If any year deserves to be remembered as one of the best years in gaming history, it is 2007. The 7th console generation brought a new wave of high-definition graphics and new gameplay methods. After a year or so of getting acclimated to the new consoles, BioShock was one of the best-looking games in a year with some incredibly fierce competition. It earned a lot of accolades for its steampunk atmosphere, mix of horror and science fiction and incredible gameplay. It still holds up to this day.
The Role You Play
You play as Jack, the lone survivor of a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He ends up swimming toward the entrance to an underwater city called Rapture. From there, he has to fight his way to the remains of the city. He can do so with a wrench and a variety of firearms. He can also acquire plasmids, which are special abilities that are acquired by injecting them into your bloodstream. Plasmids have a wide range of effects from electro bolts to telekinesis to firing targeted swarms of insects at an opponent.
The story begins when the plane Jack is flying aboard unexpectedly crashes into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Jack survives the crash and is able to swim to a nearby lighthouse. In the depths of the lighthouse is a bathysphere that leads to the underwater city of Rapture. The city was created by a visionary named Andrew Ryan, but something has gone wrong in Rapture. The city has fallen into disarray and the citizens of Rapture have turned manic and homicidal. It is up to you safely navigate your way through the city and potentially discover how Rapture and its citizens fell into its chaotic state.
Bioshock is a first-person shooter game that also incorporates RPG elements and a bit of survival horror. As you explore the underwater city of Rapture, you use your wrench, several different guns and special powers called plasmids. This comes in handy to fight through the groups of splicers, the Big Daddys, and other hazards you encounter along the way.
You do also have certain missions that you have to do for some of the more sane remaining citizens of Rapture. The quests usually boil down to collecting different items or hunting down and killing special enemies.
You can also hack a lot of the machines and locks in the game. Doing so involves playing a mini-game similar to the classic game pipe maze. There are mods to make the game easier and you can use money or auto-hack tools to auto-complete the hacks.
The progression through BioShock is pretty straightforward. You regularly have one mission that you need to accomplish in order to progress with little ambiguity. There are some optional ways to make progressing easier, such as rescuing the little sisters, photographing different enemies and finding ‘Power to the People’ stations to upgrade your weapons. Other than that, progressing is pretty easy and the game takes about 8-10 hours to finish.
BioShock has a soundtrack made up of plenty of classic songs ranging from the 1890s to the 1950s. The songs not only help build up an atmosphere, but also establish the kind of environment the city of Rapture was before its downfall. The tracklist is filled with a lot of well-known songs from that era and would fit in well with someone’s visions of an ideal city.
The music is usually played on loudspeakers and record players that you find in different places throughout the game. As you get further and further, you will come across locations where the music skips or cuts out which adds to the dystopian nature of the game.
BioShock has a particular aesthetic that makes use of a combination of art deco and steampunk. This art style is consistent throughout the entire game and it adds layers of depth to the immersion. It’s present in the level design, the enemies, the weapons and just about everything else you see in the game from beginning to end. It firmly establishes the time period it is meant to take place in and the lore that everything in the city was built directly from the mind of one person.
The Talking Parts
As soon as you enter Rapture, you acquire a short-wave radio that multiple people use to communicate with you. They provide you with directions, mission objectives, and general information about the goings-on of Rapture. This makes up most of the dialogue scenes, although you do occasionally have a face-to-face interaction with someone to add some variety.
You can also find audio recordings scattered throughout Rapture which can provide some additional lore and backstory into how Rapture and its people ended up the way they did.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
One of the recurring themes that takes place throughout BioShock is that Rapture was built on the idea of objectivism. This is the idea that happiness is your main purpose and there is great nobility in making great achievements. The concept was made famous in the works of writer and philosopher Ayn Rand. This is made clearer by the fact that Raptures creator Andrew Ryan has the same initials as Ayn Rand.
BioShock is an absolute masterpiece from beginning to end. Every aspect of the game is enjoyable and thought-provoking at the same time. It will likely retain its status as one of the greatest RPGs, if not the greatest games of all time.
Final Score: 10/10
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