Product Type: Take 2 Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... one of the best stories in gaming, it is so deep and every single character you meet (excluding the splicers) have a huge back story an... more
A blissful introduction to the warped world of Rapture
Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Member Name: ReviewKing05
Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Advantages: - Unique narrative with immense depth - Unique gameplay elements like plasmids and ADAM
Disadvantages: - None whatsoever
In 2007, 2K games took the gaming world by complete surprise by releasing their unique FPS 'Bioshock'. With a fresh twist on an established genre, the game intended to take the next-generation of gaming by storm, by immersing the player in a dystopian world of greed, violence and utter isolation. Its unique gameplay elements made it an instant classic then, and its compelling story has meant that it has created an enduring legacy in gaming.
The crux of the game is a suitably fascinating one - left dumbfounded by both capitalist and communist systems on the surface, an ultra-capitalist entrepreneur named Andrew Ryan created a city under the sea in 1946 called Rapture. Here, there would be no censorship, everything earned by an individual would be theirs to keep and there would be no restrictions placed upon science. However, one scientific revelation threatened to destroy this 'utopia': ADAM. This collection of unstable stem cells allowed humans to grant themselves superpowers - or 'plasmids' - but had drastic side effects. Not only was it addictive, but it came to take control of the 'splicers' who used them extensively. Becoming horribly disfigured, they became shadows of their former selves and, in a civil war which ravaged the city in 1958, ordered government in the city ground to a complete halt.
This is where you come in. You assume the role of Jack, emerging from a devastating plane crash in the game's first scene. You scramble to a lighthouse which contains an entrance to the underwater city and once you arrive, you realise that it was probably best if you'd stayed away...Guided via radio by an unknown character named Atlas, you must survive among the crazed splicers and uncover the secrets of Rapture.
Now, if the story isn't enough to entice you into the game, then the graphical excellence of the title certainly will. The developers captured the period they intended to cover impeccably, with the art-deco style permeating every aesthetic level of the game design. Not only are the interiors given a suitably fifties feel, but even the specially made advertisements and propaganda posters are beautifully given a period feel. The impact of the presentation cannot be understated: this level of detail had never before been seen in a console title and, in high definition, this is a truly sublime game to simply gape at. At times you'll literally spend hours just perusing the detailed and varied environments: look out for Eve's Garden in particular, whose lush green forests really offer the feeling that this city was once a rapturous utopia.
Likewise, the crazed enemies you face are suitably rendered. Not only do they shamble along and ramble to themselves - with unique dialogue given to each and every character - but there are several different types of enemy to face throughout the game: spider splicers, for example, crawl on the ceilings and ambush you while nitro splicers hurl dynamite your way. Not only is each 'class' made to feel unique, but each has its strengths and weaknesses which can be uncovered by the research camera you eventually come across. Take snaps of enemies before disposing of them and they'll be easier to beat the next time you see them, a neat touch which snugly fits into the game design.
Undoubtedly, the most challenging enemy of all is the Big Daddy, a character intrinsic to the Bioshock experience. Not only does it adorn the cover art but it is the most challenging of foes in the game, being both heavily armoured and armed to the teeth. Its function is to protect possessed girls named little sisters who draw the ADAM from dead corpses, and, to be able to advance in the game, you need to obtain this solution from the little sisters. The Daddies themselves have their own demeanour and protect their territory violently, lashing out if you near a sister. On the highest of difficulty levels you'll experience some truly epic battles against them, juggling movement, plasmids and firepower to outwit them and get to the valuable sisters.
This brings me onto the next important story element: ADAM. This solution serves two key purposes in the game. The most immediate of these is the moral choice that you as a gamer are given. As previously mentioned, the gamer obtains plasmids by using ADAM as currency. These give the player superpowers such as the ability to set foes alight, electrocute them or fling objects at them with telekinesis (among a wealth of other choices). Put simply: if you have more ADAM, you get more powers and the game is a much easier prospect. So when you meet a sister you have a choice: harvest her for maximum ADAM (i.e. murder her) or obtain a lot less of the solution but free her of her affliction. The choice you have affects the ending you reach at the game's climax and truly makes you think about your moral choices: this is a neat touch which adds to the game's immersion, and it even changes the way in-game characters converse with you.
Aside from the moral side of ADAM, its role as currency is an integral fibre in Rapture. Jack can 'carry' a limited amount of plasmids at a time but using ADAM new slots can be purchased. The same can be said for 'tonics', another in-game feature which gives the player certain perks against enemies such as invisibility while stationary or the ability to hack machines, turrets and cameras with ease. Moreover, the game features an impressive weapon upgrade system; not only are traditional weapons well recreated but they are given a Rapture flavour, designed to look like they were cobbled together by its insane inhabitants. This stretches to the implements added to your guns, with nuts and bolts visibly fixed onto the guns to make them more effective against foes. Not only does this wealth of detail make the game a blast to play but it makes the whole idea of Rapture as a self-contained society all the more believable. It entirely immerses you and makes you see this underground dystopia as a living, breathing organism, a depth of story which other games simply haven't been able to match.
This effect is compounded by the gripping - and rather lengthy - story, whose twists and turns keep you at the edge of your seat throughout. This is helped along by the intuitive objective and story-telling mechanisms, with the player being told where and when to traverse certain areas via radio signals rather than having to read blocks of text. This means you can continue on your way while hearing your objectives, giving you no time to stop and take a breath along the rollercoaster ride. Not only does this system heighten the tension but it nails the atmospheric feel perfectly: you truly feel alone in this twisted vision of paradise and when you're only contact with society is via radio your detachment makes the setting all the more eery and unsettling.
In summary, 'Bioshock' is simply a masterpiece in both theory and practice. The background story to Bioshock would be enough to warrant its own dystopian novel and the level of thought behind the title permeates to the surface of the game design. What's more, the intuitive use of plasmids alongside traditional weaponry gives the game a unique feel unmatched by other FPSs of this gaming generation. The beauty of the title comes in its intuitive mix of aesthetic beauty, compelling and original narrative and impeccable game-play elements including ADAM and radio messaging. Ultimately, this truly is an awe-inspiring title and for those who have overlooked 'Bioshock' for the three years since its release I tell you one thing: play this game. Experience Rapture.
Summary: One of the best games you're ever likely to play - you owe it to yourself to experience Bioshock.