — there is indeed a very vocal subsection of the gaming community that feels Bioshock Infinite betrays itself in its very design.

Their argument is that the immersion of the world and the depth used to design Columbia would’ve been better utilized in an exploration style or perhaps a walking simulator type experience. On the contrary, though, the constant onslaught of ever increasing violence is tantamount to the messages and themes of the game, even if Ken Levine, who directed the game, admits to struggling with their implementation.

Bioshock Infinite Violence

Columbia is a world on the edge of a revolution, and while many a man has dreamed of a revolution to topple his personal version of corruption or tyranny, the reality of these revolutions generally only has one certainty: a lake of blood and an endless trail of the dead and maimed. The Russian and French Revolutions are both prime examples of this fact.

In that way, it seems that the inherent violence of Infinite, particularly in relation to its two warring factions is not a creative hamstring but an absolute necessity. And this isn’t even the only valid point in that camp either. It’s also worth noting that the main character, Booker DeWitt, is a former soldier and strikebreaker for the Pinkertons, a veteran of at least two massacres, and a man with a lot of blood on his hands. This is seen as the initial reason for his being chosen for this mission, and as such, it informs much of his journey through Columbia.

But what is this mission? Well, that’s where things start to get complicated, and if one thing can be seen as a detriment to the enjoyment of this unraveling plot, it’s perhaps just how complex and confusing it can be, especially upon an initial playthrough. The player has already been rocketed to a floating city in the sky by rogue quantum physicists by the time the game has even properly begun, and then there’s the jarring introduction to the floating city itself.

The world of Columbia comes off at first like a beautiful utopia, with well-dressed, free citizens living a life of leisure in a gorgeous cityscape burgeoning with remarkable artisanship and carefully crafted architecture. The off kilter nature of this place is made apparent almost immediately as a barbershop quartet is seen performing The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” (this is 1912 after all). Despite the angelic legions singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (more on that later), it isn’t long before the seedy underbelly of the city is laid bare, after Booker wins a “raffle”, and is given his prize: the chance to lob a baseball at an interracial couple.

Bioshock Infinite

The first person perspective of Bioshock Infinite makes this section especially uncomfortable, and is possibly the best use of the morality system the series has ever imagined. Though the revelation of Booker’s identity as “the false shepherd” comes regardless of your choice, like the choices of Telltale’s games, it’s more about how it effects you, the player, and how you see yourself in the mirror of this world. Are you willing to become a violent bigot in order to maintain your cover? Does the greater good, or your perception of it, have an inherent value that supersedes the rights of these two humans to pursue their love, free of persecution?

These are the kinds of hearty and heavy questions that Bioshock Infinite preoccupies itself with asking, right from the outset. Later, the game asks you again to decide how you perceive right and wrong, when a heady general from Booker’s past implores Booker to kill him in cold blood. General Slate seeks a glorious death on the battlefield, but is unarmed and already wounded when Booker finally confronts him. Is it right to murder a man who asks for death? Is it vengeance or justice that motivates you? Mercy or retribution? The gray color of moral quandaries like this adds a level of uncertainty to the experience, leaving the player always wondering about the righteousness of their mission and what its eventual end result will be.

Slate is an echo of the past, like Booker himself in some ways. Glory on the battlefield is a product of America’s past, one that has fallen away for most, as the two World Wars of the 20th century, along with their tens of millions dead, ceaselessly burned the scales from the eyes of mankind. Other echoes of this violent past, and its archaic beliefs, are apparent all over the city in propaganda posters, the discrimination and subjugation of anyone who is not a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). These are not parts of America’s history that most school children are privy too, and the ugliness of these images, the likes of which include a white man with a sword standing tall among scrambling caricatures of other races with the caption “Battling back the hordes!”, are a scarring reminder that America wasn’t always the shining light of freedom and liberty that it proclaimed itself to be.

Much like the original Bioshock, and to a lesser extent, it’s sequel, Bioshock Infinite is constantly using its time period to remind players of the history that preceded them, and how it effects the way their country, and their world, is seen today. The racial tensions that are increasingly bubbling up between minorities and authorities of late didn’t simply occur overnight, or even due to increasingly troubling events involving law enforcement over the last couple of years — these are struggles with a long and ugly history, one that Infinite lays bare in its layered and nuanced telling.

Bioshock Infinite

All of this is before even delving into the nature of Booker, the protagonist, Elizabeth, his bounty, and Comstock, the prophet who rules over the totalitarian theocracy of Columbia. We’re going to be delving into spoiler territory from here, so this is your warning to tune out if you haven’t yet played this game (and if that’s the case, I implore you to please stop reading here).

Still here? Okay, lets dig deeper shall we? When the player first experiences Bioshock Infinite, there are a lot of questions at play, and they begin to compound to a certain extent as the game goes on. Is Comstock really a prophet? If not, how does he know so much? What does the mark on Booker’s hand mean? What is the nature of Elizabeth, and who is truly behind Booker’s mission to rescue her? Questions like these urge the player to sometimes hustle through the game, in hopes of learning just a little more about what is actually going on in this world.

Much like The Last of Us, though players may be eager to rush to the end to see what’s going to happen, the incredible depth and detail of this world is worth exploring in its every facet, and while battles may sometimes feel like a needless detriment standing in your path to the revelations of the finale, the violent struggle of Infinite is an element as important as any other in the journey of Booker and Elizabeth. After all, this is a story that can only end in violence.

And end in violence it does, not just as Booker smashes Comstock’s head in on a bird bath, before strangling and drowning him, but also as Elizabeth martyrs the Vox Populi leader, Daisy Fitzroy, when she threatens the life of a child. Both deaths only further embolden the followers of their respective causes, continuing the cycle of violence, and even igniting it to become more bitter and bloody.

Bioshock Infinite Songbird

The final violence comes only when the final truth is revealed though. After doing his part at the Massacre of Wounded Knee, Booker threw off his mantle as a soldier, and sought redemption at a nearby river. There, he was nearly baptized before backing out of the deal. An alternate Booker, though, went through with it and was delivered unto God. He became the prophet, Comstock, and led Columbia into the skies.

When Elizabeth gains the full extent of her powers, and casts off the chains of slavery by drowning her protector and jailer, Song Bird, she sees time as a flat circle, and a thousand truths come flooding to her immediately. A thousand, thousand doors are opened up to other worlds. Other Bookers and other Elizabeths battle other Comstocks and Fitzroys, or join them, depending on the shape of things. One small change is all it takes to remake the world, for better of worse.

Booker goes through the final doorway only as the journey comes to an end, and sees the truth for himself. Confronted there by the daughters he had sold and abandoned and battled and controlled in a dozen worlds, he receives his final baptism, as his daughters hold him underwater, preventing Comstock from ever coming to be, in this world or any other.

Bioshock Infinite

May the circle be unbroken? It’s not a song, it’s plea from a doomed prophet, and a lament from a fallen soldier, more akin to “may things continue as they are” or ‘may MY circle be unbroken”. Is it any wonder that it’s Elizabeth who sings the song when Booker picks up his guitar? Only she can break the circle after all, whether she wants the responsibility or not.

In the end, Bioshock Infinite holds up remarkably well, even years later and with full advent of a newer console generation. Even more enjoyable the second time through, Bioshock Infinite is a testament to the power of this medium to build amazing worlds and tell incredible, spellbinding stories within them.

Bioshock: The Collection is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 13, 2016. 

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.


Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series




Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release




While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’




Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight



For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.

Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo



The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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