Oh, how I wish BioShock (developed by2K Boston/2K Australia, published by 2K Games) was released when I was in high school. My 11th-grade English teacher force fed our class a steady diet of Ayn Rand in the form of some of the most pretentious novels ever written. If you're a kindred spirit and think that Rand's Objectivist philosophy is a bunch of 2165 hooey, then the plot of BioShock will ring true. A Utopian society, built on a objective belief system, has failed miserably, and it's up to me to get to the bottom of the mystery. Sign me up – I've been waiting for this moment since trudging through Atlas Shrugged.
The swan song for developer Irrational Games (Irrational Games was purchased by publisher Take-Two Interactive in 2006 and renamed 2K Boston/2K Australia earlier this year), BioShock has a storied pedigree. The game loosely shares a lineage with the acclaimed System Shock series (Looking Glass Studios, Irrational Games), which introduced the then-novel concepts of story and non-linear gameplay to the FPS genre.
While not a direct sequel, BioShock has been coined as a "spiritual successor" to System Shock 2. Wrap the gameplay elements of System Shock 2 in a frightening and horrific story, and you have the foundation for BioShock. Pretty up the package with Unreal Engine 3.0 graphics, and you have the potential for a new classic.
Official Launch Trailer
As the game begins, the player accidentally stumbles upon the world of Rapture, eccentric visionary Andrew Ryan's failed model society constructed – where else? - under the sea. Playing the role of an unwitting protagonist is never easy, and being trapped in a dreamworld-turned-nightmare with no means for escape is particularly hard. Led by an unseen stranger through an unfamiliar world, you unravel the mystery of Rapture while simultaneously dispatching with genetically enhanced Splicers. Along the way, there are choices to be made, with potentially plot-altering consequences. Who in Rapture can be trusted? Protect the Little Sisters or harvest them for their life-giving ADAM? And how in Hell will you get back to the surface?
Eschewing a long opening cinematic – the typical (and overused) expository device in gaming – BioShock opens with a brief video. Almost immediately, you're thrust into the story. From your first steps in the game, you feel as though you're playing the story – discovering, learning and surviving as the mystery unfolds. Andrew Ryan's Rapture has fallen into macabre chaos; a revolt among its citizens has turned deadly. Genetically modified Splicers rule the darkness, killing without remorse in search of ADAM, the increasingly rare elixir that sustains life for Rapture's enhanced inhabitants. In a cruel plot twist, your DNA is modified and you join the Splicers in competition for ADAM.
Having altered DNA does have its upside, in the form of Gene Tonics and Plasmids. Gene Tonics come in many flavors, and their associated enhancements work in the background. Some Gene Tonics enhance a particular defensive characteristic, while others increase the ability to perform a particular skill. Plasmids, on the other hand, are an offensive tool. With names such as Incinerate and Electro Bolt, your left hand is a lethal weapon. Plasmids are integral to surviving and navigating through Rapture, but using them requires EVE, a Plasmid-recharging serum. Collecting and purchasing vials of EVE is a vital task.
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