Platforms: Xbox 360 & PC
Part of me wants to run counter to all the hype surrounding this game. "Look" I want to scream "It's just another rooms and corridor 3D shooter. It isn't doing anything that revolutionary. The AI isn't as good as F.E.A.R. Half of the gameplay is straight out of Deus Ex and System Shock 2. The DirectX 10 enhancements aren't all that great. Isn't all the waffle about interactive art and moral choices getting a little bit out of scale?"
But the simple fact is that I can't. Bioshock isn't a game you can compare with others in terms of technical features, graphics and AI. The only way you can judge it is to take the experience as a whole. And frankly, on those terms, it's out in a league of its own.
By now, you're probably at least dimly aware of the basics. The game takes place in Rapture: an undersea city built as a utopia by a rich industrialist and a gaggle of intellectuals looking to escape the political and moral strictures of the surface world. Sadly, Rapture's dream has gone horribly wrong. A mixture of deep-set corruption and dangerous substances has brought about its ruin. As you - the lone survivor of a mid-Atlantic aircrash - enter, Rapture is falling apart. Its tunnels are collapsing, leaks are everywhere, and its denizens have gone utterly, barking mad, splitting into gangs of ‘splicers' who roam the halls and corridors in search of ‘plasmids', ‘Eve' and ‘Adam.'
Here things get a little murky. To survive in and escape from Rapture, ordinary weapons are not enough. For one thing, ammo is hardly in plentiful supply. For another, the splicers are so numerous and ferocious that it's hard to pin them down with bullets alone. The only way to stay alive is to use the plasmids, genetic enhancements that enable you to harness the forces of fire, ice and electricity, create air traps or enrage splicer gangs so they fight one another, or use telekenisis to catch and throw objects around the room.
The problem is that plasmids rely on supplies of Eve to keep running, and on Adam if you want additional powers or upgrade your existing ones. Eve can be found just about everywhere, but Adam is a little more tricky. The only reliable source is to ‘harvest' it from Little Sisters: the weird, child-like creatures you'll see wandering around. This leaves you with two dilemmas. The first is physical - the Little Sisters are guarded by Big Daddies, hulking, armoured automatons with formidable offensive capabilities. The second is moral - is it ever right to do away with something that looks like a little girl, even if you're told they're not human and you never actually see what ‘harvesting' entails?