BioShock is a first-person shooter released in 2007 for XBox 360 and PC. It was later ported for PS3 in 2008. It was developed by Irrational Games (they were calling themselves 2K Boston back in the day) and published by 2K. The game uses a modified version of the Unreal engine with Havok for the physics side. It was highly praised for its story, setting, and thematic elements. It later spawned two sequels: BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite.
As the player, you take on the character of Jack, a man who survives a plane crash into the middle of the ocean. Upon swimming to safety, you find a lighthouse. However, this is more than meets the eye. After getting into a device called a bathysphere, a type of submersible, you are transported underneath the ocean and are introduced to Rapture, a huge underwater city.
However, there is something completely wrong with Rapture. Upon arrival, you discover that the once utopian city is now in a state of disarray with roaming “splicers,” creepy little girls called “Little Sisters,” and huge robotic bosses called “Big Daddies.” I don’t want to get into the story too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that the story is top-notch. To me, the best part of BioShock is the setting. I could just walk around in Rapture all day and be as happy as can be. I know it’s a really creepy place, but it’s also a really interesting place, especially since you have to dig around a bit to figure out what went wrong. I loved that the game was kind of scary, but not so scary that I wanted to stop playing it.
One of the other great things about the story of BioShock was a lot of really good and really interesting thematic elements of the game. Rapture’s creator, Andrew Ryan, designed the city to be free of government and free of religion (a nod to Ayn Rand’s Objectivism). However, without some constraint of morality, the city quickly crumbles into chaos after some bio-engineering and experimentation gone really wrong. It’s a really interesting and engrossing game. It’s one of my favorite video game stories of all time.
BioShock is first and foremost a first-person shooter. It’s a rather good one at that, especially for the time that it came out. As an FPS, it plays smoothly and adds some interesting game play elements. It has a typical style of ever-increasingly fun weapons to play with, but it also adds the “bio” element to it by creating the use of plasmids (a type of genetic alteration involving needles–I told you the game is a bit creepy). With your left hand, you control your plasmids, which can vary from shooting fire, ice, and even bees out of your fingertips. With your right hand, you control your primary weapon. This is a really, really fun combination, and it makes for some interesting game play. However, it gets annoying switching back and forth between shooting plasmids and shooting your weapon, since you can only have one or the other at a time. This glaring issue was later fixed in BioShock 2.
Besides the use of plasmids, the game play also adds some role-playing and stealth elements as well. The player has options for stealth around security, including cameras and auto-turrets. Collecting money in the game gives the player options for upgrading weapons, buying new plasmids, or gaining additional ammo or health. You may also collect gene tonics that give you special abilities. One of the more annoying parts of the game was the ability to hack certain things like cameras and vending machines. Although this sounds like a great idea, to hack something, you get pushed into this mini-game, similar to Pipe Dream. The first ten or so times you do it isn’t bad, but it gets annoying after twenty, thirty, or forty times.
One of the unique game play aspects of BioShock is fairly original concept of “roaming boss battles.” In order to gain more power, the player must take on Big Daddies in order to get to the Little Sisters. There are a set amount of Big Daddies in each level that will appear in various places (but sometimes can feel like at random).
The graphics were very good for the time that it came out. It has still held up well for an older game. In fact, it has held up much better than games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and even the original Infamous. Even going back and playing it now, I don’t get headaches from playing a game with crazy old graphics.
One really enjoyable thing about the graphics (and the setting) is how it highlights the amazing Art Deco designs of Rapture. This is one of the reasons why I will actually play the game just to wander around and explore (I can’t say that for many other games).
I don’t care if the game play is perfect. I don’t care if the graphics are perfect. BioShock will always be one of my most favorite games of all time. It is probably my favorite first-person shooter. This game is just plain fun. It has been the most fun that I have had in a game in a long, long time. It is the reason why I have been so backlogged on so many games: I keep wanting to play this game over and over again. BioShock made me expect more out of my first-person shooters. It is a complete must-play, trust me.