Game Title: Bioshock
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Platform: PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: 2K Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 21st, 2008
Overall Score: 10/10
Review Author: ResidentZoidberg
2K Game’s critically acclaimed Game of the Year from last year has finally hit the PS3, losing none of its revolutionary charm, and adding several new extras to keep gamers coming back for more.
BioShock begins with a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean. As you float around the wreckage in the first person view, the immersion begins, and is never broken. Following the crash, you end up descending into Rapture, a remarkably designed underwater city. The genius behind Rapture is megalomaniac Andrew Ryan. While Ryan’s ideals may be genuine, his city is an appalling failure, left in a state of decay, with the horribly mutated survivors as trapped as you are.
BioShock’s most impressive feat is its deliverance of a compelling narrative – an aspect rarely thought of in conjunction with the FPS genre. The game’s main storyline is provided to you through radio transmissions, never removing you from the action. However, scattered throughout Rapture are dozens of audio diaries just waiting to be found, which further shed light on characters and events that have transpired.
There is no black and white to this game, no clear cut good and evil. Rather, the characters are left to interpretation by the player, much as they would in an excellent novel. The characterization is impressive and the characters remarkably believable. Ryan in particular is striking. His voice work is done to perfection, but it’s what he says that really leaves you questioning – one of the many astounding feats in BioShock.
The game leaves you questioning and deciding for yourself who is good and who is evil, and still there is no clear-cut answer. It leaves you questioning your actions as you progress through the game. Even the mutated survivors have an astounding sense of awareness, they aren’t mindless cannon fodder. The game leaves you wondering if these creatures do indeed have any humanity left; as demented as they are, they’re fully functioning beings that talk and even sing, lending to some ironic and dark humor throughout.
If BioShock played out like a movie, without any player interactions, it would still be worth the purchase. Thankfully, the gameplay manages to keep stride with the exceptional and powerful storytelling. The game features standard weapons one would expect to find in a FPS: handgun, shotgun, machine gun, etc, though it also features some standouts – one of which I don’t want to spoil – as well as your handy wrench, which is the game only melee weapon, and remains effective throughout the game.
The weapon based combat is balanced out through plasmids, which are unique powers that you can employ for equally unique results. You can shoot electricity out of your hands to stun enemies, use Incinerate to light them ablaze (causing them to quickly try and extinguish themselves), Target Dummy to distract enemies, or even send a swarm of vicious bees after your foes. These unique abilities, interwoven so seamlessly in the gameplay, keep the game incredibly fresh, fun, and inventive.
The gameplay branches out further in hacking, which takes the form of a pipe minigame where you must switch the plates of a pipe to guide water from one end to another. A wide variety of things can be hacked, from turrets to shoot your enemies to vending machines for cheaper prices. Another addition to the gameplay is a research camera, which can be used to snap photos of all the different types of enemies, eventually resulting in various upgrades.
The PS3 version of the game also boasts some features that may prove to improve the longevity of the game as well, such as the ramped up challenge of Survivor mode and exclusive DLC.
The sound and art design are an integral part in making Rapture come alive, as well as creating one of the most believable game universes ever created. There is noticeable influence of the 1960’s (that’s when the game takes place), from the music to the art style on posters and whatnot scattered throughout the game. One of the most impressive features about the sound is the subtlety. Of course the voice work is top notch, the gruesome squish of your wrench against a Splicer satisfying and morbid, but the subtleties really sell the world. In any moment where something isn’t going on directly with you, Rapture is still alive and moving. It never feels like you are the center of Rapture, with nothing going on without your direct involvement. Turn the sound way up in a Splicer-free area and you can hear the stunning ambient sounds from dripping water below to machine work going on all around.
The graphics are top notch with the PS3 version including some new textures, though some older textures are still present. There is also the occasional slowdown period, which may ‘teleport’ you through a couple of seconds of movement. All in all, though, the graphics are still top-notch, a year after the game’s initial release. Strong technical prowess coupled with the atmospheric art design leave you hard pressed to find anything wrong with this game visually.
Not having played BioShock, given its availability on three different consoles, is downright inexcusable at this point. Anyone who does not play this game is doing themselves a complete disservice. This is easily the best FPS in years and easily one of the best games in years. BioShock reaches a pinnacle that few games can ever claimed to have reached. Its narrative, which I cannot praise enough, coupled with such a compelling atmosphere, truly are high points in gaming, while the accompanying gameplay is tight and contextually appropriate, furthering the immersion. Would you kindly just go out and buy this game?
Please Note: The views expressed in this message are the views of,the review author, who is in no way affiliated with SCEA or PlayStation.com.