Irrational's Ken Levine on BioShock's final boss and how Infinite's solution is 'more in our wheelhouse'

"So every game we make, we always say to ourselves -- back on BioShock 1, we had that terrible showdown fight at the end -- we're not good at that, let's not do that again. And then somehow, we end up ... it's like ... 'Baby I'll never hit you again, I'm changed, I'm changed!' And then we did it!"

Irrational Games head and BioShock 1 creative lead Ken Levine struggled through that explanation this past weekend, pausing often, sighing a lot, and doubling back to be extra clear. His sentiment was certainly definitive, though: even he wasn't a big fan of the game's final boss fight with Atlas. "I think the boss battle in BioShock 1 -- the real boss battle -- is Andrew Ryan."

I had asked about how BioShock Infinite, the studio's next game, would deal with boss fights, as the Atlas battle in the first BioShock title was seen by many as the lowest point in an otherwise spectacular experience. "I think we need to stay in our wheelhouse," he explained. "We're not Shadow of the Colossus. Those guys have a genius for that. We don't have that particular genius." Without getting into anything specific, and recognizing that it would be a "missed opportunity" not to do something with Songbird (Infinite's airborne antagonist), Levine said gamers should expect something more akin to the Andrew Ryan resolution in BioShock 1.

"There are many ways to do it. I'm not saying we do it in the same way as Andrew Ryan, but there are more ways than jumping on his head three times like we did with Atlas," Levine added. He believes the concept of a "boss fight" is more about emotional context, resolution, and player satisfaction. "I think Andrew Ryan was a boss battle. I think you felt satisfied afterwards in the same way, or emotionally changed as you would, hopefully more, than boss battles."

So, how does Infinite establish emotional context and resolution with a giant winged protector ... thing? "I think we need to stay in our wheelhouse, and Andrew Ryan was in our wheelhouse. So, Songbird needs to be resolved, but it needs to be in our wheelhouse."

So there you have it: you'll beat Songbird to death with an inanimate object in some type of wheelhouse. Or something.