developed by 2K Boston and 2K Australia
written and directed by Ken Levine
art directed by Scott Sinclair
design led by Paul Hellquist
programming led by Christopher Kline
sound designed by Emily Ridgway
Here’s the premise, and it’s a very good one for a video game: this apparent Ayn Rand devotee named Jack Ryan builds an underwater city called Rapture, hoping to bring in the most brilliant (and self-serving) minds in the world. Naturally, after awhile, everything goes wrong. Genetic experimentation becomes common and people become addicted to it, many of them going completely batshit and violent, while charged up with their genetic enhancements. A substance called Adam is necessary for a lot of these enhancements and there are these gross, little girls (Little Sisters) that go around removing Adam from dead addicts. These little ghouls are protected by inhuman golems in diving suits (Big Daddies).
The game is played from a first person perspective, which is not a genre I’ve typically been interested in. The only other first-person shooters I’ve beaten were GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, and the Metroid Prime trilogy. BioShock transcends my lack of interest in FPS games in a few ways. First, the premise and setting are so engaging. The story is revealed throughout the game via tape recorders found throughout the city (I guess every asshole in town kept extensive audio diaries el oh el). The game takes place in the mid-20th Century and the whole feel is kind of pulpy but with top of the line production values. Second, there is a big variety in weapons and powers. You shoot a lot of guns but you have also gain a lot of super powers throughout the game. Don’t like that asshole running at you? Shoot a bunch of bees at him from your fingers. Or freeze him and then shatter him with a wrench. It’s hilarious and fun.
A lot of the newer, popular game franchises either don’t appeal to me at all or just not enough to buy them until they’re used for $10. However, this game managed to overcome my biases and I’m sure it will appeal to any old school game nerd. You can’t beat great gameplay and setting/story in one place. Having said that, the trailers I’ve seen for BioShock 2 look way too similar to the first game. Goddammit, remember the 1980s when the problem with sequels was that they were too different from their predecessors? That was a nice problem to have.