Review by Galactus21

"Who’s your daddy now?"

A premature released by TRU got gamers excited and rushing to their local TRU stores. Some got first glimpse of this game, while others had to wait an excruciating week. Knowing full well that stores had received their shipment early, I spent a week driving from store to store hoping to find a customer rep foolish enough to sell me a copy – to no avail of course. After finally procuring a copy of the game and basking through its magnificent glory, it's safe to say that BioShock is filled with many thrills and spooks. This is thanks in large part to BioShock's first rate atmosphere. Rapture's overall design is simply brilliant. I'd go as far to say that its ability to capture one's attention to this highly detailed world is unrivaled by any game I've ever played. I certainly had high expectation for this game. A few gamers can attest to my never ending hype for this game. For the most part, BioShock delivers on almost all counts. There were however, a few aspects that kept it from being one of the greatest games of all time. As it stands, BioShock and 2K will just have to settle with great.

Welcome to Rapture…seriously…

From the opening scene, the mystery and suspense begins immediately. Your plane crashes in the middle of the ocean. You end up submerging into a city known as Rapture – a city's design that brilliant in design and emphatic in execution. The world of Rapture feels centuries ahead of its time, but at the same time, the mythos behind the characters emanates a 60s feeling. Mostly due to its amazing characters and a befitting soundtrack, Rapture captures the imagination of the 60s wild fiction stories. Through a series of pre-recordings and transmissions from the characters, BioShock's story is nicely fleshed out. As you travel through the city, the communiqué also helps with the storytelling. With each piece of information that you receive, the story's cohesiveness becomes apparent.

Perhaps the only aspect that can rival Rapture's dark and chilling atmosphere is the storytelling behind the place, its people, and its culture. By intertwining these two aspects, Rapture becomes a place where you try to find every little detail to try to piece things together. Whether it's Andrew Ryan's ingenious ramblings or Atlas' mysterious vendetta against Ryan, the game is literally filled with details that effectively portray this world. This amazing atmosphere was reinforced with a perfect blend of distant chatter and 60's music that immersed the player into this underwater world. It was one man's ideology that turned into reality…or so it would seem to the naked eye. The truth is – the ideology behind Rapture and its characters showcased what a collective effort from clever minds can produce. 2K did a fantastic job at making this ideology and fictitious world come to life in video game form. The environment surrounding you was so well designed that at times it felt like you were apart of it.

Rapture's design and culture can only be summed up with the 3 Cs.

Canny
Clever
Creative

The design of Rapture is nothing short of dazzling - with solid game play mechanics to match. The actual combat – using plasmids and weapons gives the player a variety of ways to dispose of enemies. The combat to say the least is fun. The only issue that hindered the combat experience was the repetition of enemy design. Aside from the intense bid daddy fights, most of the splicers felt similar throughout the game. While I am indifferent about the respawn system, the system sort of kills 2 birds with one stone. On one hand, it eliminates the frustration of playing through a certain part of the game over and over again, but at the same time it makes the game easier – at times too easy. The system tries to eliminate unnecessary and repetitive play by eliminating the times a player has to go through the same parts of a game. Unfortunately, it left the difficulty handicapped.

Going back to the atmosphere – Rapture's dark rooms and constant chatter from splicers add drama and suspense. At times, you'll hear splicers talking, but you can't seem to find where they are. My heart starts pumping because at any one moment a splicer can pop out of nowhere and scare the crap out of me. More than anything, I want to engrain this into your mindset: BioShock's immersive subculture is beyond anything I've played in recent years – perhaps ever. This is in large part due to Rapture's brilliant design that is brimming with detailed corridors and diverse levels.

The one thing that keeps the combat fun throughout the 15 or so hours is the insane big daddy fights and the plethora of ways to kill an enemy. Weapons are plentiful. So much so that you'd have to think hard to find a creative way to dispose of an enemy. Since Rapture is and underwater city in distress, it's only appropriate that there are leaks that form large bodies of water. 2K did a fantastic job at including this aspect of the environment apart of the dynamic game play. By zapping the water with the electric plasmid, you fry enemies with a thunderous strike. Technical weapons like the shotgun also have a diverse lineup of bullets – each with a particular purpose. This large variety of weaponry gives the user a chance to come up with creative kills.

Every time you use a plasmid, it drains something called Eve. Much like your health bar, it can be regenerated through various items you'll pick up on your adventure. Plasmids will consist of various techniques like telekinesis, incinerate, and even hypnotizing a big daddy into thinking you're a little sister. Another aspect of the game that I particularly liked was the hacking. You can hack turrets, bots, cameras, and safes. When you're hacking, you will be taken to another screen where a substance will flow through tubes. In order to perform a successful hack, you have to make sure the tubes lead to end. Along the process, there will also be obstacles that will redirect the way you try to direct the flow.

Light rpg elements add depth

The combat in BioShock feels very solid. It's nothing revolutionary, but the smooth mechanics and diverse weapon selection makes the game play feel fun. Toggling between plasmids and your weaponry are also a cool way to play. For example, shocking someone and stunning them, then following it up with an up close blast from a shotgun never gets old. Now, BioShock also has some rpg elements. You can upgrade your weapons and health. By using Adam, the energy that you drain from little sisters, you can expand the amount of plasmids you carry at once. The customization is a nice little feature to give the game depth. The rpg elements also didn't feel force. It wasn't a heavy overload of rpg elements. Rather they were small increments that added to the experience.

Perhaps the only thing I noticed that even resembled an issue with the graphics was the death animation. The physics in these sequences weren't very smooth. For example, if you hit a splicer with your wrench, the splicer falls awkwardly. Aside from that, BioShock is one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360. The water effects were definitely a sight to behold. At one point, as I was passing a ruptured corridor with water pouring in – it was a beautiful site. I literally stood there for a minute just staring at the water. The art style also helped immerse the player into Rapture. To top it off, the game ran exceptionally well.

Aside from the immersive, fictitious world provided by Rapture, the music soundtrack was also one of the game's many bright points. A series of 60s music helped users adjust to the time period of the game. The music was fitting of the theme that the developer was going for. The sound effects were also brilliantly devised. You can literally feel and hear the weight of big daddies walking nearby. The chatter of splicers also sent shivers down my spine. The eerie sounds added so much to the already immersive atmosphere. The voiceovers communicated the story to the user with great efficiency. All of the characters that were featured had fantastic voice acting.

Daddy came…and…he kicked some serious booty…

The game does lack an online multiplayer mode, but it makes up for it through its amazing single player experience. Through the 15 or so hours that I spend in Rapture, I relished every second. The atmosphere was that engrossing. The solid game play helped as well. The only issues were the lack of variety among enemies and the somewhat flawed respawn system. These issues kept the game from being one of the greatest games of all time, but as it stands now, BioShock is still a great game to play through. And chances are you'll be playing through it several times. While there are still better games on the 360, this is just another incentive to buy an Xbox 360 now.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/26/07


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