Product Type: Take 2 Xbox 360 games
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Introducing "Bioshock" - (cue Rapturous applause)...
Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Member Name: DonPaolo
Bioshock (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Excellent graphics, sound and atmospheric setting, unique twists, deep and engaging story
Disadvantages: You have to be in the right mood to play - can be very intense
Bioshock is set in a parallel imagining of the 1960's, and takes place is the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture was designed as a utopia for free thinking intellectuals, where technological and biological science would be allowed to develop without restraints. When you arrive, this vision of perfection is long gone, and the city is bursting at the seems (in some cases literally).
Atmosphere & Style......
This is where Bioshock excels. The game's mysterious opening throws you into Rapture without a clue of what is going on. The layout, appearance, and sound design create a dark, eerie, claustrophobic world, with a very tense oppressive feel to it - you can almost feel the millions of gallons of dark ocean pressing down on you. This is very deliberate, and is brilliantly crafted by the designers.
The tarnished and disfigured Art-Deco styles, along with the bizarre quasi-futuristic mechanisms you encounter are very evocative of the unusual setting, and the distant creaks and booms are very unnerving.
You are initially lead through a brief tutorial as you are introduced to several of the less savoury inhabitants of the city, and the fact that you are constantly on the move and scrapping for survival immediately cranks up the tension...
Bioshock is a game which has you on edge almost constantly, and you will feel that you can never relax. It's an intense game, and consequently I found I was often not in the mood to play it - especially when coming back from a long day at work. It is a great experience, but there are some times when you feel you need something with a little more light-heartedness, or at least a chance for respite.
The beauty of Bioshock's story is that you can control (to an extent) how much you want to be involved with it. You obviously cannot ignore the core plot, but through various systems, including speaking to other characters, finding old audio-recordings, hacking into computer terminals, etc. you can learn more about Rapture and its inhabitants, and be drawn further into the workings of this mysterious place.
Whereas many games have these features as minor optional extras, Bioshock's added content is extremely rich and compelling, and I feel the best way to enjoy the game is to really embrace the idea of full exploration. You should see, do, read and listen to as much as possible, as you will be rewarded with a fantastic and original storyline, and a greater appreciation of the game's central plot for your troubles.
Although this is a FPS, it is far from traditional in its mechanics. Bioshock involves lots of exploration, hacking of computer terminals and other machines, problem solving and mysteries as well as combat. The combat itself is also diverse and original. Whereas you will usually have at least a basic firearm throughout the game (be careful, as ammo is limited) your secondary armament comes in the form of 'Plasmids' - genetic modifications which grant powerful abilities such as telekinesis, or emitting bolts of lightning or fierce flames from your hands.
These can be combined with your customisable weapons to unleash a wide array of destructive and devastating effects, and make for very exciting and far from traditional FPS combat.
One core mechanic of the game is the presence of the bizarre 'Little Sisters' and their protectors; the 'Big Daddies'. I won't spoil the plot for you, save to say that depending on who you believe, Little Sisters should either be saved and freed, or destroyed and 'harvested'. Depending on your choice of action throughout the game, you will receive certain benefits, but needless to say, whichever path you choose, the Big Daddies will not be happy...
This really is a key element of Bioshock, and proves, along with the unique setting and great storyline, that this is an FPS with a brain, and a moral compass.
From the moment you first set foot inside Rapture, you know that this is going to be an impressive and original game. Bioshock delivers on these initial impressions magnificently, offering something genuinely new in the world of FPS games, which is traditionally dominated by shaven-headed space marines, grunting machismo, and limited cerebral inspiration. A winding, branching, compelling plot will keep you gripped and entertained, and a brooding, eerie atmosphere full of danger will keep you on edge throughout.
The only negative thing I can really say is that the atmosphere is sometimes too much, and I found myself crying out for something a little more relaxed and less foreboding. However, this is simply testament to the brilliant job the designers have done in crafting the perilous and claustrophobic underwater world of Rapture.
Cue Rapturous applause...
Also on Ciao... :)
Summary: A modern classic, brilliantly realised, unique FPS game
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