BioShock is an astounding addition to the top tier single-player FPS’s that I have played (Metroid Prime and Resident Evil 4 come to mind). This post will not contain any spoilers because the story is something that you really need to experience for yourself. Set in a dark Ayn Randian hellscape in a decaying underwater habitat called “Rapture”, BioShock has arguably the eeriest, scariest atmosphere in any video game to date.
And that horrific atmosphere is the reason why I’m glad that I finally beat the game (with the “good” ending). I have always found video gaming to be an immersive experience, and this is especially so when dealing with a high quality of realism and art. The downside is that wandering through a bloody nightmare with twisted creatures jumping out at me isn’t exactly relaxing. Near the beginning of the game, you’re plunged right into the surgery center – I think you can guess what sort of horrors awaited me there. I initially thought that BioShock might be a little too gruesome a pursuit for me.
But like Resident Evil 4, the quality was just so good that I eventually had to pick up the controller and keep going. In the early goings, the enemies were raking me over the coals, but the tables soon turned, especially when I realized that you can effectively pause the game when switching between your weapons or your plasmids (read: magic). As the game progressed, I found myself frustratingly full of ammo and money – no survival horror going on here. My OCD juices began taking over as I carefully scoured and explored each map, hacking every machine, collecting every item, and hunting high and low to leave nothing behind. On the plus side, such behavior lets me see all the details, graphics, and artwork that the BioShock team put together.
Often when I do my “pack rat” routine with video games I wind up being ridiculously over equipped, and this was no exception. I took a cue from some of the tips on the loading screens and started to use my arsenal a little more, but I didn’t have nearly the amount of fun I should have. One of the tips wanted you to toss a proximity mine on the ceiling, then use a cyclone trap to send an enemy skyward into the mine. I guess I was too focused on efficiently killing the enemies to start thinking about setting up contrived death scenes. Though I did enjoy freezing them and then using a shotgun blast to shatter their frozen forms.
One thing I was a little surprised about was that the game would get laggy every now and then. Obviously the PS3 was having some difficulty in keeping up with the action at certain points. The worst was a moment when I was tracking a spider splicer on the ceiling – a security bot I’d hacked was attacking it, and I was blasting the splicer with my shotgun. The game floundered to like, one frame per second, before the splicer finally fell dead to the floor and the regular pacing resumed.
In the end, I was tremendously impressed with this vision of an Ayn Rand society gone bad. The political philosophies of Rapture, the 1950s style ads and decor, the creativity behind constructing this crumbling city beneath the ocean, the voice talent and dialog, the excellent plot complete with genuine surprises… BioShock is quite a production. Take the best and the brightest, and allow them to build a society without restrictions of government and societal convention. Atlas Shrugged, indeed. 9/10.