The Game: Navigating Chaos
Finally got that ONE airship, now we can-awwww:
After ending Daisy Fitzroy, Elizabeth runs ahead to the First Lady Airship, and locks herself in the back of the cabin. She doesn’t answer so Booker goes and lays in a course to leave. When he turns around he sees Elizabeth, changed out of her bloody clothes, into an outfit of Lady Comstocks that is a little less Disney Princess and a little more Disney Popstar. She’s also bobbed her own hair, presumably either out of symbology for her lost innocence, or as physically the only way to Daisy’s blood out of her hair with no showers around. Either way, you don’t get far. Songbird shows up and brings the blimp crashing down.
When you wake, you see the twins again and they tell you in their own special way that a song played on the right instrument can control the Songbird. And that sends you on your next quest, to journey to Comstock House, find Comstock and get the information out of him on how to call off Songbird. Great plan.
Call it a Wii, but the Revolution still sucks:
When you step out from the rubble of the crash, you now come into an area of Columbia full of refugees fleeing from the Vox. Sad and heart rending human drama plays out all around. The Vox may be justified in their overthrow of Columbia’s elite, but in doing so they have stooped as low as their “masters” ever were. As you fight through their lines, you see evidence of numerous crimes against humanity. Executions of unarmed civilians seems to be a special favorite.
In another close escape with Songbird, Elizabeth makes you swear; Not to kill Songbird (she’s not sure you could), but to kill her should it look as if she would be re-captured. She really doesn’t want to go back.
Why has Ghostbusting never been fun in video games?:
On trying to bust into Comstock house, the pair are thwarted by an oddly cheery door lock mechanism that wants Lady Comstock’s hand print to enter. Good thing her memorial garden is close at hand. Elizabeth isn’t in a memorializing mood though. She intended to just rip the dead lady’s arm off and use it to get through. But, as we know, nothing ever goes as planned and just as we are about to make Lady Comstock a posthumous lefty, Prophet Comstock reveals that he has the crypt wired with some badass home electronics.
By the unlimited power of multiple 4’ subwoofers, he drains some of Elizabeth’s mysterious power, and uses it to raise Lady Comstock as a spooky ghost. Possibly the silliest use of man-sized speakers since Back to the Future and truly the kind of imagery I thought normally only reserved for 80’s metal album covers.
So of course, Booker must now contend with the pissed off spirit of Lady Comstock, who really REALLY doesn’t like Elizabeth. That means going on a journey around town, to see what she was up to before she got offed. We find out that the Luteces were “killed” by Fink, who was ordered to do so by Comstock. Fink engineered a scheme for them to die through an “accident” involving their reality altering equipment. But, it seems it merely trapped them between dimensions, and made them immortal. And least they didn’t come back all blue and naked. Of course you are constantly having to fight Lady Comstock as you find this out.
In the end, despite Bookers best attempts to kill Lady Comstock’s Ghost with bullets, the only way to put her to rest is for Elizabeth and her to have a heart to heart. So they both come to agree that Comstock is an ass who has ruined both their lives, and she lets you both pass. FINALLY you can get to Comstock House, right?
WRONG! Songbird swoops in and jacks your shit through a window. You wake up in your familiar black and white office. “Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt!” But this time the Luteces are blocking the front door. When you exit the side door, you wake up from your landing and Songbird busts in to finish you off. Just as he is about to punch out all your blood, Elizabeth stops him. She apologizes for leaving and asks to be taken home, effectively sacrificing herself for you. It’s enough for song bird to leave you be, but now you have to rescue Elizabeth again!
Thus ends the second thematic third of the game.
A wrinkle in time:
Booker rushes down to the bridge to Comstock House, braving the lightning and the sounds of Songbird swooping around. Unfortunately the only way forward is through a tear, and on the other side its snowing. Seems he’s been gone awhile. Through tears he can hear Elizabeth struggling with her captors. And then, in the lobby we see something incredibly wrong. A statue of “Our Lady Elizabeth” wielding a sword. Through a recording we hear her spouting dogma as vividly as Comstock ever did. Has Comstock’s plans of her taking over in his passing already happened?
Now things get really weird.
You hear through tears that Elizabeth has not been taken to her tower, she has been taken to some sort of lab, where they are breaking her, and harnessing her to Comstock’s will. Booker is traveling through Comstock through this lab in a different time. The lab is part insane house, prison, mad scientist lair, and existential hell wrapped into one. There are inmates here, trapped behind iron masks of the founders, and seem to be suffering from similar symptoms as the people who you killed in other dimensions. Perhaps this is where Comstock has brought them after he crushed the Vox uprising. They are watched over by guards, who also wear masks, and if they should see you, the inmates attack. Booker continues to make his way through, but in the tears, Elizabeth seems more and more broken. In one tear you hear it had been six months since the events with Songbird, which were just moments away for you. Continuing on, a projector left on has Elizabeth giving a speech about her lack of faith in humanity, due to you failing to rescue her. It seems she may be even more fanatical than the first Comstock.
This is confirmed shortly after, through another dogma-PSA, she not only wants to keep Columbia “pure” as Comstock did, but she wants to burn the rest of the world below to prepare it for God. But at the same time, we find Voxaphones of her sounding tired, and desperate to stop what she’s set in motion.
