Release Date: 2007 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Developer: 2K Games
“Look, Mr. Bubbles. It’s an angel! I can see light coming from his belly. Wait a minute… he’s still breathing. It’s alright. I know he’ll be an angel soon.”
When I heard these words, I knew I was going to finish this game. This one sentence from a simple conversation between a brainwashed child and her protector was all it took.
Until I heard these words though there had been no hype for me to play Bioshock, having never played the System Shock games before it I had no basis for comparison. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew that Bioshock had pedigree behind it, the System Shock games are stuff of legend. So when I realised Bioshock was from the same development stables I at least kept an eye on its progress.
When the demo came out, I intended to use it as a mere benchmark for my (at the time) newly built PC, the graphics looked good, actually no, the graphics were AMAZING! As I looked deeper there was something more. Looking beyond the great visual the ‘something’ came in the form of character, a concept some developers can only dream about capturing in code. However Bioshock had a great feel to it, a sense of creation. Rapture, the city built under the ocean is a vast and detailed world, a real world captured in digital form. In many senses it’s not a game it’s a place to visit.
“It was not impossible to build Rapture at the bottom of the sea, it was impossible to build it anywhere else” – Andrew Ryan
When I started to write this review that (even though the game is approaching 3 years old) there is a small chance someone who has not played the game will want to read this and be inspired to play. So I am not going to touch plot points particularly, I will however promise you, if you give this game some time, it will reward you with some of the best story and best voice acting you’ll see outside of Hollywood.
The game play has an interesting mechanic; you have special powers in the form of Plasmids. The Plasmids are injected and provide your character with new abilities such as fire, lightning bolts and telekinesis. The Plasmids themselves were once a legal mainstream narcotic. A bit clichéd perhaps but the way they are delivered to you and introduced has plenty of charm and clever timing that will let you forgive the developers for sticking to some relatively safe options.
The game progresses organically, I never felt I was waiting for my next new plasmid, or something to keep me playing. The story and surroundings did most of the work to move the game along, while the RPG elements keep you wanting to work on your character powers.
There is nothing particularly new to Bioshock in the way of ideas. What it does do, is take the FPS formula, dial down the combat elements and use it effectively as a story telling medium with some incredible panache, and keeps the player engaged right to the end, including a now famous plot twist that I genuinely didn’t see coming.
I have finished this game twice, and for a game that doesn’t have many new elements to it says a lot about how well put together it is. If you feel this review is hollow, it is, I couldn’t possibly do justice the amount of entertainment this game offers. There are rumours of a film, and as much as I hope it happens, condensing the 8 to 10 hours of entertainment this game provides, down into a 2 hour movie is in my book a big task. With Bioshock 2 I want to know more about the character, I want more of this world, this fictitious place in history. I cannot wait for more Rapture.
“Plasmids changed everything. They destroyed our bodies, our minds; we couldn’t handle it. Best friends butchering one another, babies strangled in cribs… the whole city went to Hell.”