It was a dark and stormy night. The wind was howling through the trees outside the NZGamer HQ. The glass windows rattled in their frames, as icy cold droplets of rain spattered against them. And inside, in the dark, Emily and I powered up the Xbox 360 and started to play a rather scary game.
Okay, so it wasn’t really stormy, but it was dark, which was certainly appropriate for a game like BioShock. By now, you’ve probably heard all about this game, and noticed that practically all the reviews around the world have heaped praise on this exceptional first person shooter. So I’ll cover the basics briefly: yes, this game rocks. The graphics are amazing; the audio is possibly even more stunning; the sheer cohesiveness of the world of Rapture is absurdly impressive; the gameplay is very tight, polished, frantic, and fun; and all of these elements combine to create an experience that is even greater than the sum of its (already remarkable) parts. This is simply a game that everyone needs to play.
Equipped with beer and pizza, we ventured into the underwater city of Rapture, a failed utopia created by the sort of mad genius who you actually care about. We were prepared for a spooky atmosphere right from the start, but that didn’t help when we encountered our first splicers (inhabitants of Rapture who have, for some reason, been driven insane). The typical way we played the game went something like this: I’d walk cautiously through a level, stopping to collect all sorts of shiny objects. Then the lights would go out, or someone would start laughing or crying nearby, and I’d throw the controller towards Emily, who would start swearing at me as she dealt with the enemies. It was a good system, at least until she pulled the same trick on me.
There were a whole host of little things that really made the game so fun/terrifying/immersive. You might round a corner and find a female splicer crouching over an empty cradle, crying about the baby she probably killed herself, before she notices you and attacks. The numerous audio diaries scattered around the place help fill you in on what exactly happened to Rapture, allowing you to slowly piece things together. And the whole dynamic between the little sisters and big daddies is very well executed – when faced with the choice of either killing the young girls for ADAM (the substance you need to upgrade yourself) or saving them, I couldn’t bring myself to be an executioner, which elicited many snorts of derision from Emily. It was moments like these that really sucked you in to the game, something I haven’t experienced for a long, long time.
If you explore every nook and cranny – and I highly recommend that you do – the game will easily last around 20 hours. More importantly, the game stays entertaining throughout those 20 hours, which is a feat that few games accomplish. If you’re looking to sink your teeth into a quality single-player adventure, there are very, very, few titles that can compete with BioShock. Seriously: if you own a 360 or a good PC, why aren’t you playing this thing already?