When we finally get the door open to where Elizabeth is being held, we are faced with...Elizabeth but different. She is in shadow, and when you take her hand to pull you up you now see you are in 1984 again. Elizabeth is now an old woman (my math puts her at about 89), and Columbia’s airships are destroying New York just as your previous vision hinted at.
Granny ‘Lizbeth, explains that it wasn’t Comstock’s torture or indoctrination that broke her, it was time. It had been 72 years and you had never rescued her. (Could we see a parody of this idea with Mario, Peach, and Bowser, please???) In her despair, she gave in and became what Comstock wanted. But she had just enough hope left in you, to bend time and space and send you back to herself before they could break her. She gives you a note, in secret Captain Crunch Code, to give to Elizabeth. It has “advice, on how not to become me”. She then ports you away, and into some small study back in old Columbia.
Find the Cheerleader, save the World:
Just as Booker begins to realize where he is, he hears Elizabeths screams of pain and bursts through the study door to find he is in the lab where they are breaking Elizabeth! Comstock himself is supervising the doctors as they torture her in an attempt to reign in her powers.
Booker fights through Comstocks guards and shuts down the machines restricting Elizabeth and she immediately opens a large tear to a scene of a huge tornado which demolishes the lab and kills all the scientists. Further symbology, Elizabeth is a force of nature.
When Booker finally gets to her and removes the fire hose coming out of her spine, he hands her the note and she understands; Booker’s vision of New York comes to pass if they don’t stop Comstock. If Elizabeth had lost her innocence before, she has now become quite hardened by her time in the lab. She claims SHE will find and kill Comstock, and when Booker protests she threatens him with the same tornado she just wrecked the lab with. Only when he explains that HE will kill Comstock instead, does she calm down and follow you again.
Comstock’s Private airship, The Hand of The Prophet, is stationed just above Comstock House. Booker and Elizabeth fight through waves of goons and patriots, steal smaller airship and head for Comstock’s flagship, and the final showdown.
Booker and Elizabeth board the airship and fight their way through its crew, but of course that’s when the Vox Populi decide to show up to destroy the airship. I can only assume they didnt know Booker was aboard, or they might have just sat this one out. Either way, they all look under their chairs and get a bullet.
The Game: Comstock
A GOOD Prophet would have worn a helmet:
So here you are, the private quarters of Comstock’s airship. In the lobby we see a scale model of Elizabeth’s Tower. And the speaker devices that were in it, and at Lady Comstock’s tomb. They siphon power from Elizabeth. Both to lessen her ability to fight him, and presumably to further power his own machinations. Just how powerful IS Elizabeth if her shackles were removed entirely?
We are then invited into Comstocks personal quarters, his own little garden aboard his airship. He stands there, at a small hand-fountain, greeting Elizabeth and beckoning her in. She goes forward, as “something she must do”.
Elizabeth asks what she is, but Comstock only continues with his dogma of her being the seed of the Prophet, and that she should beware Booker as the False Shepherd. He says so soothingly, laying all his charm on her, only showing contempt when referring to Booker. Despite Booker’s protest, she allows him to go on.
Comstock continues, spouting that he has tried so hard to stop you, when in the end all he had to do was tell her the truth. He then grabs Elizabeth’s hand and demands you tell her the truth about her finger. Booker doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about, but he’s had enough. He grabs Comstock and bashes his head against the fountain. Incensed that Comstock would try to pin Elizabeth’s missing finger on him, Booker then drowns what little life Comstock has left.
Comstock is dead, but Elizabeth is still shaken by his words. Booker says he doesn’t know anything about it and his nose begins to bleed again. Elizabeth says Booker DOES know, he just doesn’t remember.
Booker suggests that the answer lies in Elizabeth’s powers, and that by destroying Comstock’s 7.1 Surround THX Certified Klipsch Home Audio Siphon System, she can use her full powers to find it. But can Elizabeth handle her own awesomeness? And how will they destroy the Tower (more)?
Booker sets in a course for the Tower, but gosh darnit here come those pesky Vox again. They’ve regrouped to destroy the airship, and you’re going to need help this time. Luckily Elizabeth finally gets the idea of how to control Songbird. By destroying one of Comstock’s statues and taking the instrument inside, she can summon Songbird, and compel him to help.
As we all know, Songbird is really handy at swatting airships. And the Vox, are finally sent packing. And since we’ve got Songbird doing what he’s good at, how about having him break the rest of the Tower too? Finally they take the easy answer to something!
My God...it’s full of...lighthouses?:
And it works! Songbird destroys the Tower and it explodes in a very satisfactory manner. The resulting shockwave of released energy not only makes Elizabeth start to glow, but knocks the Whistle out of Booker’s hands. Having lost control of Songbird he starts to panic, as it swoops back at them. But Elizabeth isn’t going to be phased anymore. With an effortless wave of her hand, we are now looking through thick glass at deep blue water. And in the water, unable to escape, is Songbird. Elizabeth comforts him in his final moments before the crushing pressure of the ocean, and his own hydro-phobia cause his eyeballs to explode, and he sinks from view.
