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BioShock review

We can hardly Adam and Eve it

And lastly there’s reality: the pain, horror and psychosis of the people who actually tried to live there. Audio diaries recorded on the verge of tears, desperate words scratched in blood on the walls, and disfigured bodies, travesties of the people they once were. Those that still live are no less corpse-like, but they roam the halls nonetheless, mumbling insanities. “I found her like that!” a Splicer protests to an empty room. “I can control myself, I swear I can!”

Splicers are what Rapture’s citizens became, once the things they’d done to their own bodies had finally driven them mad. The alarming words they ramble, to themselves and to you, are the centrepiece of Rapture’s heavy atmosphere of horror, discord and suffering. Many are unique to the lunatics of a particular area, and you rarely hear the same line twice.

A doctor in the Medical Wing with one blank eye beat me to death with a rake, shouting “It’s just... a standard... procedure!,” then made a verbal note ofour time of death. “You’re just jealous!” a hideous debutante screamed as she clawed atour face with a meathook. “Run!” bellowed a matronly snob with a bouffant hairdo and a rusty machete. “That’s all your kind is good for!” A weaselly looking man with blood on his lips smackedus with a three-foot Maglite then shouted “Oh justreport me then!” These people hate you, for no good reason, and it’s horrible.

Don’t hold your breath for the Splicers you’re fighting to escalate into Trigens or the like; BioShock isn’t game-like in that way. You’re in Rapture, so you’re fighting Rapture’s erstwhile citizens. It doesn’t feel the need to up the stakes or the scale because it’s telling a story, not wowing schoolkids. Splicers are far from uniform in appearance or ability in any case, as are your methods of dealing with them.

And lastly there’s reality: the pain, horror and psychosis of the people who actually tried to live there. Audio diaries recorded on the verge of tears, desperate words scratched in blood on the walls, and disfigured bodies, travesties of the people they once were. Those that still live are no less corpse-like, but they roam the halls nonetheless, mumbling insanities. “I found her like that!” a Splicer protests to an empty room. “I can control myself, I swear I can!”

Splicers are what Rapture’s citizens became, once the things they’d done to their own bodies had finally driven them mad. The alarming words they ramble, to themselves and to you, are the centrepiece of Rapture’s heavy atmosphere of horror, discord and suffering. Many are unique to the lunatics of a particular area, and you rarely hear the same line twice.

A doctor in the Medical Wing with one blank eye beat me to death with a rake, shouting “It’s just... a standard... procedure!,” then made a verbal note ofour time of death. “You’re just jealous!” a hideous debutante screamed as she clawed atour face with a meathook. “Run!” bellowed a matronly snob with a bouffant hairdo and a rusty machete. “That’s all your kind is good for!” A weaselly looking man with blood on his lips smackedus with a three-foot Maglite then shouted “Oh justreport me then!” These people hate you, for no good reason, and it’s horrible.

Don’t hold your breath for the Splicers you’re fighting to escalate into Trigens or the like; BioShock isn’t game-like in that way. You’re in Rapture, so you’re fighting Rapture’s erstwhile citizens. It doesn’t feel the need to up the stakes or the scale because it’s telling a story, not wowing schoolkids. Splicers are far from uniform in appearance or ability in any case, as are your methods of dealing with them.

Your skirmishes take place in an environment bristling with manipulable elements. Drones, turrets and security cameras are the most obvious, but there are also fuel puddles that can catch fire, and water that any burning Splicer can be counted on to run towards - which can then be electrified. Detritus, grenades, missiles and even fireballs can be sucked up and flung, and your enemies themselves can be subverted to do your work - directly or otherwise.

Only a handful of the standard weapons are really interesting or satisfying when used alone, but mix them with a generous menu of Plasmids in an environment like this and they become spectacular. Even with an element as familiar as the grenade launcher’s proximity charge, the scope for impishly inventive violence is overwhelming. Clump five on a barrel and propel the resulting super-bomb at a crowd of victims with Telekinesis. Chuck one in the nearest pool of water then set your prey alight. Stick one on the ceiling directly above a Cyclone Trap - an invisible springboard that catapults unsuspecting enemies hilariously into the air. The AI for a befriended drone even has some ideas of its own: bolt a proximity charge to the little guy and he’ll divebomb the next enemy he sees.

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)