• There are games that get pumped up with so much hype whipping people into a frenzy, parting with their hard earned cash, only to then leave the gamer wishing they had not wasted their money, and then there are games that truly deserve the hype and actually end up exceeding the gamers expectations. Bioshock without any shadow of a doubt is in the class that should DEMAND you play the game. This game has the ability to suck you in, leaves you marvelling at just how much there is to do and the fun you can have doing it and… well… quite frankly for the last four days certainly left me with severe lack of sleep as I just could not put the game down. In short this game rocks and must be played!

    Bioshock the latest first person shooter from 2K Games and considered “spiritually” to be the successor to their previous System Shock 2 title, is set in 1960 starting with our hero Jack surviving a plane crash in the ocean and making his way in a bathysphere (mini submarine) travels to the underwater City that is Rapture. On his journey in the bathysphere Jack is painted a picture by a man named Ryan that Rapture is a beautiful and wonderful place to live, only to leave Jack bearing witness to a completely different picture arriving at Rapture and to a City that looks to be in ruin and with Jack quickly being attacked by a rather grim looking creature that is a Splicer. Armed with a two-way radio Jack is befriended by Atlas and starts his journey through Rapture for what will become the fight of his life. Welcome to Rapture, this is Bioshock and make sure you have a good stock of clean pants, because you are in for one Hell of a ride.


    Control wise Bioshock is played from the first person perspective and the buttons are mapped very neatly. Your right shoulder button cycles through all your collected weapons with the right trigger controller the fire on each weapon. Holding the RB button brings up all your weapons and makes it a lot easier to quickly change to any weapon when the heat is on. The left shoulder button cycles through all your available plasmids (more on that later) with the left trigger activating your chosen plasmid. Again holding the LB button brings up all of your active plasmid choices and lets you switch quickly when needed. That leaves the face buttons to be assigned to the likes of using a med kit, reloading a weapon or topping up on your plasmid eve, interacting with objects and jumping. Finally the thumbsticks are then left to control movement and panning the camera and clicking in the thumbsticks will activate crouching (left) and also zoom control (right) if a weapon allows it.

    The first thing you will notice in Bioshock apart from the fact you are deep underwater is that your surroundings are rather dark and as a hint for the people that have yet to play the game, before you even start playing you are asked to agree the lighting levels and if you feel the need, then whack it up slightly to help you… That said I never touched any settings as the mood is perfect and fitting for a destroyed city and getting leapt on by a Splicer out of the darkness is all part of the fun really.

    Now while I leap into the gameplay aspect I don’t want to give too much of the game away as the plot has more twists and turns than a roller coaster so I will leave the gameplay to what you have in front of you rather than what you are doing for who and who said what. But in saying that, and just to get the ball rolling… you have arrived in Rapture with Atlas talking you through where you need to go and with Ryan the creator of Rapture watching you on the CCTV system and seeming to think you are CIA or KGB decides to set his army of Splicers and bots on you… “Well nobody ever said life was easy – eh”.

    Surviving in Rapture will come down to a few things. Firstly there will be the choice of weapons from wrench through to pistol ending in a rather awesome flamethrower. The neat touch here is that these weapons seem to have been created after the city was in ruins with people fighting to survive so have a rather home feel DIY look to them bolted together with empty tins and what not rather than being all futuristic (well after all this is 1960). You will find weapons scattered throughout Rapture but your best bet is to look to prise them from the dead hands of a Splicer you just killed. You will also find two types of vending machines throughout every level of Rapture that will allow you to keep topping up on your supplies of ammo should you be running low – that said ammo can also be collected from fallen enemies and you should never struggle to be without. You will also later in the game have the ability to create your own ammo from bits and pieces you find scattered throughout Rapture with the U-Invent machines and you will also find weapon upgrade machines that can only be used once, but will change how your weapon operates improving it in certain categories.

    Your second piece of survival comes down to plasmids, and plasmids genetically modify your bodies’ structure allowing you to attack people in a whole new way. These plasmids include being able to shock someone, stunning them so you can move in for the kill, freezing someone allowing you to explode them into shards of ice and through to setting people on fire to name a few. Plasmids can be found throughout Rapture but later in the game pretty much becomes purchased with ADAM (will cover that little bit later). Just like you have a Health bar, you also have an Eve bar, and it is Eve that is the substance needed to sustain your use of plasmids. Top ups to Eve can be found in syringe form throughout Rapture or again by purchase from a vending machine/finding the syringes on dead bodies. Without doubt plasmids make the game what it is and are damn fun to use, and you will end up on the look out for bigger and better plasmids so you can experiment over and over again with new and stronger attacks. Having a Splicer run at you only for you to freeze them, whip out your shogun to watch them explode into tiny shards of ice never stopped being funny, amazing to see in action and damn cool to do. Aside from plasmids you also find and can purchase tonics, which are designed to enhance you in a number of ways from both physical attributes to mental. These cover the likes of being able to disappear if you stand still, through to being able to move faster all the way through to being able to hack objects easier. Tonics are not to be confused with plasmids, which in effect are weapons… tonics are there to make your life a bit easier but are not physical weapons you can see in action – just think of them as enhanced abilities.

