Developed by: 2kBoston/2kAustralia (Formerly Irrational Games)
Published by: 2kGames
Released: August 21st, 2007 (some may argue August 14th, 2007, see below)
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror FPS/RPG
Systems: PC, XBox 360
Bio, meaning life. Shock, meaning
holy-shit-what-the-fuck-just-happened. These two combine to form what
many are lauding as a masterpiece of modern gaming, myself included.
Its score on Metacritic as of right now1, 98/100, is only
surpassed by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This game which
has been in production since 2004, and gathering hype for these past
three years, is actually seeming to live up to expectations.
And some say surpass them.
Plot (Spoiler Free)
game opens in 1960, over the Mid-Atlantic. Your character, Jack, is
flying. To where? From where? We know not, and are given little
opportunity to find out as screams are heard. The plane is crashing.
You are, as cliche would dictate, the sole survivor. Sitting in the
water, you swim towards the only object that seems to offer refuge -- a
mysterious lighthouse, in mild disrepair. The large bronze doors are
slightly ajar, and shut behind you upon entry, leaving you in
darkness. A record player scratches to life, as light blinks into
existence. Directly in front of you is a massive bust of a man, with a
tattered banner draped in front. "NO GODS OR KINGS, ONLY MAN" it
reads, in a blocked gold on red. You descend the stairwell, find a
bathysphere, and begin a voyage to a terrible utopia.
is Rapture, the brainchild of Andrew Ryan. Rapture is a
place of pure, unbridled capitalism. In Ryan's own words, "a place
where the artist would not fear the censor, a place where the scientist
would not be bound by the laws of petty morality, a place where the
great would not be constrained by the small." As a note, you
objectivists should be going "ooh" right now, as the heavy Randian
overtones begin their bear.
Years ago, in Rapture, a pair of
scientists discovered sea slugs which could produce pure stem cells.
Through these, they developed a method of modifying one's genetic code,
allowing telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and a variety of other kinesises and
genetic enhancements, all for the right price. Their use scarred the
denizens of Rapture, and slowly drove them mad.
In 1959, on New
Year's Eve, a revolution began. You come in, then, at the tail of it.
Rapture is in shambles, the ocean desperate to reclaim this city under
Before I continue, let's get some vocabulary out of the way, it'll make all this easier. You'll catch on, I promise.
Plasmid - the more 'Active' genetic enhancements discussed above,
including pyrokinesis, cryokinesis, special abilities which allow you
to turn enemies against each other, and more.
- Tonic - the
more 'Passive' genetic enhancements, including increased melee
strength, invisibility when standing still, and improved hacking
- Splicing - the act of using either Plasmids or
Tonics, from the modern concept of splicing genes. Plasmid users are
known as Splicers.
- ADAM - The stem cell secretion that is used to make Plasmids and Tonics. Without it, one cannot further splice oneself.
- Little Sisters - Young girls, looking to be around 7 or so, who harvest ADAM from the dead.
Big Daddies - Massive, hulking tanks, looking like retrofitted diving
equipment with giant weapons and incredible speed when agitated. They
protect the Little Sisters. There are two varieties: Bouncers, who are
melee oriented with a gargantuan drill, and Rosies,
who carry a powerful rivet gun and proximity mines.
In two words: it delivers. In more:
is one of the most engaging expriences I've had playing a game in a
long time. The fundamental mechanism of play is to get from point A to
point B; however, there is always something more complicated about what
you've got to do than that. In attempting to save Atlas's family and
defeat Andrew Ryan, you'll need to photograph terrible insane mutants,
save an underwater forest, photograph some dead terrible insane mutants
for an art project, destroy the core of
Rapture, find a cure for genetic mind control, and become a Big
Daddy. Admittedly, it seems a little cheesy in retrospect, but the
game is entertaining enough while you're playing it that you'll often
The plasmids add a very interesting dynamic to what
would otherwise be just a neat FPS. Firing lightning from your hands,
making your enemies fight each other, and turning invisible when
standing still are all quite handy. However, some of them are
particularly overpowered (Electro Bolt, I'm looking at you). The
ability to electrocute an enemy, stunning them, then get a quick shot
to their head with the pistol (or later, the crossbow) seems a bit
cheap. Personally, though, I like the feeling of absolute power this
grants after a time. You are just simply too badass for these guys to
A note on enemy spawns: Aside from plot related spawns,
when other characters will send Splicers after you in retribution, I
can only think back to one instance of a scripted moment. All other
enemy spawns are either native, where it's where they begin in the
level, or essentially random. This gives the game an interesting
feeling of wandering monsters, as you can't really know for a fact if
there's going to be someone sneaking up on you, waiting around the
corner, or watching you from a balcony above. Sometimes it can break
immersion ("How'd they get in there? I just came out the only
entrance...") but those moments are few and far enough between.
News and Controversy
release was anything but smooth. Firstly, Toys "R" Us broke the
street date of August 21st to release the game a week early. They were
quickly reprimanded, but many people were able to obtain a copy and
begin to spoil the plot online. For a game like this, where the story
and plot twists are major selling points, this was a major problem.
the game was released, numerous problems were noticed by the
community. The first one to hit the waves was an 'issue' with the
FOV, and how it changed between playing in widescreen
(16:9) and regular aspect ratio (4:3). Many gamers noticed that the
people playing in 4:3 had a taller view, with the same viewing width as
the widescreen players. The widescreen users felt both ripped off and
lied to -- 2k had previously said that they were designing this game
with widescreen as the expected FOV. However, 2k released a statement
after a few days stating that what they said was indeed true. The
difference in the vertical view was a design decision made to minimize
the view loss when the game was played in regular aspect ratio. This
placated some and outraged others, as can be predicted. Some PC users
have discovered a way to gain the increased view height in widescreen
through modification of a few key game files, prompting 2k to begin
working on an official 'solution' to this 'problem'. Personally, I
didn't care a lick about it -- the game was gorgeous as it was.
issue facing the PC gamers was the copy protection software SecuROM
used by 2k. This allowed only two installations of the game for its
lifespan, effectively killing its ability to be sold as a used game,
much less shared between family members on their own personal
computers. 2k has stated since that they're working on a way to allow
people to uninstall the game and the license on that computer
simultaneously, so that it may be reinstalled on another device. They
have also said that in the future (more distant than soon) that they
will be removing the SecuROM protection entirely.
summary, the game is absolutely amazing the first play through.
Unfortunately, I personally am finding it a terrible grind to get
through a second time. Even though I'm playing on Hard instead of
Medium, the game still flows much faster and plays much more easily now
that I know what I'm doing, and I'm not sure I like that. In honesty,
the main reason I'm fighting through it at all is to get the
achievements I've missed. Even despite the lack of replay value, I'm
really glad I've played through it. It's a great discussion topic
amongst my friends, and (to sound very fanboyish) it was a brilliant
way to fill the time until Halo 3. Not to belittle this game at all,
Play Bioshock. Seriously.
As far as system preference goes, I like the XBox version better having
played both. But if you've only got one or the other, you're not
really missing out. The game is worth the $50-$60USD you'd be paying
August 23rd was when this
statistic was taken. It currently (as of this posting) has a score of
96/100 on Metacritic
, a very respectable score in any event.