Unimaginable things await mankind under the sea. Many of these things include unknown specimens, sunken ships, and a submerged metropolis. You may be thinking “wait, an underwater city?” Yes, and not hypothetically either. This is a city where man won’t be held back by the lesser, where the artist can fully express himself, and where the world cannot force its troubles into the residence. This beautiful, yet terrifying city is known as Rapture. But what happens when the residence of this utopia become… insane? What will come of the city if the whole of it falls apart, and becomes a murderous burial ground for the many unlucky populaces that succumb to this insanity?
In Bioshock, you play as a mysterious and generally silent protagonist known as Jack. He doesn’t have a personality and has only one line of script throughout the game. This all makes him a sort of puzzling, but occasionally dull character. While flying in a jet over the Atlantic, it crashes, with Jack being the only survivor among the wreckage. You control him as he swims to a strange nearby lighthouse and goes through the large doors which serve as the entrance. Darkness surrounds him, as he descends a flight of stairs into a radiant room with a strange submarine-type pod waiting for him in the middle. All is ominous and peculiar at this point, for entering the pod has undisclosed consequences.
You enter, and the submarine takes you deep down into the depths of the ocean. A voice is heard over an intercom, and belongs to a mystifying man known as Andrew Ryan. He soon begins to enlighten Jack of his grand and striking vision. “The perfect utopia for the most ambitious individuals to thrive in” is what his voice speaks of. In this case, he speaks of the city Rapture, the city he created. Rapture is unveiled to the player under a stunning sheet of indigo-blue, and looks as if the very city of New York had been flooded by a powerful tidal wave. This serves as the setting for the entirety of the game, and is maybe one of the best settings ever seen in gaming. The art direction and graphics are also extremely unique in their own way, and add an extra special something to an already great game.
The setting of Bioshock sets extremely high standards for detail and innovation for any company. In creating this believable world, Irrational Games did the impossible, amazing both veteran and new gamers alike. It is the perfect setting for any player to explore and loose themselves in. Loosing yourself in this game is exactly what will happen, for the game world is colossal and encourages exploration and investigation. Being a ruined utopia, the walls are crumbling around you, and the windows looking into the ocean, deeper into the city, make you feel minuscule yet amazed. While exploring every nook and cranny, the player will find many audio tapes from the past, before the utopia fell into madness. This adds sinister yet fascinating back-story and serves as the majority of dialogue in-game.
All of these audio tapes were owned by the inhabitants of Rapture, but that was before they were all slaying any outsider that came into view. Since the player finds himself in this hostile environment, he must find ways defend his own life. Bioshock offers a massive array of different ways to dispatch of foes, making every encounter different. On the outside, Bioshock may just look like a pretty first-person shooter, but it is so much more than that. The player will get a wrench early on for melee defense, and will also receive plasmids throughout, as well as varied guns. Plasmids were used by all citizens to accomplish every-day tasks in Rapture and give splicers, as well as jack, the ability to hone electricity, fire, and more all at their very fingertips. Using plasmids takes up EVE, which can be looked at as your mana bar.
All of these mutually create a diverse combat system unmatched by most games. Experimentation in the combat is recommended, for you can find some pretty gruesome, but still awesome ways to take out the splicers. One of the biggest things in-game is the ability to upgrade everything you use. Upgrades in Bioshock are a huge feature, giving players the chance to increase the amount of carried plasmids, max health and EVE, upgrade weapon damage, and a lot more. This is where a choice based system comes into play, which effects both (two) endings of the game. Rapture is all about ADAM. ADAM is a substance that is used to become more powerful (upgrade), and is harvested by girls named Little Sisters, who are protected by Big Daddies. When Jack crosses the path of a Big Daddy caring for a Little Sister, this is his chance to receive some ADAM.
Fighting Bid Daddies is extremely fun, difficult, and worth it in the end. If the player chooses to fight and manages to kill the Big Daddy, the Little Sister is vulnerable. The two options are: both save the Little Sister and receive little ADAM (considered good ending for 80) or harvest the Little Sister, killing her in the process but receiving TWICE as much ADAM (considered bad ending for 160). These choices affect Jack immensely, for harvesting Little Sisters will help him upgrade vastly early on. If you choose to save them, four in a row will grant you multiple plasmids and more ADAM at one of the upgrade stations found throughout the game world. Both choices have benefits and setbacks (especially depending on which ending you want).
Having multiple endings encourages multiple playthroughs using different play styles. The game also sports multiple difficulties (always play on the highest difficulty for any game; it’s always a fun challenge). Anyways, on the higher difficulties, the game feels as if you are playing a survival-horror, and it’s fantastic. This forces the player to be more tactical when running into splicers, and also makes the player conserve med kits, EVE hypos, and ammunition. Bioshock also includes a hacking mini-game similar to Pipe-Mania, which is used to make turrets, sentry bots, and security cameras work in your favor. You can also hack the many vending machines and crafting machines found throughout the game. Doing so decreases prices, needed parts and is always recommended.
While the hacking minigame can become tedious, so can fighting a few enemies. Some splicers soak up dozens upon dozens of bullets, which sometimes makes the overall player vs splicer’s health feel unfair. Some splicers deal massive damage while you take out a sliver of their health. This is countered by the research camera and multiple ammo types. Not too far into the game, the player will receive a camera, which gives him the ability to take pictures of enemies to observe them closer (find weaknesses etc). This will help Jack get increased damage on multiple splicer types, and give him the knowledge of which ammo type is best against certain enemies. Having multiple ammo types gives the game a great feel for strategic exploits to kill enemies. Armor piercing rounds work great against armored enemies, but aren’t exactly great for anti-personal and so on.
Bioshock is also a fairly long game, but doesn’t feature a NG+ mode which is a huge disappointment. Considering all the upgrades and enhancements the game grants. More of these enhancements include gene tonics which are upgradable also. There are three types, and each grants the player unique abilities and improvements. Physical gene tonics will help the player characters running speed, med kit uses etc. Combat gene tonics will help Jack in combat, and engineering will make hacking quicker and much easier. Sadly, you will NOT be able to upgrade Jack to his full potential, which can be frustrating and may make some ask “where is NG+?” which is honestly a great question, and one of the few problems wrong with Bioshock.
The different environments you encounter in Bioshock are refreshing and always different. The different enemies you encounter are also refreshing and different. The many guns you will encounter and use are all different, and have their own strengths and weaknesses (you will find a crossbow, pistols, grenade launchers etc.). Basically, a great word to summarize Bioshock is “refreshing”. While not perfect, it is generally a great game that should be looked up to by other developers. It offers many new things that most gamers haven’t encountered before, and is basically a refined version of System Shock 2 while still being its own game. All of this adds up to a great game, plus the story, which is very original and…well…refreshing!
Jack will run into many strange, insane, and interesting characters, and the twist of the game is a huge, mind-blowing satisfactory ending.
Lasting Appeal- 7.0