Bioshock is SUCH a cool game. 😮
The whole thing is just so creepy. And not in a cheesy direct-to-video slasher pic sort of way like, for instance, Doom 3, where you just know that halfway down every corridor the lights are gonna go out and a creepycrawly is gonna jump out from behind a hidden panel and start gnawing on your ass. This is atmospherically creepy.
Aside from being hands-down beautiful–someone on a message board hit it right on the head when they said that every moment of the game is a screen capture moment–the entire set of the game is an amazing study in contrasts. It’s a nightmare combination: 40’s-era happy-go-lucky high-society culture and Art Deco design, coupled with insane mutants, scores of bodies amongst the wreckage and the ever-present press of the surrounding deep water. Brrrrr. For those who don’t care to investigate the story line of the game, I’ll just Reader’s Digest it for you here.
The whole game takes place in an underwater city called Rapture, built in the mid-forties by a hard-core libertarian industrialist named Andrew Ryan (it was Shawn who pointed out the similarity between that name and “Ayn Rand”; quite clever). Built as a haven/playground for the finest minds of his generation, you inadvertently stumble upon Rapture in the 1960s after it has fallen to ruin. The whole place is slowly being reclaimed by the ocean, as evidenced by the constant streams, trickles, pools and floods of water you encounter throughout the city. You are trying to find your way back out of Rapture before it is completely destroyed by its creator.
The water effects are simply astounding. Streams of water coruscate around obstacles though they were actually there, breaking and parting around furniture, rubble, corpses, whathaveyou.
The citizens of Rapture have mostly died off or killed each other, and those who are left have been transformed (and eventually driven insane) by unchecked free-market genetic manipulation that pioneered by Rapture’s scientific elite and was fashionable at the time of the city’s ascendancy.
They have turned into an amazing and bizarre array of creatures; many (disturbingly) human in appearance.
The most famous denizens of the game—and the most controversial—are the team known as Little Sisters and Big Daddies. Little Sisters have been genetically modified to process a substance called Adam (a precursor of the compound that allowed Rapture’s populace to undergo such fast and complete genetic mutation; basically the currency of this game) from the corpses of the residents, using a big, nasty-looking syringe gun. She is followed by a Big Daddy everywhere she goes: a huge, armored creature with tremendous strength and, surprisingly, speed. At least when it’s pissed off. One of your first major battles–sort of a sub-boss fight–is with a Big Daddy, and it was only through sheer luck that I managed to finish it off in only two lives. I tend to avoid them whenever possible, despite the wealth of Adam contained in the Little Sisters. Though it can be useful to get someone else to accidentally take a shot at one so it’ll go off and mish them flat for me.
In addition to the usual complement of armaments that are scattered everywhere in typically unseemly volume (of course, the fact that this is a libertarian Utopia where everyone just happens to have gone stark raving bananas might go a long way towards explaining all the guns), you can avail yourself of the same kind of genetic goodies that pushed everyone else in Rapture over the edge. There are Plasmids, which give you cool powers like Telekinesis, Incinerate and Electroshock; then there are Gene Tonics, which give you new physical characteristics like extra health capacity or extra strength with melee weapons. Overall it’s a very nice addition to the standard pistol/shotgun/machine gun/rocket launcher/BFG9000 that is typical in the first-person shooter genre.
There have been a few problems along the way. I’ve had some audio issues at times, though I think I’ve identified the problem. I added a second EVGA GeForce 8800GT to my computer so I could run both cards in SLI mode (which is giving me super-screamy frame rates; more than 45 frames per second at 1280 x 1024 average, with all the eye candy turned to maximum and a bunch of sprites on screen), and the inside of my case is getting hot enough to make my sound card go a little crunky. So in addition to buying a new motherboard, RAM, power supply, and two video cards so that I would be ready for this game, I now have to get a new case. Picked out a NZXT Zero, which has (count ’em) seven 120mm fans. I’m hoping that will be enough to keep me from having to go water-cooled; the very idea just gives me the heebie-jeebies.
And there is another issue: the game comes packaged with a nefarious copy-protection scheme known as SecuROM, a “phone-home” variant that installs under the Windows API as, for all intents and purposes, a rootkit. SecuROM is largely innocuous by itself, but any piece of code that simultaneously operates totally under the resident OS (rendering it essentially invisible) while simultaneously elevating the privileges of certain programs is a huge security risk. Had I known that 2K Games was planning on using SecuROM, I would have bought the game on disk, then installed one of the many cracked versions that have been blasting around the Torrents since the day after it was released. Assholes. 😡
I’m about a quarter or fifth of the way through the game–I don’t have a lot of spare time right now, given the upcoming holiday catalog–and I think that this is the kind of game I’ll be able to wander through again and again, just drinking in the scenery and experimenting with the environment. If you have a relatively strong gaming rig….or an XBox 360….I strongly recommend Bioshock. It has everything you might want in a quiet evening at home: a demented nightmare of mutants, monsters and aquatic claustrophobia. 😉