BioShock - first hands-on

Moreover, the powers interact with elements in the environment and can be combined strategically. Try lighting a gas tank on fire and mentally launching it at a monster to set him ablaze. Then, when he panics and runs blindly into a room full of puddles, send your electric bolts coursing through the conductive water to finish him. Creative thinking pays off beautifully in BioShock. If you've seen the"Big Daddy Hunt" video demonstrating a dozen ways to take one out, understand that those aren't special occasions. Every enemy encounter can be approached from diverse angles.

Take Dr. Steinman. Rapture's resident physician is also the game's first boss, and your climactic battle with him is a perfect showcase for all of BioShock's strengths. His introduction, like other key moments, doesn't come abruptly in the form of a rendered clip. No, the story of his madness is in the details. Scavenged audio tapes capture him musing on the transformative art of surgery and, later, a wall of mutilated women's photographs honor his most gruesome masterpieces. But when you finally come face to face in an operating theater, the game is not afraid to drop subtlety and go for violent shock - the doctor, laughing maniacally, scoops buckets of blood out of an open patient as bodies are spotlighted on the ceiling like collected butterflies.

BioShock's multi-faceted combat also shines here. Try killing Dr. Steinman with only guns and you'll usually fail. Try an Electro Bolt plasmid and you'll last longer, but not much. You can even try mixing it up, starting with a shotgun, switching to a burst of electricity and finishing up with some telekinetically tossed gas tanks. To guarantee success, however, you'll have to get inventive. Outfit your gun with armor piercing ammunition, aim the Electro Bolt plasmid at the water around the doctor and use the Incinerate plasmid to set those gas tanks on fire before using Telekinesis to hurl them. Don't forget to hack that vending machine so you can get the ammunition on the cheap... and destroy the room's healing station so the doctor can't revive himself halfway through your onslaught. BioShock has thought of almost everything - you'll have to follow suit.

Everything described here, from the brutal Steinman encounter to that first ominous elevator ride, occurs within an hour or two of starting BioShock. Soaking in all the grisly details could easily double that time. Now imagine exploring the entire haunted world of Rapture. The wait until the game's release on August 21 is almost scary.

For our revealing interview with the master of horror himself - creator Ken Levine - check the Movies tab above.