Review by The_Cultist5

"The stunning visuals, paired with a remarkable story and very memorable characters, make Bioshock a true beauty to behold."

Bioshock has been in development for quite some time, existing in different forms before the developers settled on an underwater utopia beneath the Atlantic. In this review, I will attempt to answer most of your questions and provide you with my personal opinion.

BIOSHOCK

You are a man named Jack, who finds himself drowning in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after his plane crashes down. However, he is saved from certain death by the appearance of some sort of lighthouse situated on the water itself. Too weary and desperate to consider this peculiarity for more than a moment, Jack swims to the towering building and finds himself in its 1960s-esque interior. Descending down after gathering himself properly, he discovers what will transport him to a city of wonders and danger: a bathysphere.

Eventually, he enters Rapture, an underwater utopia built by Andrew Ryan. Ryan, a brilliant man who wanted to erect a paradise for the clever and talented, could not foresee the startling discovery that would soon tear his creation apart: sea slugs able to secrete pure stem cells, later dubbed ADAM. A young scientist who resided in Rapture, Dr. Tenenbaum, upset the balance further when she unveiled plasmids: powers made possible by using the cells, ranging from the ability to produce fireballs to hypnotism. Eventually, the struggle for power became too strong for even the city's leader to control, and an attack using biological weapons put the final stake in Rapture's marble coffin.

When Jack arrives, the city isn't quite functioning how it used to. Those fatally dependent on ADAM, Splicers, now roam the halls of the city; potent behemoths known as Big Daddies protect mutated Little Sisters as they harvest ADAM from corpses. Speaking to a man known as Atlas over a short-wave radio, he must uncover the secrets of Rapture, gaining a deeper understanding of his own past along the way.

The area isn't without its enemies: the appearance of the first Little Sister presents a moral predicament: will you destroy her and gain a more satisfying reward, or liberate her from her slug parasite? Ultimately, what you decide to do will determine what sort of ending you receive upon completing the game.

Before you can reach the sister, however, you must first vanquish her protector: the mighty Big Daddy. Underestimating them is a fatal error: Daddies are fast and can down you in seconds, making it necessary to run around and do all in your power to bring it down. Once you obtain machine guns, however, they'll be pushovers.

When you die in Bioshock, you are revived in a Vita-Chamber with most of your health restored. As you can probably guess, these chambers simplify the majority of the game's encounters. There are several of them in each level, so you'll never have to travel far to get to where you were at before.

While the environments you battle in are dismal, colorful, and arguably some of the best the system has to offer, my one complaint with the graphics would be that some surfaces look a bit too much like plastic, and some of the characters oddly resemble polished dolls at times. Still, this is certainly not enough to detract from the quality of Bioshock's visuals, as you'll soon just be wandering around Rapture with your mouth agape. It's a shame, though, that for such a fantastic setting, you'll be following a strictly linear path most of the time.

The game, divided into chapters, is solid throughout. In the final chapter, however, it would appear that the developers were unable to think of much. Before confronting your main adversary, you need to fetch pieces of a Big Daddy suit in order to fool a Little Sister. You'll also be collecting ingredients for a few other missions, where mediocrity abates the quality until Bioshock redeems itself at the very end of it all.

Fortunately, dozens of plasmids to choose from variegate the gameplay, making combat much more interesting (which is great, since guns aren't that exciting most of the time). The game also has a few RPG elements here and there, such as currency to spend on upgrades for Jack. Like its spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2, hacking machines is also an option when you want to bypass them without using force.

Bioshock isn't the longest adventure available on the 360, but considering that you're able to approach most combat situations with quite a bit of creativity, there's some moderate replay value here. The absence of multiplayer, I think, only strengthens the game; it allowed the developers to focus on building a remarkable narrative and a truly marvelous world.

In the end, the stunning visuals, paired with a remarkable story and very memorable characters, make Bioshock a true beauty to behold. It proves that games do not need a multiplayer component to be successful; on the contrary, the average gamer just wants a satisfying title that delivers. From its wet start to an explosive conclusion, the game exhibits the brilliance and remarkability of a classic in the making.

PROS -

+ Wonderful story and underwater environments to explore.
+ Audio logs were great in System Shock 2, and they are still fun to listen to in Bioshock.
+ Proves that a game does not need a multiplayer component to be successful.
+ Lots of ways to approach your enemies.
+ Beautiful visuals and terrific voice acting.

CONS -

- Your choices will only determine the ending, and not much else.
- The final battle is a disappointment.
- Big Daddies aren't as difficult as the developers say.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/07

Game Release: BioShock (US, 08/21/07)


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