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BioShock battles and mutates past competition

Observer Scene | Monday, September 17, 2007

“BioShock” is one of those rare games that takes an established genre and creates something much more. With a first-person shooter setup, “BioShock” incorporates role-playing and action-adventure elements, as well as including conventions from survival horror titles like “Resident Evil.” The result is a game that is undoubtedly the best example thus far of what is capable on next-generation consoles.

As the sole survivor of a plane crash, the game’s main character, Jack, is stranded in the Atlantic Ocean. Struggling to get by, Jack ends up stumbling upon the underwater city of Rapture. In its current state, Rapture is nothing but a shadow of the underwater utopia it was once intended to be. Creatures called Little Sisters, Splicers and Big Daddies roam the city, and it is clear that you must do anything to survive.

From the start of the game, Jack learns that the heart of the problem – why things went so badly so quickly in Rapture – was the clamor for a substance called ADAM. ADAM is a substance resulting from a form of stem cell research, and by using this matter, it is possible to undergo a number of genetic modifications (or Plasmids). Existing in many forms, such as incinerate, lightning and telekinesis, these plasmids can be used in a variety of ways to defeat your enemies. In order to survive the horrors that exist in Rapture, Jack must equip and effectively use these genetic upgrades to his advantage.

“BioShock” gives players the standard conventional weapons, including pistols, shotguns, machine guns and melee weapons. Effectively switching between conventional weapons and plasmids is essential for your survival in Rapture. For example, you may have to stun an enemy with lightning, then whack it with a melee weapon to defeat it. Switching between the conventional weapons and plasmids feel surprisingly intuitive, and overall “BioShock” controls incredibly well.

All plasmids are purchased from Little Sisters, who roam around harvesting ADAM from corpses scattered throughout Rapture. While powerless on their own, Big Daddies accompany each Little Sister. The Big Daddies are immense, armor-clad behemoths that will do anything to protect the Little Sisters and the ADAM they collect. By using a combination of conventional weapons and plasmids, none of these creatures should pose too big of a problem. After taking care of the Big Daddies, the ADAM carried by the Little Sisters is yours for the taking.

Aside from various boss battles, the other creatures that gamers will often encounter are called Splicers, which are essentially Rapture survivors who have gone insane in their lust for ADAM. Existing in multiple forms, none of these creatures are too hard to defeat.

Graphically, the game is a beast. Powered by the popular Unreal Engine 3, everything in the world looks simply amazing, especially in HD. While the game itself can be completed in 15-18 hours, gamers will likely spend more time just simply exploring the city of Rapture. The realism of the graphics helps add to the game’s creepy atmosphere. Combine these visuals with a superb audio soundtrack, and this game is genuinely scary.

If there is anything players can fault the game for, it is the fact that there is no death penalty. When Jack dies, he simply resuscitates in the nearest Vita Chamber, with most health and inventory in tact. Everything else in the world remains exactly as it was before dying, including damage dealt to enemies. While this certainly takes away the frustration that accompanies backtracking over the same area multiple times, it does make game play a little too easy. Aside from this small deficiency, there is nothing negative to be said about this game. It controls perfectly, looks beautiful and is genuinely fun to play.

“BioShock” is likely to be one of the best games released this year. Aside from creating a very entertaining and fun gaming experience, the developers deliver in creating one of the most engrossing stories ever featured in a video game.