"Imagine Irrational at its most ambitious. That's BioShock."
For gamers who remember how Irrational Games defined spooky shooters with 1999's System Shock 2, that's a powerful statement, even from the mouth of Irrational's creative director, Ken Levine. In fact, SS2 is still worth tracking down and playing today; few shooters have topped its immersive creep factor. But the upcoming BioShock, which traps players in a mutant-filled underwater city on the brink of collapse, shows every sign of changing the rules again. "Irrational now has the time and money to not just make a companion to a game we made seven years ago," says Levine. "Our goal with BioShock is to redefine what it means to play a first person shooter."
While the team is still keeping many key details secret for now - BioShock is not slated for release until 2007 - he did give us some tantalizing details and thought-provoking insight in our exclusive interview. That doesn't make the wait any shorter, though.
GamesRadar: What will BioShock bring to the shooter genre? What's new?
Ken Levine: The first-person shooter genre has not really much since Half-Life. You can't really go back to playing Ridge Racer after playing Gran Turismo because know you expect that you can tune your car and modify your car. After you played Half-Life, you couldn't go back to DOOM. I think, you know, when DOOM 3 came out, we kinda saw that and how it was to go back.
I'm getting tired of the same FPS clichés: linear corridors, monster closets, cookie cutter AIs. We knew the FPS genre needed to change, and it needed to do it in a big way. BioShock is our answer.
BioShock has everything you're familiar with from other FPS. But we're upping the ante: modifiable weapons, amazing and varied ammo types, dozens of genetic super powers, AIs that have meaningful relationships with each other that you can effectively exploit and interact with, open ended world simulation, hacking machines, crafting new powers and goodies, you name it.
If we've done our job right, after you've played BioShock, standard FPS are going to look kind of shallow and empty.