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BioShock review

We can hardly Adam and Eve it

Pros

  • Captivating story
  • Much variety in combat
  • All the Plasmids

Cons

  • At one point it ends
  • No Little Sister aftermath
  • Final level coulda gave more

Aug 15, 2007

[Editor's note: Got the game already? Check out ourplasmid strategy guidewith expert tips and explosive video for BioShock's every power.]

This review is a strictly enforced spoiler-free zone. It’s vital that you don’t let anyone spoil BioShock for you, and three words would ruin it. (Unless that "anyone" is us. If you need to know everything right now, read ourSecrets Revealedfeature.Seriously, though,click at your own risk.]

Some of the things that make it so extraordinary are thingswe can’t tell you about without spoiling them, so this review is going to be about the ones thatwe can. All we’ll say about the premise is what they’ll probably put on the back of the box: it’s 1960, you’re on a plane, and it explodes over the ocean in the middle of the night. It’s a spectacularly beautiful opening, from the moment your head breaks the flame-glinting surface of the oil-black water with a spluttering gasp, to when crackly violas groan out a quietly mournful fanfare to your first glimpse of Rapture, BioShock’s underwater metropolis.

It was supposed to be a refuge, where brilliant minds could free themselves of the burden of lesser ones. But geniuses are not well-known for their psychological stability, and the extensive self-modification possibilities of their stem-cell technology- "Adam"- freed them to inflict their delusions and neuroses on themselves. What’s left of their utopia is a dripping ghost city of mutilated, murderous freaks. It’s one of the most extraordinary places we’ve ever explored in a videogame.

Once there, you’re ledthrough the game’s unusual fundamentals: a wrench to hit people with- familiar enough- and a Plasmid. Plasmids are Rapture’s techno-magic, and they tend to immobilize, weaken or trick enemies rather than kill them directly. Mixing them with the game’s more conventional weapons is a magnificently creative and violent process.

You’re also introduced to hacking, the system by which you can befriend any turret, drone or security camera by, er, playing a minigame identical to Pipe Mania. Whatever the logic may be, it works: it’s tense, stressful and fun.

One of the game’s more radical quirks, however, isn’t obvious until you die. You can’t. When you run out of health, you emerge from a regeneration chamber with the game world exactly as you left it.

If you’re not dying, fighting, taking pictures or playing Pipe Mania, you’re probably shopping. BioShock deploys almost all its RPG elements through vending machines, as odd as that sounds. From them you buy Plasmids, their passive cousins, Tonics, and extra slots for each. Plasmids are essentially spells, so more of them means more options in combat. Tonics are as near as BioShock gets to attribute boosts, in that they improve you character’s capabilities, so a few more of these essentially constitutes a level-up.

Aug 15, 2007

[Editor's note: Got the game already? Check out ourplasmid strategy guidewith expert tips and explosive video for BioShock's every power.]

This review is a strictly enforced spoiler-free zone. It’s vital that you don’t let anyone spoil BioShock for you, and three words would ruin it. (Unless that "anyone" is us. If you need to know everything right now, read ourSecrets Revealedfeature.Seriously, though,click at your own risk.]

Some of the things that make it so extraordinary are thingswe can’t tell you about without spoiling them, so this review is going to be about the ones thatwe can. All we’ll say about the premise is what they’ll probably put on the back of the box: it’s 1960, you’re on a plane, and it explodes over the ocean in the middle of the night. It’s a spectacularly beautiful opening, from the moment your head breaks the flame-glinting surface of the oil-black water with a spluttering gasp, to when crackly violas groan out a quietly mournful fanfare to your first glimpse of Rapture, BioShock’s underwater metropolis.

It was supposed to be a refuge, where brilliant minds could free themselves of the burden of lesser ones. But geniuses are not well-known for their psychological stability, and the extensive self-modification possibilities of their stem-cell technology- "Adam"- freed them to inflict their delusions and neuroses on themselves. What’s left of their utopia is a dripping ghost city of mutilated, murderous freaks. It’s one of the most extraordinary places we’ve ever explored in a videogame.

Once there, you’re ledthrough the game’s unusual fundamentals: a wrench to hit people with- familiar enough- and a Plasmid. Plasmids are Rapture’s techno-magic, and they tend to immobilize, weaken or trick enemies rather than kill them directly. Mixing them with the game’s more conventional weapons is a magnificently creative and violent process.

You’re also introduced to hacking, the system by which you can befriend any turret, drone or security camera by, er, playing a minigame identical to Pipe Mania. Whatever the logic may be, it works: it’s tense, stressful and fun.

One of the game’s more radical quirks, however, isn’t obvious until you die. You can’t. When you run out of health, you emerge from a regeneration chamber with the game world exactly as you left it.

If you’re not dying, fighting, taking pictures or playing Pipe Mania, you’re probably shopping. BioShock deploys almost all its RPG elements through vending machines, as odd as that sounds. From them you buy Plasmids, their passive cousins, Tonics, and extra slots for each. Plasmids are essentially spells, so more of them means more options in combat. Tonics are as near as BioShock gets to attribute boosts, in that they improve you character’s capabilities, so a few more of these essentially constitutes a level-up.

More Info

GenreShooter
DescriptionDive beneath the ocean's surface for a dark masterpiece of gameplay design. Scaring you is just the first of many, many things BioShock does spectacularly right.
Franchise nameBioShock
UK franchise nameBioShock
PlatformXbox 360, PC, PS3
US censor ratingMature
Release date21 August 2007 (US), 24 August 2007 (UK)