Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Mac
Publisher: 2K Games, Feral Interactive
BioShock is a game that I played a couple years back and it’s one of the most extraordinary games of the last generation of consoles. Before I got the game, I heard such great comments about it and I wasn’t so sure that it could be as a good as it was said to be. Lo and behold, I saw why the game was very well received and I’ll share with you why I thought so!
The rest of the post may contain a spoiler or two but as always, there won’t be anything too major. If I’ve left a few things out of the game, it’s because I didn’t want to ruin any surprise elements!
You enter the game as a character named Jack, who is a passenger on a plane that crash lands into the Atlantic Ocean. It just so happens that Jack finds a nearby Lighthouse that takes him to the underwater city of Rapture. Who doesn’t love a a good ol’ underwater city? Well, maybe except Jack. You quickly find that the city holds a terrible and dark evil which you find yourself up against in a matter of moments. This is what I loved so much about the game, it forces you into situations you probably won’t want to be in.
As you traverse through the city, you hear noises and voices of something you would consider were by a human. Although you find that whoever is stalking you, most likely isn’t human and is something else. These “things” are called splicers. Splicers are the result of the excessive consumption of a drug called ADAM and during the Rapture Civil War, these splicers were responsible for the total annihilation of the clean human population and therefore, the city you now see is born.
As I said before, ADAM is a drug that causes some significant deformations and genetic abnormalities. You’ll see that as you come across these abominations, you see the physical and mental changes that it causes, for example every single splicer you see is basically “off the rails” or in other words, just plain insane and extremely aggressive. So what do you get when you combine crazy with rage? That’s right, you have some blood crazed humanoids doing everything they can, and I mean everything they can to completely bludgeon or put holes through your character, Jack. And the fact that these enemies don’t give a single damn about Jack is what I absolutely love about the game! It added to the experience when I played the game by making the enemies have some sort of personal vendetta against your character, yet you know none of these enemies on a personal level.
When I played the game, I found that most of the splicers didn’t have the greatest A.I. behaviour when it came to combat. Some of their movement and turns felt a bit robotic but it didn’t really bother me all that much it’s the only real criticism I can think about the game. Everything else the game does well in more than makes up for this criticism!
Not only are the splicers freaky and terrifying at times, you also hear the voice of Atlas who contacts you at the start of the game as you first enter Rapture. This guy helps you to evade the dangerous splicers by getting you to safety, but of course as always there seems to be a catch, otherwise we wouldn’t have a BioShock game! In return for helping you, Atlas asks for help as he claims to think that Andrew Ryan (another main character in the story) has trapped his family. This constant and faceless voice that you hear for the most part of the game is with you and that made me a little uneasy at times because I’m helping this random guy who I don’t know and he’s asking me to do questionable things, like kill Little Sisters.
Little Sisters are basically these girls that are affected by ADAM and Atlas asks you to harvest that ADAM or in other words, kill them. Little Sisters are somewhat of a “game ending” change because you can either harvest the ADAM out of them, or actually save them by forcing the drug out of their bodies. So it’s effectively down to whether you want to have a “good” or an “evil” alignment and of course, there are rewards on either side. However it seems that saving the Little Sisters nets you far greater rewards in the long run (which is what I did), but it would have been nice to have gone down the more evil route (not saying I’m an evil person!) because I think it could have provided a much more interesting progression/story path. Having the Little Sisters in the game adds some innocence to the game because if you save them, you rekindle some hope in the city where almost everyone is trying to kill you, which is something that I liked about the harvest mechanic!
Finding and interacting with Little Sisters can be very tough (who said it was going to be easy?!) because they always have a guardian or escort to protect them. These guardians are known as “Big Daddies” or “Mr. Bubbles/Mr. B” to the Little Sisters and they are completely armoured to the teeth! These guys are a lot more dangerous than the ordinary splicers with overly spliced bodies and large drills for their right arms. I’ll say that again, a drill for their right arms. It would take such an insane mind to even think of doing that and this is another thing I love about that game. The developers seemed to let their imaginations run wild and see the result of that. Just beware of these guys and try not to get drilled!
