With a couple of weeks off work, I now have a bit of extra time to attack what has become somewhat of an extensive backlog. Between the awesome offerings on Xbox Game Pass, cheap steam deals and a couple of free games on Epic Games, I’ve been really spoilt for choice recently. So I’m going to start making a move through some of the games and see where we’re at the end of this daunting period. To start of I’m going to talk about the original Bioshock game, I managed to get all 3 for a tenner a couple of weeks back and have been gathering dust since. The Bioshock Franchise was something I was always interested in but for whatever reason never ended up playing. Fast forward 13 years later and I’ve finally given it a crack to see what I’ve missed out. They were games that people always sung praises for and there was a lot of rumours of a fourth edition, which hasn’t come to fruition as of yet. So let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Developer : 2K Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: Steam, GOG.com, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch (Coming Soon)
Release Date: August 2007

The view of Rapture upon entering the underwater city

The Story

Following a plane crash, Jack (the Protagonist) arrives on Rapture, an underwater city designed by John Adams for the rich and privilege to avoid the tyranny of socialism and communism. This idealist city, a world away from the world, goes horribly wrong as the rich play with the laws of nature. They discover a chemical substance called ADAM, which allows them to alter their genetic material giving them a range of super cool powers. Addiction of the substance ended up driving the inhabitants insane. As a result of Raptures inability to provide enough of the substance, the Splicers are born, which become your natural enemy throughout the game. To help take back ADAM from the deceased, the Little Sisters were born who haunt the hallways, closely followed by their bodyguards, the Big Daddies. Once the handyman of the underwater city, these mechanical abominations have turned into the biggest fear in Rapture.

Upgrading yourself for the first time

You are quickly contacted by Atlas, who initially tries to help you escape but his true intentions come to the surface. Jack has now become the convenient pawn to help rescue his family from this fallen utopia. After this you are met with some intriguing characters, who have truly lost the plot as a result of their addiction. These characters have their own agendas which really adds fuel to an already captivating story, that has many twist and turns waiting in the shadows for you to experience. Bioshock has a great story to tell and is the perfect example of why I think the franchises which arrived with the 7th gen of consoles have some of the greatest stories that I have played.

Look and Feel

These blood drenched scenes that are often found throughout Bioshock

Bioshock is still holding on well, the almost cartoonist design of the characters means that it doesn’t fall out of place in today’s exhausting list of games with ‘realistic’ graphics. You can also see why this franchise cause so much uproar and why there’s calls for a fourth entry. The destruction of a civilised society in a place which could only be possible in the far future and the thriller feeling, lack of stable electronics and lights blinkering can really leave you on the edge of your seat.

The game doesn’t start of slow either, instantly you are thrown into the deep end of the game. From the off you are introduced to the Spider Splicer who brutally murders someone right in front of you as soon as you enter Rapture. You are left with nothing to defend yourself and must quickly learn to adapt to the society of Rapture.

Whilst the idea of the Big Daddies wandering around the same hallways as you is terrifying. In the first custscene you are introduced to the bouncer variant of the Big Daddy, as the splicer who attack you flee from the haunting whale call. Whilst soon after you are shown how vicious this monstrosities can be. Also the steam punk inspired diving suit design is one of the most original and basdass designs we’ve had in gaming for a while. Whilst the collection edition offers a museum which boasts some of the concepts of the Big Daddy, which offers a really cool insight into the creation of them.

The Gameplay

The combat in Bioshock is really great. What seems like a simple FPS is soon enhanced with the use of your ‘upgrades’, allowing you to fluidly switch between a gun or wrench and your electro-bolt or incinerate powers. These powers mean that the combat is completely adaptable to how you want to play, there are a number of upgrades that can be collected through the game, each with their own benefits and offering advantages over certain enemies. Likewise, there are a very limited number of different splicers dependent on the level of Rapture you are visiting. These advantages can also be improved through researching different enemies using the camera to give you access to damage bonuses and the revealing of weaknesses.

