System: Xbox 360 (Also on PS3, PC)
Developer: 2K Boston
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First-Person Adventure
The majority of people, critics and consumers alike, refuse to believe that video games will ever be considered a true form of art. They claim that games are too crude and shallow to provide a truly inspirational and emotionally satisfying experience. For those people, here’s BioShock. Proof that video games are evolving into something that can be viewed as true art.
Now would you kindly go ahead and read this review.
The game opens up with a short scene showing the player character sitting on a plane ride looking at a picture of his family and talking about how he was meant for big things. Then, out of nowhere, the plane crashes and plummets out of the sky and falls into the middle of the ocean, throwing you many feet below the water’s surface. On your way to the top shrapnel and debris from the destroyed plane fall all around you as you struggle to keep your breath.
After finally breaking to the surface you are given control of your character. As you begin swimming past the carnage and oil-fire that surrounds you, you notice the plane slowly sinking into its watery grave, taking all passengers except for yourself with it. Then you notice something very, very strange. A very small landmass sits off to your right. It may be mysterious but it will provide refuge from drowning.
Upon reaching the island, you are able to see that it is very obviously man-made. There is a small staircase to provide easy access onto the surface. After scaling them you are presented with a door. What is this place and why is it secluded in the middle of the Ocean? In hopes of finding some answers, or perhaps just a way back to civilization, you walk through the huge steel door
Your adventure starts.
That was just the beginning to what proved to be one of the most memorable and satisfying video game stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to be told.
BioShock is, essentially, a first person adventure title. But to stop there wouldn’t even summarize this game. BioShock is a successful combination of so many things that make games great. The atmosphere is eerie and real, the story is thoroughly compelling and absolutely brilliant, visuals are technically and artistically masterful, and the gameplay is extremely solid and beyond satisfying.
BioShock tells what could possibly be the greatest video game story in the history of the industry. Players find themselves in a massive underwater city called Rapture, a haven created by one man named Andrew Ryan, the game’s major protagonist. Rapture is a setting that is created and masterfully portrayed as a real place.
You will believe in the citizens that once lived here, there stories told through a series of audio journals found all over the underwater society. You will believe in the tragedy that has befallen what was once a bustling city. Most importantly, you will believe you are there.
As your progress through Rapture, slowly making your way to your goal as described by Atlas, your only ally in this mysterious new world, you will find upgrades and biological enhancements called Plasmids. Plasmids are used by injecting them into your own wrists and provide powers ranging from health upgrades to hypnotizing your foes and turning them into allies that will fight by your side.
You’ll need to use these Plasmids to ensure your survival as you fight Splicers, the games most common enemy. There are several different types of these enemies, all of which are absolutely unique. Splicers are the precise reason Rapture failed, as they are mutations of normal people who abused Plasmids until they become nothing more than vicious monsters.
The Splicers can often be handled without much trouble if they are on their own once you get your weapons and skills upgraded to a respectable, but the often exist in groups and can prove to be a substantial challenge to even escape with your life if a quarrel is started. Not that dying makes much of an impact on anything, since every time you are killed you are revived at the last Vita-Chamber (real-time checkpoints) you passed, taking away a lot of fear the game could present, though feelings of anxiety are always present and you’ll always be watching your back.
But the concept of Vita-Chambers is also what saves the game from being overly frustrating, as the average player is going to die a lot if they are feeling ballsy enough to take on a Big Daddy. Big Daddies are giant, hulking diver suits with huge drills and guns that follow around Little Sisters as they collect Adam, which is used to upgrade Plasmids. Every living thing carries Adam, which is harvested by the Little Sisters once something dies. The only way you can get to the Adam is to either rescue or harvest Little Sisters and take it from them, but to do that you’re going to have to kill their protector Big Daddy.
If the story and gameplay don’t take your breath away, the visuals and audio design sure will. Rapture is one of the most artistically beautiful places I’ve ever seen, in a video game or otherwise. Looking out of glass tunnels to see a gorgeous, expansive underwater environment and the gorgeous architecture of the city will provide feelings of awe.
One graphical complaint I have is that the game often struggles to load textures on time, and you may find yourself looking at blurry walls and objects for a few moments. The frame-rate also dips when things get really hectic, but such occurrences are minimal.
And walking through the underwater metropolis hearing tunes from the 1920’s may not sound like it will create an engulfing atmosphere, but it provides a feeling that I’ve never felt in any video game. The sound effects are all perfectly done as well, and every aspect of sound design is extremely well done.
By the time the game ends you will feel emotionally exhausted. There are countless twists, turns and flips that will keep you sucked into the experience, and the feelings of betrayal and loneliness you will eventually uncover will break your heart and you will feel inspired by spite to press on. Real emotions you feel in real life. It’s an amazing thing.
The most amazing thing BioShock accomplishes is that it feels absolutely real, and that you will perform tasks to satisfy yourself, not to earn in-game achievements (which are admittedly abundant and satisfying). Every decision you make in the game is one you are going to have to stand by, as it makes an astounding impact on the player’s conscience and the outcome of the game. BioShock blurs the line between playing a game and living an experience, something that isn’t often or easily done.
This is a true masterpiece and a benchmark in proving that games can be true art. I highly recommend BioShock to any and all gamers who are seeking a deep and satisfying experience.
- Amazing story
- Sense of realism and engulfing atmosphere
- Characters and locations are all very believable
- Beautiful graphics from both a technical and artistic standing
- Absolutely amazing sound design
- Occasional frame-rate drop
- Textures don’t always load quickly enough
Score: 9.4/10 (Astounding)
Entertainment Value: 9.0/10