8GB HDD space
DX 9.0c video and sound Windows
Internet required for activation
BioShock takes place in the 1960’s in an underwater city called Rapture. A man named Andrew Ryan, who was against government and religion, founded Rapture to be a city of opportunity for those willing to work for it. Instead of a paradise, Rapture is run amuck by zombie like beings who have altered their genes a bit too much. With a substance called Adam you can purchase genetic enhancements, and Eve (think of it as manna in RPG games) is required to use your new genetic abilities. The game starts off with you escaping from a submarine accident and swimming into the entrance to Rapture. Upon your arrival you are greeted, via radio, by a guy named Atlas who is willing to guide you - if you can help save his family.
Just another shooter?
Even though BioShock is a first-person shooter, it offers more than just mindless violence. As you explore Rapture you’ll discover the story behind it. You can also do things like hacking and enhancing your genetics to increase your chances of survival in this tough city. If you do happen to die, you’ll be conveniently brought back to life in a nearby Vita-life chamber. Given these re-spawn sites, it does make the game a bit easier than it would have been otherwise, because even if you run out of ammo, you’ll still have your trusty wrench with which you can keep coming back to finish off your foes.
Plasmids & Gene Tonics
The genetic enhancements are called plasmids. You can gain abilities such as shooting out fire, ice, electricity, and bees. You can also gain abilities like hypnotizing Big Daddies, avoiding security cameras, having a decoy, and more. You are limited on how many plasmids you can have equipped, but with Adam you can purchase more slots. Gene Tonics let you boost physical, engineering, and combat skills. Physical tonics can allow you to take less damage, engineering tonics can make hacking easier, and combat tonics can increase your damage with certain moves or weapons.
The Little Sisters are girls who extract Adam from corpses. It’s a gruesome task, and mechanical robots called Big Daddies protect them. This is by far the most controversial part in the game; the Little Sisters are your only source of acquiring Adam. You first have to defeat the Big Daddy; after that you have to choose to either save the girl or kill her, which gains you a little more Adam. There are two possible endings in this game that are determined by what you do with them.
As you explore Rapture you’ll come across various vending machines. Through the vending machines you can purchase first aid kits, Eve refills (Hypos), ammunition, and food. There are also U-Invent stations where you can construct Gene Tonics, and ammo by using various items you collect exploring. Finally, there are Power to the People machines which let you upgrade a weapon; however, once the machine is used, it’s deactivated.
Hacking allows you to lower the prices and add more items to the vending machines. It can also make health stations cheaper and injure enemies when they use them. You can also hack turrets and security cameras to defend you. Since this game takes place in the 1960’s, hacking is not exactly what you imagine it to be. The hacking component is more of a mini game; the goal is to construct piping to guide flowing water from one end to another without tripping the alarm or having the water catching up to you.
BioShock uses the Unreal 3 engine and the graphics are gorgeous. You start the game in the ocean surrounded by fire and bits of submarine floating around you. The water and fire effects look amazing. The world of Rapture is very detailed and will engulf you into it. The character models are quite lifelike, especially the Little Sisters. BioShock does support Direct X 10, but since I’m running Windows XP I only saw the DX 9 rendering.
BioShock is more than your run of the mill First Person Shooter. There is a story behind Rapture and there are many audio diaries left behind from the scientists, botanists, smugglers, and even Andrew Ryan himself. The voice acting is very well done on the diaries. As for your enemies, they will sing (hymns) and taunt you. The Big Daddies have a surprisingly fitting whale like noise that they make. The explosions and weapon sound effects are superb. The sound track is free to download but quite honestly I didn’t find it that memorable.
I had no problems running this game but there are some things worth mentioning about the installation process. The game requires internet activation and at first it allowed only two installs total. Fortunately, they increased the limit to five installs on up to five machines. They enforce this using the SecuROM copy protection. There has been a fair amount of controversy over this decision; I’m sure a web search can give you more details if you desire. There is also a Field of View bug for widescreen users that the first patch is supposed to fix. There is also a user created fix as well, if you don’t mind those kind of things.
This game deserves the M rating for many reasons. In these audio diaries you’ll pretty much hear every swear word in the book, multiple times. Violence is a given, even though it’s not a blood fest there are still grotesque, tortured and even burned corpses laying around. This also applies to corpses you introduce to the environment. Not to mention the whole killing or saving Little Sisters controversy. There is alcohol in the game and if you drink enough of it, it will blur your vision. There’s even a Gene Tonic that lets you power up by drinking liquor. Rapture caters to many a man’s desires, so not surprisingly you’ll find a gentleman’s club. Even though it’s vacant, you’ll see a ghost dancer re-enacting her death.
This is a very fun game and has a great story behind it. It’s definitely not for kids or the faint of heart. I wish there was an option for enabling swear and gore filters. I also wasn’t too comfortable dealing with the little girls in this game, which might be compounded by having two young girls of my own. The multiple endings and various difficulty levels add to the game play since there is no multiplayer. The pretty visuals make me look forward to other games using Unreal Engine 3 coming out soon.
Final RatingsGame play 17/20 Graphics 10/10 Sound 9/10 Stability 4/5 Controls 5/5 Appropriateness 24.5/50 Killing in self defense –4 Blood/Gore –5 Swearing –5 Sexual references –3.5 Provocative clothing –3.5 Sex outside of marriage promoted –3 Rebellion against cultural norms –1.5
Final Score 70%