The Gist: Bioshock is a first person shooter set in a very bizarre alternate 1960’s where science seems to have gone mad and little girls (Little Sisters) roam with Big Daddies at their side. You survive a plane crash, swim to some sort of structure sat in the ocean which in turn allows you to dive deep into the ocean until you reach the underwater city
Atlantis Rapture. If anything I found the name of the city ironic seeing as at the time of writing this everyone’s talking about ‘the rapture’, I honestly had no idea this game had a city named Rapture in it.
Straight off you’re thrown into some pretty hostile situations where inhabitants of this city feel they have to hit you with lead pipes or simply fill you full of lead…either way it’s bad. Thankfully you find a radio with a man on the other end who wants to help you survive in exchange for saving his family who instructs you to shoot up using some sort of DNA rewriting substance, when in Rome…
DNA rewritten you find yourself flinging electricity at your enemies in order to stun them long enough to smack them over the head with a wrench, most fun. You’ll then go on to explore the rest of rapture, alter your DNA to shoot flame or become telekinetic and set off on your mission to save the man on the radio’s family.
Pros: Bioshock captured my heart immediately by allowing me to slowly watch my plane sink in front of me. It then went on to a very Half-Life style interactive cinematic, allowing you to view the beautifully created city of Rapture whilst diving deep under the ocean. When acquiring my first weapon I also noticed another nod to Half-Life when asked to ‘kindly find a crowbar or something. I really liked how messed up this city was, that its inhabitants wouldn’t merely attack me but babble insanely at me first, this gave the game a little distance from your average FPS.
One of the best elements of the game was the inclusion of the Little Sisters, who gather ADAM (a substance composed of some sort of stem cell variant from bodies) and process it through a slug like parasite within them (think Stargate’s Goa’uld). This produces the DNA altering substances that give humans abilities such as telekinesis or the ability to shoot electricity and fire. These Little Sisters come with an escort known as a Big Daddy, humans genetically altered and embedded into old school diving equipment who will deal with anything hostile towards the Little Sister. This character duo works brilliantly and the unique combo really enhanced the game experience for me. At times you’ll find the duo traversing an unreachable place such as an adjacent underwater tunnel not unlike G-Man in the Half-Life games. Another nod to Half-Life!
I really liked the fact that this first person shooter contained RPG elements within it, allowing you to hack vending machines for cheaper goods or automated weapon systems to fight alongside you. The method of hacking these systems comes in the form of a mini-game based on an old game I used to play a long time ago in a galaxy far far away named Pipe Mania, in which you complete a circuit of pipes that allow water to flow from one point to another.
Cons: I can’t really list many cons about this game as I really enjoyed every part of it. The only thing I found frustrating was the level design itself being a little repetitive resulting in me getting lost. Whilst I had access to a map in the game I did find myself a little lost from time to time. This was actually probably my own fault as I had the difficulty setting on hard. Enemies later in the game seemed to own me when I was out of ammo which resulted in me having to re-spawn further back in the level which in turn got me a little lost.
Musical Note: The game uses a wonderful score containing a series of classical 60’s style songs in several areas. At times it reminded me of my time playing Fallout 3, with its 50’s style music, makes a change from the generic FPS soundtracks accompanying most modern games.
Hunger Level: I have to admit I was enjoying the game so much that I adjusted my one hour game a week to two hours. Definitely a game you can get lost in, with interesting scenery, unique enemies with some decent AI behind them and a selection of unique weapons such as shooting fire from your fingertips that mean you don’t have to rely on just guns. This is one of the games I really do plan on playing again soon.
Conclusion: I really recommend this game to anyone looking for something different to your average first person shooter. The environment is truly unique, the enemies interesting to fight, the story behind it all interesting to explore. The atmosphere of the game really reminded me of the Wizard of Oz sequel Return to Oz with its city falling apart and its insane inhabitants. The game’s fairly cheap and is on offer several times a year digitally so there’s no excuse not to give it a go.
‘Game-A-Week’ @ Black Vinculum