Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The BioShock Dream that Never Happened

During E3 2011, Ken Levine of BioShock fame came on stage at Sony's conference and talked about his desire to create a unique, experimental BioShock game for the PlayStation Vita. Despite Ken's interest in the project, Sony and 2K were never able to come to an agreement to make this game a reality. Whether it was the 2K not wanting to divert the resources for a handheld project, Irrational's delays of BioShock Infinite, a combination of these, or other factors altogether, this project never happened.

Yesterday on Twitter, Ken Levine once again brought up the dead-in-the-water Vita project. For the first time, he revealed that his idea was to create a Final Fantasy Tactics-style turn-based game set in pre-fall Rapture. He claimed this would have allowed him to create something unique that would not have required any compromise on the Vita. While I'm not a BioShock fan, I have to say that this would have been a fantastic fit for the Vita and a game that I would have been extremely hyped to play.

The initial, vague concept of a BioShock game on Vita held little appeal to me. I imagined Irrational trying to do a spin-off, first-person shooter with the "experiment" being something stupid like using touch screen controls for something like plasmids or vigors. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Levine had a turn-based tactical game in mind. Much like Jeanne d'Arc on PSP, this type of game is exactly what I want on the Vita, and it could have been a serious game changer. Trash like Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified got the spotlight due to being an FPS and part of a major franchise, so that half-baked piece of junk had no trouble getting green-lit. Just imagine if 2K and Irrational had taken a risk with their favored franchise instead. At the right time, this would have been just what the Vita needed, not another awful FPS banking off name recognition or another Killzone that no one asked for.

There are plenty of potential deal killers that likely led to the demise of this project. 2K's lack of faith in the handheld market or the thought that turn-based tactical games don't sell come to mind as possible reasons.  That said, Vita owners ate up Borderlands 2 and XCOM on consoles really drew in a lot of new fans with its recent revival. While the BioShock Tactics dream is dead, it's not too late to let 2K and Sony both know how much you would have loved to have seen this project become a reality.


  1. I'm guessing here but I bet my fancy pants that Someone at Sony was pushing for the FPS angle while Levine wanted a turn based game and things just fell apart from there :(

  2. Yeah, either Sony or 2K wanted an FPS would be my thought.