XBox 360 Reviews
BioShock Review (Xbox 360)
By Casey Lynch Aug 21, 2007, 1:07 GMT
BioShock delivers big and is a must-play. Check it.
Itís the early 60ís, your plane has just crashed in the ocean and youíre barely alive, surrounded by a ring of fire. The tail section of your plane is upending and sinking into the deep as it fills with water.
You notice the silhouette of something that looks like land off to the right. But how can that be, youíre in the middle of the ocean?
Itís a lighthouse-like structure that, once you clamor your way to its innards, quickly comes to life inside.
You stumble into an elevator. Oh wait, itís a bathosphere.
You canít resist.
You plunge down countless fathoms as a strange Orwellian message plays until you see a glowing metropolis built on the floor of the ocean.
Welcome to Rapture.
Welcome to BioShock.
Irrational Games (now called 2K Boston and 2K Australia), best known for their very scary and very radsauce 1999 PC shooter System Shock 2, has crafted one of the finest games of the year in BioShock, which takes first-person shooter tropes like dark, closed-in gooey hallway blasting and uncharacteristic monster closets and turns them inside out. And upside down. And then some.
You play as a no named protagonist thatís literally thrust into this undersea city built in the 1940ís by a megalomaniac named Andrew Ryan, a utopian-minded Orson Wells type that seems like heís read Ayn Randís Atlas Shrugged a few too many times.
Rapture, Ryanís underwater city, was meant to be a place where artists, scientists and free thinkers could co-exist without the limitations of government policing, policymaking and law. It didnít take long though for the city to descend into a survival of the fittest atmosphere, especially after some among the group discovered a genetic enhancement chemical called Adam.
Once you come along though, the city is twenty years old and literally a shell of its former glory. The mass populace is gone and the inhabitants that are left are holding onto their humanity by a thin thread. Mutants, splicers, large behemoth dudes in diving suits called Big Daddies and demon-possessed toddler girls called Little Sisters (who incidentally scavenge Adam from the dead).
Yup, Rapture definitely has character. But itís this insistence on personality in everything from the dťcor to storyline and even to the abilities you get once you start using plasmids and tonics, which, like Adam, genetically enable to do super-human things) that make BioShock stand way above your common everyday shooter.
While the gameplay is very much based in the first-person shooter aesthetic, since you can enhance your abilities, you have a multitude of different attacks at your disposal, which helps to spice things up. You can upgrade your attacks by using Adam, which you can get from the aforementioned Little Sisters, who harvest the stuff. Therein lies one of the dilemmas of the game though; do you harvest the greatest amount of Adam from the Little Sister, killing her in the process, or do you rescue the Little Sister, freeing her but taking a significantly smaller amount of Adam? You have to decide, but know that both paths will result in a very different experience.
Graphically, BioShock is stunning. Gone are the Doom-y halls and generic shooter color palette, which is generally some shade of poop, replaced by the bright yet tarnished art deco style of the 40ís, which can be seen in the architecture and art work (which is usually very humorous and propaganda-y).
The sound is greatóguns are concussive, bodies mash up when being hacked, even all the voice-work is actually amazing.
The pacing is really good too, though itís a bit linear and isnít set up to encourage the exploration of Rapture as much as it is about getting you moving through the story.
Overall, BioShock is everything every shooter tries to be but usually fails. It has a compelling story, it looks unique, and it uses creative weapon and ability combinations to make combat fun and has some very interesting twists in the end. If you own an Xbox 360, you need to go by BioShock. Trust us, just do it.