A lot has been said about 2K Gamesâ€™ BioShock since its release in August last year. It was one of the most widely acclaimed games of 2007, receiving praise for outstanding graphics, immersive and riveting storylines, technical brilliance and great gameplay. Now, over a year since its launch, it has finally arrived on the PS3 and many are wondering â€“ is it all true?
In a word â€“ Yes. BioShock is simply a devastatingly good game and although it may not suit everyoneâ€™s tastes, it is likely to impress any serious gamers out there. The plot isnâ€™t a simple story to tell, but the year is 1960 and you are a passenger on board a small light-weight aircraft that suddenly crash lands in the ocean. Beautifully told with a cinematic flair, the gameplay starts with you having to swim in dark seas from your flaming wreck to a nearby light-house. The fact that you have no idea what is going on gives this game a nail-biting sense of anticipation. From the light-house, which is ominously enticing, you enter an under-water city known as Rapture.
You learn the history of Rapture via audio recordings and journal entries as you explore the city. Almost instantly it is clear that something horrible has happened here to turn this once beautiful civilisation into a dystopian city of despair and death. Simply walking around is a terrifying experience, surrounded by blood smeared walls, mutilated corpses and demented whisperings of what you can only hope are humans lurking nearby. Bear in mind youâ€™ve just survived a plane-crash so youâ€™re not running around with a plasma rifle at the ready either. BioShock excels in the survival-horror genre, causing you to double-check every shadow or to stop dead in your tracks when you hear a shuffle of debris and youâ€™ll find yourself constantly checking your back.
Soon you learn that the city of Rapture was created in 1946 somewhere on the Atlantic seabed. It was entirely self-sufficient and powered by submarine volcanoes, constructed and dreamed up by business magnate Andrew Ryan. The game is presented with a stylish art-deco theme and fans of philosophy may pick up on the similarities to Ayn Randâ€™s concept of an ideal society. Even the name Andrew Ryan is disturbingly profound and Rapture is envisioned as the solution to increasingly oppressive political, economical, and religious authority in the surface world. The city of Rapture was populated by those whom Ryan believed exemplified the best in humanity. Unfortunately things didnâ€™t quite work out and youâ€™ll get to find out why through-out the game.
The less you know about the plot the better. It is the factor of the unknown that makes BioShock a great gaming experience. Although there are role-playing aspects to the game, for example searching bodies or objects for clues, BioShock is at heart a raw first-person shooter. However the enemy AI and the weapons at your disposal give this game a strategic survival angle as well. Donâ€™t expect to find a pistol and then run through corridors shooting wildly and clock the game. For starters ammo is sparse and enemies are smart enough to sneak up behind you rather than just run at you blindly. You are also realistically mortal and a couple of blows with a spanner will be enough to render you completely and utterly dead. Luckily though, you will have other more interesting weapons at your disposal too. Rapture brings with it some technological and evolutionary improvements to man-kind including the ability to shoot lightning or eject fire from your finger-tips. With graphics this good, electrocuting or engulfing your foes in flames is sure to bring a smile to your face. On top of the FPS angle, youâ€™ll encounter some fairly basic, but thought provoking mini-puzzles as well.
Itâ€™s been said a thousand times â€“ but BioShock is an incredibly beautiful game to witness. The water effects are sublime (which is pretty important considering the game is set in the ocean), but even the finer details like broken-down vending machines and a doctorâ€™s office filled with surgical diagrams all add to the creepy atmosphere. The models are beautifully animated and apart from the odd unusual texture pixilation, are all works of art. From the zombified Splicers who look like murderous mannequins through to the massive mechanical bulk of the Big Daddies, youâ€™ll find yourself in awe with every step.
Finally after a year of hearing 360 and PC owners rave on about BioShock, PS3 fans can now finally see what all the fuss is about. And itâ€™s been worth the wait. Try and ignore all of the hype - just sit down and take this game for what it is - one of the best survival action adventures youâ€™ll come-across. To be experienced with dimmed lights, the sound cranked up and a pair of diapers handy.