One would think that pitching BioShock to game publishers might have been a little challenging; a spiritual successor to the critically-beloved, but commercially average System Shock 2; a vastly different setting than the usual first-person shooter; and a darkly complex storyline. It’s a good thing that 2K Games saw both the potential and the inspiration to allow BioShock to come to the surface as it is quite possibly the greatest game in years.
It’s hard to say just what makes BioShock such a well-rounded and brilliant game. It ticks all the right boxes when it comes to having a compelling narrative layered upon effectively powerful graphics. But it’s something almost existential that really drives the quality of the production home.
Bioshock is set in the fantastically named underwater dystopia of Rapture. Built in the 1940’s, complete with the ascetics of the era, Rapture was designed to be the ultimate paradise for the rapidly growing capitalist empire of designer Andrew Ryan. Yet something went horribly wrong in the city beneath the sea…
BioShock immediately abandons the normal storyline clichés that drive most first-person shooters. Your character enters Rapture out of necessity, rather than any corporate greed or government-sponsored mission, and ends up being just as manipulated as the rest of the unfortunate inhabitants of Rapture.
One of the keys to the brilliance that is BioShock is found in the realm of personal customization. Just as science has created the obstacles placed in your path, so does science illuminate the way forward and the tools you need to progress. The “little sisters” play key roles in shaping your playing destiny throughout the game, but to reveal just how much of a role would be criminal indeed.
The story and characters within the realm of Rapture have something that many programmers seem to take for granted: a history. Each enemy or friend you encounter seems to have been around for longer than just the mere few seconds you may have glimpsed them. They all have personalities and motivations that go beyond merely charging directly at you again and again.
Yet Bioshock is, on the surface, a first-person shooter, so the weapons have a massive effect on how good the game plays. BioShock offers gamers a huge variety and means of inflicting pain on the other residents of Rapture. Crossbows, grenade launchers, telekinesis and even bees are all eventually part of your arsenal, if you should choose to use them and it’s this massive variety which gives the games so much replay appeal. Any given level could be completed in literally thousands of different ways.
Any game set at the bottom of the ocean is going have a fair degree of importance placed on both the visual and audio design and of course, BioShock shines on both counts. Eerily echoing sounds follow you throughout each of the jaw-dropping settings you travel through. The graphics put run the mighty Gears of War close.
BioShock is a fiercely brilliant game. Outstanding thought and design has been layered upon an impressively deep and refined sense of style. Sure to be game of the year from reviewers around the world, this is one game no true gamer can miss.