How many of you out there have played any of the Bioshock games? I recently picked up the rerelease of the dystopian masterpiece franchise. My fondness for this universe has not diminished in the slightest.
Ken Levine and his team at irrational outdid themselves, even surpassing the greatness of the System Shock franchise. This could be a masterclass in storytelling and aesthetic world building. I still get chills when I hear “How much is that doggy in the window?”
The first game introduced us to the world of Andrew Ryan’s vision of utopia in Rapture. The player, through the eyes of Jack, arrive in the midst of it’s destruction. We’re greeted to Rapture with a pithy speech by Ryan and I was taken aback at the game design of this city under the sea.
“Is it someone new?”
This question is asked by the first splicer in the game. If you pay attention this question is asked in the other games well. One of the many overlapping themes and narratives sprinkled throughout the franchise.
Splicers, they comprise the majority of the survivors of the fall of Rapture. The perfect example of unbridled vanity, imbued with the consequences of science left unchecked by morality. These pitiable creatures are violent and driven by the lust for Adam. A DNA altering substance allowing humans to manipulate their genetic code. Their dialogue is engrossing and offers a look at what Rapture could have been and the catalyst to it’s downfall.
By far, the most startling creature wandering around the ruined metropolis are the little sisters. Nothing beats seeing one of these little girls stick a syringe into a corpse and drink the contents. They’re hunted ruthlessly by splicers. However, they are protected by the games most challenging characters…..the Big Daddy.
If you want to get to a little sister, you have to get through them first. Giant lumbering monsters armed with a massive drill and occasionally a river gun, they are a force to be reckoned with. They are unshakable in their singular duty to protect their assigned little sister. Watching them in action is awe inspiring, going up against them yourself is terrifying.
Throughout your journey in Rapture you’ll find audio diaries. These help build the narrative and tell a compelling backstory for many of the characters both dead and still residing in Rapture.
Early in the game you’re introduced to Atlas, via a radio, who tasks you with rescuing his family. His Irish accented voice serves as a guide and taskmaster for much of the game.
Andrew Ryan himself makes his presence known through broadcasts as well. His arrogance is heavy and his paranoia thick. Coming across as a man in bitter denial of the failure of his empire.
Margaret Tannenbaum arrives at a pivotal moment giving players an alternative way of handling little sisters. She is one of the few characters in this world who seems to have come to the realization of the nightmare built into the foundation of Rapture, and is attempting to atone.
Then there’s Sander Cohen. I won’t say much as experiencing this character is an event best left fresh and unspoiled. I’ll just say you won’t be disappointed.
All of these characters and more make for quite the addition to the amazing world and story you’ll play through. There’s also a character name Frank Fontaine,posthumously blamed with the downfall of Rapture and the civil war that killed many of its denizens.
Gameplay is fluid and fast. It’s a first person shooter with a twist. The Adam harvested by the little sisters can be used to purchase plasmids.
Plasmids rewrite Jack’s genetic code. Giving the player a bevy of powers to accompany their weapons. They are upgradable and fun to use. They can also be used in conjunction with the environment for different offensive effects.
Adam is harvested from little sisters. Hence, being hunted by splicers and their need for protection by the big daddies. Defeating big daddies gives you access to the frightened girls. The player is given a choice on how to procure the Adam. That’s a choice better left up to the player.
Each new area opens the player up to a deeper understanding of what happened beneath the waves before their arrival. The story of Rapture and you’re part in it is better left to be discovered spoiler free. If you’ve already been through it, you’ll know what I mean.
I give this first installment a 9.5 out of 10 even with the passage of time since it’s initial release. The atmosphere and story are second to none and provided an experience more studios could do well to strive for.
“Would you kindly” leave any comments about the first Bioshock game. Thoughts, feelings, expressions and opinions are more than welcome.