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Review: BioShock

Ken Levine made a lot of promises with BioShock, a project driven by a lot of hard work and a lot of ambition. Fortunately, that work paid off. BioShock lives up to most of what it tries to deliver, offering up a refreshing FPS title that welcomes all types of gamers with its variety of gameplay styles and superbly written story.

Your journey starts in an airplane that crashlands in the middle of the ocean. As you swim through the wreckage, you discover a lighthouse with a strange underwater transportation device that brings you down to the epic underwater city of Rapture. Founded by a visionary named Andrew Ryan back in 1920, Rapture was a city designed to be a utopian society where brilliant minds gathered to escape the shackles of the culture above — “where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scienist would not be bound by petty morality.” Essentially, the city let genetic research run free, and most everyone spliced their genes so much that they went crazy. It’s now the 1940’s, and you are stuck in this city where, guided by a man named Atlas, you must find your way out, helping you crusade against Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture — and one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever seen in a video game.

The gameplay in BioShock is a rich blend of RPG and First Person Shooter. The main core of the game is a shooter, but there are so many RPG elements mixed in that it plays unlike any other FPS title on the market. Players are encouraged to explore the environment and collect all types of goodies, from money to ammo to powerups to materials. Different types of enemies go down easier with different types of ammunition, and the materials players collect around the city can be crafted into those different types of ammo: electric shotgun shells, armor-piercing machine gun rounds, anti-personnel pistol rounds…And there’s plenty more. The variety of weapons (each weapon has three types of ammo) gives players a lot of options — and that’s just for shooting.

While the customization of weapons adds something to BioShock, the real feature that sets it apart is its plasmids. By altering your own DNA, you can use all types of offensive, defensive, and passive abilities. These come in different varieties, and having the right plasmids equiped at the right time can completely change one’s performance. There’s a good variety of powerups to use here, and they can all be useful in the right circumstances. Players can choose to add a lot of offensive skills that directly attack foes, or use other abilities to increase their defenses or buff other statistics, such as speed. Essentially, plasmids serve as a way to spice up what would otherwise be just another first person shooter with some different types of ammunition to use. They enable different players to play however they want and create a playground of powers to utilize.

There are many subtle touches that add to the allure of BioShock — enemies on fire will dive in water, the beautiful water effects, the cohesive feel of the city, the way enemies will spawn anywhere…The list goes on and on. So what does BioShock not quite live up to? The main aspect is likely the morality issue. Yes, there are Little Sisters to either harvest or save, but it’s rather black and white. Save them all and you’re a hero, harvest them all and you’re a villain, harvest some and save some and you’re still kind of a villain. Furthermore, some will complain that there is no multiplayer — frankly, the world here is so huge and detailed that this is really not a justifiable complaint. Of course, some will blaze through it and some will explore all of its richness, as I did. If you’re the type who wants to fully explore this world and the powers and all of that, this title will provide some rich value. If you just want to rush from point A to point B and ignore everything along the way, you may be disappointed — but this is still worth renting, at the very least.

Superb Soundtrack (licensing)

Outstanding Visuals

Innovation (storytelling/genre mixing)

Deep Value (tons of content to explore at your whim)

Excellent Writing

Editor’s Choice

Final Verdict: 5/5

BioShock is an amazing experience overall, sucking players in with its addictive character growth, eerie atmosphere, inventive hybrid gameplay, and a narrative on a level few games ever reach. This is a rich storyline told with the interactive element of gaming in mind — thus, it is told in a way no other medium can, even using that interactivity as a means to present a philosophical question toward the end. BioShock lives up to the “next gen” potential of how video games can tell stories like no other medium can, and for that alone should be commended and experienced — it’s a story that is rated “M” because it really is a mature, fleshed out narrative. BioShock could’ve done this or that better, so can most games. Unlike most games, though, BioShock feels complete, it feels whole, rich, and only leaves you wanting more if you don’t take the time to seek out everything it offers. However, BioShock really does offer a wealth of fresh gameplay ideas, leaving options open for players to play how they want — we all make choices, and in BioShock, our choices really do make us. Would you kindly dive into the deep, engaging city of Rapture?


3 Responses to “Review: BioShock”

  1. That was a very cool read. Thanks !

  2. this game is beyond any other game i have ever played. a success in all rpg/shooters. well done 2k, you’ve made a game worth our time.

  3. BIOSHOCK IS THE BEST GAME I HAVE EVERY PLAYED! this game goes beyond the imaginable into a world of the unknown where anything can happen. it puts you on the edge of your seat (or whatever you sit in when you game) and is sure to delight and astonish. well done 2k, well done.

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