Booker starts to notice his surroundings; none other than Rapture from BioShock 1...and 2...I guess. But he doesn’t know that. Elizabeth tells him it’s a doorway, one of many.
Super astute Bioshock fans may notice that the room you are in is none other than the balcony room where our protagonist from the first game tried his first Plasmid and freaked out. What a drama queen, right?
At Elizabeth’s urging, you follow her down through the very beginning of Rapture, to the Bathysphere. Once your way into Rapture, it’s now you’re way out. As you reach the surface, you come to the famous lighthouse. Elizabeth remarks that limitless doors are now becoming visible to her. Once she enters the lighthouse, she will see what’s behind them.
Warning: Things are about to get trippy again.
You open the lighthouse door, and on the other side, there are limitless lighthouses. All the same, yet different. Elizabeth explains, there are always constants and variables. A man, a city...You move down to another lighthouse along a pathway that rises from the ocean before you.
When you go through the door, you emerge among more lighthouses, these are different from Rapture’s, older. They are the lighthouse that brought you to Columbia. And walking from each are Booker and Elizabeth. She is explaining to him, just as she is explaining to you now. The events that happen across these worlds happen, “because they do”. And though Booker fights the idea that his actions are scripted, Elizabeth state’s he’s already done them. I guess when time flows sideways it hard to know what you’ve done, when there is no “after” or “before” (Haha, see I could write for this shit!).
Smother him in his crib:
As you walk through another lighthouse, suddenly we are at a Baptism. Booker’s Baptism, where he tried to absolve himself of his sins after the Battle of Wounded Knee. (You may notice that the priest is the same blind priest from the Baptism earlier in the game, but younger) Booker doesn’t want to take the Baptism, but once again Elizabeth already states that he has. And so he takes his hand, but at the last moment he breaks away, and doesn’t go through with it. He kept his sins, as his own penance. Rather than believe he could absolve them by merely “dunking himself in the river”
Booker has had enough though, he asks Elizabeth to open a portal to Paris. Comstock is dead, and he just wants to be done with all of it. But Elizabeth says Comstock ISN’T dead, in fact, he was at the Baptism. But where? Was he the lady in the hat? Booker must journey on, through the doorway of the riverside shack.
And you are back in your crappy apartment again. And we see that it was Robert Lutece that gave you your mission. “Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt.” But in the side room, there is cradle with a baby. A baby with big blue familiar eyes. Booker doesn’t seem to understand, and he certainly doesn’t want to hand over the baby to Robert. But he did, so its all he CAN do.
Booker reluctantly hands the baby to Lutece, who replies “The Debt is paid. Comstock absolves you of all your sins.” and closes the door. When you open it again you are on the rowboat again, in the storm. But this time Elizabeth is there. “Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt” Booker still insists there was no baby, that the deal was for him to rescue her from Columbia. But his nose begins to bleed again. Is that how it happened?
Booker still wants to quit, but Elizabeth says Comstock isn’t dead. Like how Chen was dead but alive in another dimension. So Comstock is alive in a million million other dimensions. Once again Booker enters the lighthouse, and comes out in an alley. He has chased Lutece and the baby, who is now in the hands of a younger Comstock, and who are both about to go through a tear to Columbia. Booker fights to take the child from Comstock but in the end the portal closes, severing the child’s pinky. Booker is left yelling “Anna” at a brick wall.
Flash back to his apartment again, Booker is alone with his regret, AD carved on his hand in memory of Anna Dewitt, his daughter. And as Elizabeth explains, he stayed that way for 20 years, until another tear appeared. On the other side, the Luteces, in raincoats, by a rowboat, in a storm, with promises to help reunite you with Anna. But stepping through the tear, and into the shattered multi-verse of your involvement with Columbia causes you to pass out, and for your mind to start filling in memories. Much like Chen. Your desire to save Anna, and the deal to give her away merge into a single memory. You are to save Elizabeth/Anna from Columbia, but give her away to wipe your debts. And so that part of the story began, but what about Comstock?
Booker begins to understand, he sold away Anna, and Comstock is to blame. But the only way to destroy Comstock is to wipe him from existence, to kill him before he could become himself. But when is that? Once again, you venture up to the lighthouse, and open the door.
“Booker Dewitt, are you ready to be born again?” You are back at the river, at the Baptism. Confused, Booker turns around and there is Elizabeth, and another Elizabeth, and then there are many.
Though you refused the Baptism, is other worlds Booker did not. And when Booker Dewitt cast away his sins and was reborn, he became Zachery Comstock. The only way to stop Comstock from existing, is for him to never have been born. Booker Understands. The Elizabeths take him by the arms, and plunge him into the river. And when it is done, they fade away.~Fin
The Campaign Round Table is a weekly netcast focused on the story of the video games we love. Experience these game along with the CRT crew (book-club style) and join the discussion via emails or video messages (to CampaignRoundTable@gmai.com) with your thoughts on the game. Garrett Weinzierl, Kyle Fergusson and Mike Dougherty host the Campaign Round Table. Subscribe to the CRT on iTunes and Youtube.