Games like BioShock don’t come around often. BioShock isn’t just another heartless Call of Duty knock off where eye-candy set pieces and explosions are just loosely strung together by a dull storyline. No, BioShock is one of the most engaging first-person shooters out there as it breaks away from the heartless mentality we see way too much of in games. It features a rich, inspiring and genuinely captivating storyline blended with a shifting and evolving combat unlike you have ever seen before.
BioShock is set in this mysterious underwater civilisation known only as Rapture. Forged by Andrew Ryan with the aim of creating a submerged Utopia free from political influences and conflict, Rapture grabs you with awe and amazement upon your first gaze over its shimmering, benign surface. But whoever said first impressions are accurate is totally wrong when it comes to BioShock. Whereas Ryan’s intentions were innocent, the outcome is far from it. You’ll realise this as soon as you vacate the safety of your bathysphere.
Since Rapture’s construction, its inhabitants have been driven mad by the need for ADAM, a genetically enhancing fluid that gives you god-like powers. This addiction has crash landed the city into despair and abandonment. With only the help of Atlas, another human trapped in Rapture looking for his wife and child, you need to make it out alive whilst uncovering Rapture’s dark, dark secrets.
You play as a nameless hero. Being the only survivor of a horrific plane crash, you are left stranded in the middle of the ocean. You seek refuge in the only structure on the horizon, and this is where you’re introduced to Rapture, and its horrors.
BioShock’s story is fragmented through audio tapes scattered throughout each level. Even though its hard to decipher its full plot, you really get the impression that Rapture had life and personalities, before it all fell away piece by piece. Whether you can be bothered to listen to every audio snippet is up to you, but I strongly recommend you do as the plot is so thick and detailed.
BioShock isn’t just a stunning storyteller. The combat is revolutionary even for today’s standards. You have three types of attack: generic guns which range from pistols to rocket launchers, plasmids which give you super-human powers like incinerate which sets your target on fire and hacked security equipment. As you can imagine, switching between all three makes the combat in BioShock unmatchable and totally addicting.
RPG elements allow you to improve your character, but difficult decisions between what plasmids you should equip and what weapon you should upgrade leads to a lot of replay ability as it’s not possible to use all of the powers at your disposal in one play through. Plus there’s a few times where you are given a choice. Even though this decision mechanic doesn’t go to the extent of games like Heavy Rain or Mass Effect, it does enough to entice you to find out the different endings depending on what you choose.
Rapture’s splicers act as your main foes. What were society’s people are now bloody, demonic human-shaped creatures that have driven themselves to madness as a result of their addiction to ADAM, the genetically enhancing fluid. But splicers are not your only foe. Bag Daddies – genetically modified humans encased in metal diving suits – roam around the underwater ‘paradise’. The Little Sisters are not far behind, innocent young girls that have been mentally conditioned to collect ADAM from dead bodies. You face many Big Daddies throughout Rapture and these boss-like fights are intense and rewarding.
Even though BioShock’s graphics are not exactly up to scratch compared with the latest titles (considering this came out in 2007, I am not surprised), its brilliant filmography makes up for it. Not to mention the truly breathtaking sound design. As you normally hear the insane ramblings of your enemies before you see them, you depend a lot on listening to the sounds around you. Hearing every creek and groan of this ancient underwater world, to the scraping of an oncoming splicer with its knifed hand at the ground, BioShock sounds terrific. The classic 50’s ambience also adds to the game’s originality.
In a world where massive multiplayer experiences are the growing trend, BioShock is a shining example of where a single player plot with a deep and thought provoking storyline is ultimately the better choice.
Publisher: Feral Interactive
Description: A Revolutionary FPS
Pros: In-depth story, great voice acting, varied combat, a huge host of unsettling personalities, a great game.
Cons: You can sometimes get a bit lost.