Sunk by Games for Windows Live

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I had to login to my Xbox Live account before anything else could happen, because someone at either 2K or Microsoft deemed that this was of the most pivotal importance to BioShock and Gaming in the Free World. So, I accept this small inconvenience and do so, hoping I’ll finally be able to play the game I’ve paid for with my hard earned money. Forget the fact that I got it on sale for a moment, I just want to enjoy my content. Never mind that this redundancy flies in the face of what Valve initially set out to do with Steam. Tapping enter on the keyboard, credentials on-screen, I wait.

GFWL proceeds to notify me that before anything else happens, it’s positively imperative that my Xbox Live profile is downloaded to my machine in its entirety. Apparently, my gamer picture, score and achievements are so significant, so very vital, that to play a new game without them would be tantamount to Link heading off into the wilds of Hyrule sans the signature sword.

It’s dangerous to go alone, take these bloated metrics that mean nothing to you.

Amidst my increasing aggravation, I sit and watch the download progress for roughly ten more minutes as my limited time trickles away before pulling out my PS Vita and playing a level in Medal of Honor, while I wait. As I’m about to start another mission, GFWL concludes the download, telling me that I then need to restart BioShock 2. Again. I’d be lying if I said by now my patience wasn’t being tried.

Rebooting the game, I’m again entreated to the same logo crawl depicted a Little Sister humming to herself as the Alpha Big Daddy walks up, knocking them over and revealing the various 2K studios that have put their time into crafting the game. Having lost about half the time I wanted to invest already this evening in playing, I was almost getting tired of the opening splash screen.

Once more unto the breach, I enter my login for Xbox Live, wait patiently as it begins connecting and then, after a small eternity, stops telling me that Live is Currently Unavailable and to try again later. I’m now being penalized for trying to play a game because Xbox Live can’t be reached. It’s like not being able to use a swing set in my backyard because I can’t call the person who built it first and ask for permission because they’ll be denied the opportunity to tell all the other kids how much fun I’d, at this point only in theory, be having. I try several more times before finally rebooting my computer.

So, Windows loads leading me to start Steam and attempt to play BioShock 2 for another time that evening. Having sunk roughly two-thirds of the time I had hoped to be enjoying a game that night into actually getting it to run in the first place, I was needless to say beyond annoyed. I do enough technical support via my day job as a System Administrator, suffering this indignity to just get something running was becoming infuriating. But I pressed on in hopes that this time, it’d work.

Yet again, the opening crawl and introduction screen with the heavy, ambient orchestral music so signature to Rapture plays as the GFWL prompt appears, begging me to enter my credentials like a starving, drug-addicted hooker looking for a fix. Relenting, I do so and wait, fighting the urge to let loose a torrent of swears as my fiancé works at her desk quietly in our shared office, continuing to be ignorant of my plight. The circle icon illuminates, trying to connect to the Xbox Live service. Before long, it finally does and I let out a sigh, excited that I’ll get to play for at least a few minutes. A gateway to more down the line, confident that it’ll work going forward.

I load the game and am entreated to the introduction detailing the story in 1958 Rapture. Great, I’m thrilled that I’ll finally get to enjoy this now that I’ve slipped past the GFWL gatekeeper that had done such a fantastic job of protecting me from my own enjoyment. Few things are as dangerous as the happiness I’d derive from using a product I bought. Finally being dropped into the diving suit of the Alpha, I begin playing.

The game is beautiful and despite a few misgivings I’ve had, hearing bits and pieces about the plot since the time BioShock 2 had released, I’m just excited it’s actually working. That’s right, I’m satisfied with a product solely because the most nominal amount of performance is being fulfilled. Forget anything beyond the bare minimum, it works so I should be satisfied with that as an end-user. It isn’t before long before my night is sealed faster than a Securis door.

Early on, when encountering Big Sister for the first time, there is a scene where the player enters a large hall as the Alpha. During this sequence, she severs the bolts holding the glass in this sections against the immense pressure of the ocean, causing them to shatter initiating a large tidal wave and submerging the whole section with water. As this sequence started, GFWL crashed BioShock 2 telling me that the login had somehow changed and I’d have to reboot BioShock 2.

It was then that I briefly lost my mind, telling GFWL exactly what it could do with its login.

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