Why 'BioShock Infinite' Returns to Series Roots

Choose Rapture

The first "BioShock Infinite" downloadable content (DLC) pack has been in the works for a long time, but judging by Internet buzz, "Burial at Sea" will be worth the wait. The downloadable adventure returns to Rapture, the underwater libertarian paradise-gone-wrong from the original "BioShock," which may help explain the positive feedback.

"Burial at Sea" is a downloadable adventure that brings Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock, the protagonists of "BioShock Infinite," from the floating city of Columbia to sunken city of Rapture to partake in a film noir mystery.

Aside from the intrinsic appeal of gritty, early 20th-century detective yarns, critics and fans alike have largely embraced returning to Rapture. In simple terms, the underwater dystopia provides some of the eeriest scenery and most brilliant level design in modern gaming. On a deeper level, though, Rapture represents something frightening — a fully realized world gone wrong because of a political philosophy that many powerful people espouse today.

The original "BioShock" game

For those of you who never played the original "BioShock" (and really, now is as good a time as any), Rapture is an underwater city founded by ideologue Andrew Ryan. If you've noticed that Ryan's name is very similar to objectivist philosopher and political theorist Ayn Rand, you are not alone. "BioShock" tells the story of Ryan's attempts to build a utopian objectivist society where every man and woman — each a paragon of his or her field — can carve out his or her own destiny, free from governmental, religious or societal restraint.

"Rapture!" booms Ryan in a recorded message at the beginning of the game. "A city where the artist would not fear the censor; where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality; where the great would not be constrained by the small!"

Ryan's philosophy echoes Rand's. Objectivism is a philosophy of her own design, dedicated to rationality and enlightened self-interest. "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of the man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute," wrote Rand in her seminal novel "Atlas Shrugged."

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