BioShock Downloadable Content Hands-On

The new downloadable content for BioShock on the PlayStation 3 simultaneously creeps us out and puzzles us.

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2K Games' recently released conversion of BioShock for the PlayStation 3 has allowed owners of Sony's console to experience the acclaimed shooter released last year for the Xbox 360 and PC. While the game includes all of the content found in the 360 game, exclusive content is on the horizon via downloadable content due later this month. While we saw some of this earlier this year, 2K recently stopped by our offices to give us some quality time with more of the upcoming content.

The main menu will offer the new content after you've downloaded it and lets you dive right into most of it. The heart of the upcoming downloadables are three challenge rooms that focus on different styles of play. The first (and best known) of the challenge rooms is titled A Shocking Turn of Events and finds you trying to free a Little Sister trapped atop a Ferris wheel. The level has been polished up some since we saw it last. Your goal is to free the Little Sister by powering up the Ferris wheel via electric shotgun ammo, which you use to charge the controls and rotate the ride so she can get off. Ammo is at a premium, and you'll have to look around for it. The level features a carnival theme and a number of interactive spots where you'll engage in minigames (such as popping balloons) that yield prizes.

Challenge Rooms give you the chance to use plasmids in new and horrifying ways.
Challenge Rooms give you the chance to use plasmids in new and horrifying ways.

Worlds of Hurt is the second challenge room and offers more combat-focused challenges that task you with clearing eight rooms in order to free a Little Sister. Things start out simple enough as you go through the first room and take out a lone splicer. You're limited to a pistol but gain all of your weapons after you dispatch your foe. The Little Sister rewards you for your work with your arsenal of weapons (in teddy bear form), which is when things get interesting. Once the initial room is cleared you'll be able to tackle the other seven in any order you like. You'll work out of a central hub area that leads to the different subrooms and features vending machines of every type. Every time you clear one of the rooms you'll be rewarded with cash and Adam, which you can use to stock up on ammo or tweak your plasmids. Choosing your weapons and upgrades carefully is key to success, because the rooms get brutal quickly. Thankfully, a few things will help you prepare for the challenge at hand. First, before committing to a room, you'll see an icon above the door to clue you in to what you're facing. Second, once you enter the room, a large glass floor lets you have a look at what to expect. Once you've gotten the lay of the land you can drop down a passage and get started, or slowly back out and try another room. An added bonus is your ability to use your research camera to snap pictures through the floor and upgrade your damage against foes.

Given the soul-crushing challenge of some rooms--multiple Big Daddy killing, for example--it's nice to see that the game saves after you clear each one. We're fans of the action and, more importantly, the variety in each room. Though the focus is solidly on combat and using your weapons and plasmids effectively, there's a nice puzzle feel to it in that you have to be very efficient in what you do. In fact, it almost reminds us of a Mega Man boss run, albeit in 3D and much more disturbing. While we weren't able to get a look at the third challenge room, dubbed The I in Team, it promises to offer a challenging and likely painful battle against a Big Daddy. In addition to the challenge rooms, the content pack will include trophy support, adding a new array of trophies for you to earn. The content will also feature a cool extra for fans to enjoy after they finish the single-player game.

You'll still find that same great BioShock art design, though.
You'll still find that same great BioShock art design, though.

The presentation in the DLC is on par with the game in terms of quality. In terms of design, the content pack heads off into some funky territory that we like. The challenge rooms stay true to the atmospheric spirit of the main game, although they're not set within Rapture. The lighting and general atmosphere make it clear that you're in the BioShock universe. The design here is a bit more adventurous than in the proper game, which keeps things interesting. Audio, as in the main game, is a highlight of the experience. You can expect to hear all the creepy voices from the assorted enemies you face, along with a host of ambient audio that effectively unsettles you.

Based on what we checked out, BioShock's DLC is a nice chunk of content for fans of the game. The $9.99 price is on the steep side, though, so it might be a tough sell for some. We're eager to try out the whole package and see how it all adds up when the content hits the PlayStation Store on November 20.

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