It was nearly a year ago that Sony surprised us during their E3 conference with one announcement: BioShock would be arriving on the PlayStation Vita. The impact of such announcement was made that more impactful as none other than Ken Levine, the head of Irrational Games and creator of the BioShock series, made the reveal.
Known for not mincing his words, the fact that Ken went on stage to announce BioShock Vita was a big deal even if there wasn’t a teaser image or faint game details to go along with it. One year later after E3 2011 we now find ourselves in the slightly disappointing situation that BioShock Vita may not end up being the potential killer app that it was once believed to be.
With the October release of BioShock Infinite quickly approaching, one would assume that at this point Irrational Games may have begun preliminary work on BioShock Vita or at least begun kicking around game concepts. Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but according to Ken Levine BioShock Vita is still simply a concept on paper if that. In an interview with Wired Ken Levine said, “These games really are all-consuming endeavors. You do want to keep the ball rolling but it is tough to give it your full attention before you finish what you have. But we’re getting there with Infinite. So yeah, we're not as focused on the Vita game as we will be.”
Far from being the update that members of the PlayStation Vita nation want to hear, it’s a bit disappointing that essentially no major work has been done on BioShock Vita. Last October Ken Levine revealed that the Vita entry in the BioShock series may be outsourced and it was still in the paper stage of development. Jump nearly six months later and the game still seems to be stuck in the lobby of the massive skyscraper that is developing a high-end video game.
Given the somewhat lukewarm sales of the Vita it could be possible that BioShock Vita may end up being the equivalent of Resident Evil for the PSP. A cherished franchise receives an announcement at E3, gamers wait, gamers wait some more, the devs/publishers say nothing, and next thing you know we’re on the next generation already. I don’t have a problem with giving Irrational some time to develop BioShock for the Vita and I don’t think anyone expected it to drop in 2012, but at this juncture we may have to wait three years to see the game finally be released if the Vita is still even viable at that point.
I don’t know what possible directions Levine may want to take the BioShock franchise in for a Vita entry, but I think fans of the series would just like something moderately soon so they can have some goodness to play while on the go or while their significant other watches a horrible movie on Netflix.
The BioShock mythology is deep that it ought to provide enough unique gameplay premises and since I’m in a sharing mode I’ll dish out this one: gamers play as a Little Sister after the fall of Rapture and need to survive, both with and without a Big Daddy. Scavenging, avoiding battles, and making sure your Big Daddy survives are key gameplay mechanics; basically providing something different compared to the FPS prone action the series is known for. Ultimately the game ends with a M. Night Shyamalan twist as the main character dies at the hands of the protagonist from BioShock 1. Cue the credits and nominee for most depressing ending of the year.
Right now things may not seem rosy for BioShock on the Vita but if the device manages to pick up steam at E3 this year maybe Take Two will put the game on the fast track – with our without Ken Levine and Irrational Games.