Soon scientific discoveries led to the utility of a sea parasite as a means of applying genetic modifications to the citizens of Rapture. These people redefined the limits of what humans were capable of but most traded their sanity in the process. The underwater utopia Ryan envisioned collapsed around the addictive qualities of the genetic modifying material, ADAM, and the city fell into disrepair while the ocean moves to reclaim the city.
Little girls and their protectors now roam the corridors of Rapture collecting the gene modifying material, ADAM, while the remaining deranged, hostile citizens attempt to get their ADAM fix. In 1960, a plane crash thrusts you into the ocean, where out of the burning wreckage you emerge and swim to a nearby a lighthouse. With nowhere else to go you descend into the madness.
Welcome to Rapture
After a short, somewhat interactive intro to Rapture, the action continues uninterrupted and within your control throughout the game. The story and Rapture’s history play out over easily found audio diaries located throughout the city and through radio messages with the few other sane characters left in Rapture. The story may feel a little light at first, but about halfway through the game it becomes more engrossing.
The controls are suitable and easy to get the hang of how they work. You can switch easily between your plasmids and your arsenal. Holding the switch weapon button brings up a selection radial with all your plasmids/weapons which pauses the game for the menus duration and allows for quickly (and calmly) switching to the right one for the situation. Death in Bioshock may irk some players. Whenever you die you respawn in a nearby Vita-Chamber with some health and Eve and all your weapons while enemies remain whatever condition they were in when you died. With persistence you can down a Big Daddy with your wrench alone. However, you will not have to face that terrifying realization that you forgot to save during the last hour as you die and have to replay.
There are a few different types of enemies to encounter in Rapture. Splicers come in five varieties, security is comprised of turrets, cameras, and guard bots, and Big Daddies (aka Mr. Bubbles) roam the halls giving unabridged protection to the Little Sisters. These Mr. Bubbles are nothing like your bath time buddy sort. Sporting metal diving suits and large drills or rivet guns, Big Daddies roam around Rapture, guarding the Little Sisters as they recycle Adam from the corpses. Big Daddies attack only if provoked but they are the obstacles to the ability enhancing ADAM you need. You may grow a little tired of battling the same types of enemies over and over since by about halfway through the game you have already seen all the enemies, but Bioshock’s denizens are pretty well and the variety of combat options helps the game still fell fun late.
There are a couple of disappointments of the enemies in Bioshock. The splicers, despite having had access to the numerous plasmids you use for a quite a while longer, do not use any of those abilities on you. You will not find a splicer shocking you while you are waist deep in water or igniting an oil spill. Some do have hacked security bots following them but other than that they generally present standard melee and gun combat. The other complaint sits with the final boss of the game. His attacks are rather easy to avoid and do not really change as the battle goes on. The Big Daddies presented more of a challenge, and even though they should, more should be expected of the final challenge.
The AI works for the game. Splicers attack you on sight, but after sustaining damage may run to a health station to heal. Some are completely out of control and will continue their attacks even while on fire. Others will flail around or dive into water to drown the flames. Big Daddies generally ignore splicers and you unless you get too close to a Little Sister. Once roused the Daddies bring an unrelenting attack until one of you dies.
Fire at Your Fingertips
You can simply run and gun your way through but making use of plasmids leads to much easier and more colorful experience. You can make use of the environment in Rapture: ignite pools of oil with Incinerate, electrify water with Electric Bolt, freeze and smash the enemy with Winter Blast, or hurl gas tanks, barrels, wheelbarrels, corpses at enemies or catch their fireballs and grenades to return to them Telekinesis. You can even get clever with your tactics and combine your arsenal. Set a corpse on fire and hurl it at an enemy to deal damage and set them on fire. Or plant a proximity mine on an object and use telekinesis to move it or use it as a makeshift rocket.
Telekinesis was fun to play with, although there were a couple times it did not cooperate. If there are several items very close together, you may find the item you want to pick up being the second or third one you draw to you. There were also a time or two it pulled a splicer’s mask off instead of catching the grenade that had just been lobbed at me. Although the mask did quite a bit of damage when I fired it back…
In addition to plasmids, gene tonics give you passive abilities that affect your hacking skills, your athletic performance, and your combat skills. These gene enhancements definitely add a great deal to the gameplay by giving you several options in your dealings with the deranged inhabitants of Rapture. You will find more tonics and plasmids than you can equip, so you can make your choices to augment your style of play. Your wrench can even be a major part of your arsenal against late game foes with the right gene tonics equipped.
The weapons themselves come with three types of ammo each. For instance, the machine gun uses regular, armor-piercing, and anti-personal bullets, while the crossbow uses regular bolts, incendiary bolts, and trip-wire bolts. Using the correct ammunition makes encounters go by faster and easier. A couple shots of anti-personal rounds can equal several shots of regular ammunition against splicers.
Delightfully Dangerous World
You will find very appealing, solid environments throughout the game. The unique 1950s décor of each section should keep those eyes entertained for the duration. Bioshock has the lighting down. All the little elements of this underwater world, the weapons and their visual enhancements, the leaking corridors and flooded rooms, the bloody corpses and halls, fulfill their roles in completing the artwork that is Bioshock. There are few complaints to level against Bioshock’s presentation.
The sound does its part, adding more quality to the game. The pounding steps of Big Daddies, maniacal chatter of the splicers, the audio carries you further into the beautiful catastrophe called Rapture. The splicers’ screams and overheard dialogue voice their depraved conditions. You will hear some repeat their lines but the voices are in the game are done well and add to the gloomy feel. The sounds and sight along with splicers coming out of the woodworks to get you set an eerie atmosphere early on. The late game loses this feel and focuses more on the combat between your character and the inhabitants of Rapture though.
Bioshock possesses a couple endings to earn, depending on your choices through the game, as well as three difficulty settings, and the usual set of achievements to pursue. However, the impact of your choices on gameplay and story seemed a little disappointing. There is only a small difference in the amount of ADAM and gene modifications you receive between the two choices. The choice for you to make is primarily a moral one which really only impacts a few lines of dialogue and which ending you receive.
The game as a whole yields a fun experience you should try out at least at some point. Bioshock started this season off quite well with superb visuals, well-constructed environments, and great sounds all coming together to make a quality game.