    I referred to ADAM which essentially is the substance needed to enhance your abilities but gathering ADAM in itself presents you a constant two prong problem. Little girls in the game which are referred to as ‘Little Sisters’ carry ADAM in their body, but your first problem is finding them with your second problem is having to get past their personal body guards that are the ‘Big Daddies’. Big Daddies are genetically modified and walk around in huge diving suits and carry enough armour and weaponry to scare the living daylights out of anyone. To get the ADAM you have to defeat the Big Daddy and then should you manage to do that the game then switches you to a moral choice to make in order to obtain your prize. When you move up to a Little Sister that has just lost her body guard by your hand you are given two choices. Harvest the ADAM which will give you the max amount but basically means killing the child, or rescue the girl which gives you less ADAM but with another character in the game (no spoilers as to who) promising you future rewards for having done so. Your moral choices will also ultimately give you two distinctive endings to the game… I was the good guy and rescued them all, so I am yet to see my evil side ending, but having seen pieces wrote on it – am aware of what to expect when I play through the game being Mr Nasty this time.

    Your final piece of help comes with the ability to hack the automated systems in the game, including the security cameras, security drones that fly around through to the stationed gun turrets. It’s good to have a bit of extra fire power by your side and with the drones once hacked with have them following you and mooching off with command to attack anything that tries to attack you.

    If trying to stay alive, finding out who is the bad guy, who you are and how the hell you escape this place was not enough, Bioshock does contain an awful lot more to do. One of these is hacking and as I have mentioned you can hack quite a few things. I have already made mention to the ability to hack the security systems, but you can also hack the vending machines to make objects cheaper to buy, hack safes to steal their contents through to hacking your way past door locks to gain access to hidden rooms. Hacking is a mini game and consists of you constructing pieces of a pipe to allow the liquid to move from start to finish. You start off with fairly easy hacks only to find they get harder with blocking pieces in your way through to exploding pieces which will fail your hack and cause damage to your health. The hacking starts off pretty cool, but quickly becomes very boring as you will suddenly find you have so much to hack it is untrue… so was a wise move by the developer to allow you to use auto-hack tools or have the ability to buy out the hack if you have enough cash. Either way counts as a successful hack and will not hurt your quest for the hack achievement and gamer-points to boot. But if you are determined to do it the tough way then just take a quick tip – freeze the object you wish to hack and then hack it which in turn slows down the flow of the liquid allowing you more time to get it right.

    Another piece of the game that allows you to take a side step is the ability to take pictures of your enemies and also certain objects. This in turn starts research on the object you took a picture of, and by hitting certain markers allows you to improve your skills and quite often rewards you with a new tonic. Splicers come in the form of 4 different varieties and you are rewarded achievement points for having fully researched each type. You can also research the security systems, Big Daddies and the Little Sisters. Now while I stated this is a side step, it is in that you don’t have to do this… but my advice is that you should as the rewards you reap are worth it. Alive subjects are better than dead ones and action shots worth even more. So suck it up, throw a fire plasmid at a Big Daddy, whip out your camera and snap away as he charges at you full speed – just don’t forget to run away when the time comes.

    And finally and hopefully with you still with me, you also collect audio diaries throughout the game which some which just seem to be people rambling on, but others that contain the hint and tip you need to get you past the area you are stuck in. Collecting all of these will also result in an achievement, although I have yet to find 100% of them, and as such, now has me back peddling through the game levels to hunt down the missing few.

    Graphical and Audio presentation in Bioshock is “spot on”. Without knowing you are under water, you have the feeling that you are with the construction, look and feel of everything around you. The games lighting is perfection creating the spooky and aerie atmosphere that puts you on a knife-edge and keeps you there. The effect of hearing something stalk you and screaming at you without the ability to immediately see where they were was an amazing feeling of tension, and I take my hat off to the developers for hitting the nail on the head. Audio is also as good as the graphical presentation and from the wails of your assailant through to you plodding around in water; every note is perfect and fitting to the style of the game. There is nothing here to disappoint and does a great job.

    Summing up and as you may have guessed Bioshock is huge and even with my twenty-five hours and then some, worth of play I would state that there will certainly be areas that I had not found yet. This is a deep, deep game and it will suck you in, and even though around about now would be the time for me to moan and groan about problems with the game, I pretty much never found, experienced or grimaced over anything. Certainly it might be a painful point to some that Bioshock does not have any Xbox LIVE Multiplayer modes – but quite frankly the polish on this game makes for a cracking single player game and enough to stand proud as a pure single player experience. Which… well… only leaves me with the fact that the game does have that sometimes feeling of you constantly moving from A to B, kill said enemy before moving off again to the next enemy… but what game doesn’t? The difference with Bioshock is that it never once became boring and the use of mixing weapons and plasmids makes for some pretty spectacular battles. This game rocks – enough said!

    Score: 10/10

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