Review by LacklusterChari
Never before have I played an FPS that has drawn me so deeply into its world. While I originally had my doubts over Bioshock, upon playing it I realized that it is a truly unique and breathtaking experience, mixing haunting locales with heart-pounding action, fun experimentation, and deep exploration. Combine this with some great atmosphere, convincing voice talent and a stunning soundtrack, and you've got yourself a hell of a game.
First off, the gameplay. It's more in-depth than most shooters you'll find, and there are far more options for diving into a firefight than most games. Many of these are not necessary, but, as I say, Bioshock is as fun as you want it to be. You can run-and-gun your way through the entire thing, use traps to your advantage, hack machines to become your allies, or use your own elaborate schemes to outwit the game's clever AI. The addition of Plasmids make things even more interesting, allowing you to fire swarms of hornets from your arms, light up enemies like flares to security systems, or cause hostile Splicers to violently attack each-other. It's all up to you. The depth of the combat system really lets you play the game you want to, and make your character as strong as you want with certain tonics. Make him an expert hacker, a wrench-swinging god or an almost unkillable tank. Or, hell, why not do all three and more?
The second most important part of the game is the atmosphere. Rapture, the underwater metropolis, is a suffocating, dying place. It's metal halls are filled with creaks and groans, advertisements, neon lights and eerie music. No two areas in Rapture are the same, save for the tubular corridors connecting them. You'll find yourself wandering through the halls of a blood-spattered Medical Pavilion, a dying city-forest, and the twisted playhouse of a madman artist. Not to say that the game is non-linear. Your path is set (and more than you think, but I won't spoil it for you). But you are free to wander wherever you please and explore all of the city's nooks and crannies.
More important to the atmosphere than the setting are the characters. Everyone in Rapture has a history and a personality, from the lowliest Leadhead Splicer to a lumbering Bouncer Big Daddy to the psychotic boss characters. Listen in to the conversations and ramblings of any of Rapture's denizens, and you can tell a lot about their past lives and habits. Along with the signs and billboards, with audio logs sprinkled throughout, these dialogues also serve as to tell you the story, instead of spoon-feeding you the plot. Your mentor, Atlas, doesn't tell you Rapture's intricate history for the most part-you must find out for yourself, and the deeper you dig, the more disturbing its history becomes.
Bioshock is not, of course, a perfect game, mostly by expectations alone. I hoped for more Plasmids, perhaps a bit of a longer game, and for tougher Big Daddy fights (though they are, however, incredibly tough at the beginning of the game). More enemy variety would also be nice.
Despite its (very minor) faults, Bioshock is easily the best game I have played on the Xbox 360 so far. Not to be missed!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/26/07
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