Bioshock has caused a great stir around the Internet. So much so, that it was even been referred to as a genre defining title due to it's remarkable graphics, novel combat system, and open ended style of gaming where the choice as to how to survive will be left entirely up to the player. Bioshock will come onto the scene this August 21st, but in the meantime, we at MAP thought to give you a primer on the backstory on Bioshock and some information about the gameplay before you get your feet wet.
I know that seems like a trite line, but it has some basis in fact, for when you play Bioshock you will be taken into a place that you have not often scene in games…at least, not to this extant.
Why, at the bottom of the ocean, of course.
The city that Ken Levine and the other great minds at Irrational Games have created for Bioshock bears the grand sounding name of Rapture. A grand name for what was once, undoubtedly, a grand city that has since gone sorely to seed. It had it's roots as a haven for the brilliant and the unconventional scientists, doctors, artists, all the best and brightest who felt stifled by the civilization above the water turned their backs on it and descended deep below the waves to make new lives in the millionaire Andrew Ryan's underwater utopia. It must have been a utopia at first, at least by the standards of it's residents, but a change was soon about to come down upon them that would send their civilization spiraling higher before it crashed back down to Earth and shattered.
Two scientists, crawling about the ocean floor, discovered that the local sea slugs produced a substance which was almost purely stem sells and was brought back to the city, no doubt accompanied by the broad grins of those who had discovered it. It was discovered that, with refinement, you could use Adam to make any changes you wanted to yourself. Did you want to be stronger, smarter, more beautiful? It could all be yours with the gift of Adam.
After Adam was discovered, though, was when things began to go wrong. It became so popular that it soon became standard currency in the city, and when there are those that have much and those have little or none, bad feelings are going to begin to brew. The situation came to a head in 1957 when a force opposed to Ryan's control of Rapture, lead by a mysterious figure known only as Atlas, launched a coup. Adam was put to use for military purposes and what was once used to make one more beautiful was used to make one stronger, faster, and somehow much less human.
The flexibility of Bioshock's gameplay is one of its greatest strengths for, as you go through the game, all the important choice are left up to you. You are moved into place by the narrative and then you're left to play the game as you feel is best. This is not only an added improvement to the narrative for, as in most games, both where you are and what you have to do are limited. You go from point A to point B, saying this, this, this, until you reach the end. With Bioshock, though, the future is uncertain not only in terms of where you have to go but how you go around doing it..do you fight every enemy you come across of be more selective, fighting only when you have to, and then using your brains over your brawn. It's all up to you.
An example of this that is most discussed involves the Big Daddies, the lumbering armored behemoths that roam the halls of Rapture, and their charges the Little Sisters. The Little Sisters can process Adam by drawing it from the corpses of Rapture's dead and ingesting it. You need Adam to survive the fight, and what the Little Sister has in their skinny frames would be an ideal source, but it means that you'd have to kill this little girl and it's protector to get at it. Do you go ahead and do it, or do you leave them be and find another why to get the substance you need without murdering the Little Sisters?
It's not just the plot that has been made flexible. The combat system has been created to really test the imagination of the player. One instance of having to think on your feet in a fight could go like this: You are fighting one of the maddened residents of Rapture; you use a plasmid that gives you the power to launch fireballs and you chuck one at him. He runs, screaming, into the nearest body of water to douse the flames..but you have another method of frying at your disposal. You inject another plasmid, giving you the power to project lightning, and electrocute him as he stands in the water.
So, when exploring the underwater halls of Rapture, keep your wits about for you will have to make choices which could mean life or death for you in the short or long term or a more metaphysical kind of expiration. Andrew Ryan's words in the Bioshock trailer sum up best the nature of the game: “we all make choices but in the end our choices make us.”