2K Games BioShock

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2K Games BioShock

Pros

  • Unparalleled depth and immersion in a vibrant game world, unique range of powers and abilities at the player's fingertips.

Cons

  • Nothing to speak of.

Bottom Line

BioShock has landed -- without a doubt, one of the best games of 2007 on any platform or genre. Buy it now.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

This neo-horror shooter will make your blood run cold, and it's one of the best games of the year.

There was always something depressing about the puppet-like cinema cutscenes in Gears of War. Sure, the graphics looked astonishingly advanced...but they were light years ahead of the empty-headed dialogue and plot. The technology was there but the storytelling wasn't.

But what if a game's narrative was as intricate and as immersive as its graphics? What if as much attention went into dialogue and atmosphere as went into pixel shaders and high-resolution textures? What then? Ladies and gentlemen, the answer is BioShock, one of the most playable, thought-provoking, and just downright impressive games to emerge on a home console since, well, ever.

Paradise Lost

BioShock's story is lavishly told. Your character begins on a passenger jet, which promptly spins off-course and crashes somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. You swim for safety, using the analogue sticks to doggy-paddle past flaming wreckage. Already the attention to detail is staggering: soaring flames cast reflections on the stormy ocean water, and the air is thick with smoke and debris. Nearby, you uncover a small submersible vehicle, climb inside, and descend into the depths of the Atlantic to find...Rapture.

But all is not well in Rapture. Billionaire tycoon Andrew Ryan built this underwater utopia as a refuge for the greatest talents in society: musicians, artists, scientists, and other free-thinkers. Though the goal of Rapture was to liberate the best and brightest minds from the drudgery of everyday life, a remarkable discovery changed the rules for the worse. Rapture's citizens became addicted to a strange new form of DNA manipulation, a mutagen called "Adam." This stem-cell-like substance allowed its users to alter their genetic code at will, paving the way for powers such as instantaneous healing and superhuman intellect. But instead of opening the gates to Heaven, rampant Adam abuse cost the citizens of Rapture their minds and their humanity. When the supply dried up, Rapture's citizens launched a vicious civil war - a genetic arms race - for control of the last remaining drops of Adam. You see, once you've tried Adam, there's no going back.

And that's where you come in. With your first step into the shattered corpse of this failed society, it's immediately obvious that the situation is way out of hand. Rapture is leaking. Broken equipment and twisted bodies litter the facility. Deformed, gibberish-spouting Rapturians prowl the corridors, looking for another fix of life-giving Adam. What exactly happened here? I won't spoil any surprises, but rest assured that BioShock's plot sees several sharp turns that will have you questioning everything, even your own role. Like a good novel, this is one game you won't want to put down.

Daddy Issues

The storyline is certainly thoughtful and well crafted, but make no mistake: BioShock is squarely a first-person shooter. You'll explore the ruins of Rapture, scavenge for items and equipment, and meet a cast of ghoulish characters, but the focus remains solidly on action. Your chief foes are Splicers, Adam-addicted citizens whose faces are literally sliding off from a lack of the life-giving serum. But the highlight battles are the encounters with the symbiotic duo of the Big Daddy and the Little Sister. The former is a hulking, armor-encased goliath that is nearly invulnerable to attack; the latter is a child who stores vast amounts of Adam, making her a kind of mobile piggy bank. The twisted Rapturians aren't the only ones who crave Adam, as you'll need its gene-altering qualities in order to evolve your own offensive and defensive abilities.

How you tackle the Big Daddy/Little Sister pairing is entirely up to you. Brute force is one option, but it's painful: the Big Daddy is a tough opponent who will defend the Little Sister to the death. Another option is to hypnotize the Big Daddy, then lure him into other battles where he'll be worn down by enemy fire. These are only two options, and there are many more. You'll spend much of the game battling and outwitting Big Daddies in order to get to the Little Sisters, and despite the frequency of these encounters, they rarely feel repetitive, a testament to BioShock's brilliant A.I. programming and overall game design. BioShock is one of the few games that actually deserves to be called a "sandbox game," thanks to its diverse genetic powers, weapon modifications, and moral choices. Once you beat the game once-not an easy task as it's a big game-you'll want to start right back over again so you can try out a whole new suite of skills and tactics.

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