Let’s move onto the gameplay aspects! The gameplay is very enjoyable because it’s so fast paced and you have to be aware of anything that might creep out from a corner and strike you, which can happen a lot throughout the game.
There are a wide range of weapons to use including a standard wrench which really just serves as a melee attack if you’re running low on ammo! What’s interesting is that the wrench can be one of the highest damaging weapons in the game when enhanced with the right tonics (enhancements). For example the wrench will do 400% on the next hit while an enemy is stunned by the Electro Bolt plasmid (ability), otherwise know as the one-two punch!
In addition to the wrench, a number of guns can be utilised to fight off enemies. These include a pistol, grenade launcher, shotgun, machine gun, chemical thrower, crossbow and a research camera! The pistol is the standard gun with plenty of ammo during the first half of the game with the other guns offering advantageous uses in different situations. For example the grenade launcher has high damage, but the ammo is rare and doesn’t have much capacity. Oddly enough, the research camera does not do any damage, however it can be used with the Security Devices, Hypnotise Big Daddy plasmids and also do other things like yield tonics for upgrades! And upgrades are always nice!
There are loads of plasmids to get and to use in different situations. Using the Electro Bolt is great if there are enemies standing in water or if you want to go for more “subtle” approach, you can place traps using the Cyclone Trap plasmid which spawns a mini-tornado and sends enemies flying when they step on them, which is damn fun!
Another one that is extremely useful is the Hypnotise Big Daddy plasmid, which is pretty much self-explanatory! It basically tricks a Big Daddy into thinking Jack is a Little Sister, therefore protecting you for a short amount of time! How amazing is that! Although in order to unlock this plasmid, you have to save at least three Little Sisters, so if you plan on harvesting all the innocence from them, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if you want to get the Hypnotise Big Daddy plasmid!
If you think that it wouldn’t get any better than that, you can go for a more tactical approach by using the Security Bullseye plasmid! This plasmid makes all security devices in the area attack your enemies. It’s a very helpful little tool if you find yourself..overwhelmed by security robots and splicers, especially on the harder difficulty levels.
Plasmids are similar to things like spells in other games that use a resource such as Mana. In BioShock, EVE is the resource that is used to “cast” plasmids and can be restored by using EVE potions.
You find plasmids or buy them to gain new abilities by injecting yourself with them. You’re forced into extremely dangerous situations because you need to get stronger i.e. killing Big Daddies and harvesting/saving Little Sisters to get upgrades. Money can also be gained from enemies you defeat to then spend on weapons, ammo and plasmid/plasmid upgrades. Early on in the game you may find that money can be somewhat scarce, but later on it shouldn’t be too bad!
I absolutely loved the aesthetics and sounds in BioShock! The combination of the eerie noises and sounds generated from hidden splicers and running water with the dark hallways makes the world feel very alive and atmospheric as you traverse through Rapture! BioShock does this extremely well and is one of my favourite world designs!
Walking into a destroyed room full of blood means you might find someone or something lurking about and you’ll probably know if you hear some crazed voices, but you just don’t know where the voices come from. This is something that enhanced the gameplay for me because the fact that you might not know where they come from, kept me on my toes. This shows what the power of manipulating a few eerie sounds can do in a game like BioShock! To be honest there may have been a few moments where I may have…jumped at when splicers appear behind you all of a sudden! It was thrilling!
So what’s my final opinion on the game? Well BioShock is honestly one of the finest experiences in gaming I have ever had the pleasure of playing. It’s rare that such a game comes along where it’s not just a video game, but a form of art. The storytelling is excellent and being told most of the story over a radio while looking out for splicers and Big Daddies makes for some exhilarating gameplay! This is a game I would recommend to everyone, even though it may not be the type of game for some people! But you would truly be missing out on one of the greatest games I have ever played!