Bioshock Lives Up to the Hype

I’ve always wondered why something gets more hype than it really should, and I had that attitude when Bioshock was released. However, I played this game at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Seattle on the PC, and this lives up to the hype.

The beginning of the game is completely awesome. It is the year 1960, and you play a passenger on an airplane that crashes in the middle of the ocean. As far as I know, you don’t really have an identity of your own. This is very typical of these role-playing adventure games like Myst and such, but I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the mystery of this game involved your true identity.

After the plane crashes, what happens next is a cross between Cast Away and Lost. Except instead of ending up on a mysterious island, you end up in a city that is completely underwater. Try not to think of a model of Atlantis, where there is a dome of protection about the city. No, this city, called Rapture, has buildings that are completely airtight. The architecture is a combination of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with a retrofuturistic look like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. In fact, Bioshock as a whole has a unique and eclectic look to it that deserves some kind of award for art direction.

Unfortunately, the look of Rapture is pretty much died. I can only assume that your mission is to discover why and stop something even more terrible from occurring. You eventually learn that the reason (possibly not the only reason) that this city has died was this drug called plasmids. It can give you power to shoot electricity, telekinesis and all that stuff.

In the version I played, which was the easy demo, your character was playing with a voice of guidance helping you out. He tells you to take the plasmids, which doesn’t make sense because he tells you they screw you up. You even get to see yourself injecting with this stuff. It’s a little disturbing.

Since no video game would be complete without foes, you have to deal with the splicers. Splicers are these crazy zombie-like people you encounter who want to kill you. At first you have no weapons, so you have to beat them with a wrench.

As you can tell, the game is rated M for some seriously violent and disturbing content. In fact, one of the foes you encounter is this little girl who is so creepy she makes Linda Blair look like Shirley Temple. She has this mechanical guardian who she calls Mr. Bubbles that has a drill for a hand. That guy uses the drill to go through people as well as obstacles.

All disturbing imagery aside, Bioshock is a game that I would buy were it not for the gruesomeness. Bioshock plays a lot like an adventure game, but it is a first-person shooter at heart. Like the show Lost, the mystery of the story is what keeps it afloat (or in this case, under the water). However, like Lost, I often wonder if the story will be as interesting and intriguing after the great mystery is revealed.

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