Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bioshock (2007) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Someone I work with who is more into games than the average person, but still quite casual was recently faced with the prospect of getting either Bioshock or Fracture. He chose Fracture, I was astounded. Speaking to him about his decision he said it was because he thought Bioshock was a kids game based on the fact that the 'Little Sisters' are children. Needless to say I executed him for crimes against reason. 

I have recently been playing back through Bioshock in readiness for Bioshock 2. It is still a fantastic game, just as good as it always was. What still amazes me is what a real location Rapture feels like. The places you visit are jammed with small details, and the voice recordings really create a sense of what pre madness life was like. With water everywhere it is impossible to forget that Rapture is an underwater City, wondrous.

In the game you play as a survivor of a plane that has crashed into the sea. You head towards a mysterious Tower you spot. Inside you discover a Bathysphere. Climbing inside it starts to descend, an automatic message from a man called Andrew Ryan plays informing you that you are heading to Rapture; a secret underwater city where he and others headed to escape the confines of world society. Arriving in Rapture you see that the whole place has gone to ruins, roving 'Splicers' (people turned psychotically violent due to messing with their genetic code) lurk everywhere. A man called Atlas contacts you by radio and tells you if you help him and his family escape Rapture then you can also go with him. The ruler of Rapture - Andrew Ryan on the other hand is convinced you are a CIA or Russian agent sent to infiltrate the city and take its secrets, and so unleashes his Splicer army after you.

The game of course is a first person shooter (FPS) with RPG elements. Your weapons are split into two types - conventional guns, and plasmids. Conventional guns such as shotguns and machine guns can hold many different ammo types (such as anti-personnel and armour piercing). Plasmids are the games 'magic' these are genetic changing perks that give you a variety of abilities, everything from firing fire, electricity and ice out of your hand to gaining telekinesis and controlling enemies. The plasmids in particular give you a variety of ways to defeat the mutant enemies. For instance you can set an enemy on fire causing him to leap into the nearest pool of water to extinguish the flames, then electrocute the water frying him, or turn an enemy into a block of ice, and then smash him to pieces with your wrench.

The enemies are well realised, they are the former citizens of Rapture, now insane, they constantly speak babble, revealing hints of who they used to be and what they have lost as they do so. The best enemies and the most iconic are the 'Big Daddy's'. These are huge monster type giants in bulky diving suits, armed with a giant drill, or grenade launcher. They protect the 'Little Sisters' (possessed girls who harvest ADAM from corpses; ADAM being the highly addictive drug used for splicing). Until you actually bother them they are neutral, but as soon as you disturb them they go insane. Incredibly powerful and damage resistant each one is a real challenge to defeat.

The game looks fantastic, there is a 1950's steam punk look to the whole game, and the music fits the period well also with lots of orchestral ambiance. The plot is amazing, so much all comes together to make Rapture seem like such a realistic place, a fantastic achievement. Twists galore, mostly known now, but I won't ruin them here. If you have not played Bioshock you need to, it is an essential purchase!


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