AVAILABLE ON: Macintosh, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
DEVELOPER(S): 2K Australia, 2K Boston, 2K Marin (PlayStation 3), Digital Extremes (PlayStation 3)
PUBLISHER(S): 2K Games, Feral Interactive (Macintosh)
RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2007 (Windows, Xbox 360)
I told myself I wasn't going to do this. I wasn't going to embarrass myself right from the start by counting the ways what a douche I've been towards particular types of games in the past. Then I started writing this review, and I realized that perhaps it's for the best after all. Perhaps I should start from a game that I was almost never going to play just because of what it is, and certainly a game I thought to never fall in love with. BioShock is fucking awesome – but you probably knew that already. After all, it's been nearly a decade since Ken Levine's slow-cooked masterpiece first came to light.
Cry Little Sister
The logical thing to do first is to tell you about my complicated history with first-person shooters. Once upon a time, even I, a sworn warrior of the inferior race, was somewhat of a PC (and Amiga) gamer. I loved point 'n' click games and the earlier graphic adventures, and sure, first-person shooters, when they first emerged, left their mark on me too. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, the Quake series (especially the third game), and I had some fun with a few more curious titles such as Hexen and Descent, too. I considered Soldier of Fortune from 2000 the last good first-person shooter for the longest time. I don't know what it was that finally opened my eyes to the staleness of the genre, and at which point I began to loathe these games. Was it the transition to consoles? Might be, I always thought these games were the only games in the world which would never work with a regular controller. Was it that one time Samus Aran – my best girlfriend in the field of 2D action-adventure – was suddenly made into a first-person avatar in Metroid Prime and its sequels? I call double on that. Was it simply the skyrocketing popularity of Half-Life – which I still find boring, by the way – and its seemingly never ceasing spin-off Counter-Strike? I think we have a winner. Thus, this genre was dead to me.
|Taste my tool, fool.|
Perfection from simplicity
In this dark tale of biogenetic research which looks and sounds like Fallout 3 – but predates Fallout 3, a key point there – and is set in the year 1960, you play as a fella named Jack, whose plane crashes in the ocean for an initially unknown reason. Near the crash site, he finds a hidden entryway into the underwater city of Rapture, built in the 40's by a businessman with a dream of an isolated, utopic metropolis. However, the local scientists' more recent discovery of a genetic material called ADAM has changed most of the citizens of Rapture into powerful, yet batshit crazy and deformed mutants known as the Splicers, and those in power want to hoard all of that supergoo to themselves. Enter ADAM collectors known as Little Sisters – little girls brainwashed to do their masters' bidding – and their colossal bodyguards, the Big Daddies. With the help of an anarchist who calls himself Atlas, Jack tries to escape Rapture, having to deal with just about every creature that dwells within.
|Hap-hap-hap-happy new year.|
Run to your mother
Though your principal guide and mentor constantly refers to Little Sisters as lifeless, soulless zombies instead of the innocent little children they seem – though damn creepy – and advises you to just kill them all to harvest the most of the ADAM for your upgrades, you can decide yourself whether you want to kill them, or cleanse them of their condition. The latter option still leaves them like lifeless shells, but at least they're not that creepy anymore, and yields less ADAM, but only on the spot. Saving those little ones will garner in some awesome rewards, the more you decide to play it nice all the way to the end. The Little Sisters and their hulking bodyguards are just one small element of the storyline's awesomeness, but without them to diversify the gameplay and bring in that extra challenge every now and then (you ALWAYS have to kill the Big Daddy before you can even come close to his Sister), I'm guessing BioShock would fall in the category of same ol' for me.
|Excuse me, is that a puddle of water you're standing in?|
It has some very minor issues, but besides those, I'm glad to announce that BioShock changed my perspective on first-person shooters, perhaps permanently – I hope so too, 'cause I have a LOT of first-person shooters still completely untouched on my shelf. It lives off its crazy world and captivating story, and delivers a seriously entertaining, action-packed campaign of just the right length. It may well be one of the best ”new” games I've gotten around to in years. Better late than never.