Bioshock brings other RPG elements and the level designs use some concepts similar to a Metroidvania with you having to find new upgrades to open certain doors, whilst offering secrets to unveil by going off the linear track. You are also offered the decision of how to treat the little sisters once their Big Daddy has been defeated, you chance to harvest the child, gaining less ADAM but saving the child, they unforgivable action of killing the child to gain more ADAM or leaving them be. These ADAM points can then be used to purchase a number of upgrades from the vendors scattered across the levels. This system makes, what many would consider, the morally sound decision the more difficult option as less upgrades can be purchased to help with your journey through Rapture. The choice of saving the child or not is also how the game gives the player impact over the story.

The bouncer variant of the Big Daddy

The Big Daddy battles did come as a shock, at first due to your lack of knowledge on the monsters, you expect them to be a lumbering mechanic and they also look a lot smaller than what I first thought. So I was in complete disarray as I had a huge diving suit thrown at me across the hallway at lighting speed. As I started just shooting aimlessly at this monstrosity it managed to end me very quickly sending me back to one of the vito-chambers (respawn points). There are two variants of Big Daddies, Rosie and Bouncers, one having a gun for a weapon and the other possessing a drill, meaning you have to take on each Big Daddy differently.

Final Thoughts

For me, the 7th gen (Xbox 360, PS3) had some of the best shooters and stories about and Bioshock certainly shows that, I feel this was when Triple A games last had good and interesting stories to tell with quality gameplay mechanics, something that lacks in some modern blockbuster titles. Bioshock is certainly the one that got away from me when I was younger and now playing gives me that sense of relief that I didn’t miss out on such a fantastic game and why the franchise was one everyone was waiting on.

3 Comments »

  1. I just recently completed this title as well, so was super excited to see your write up. I didn’t harvest the little sisters and found I had sufficient ADAM to give me the upgrades I wanted, as they deliver a package for you to go to collect which contains ADAM. So I always found I had enough, though I believe harvesting does still give more. (I got 200 ADAM from the package). I was also blown away by Rapture as a city. It’s clear it succumbed to the hedonism that the modifications offered, and is quite the critique of Ayn Rand, who rather believed the opposite, that it would usher in an idyllic society. However they did clearly align with her in the character of Andrew Ryan.

    SPOILER
    His plea to be a man not a slave, whilst the game literally arrests your choice by switching to a cutscene was the MOST horrific moment of the game for me. And Ryan’s continued belief in your humanity, and humanity in general was heart wrenching. He makes a wonderful tragic hero. He’s such a stark contrast to Frank Fontaine, and his desire to dominate and subjugate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 yeah I did the same as yourself and saved the little sisters and didn’t find the game too difficult. Rapture is probably one of the favourite settings for a game, theres so much lore hidden around and it was great finding the recordings and they really changed my perspective of the real Rapture. I’m not too familiar with Ayn Rand’s work only a brief overview of objectivism in my uni course but will definitely have to check more of her work out. I can see where you’re coming from with your comments however

      I’m not a fan of giving spoilers away in my reviews but I feel like I missed out on a treat in this game here, so I’m glad you brought it up

      SPOILER
      I think the tragic hero was amplified by the fact that Ryan was portrayed as the mad villain early on, almost being the big brother of Rapture before the story unfolds and Fontaine’s name and motives starts appearing. I feel it makes it that bit more personal and is one of the reasons why Bioshock has such a strong narrative. It a shame a lot of modern games struggle to get these heart wrenching emotions across in their stories. The dynamic between Fontaine and Ryan is fantastic though and I really hope the great stories continue on in 2 and Infinite.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, it’s definitely well presented in how it slowly reveals the machinations of Fontaine and his manipulation of Yi Suchong, and Brigid Tenenbaum, and their attempts to subvert his plans.

        It’s also a game that carries fatherhood themes, alongside the earlier Myst series and Atticus. Especially through Bioshocks ending cutscene… With his daughters at his passing and that he gave them their freedom, to grow, to live etc. (Don’t believe the gaming media nonsense about fatherhood only being a recent theme! It’s been around quite a while!)

        Like

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