The editors at Eurogamer bring us a three-page, commentary-laden preview of BioShock 2 after getting a firsthand tour of 2K Marin's studio.
Given what Ayn Rand's novel Atlus Shrugged meant to BioShock, what's the equivalent here? Thomas deflects. "If I told you what the influences to the motives of our characters are right now, it would spoil a lot about the plot," he says. "This isn't time for that yet. I will say that I find characters, whether they're heroes or villains, as ideologues very compelling, and you have to kind of know the material before you can write somebody like that and have it resonate in any way, and everyone on BioShock 1 had a bellyful of Rand... There was a lot of, 'Oh my god, if she mentions another sharp angular face again I'm going to strangle myself.' Well, in BioShock 2, we are doing similar research, I just can't say on what yet."
With Thomas's background in horror - designing The Cradle in Thief 3, and Fort Frolic in the first BioShock - that side of the game is also amplified. "Because you play this sort of armoured prototype who's pretty much designed to survive, I kind of have to strike the player obliquely on the fear front," he says. "I have to wage psychological warfare against the player."
"I think BioShock 1 was very much a tragedy - the horror of loss, and of exposure to the dysmorphic effects of these characters who have been distorted by ADAM - and in BioShock 2, I hope there will be a horror of emotional context as well, that I can cause you to experience massive cognitive dissonance from time to time and keep you guessing. That's at the very least my goal. I think fear is very important to BioShock, as is tragedy, and it's toeing the line between those two that is both what makes the challenge compelling and BioShock unique."