As we continue our perusal of first person shooters, we look at a first person, role playing hybrid. That would be 2K Boston and 2K Australia’s 2007 offering, BioShock. This game included elements of role-playing games along with its first person shooter DNA. By doing so, it gave the player different approaches in engaging enemies. Using stealth, as well as moral choices of saving or killing characters, it shaped how the game ended. Additionally, fans were quick to notice that the game borrowed concepts from the popular survival horror game genre. Most notably the Resident Evil series. In fact the games creators freely admitted that Resident Evil 4 was very influential in their initial concepts.
Graphically, the game developers used a modified version of the Unreal 2.5 engine. In addition, they also took advantage of the graphical improvements included in the Unreal 3.0 design. This combination made for some noticeable advances, especially in the area of water effects. That made sense considering the setting for the game. This attention to detail paid off in the end. Especially in the many underwater sequences.
What is BioShock about?
BioShock is set in 1960 in the underwater city of Rapture. The city was planned and constructed in the 1940s by business tycoon Andrew Ryan. It was Ryan’s plan to create a utopian society for the elite to flourish outside of government control. However, as true for many utopian ambitions, this too fell upon misfortune.
With some of the best scientific minds available in Rapture, the discovery of the genetic material “ADAM” was soon put to use. ADAM was created by extracting genomes from sea slugs on the ocean floor. The material allowed its users to alter their DNA. Under the ADAM influence, it granted them super-human powers. These were manifested in abilities like telekinesis and pyrokinesis. As the society grew, Ryan imposed a law that no contact with the surface world was allowed. Supposedly for their own protection.
The Rise of the “Little Sisters”
But soon, faction started fighting over control of Rapture as inevitable class structures were established. These fights became deadly until there was a massive battle. This started when a former gangster and businessman Frank Fontaine used his influence over the lower class to initiate a coup over Rapture. Fontaine, together with Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum, began mass-producing ADAM through the implantation of the slugs in the stomachs of orphaned girls, nicknamed “Little Sisters”. Fontaine used his Adam charged army to attack Ryan but fell in the attempt.
In a few months time, a second figure named Atlas rose to replace Fontaine and created further conflict. Atlas led attacks on the facilities housing the Little Sisters. Ryan countered this by creating “Big Daddies”, which were plasmid-enhanced humans surgically grafted into giant diving suits. These creatures were psychologically compelled to protect the Little Sisters at all costs. He also created an army of plasmid-enhanced soldiers, named “Splicers.” These he controlled using pheromones that were distributed through Rapture’s air system.
Utopia comes to an end
Eventually, the conflict came to a head in a massive battle on New Year’s Eve of 1958. Atlas ordered an all-out attack on Ryan which left many dead. A once beautiful utopia had fallen into a quagmire. But the battle was not over. It was just waiting for the next chapter. This is where BioShock starts.
In the game, the player takes the role of the protagonist, Jack. He is a passenger on a plane that goes down in the Atlantic Ocean. As the only survivor, Jack makes his way to a nearby lighthouse that houses a bathysphere terminal that takes him to Rapture. Once there he finds himself in the middle of the long conflict between Atlas and Ryan. He is directed by Atlas through the city with the express interest of killing any Little Sister he comes across before finally killing Ryan. This is where the moral choices come in. The player must decide if they will follow Atlas orders and kill the Little Sisters he comes in contact with or choose to spare them. The path taken will effect how the game ends. As it is, the game final has plenty of twists and turns before the final ending.
The Game of the Year
Upon its release, BioShock was highly praised for its combination of first person shooter and role playing aspects. Many of the top gaming magazines named BioShock as one of their top rated games and some named it their game of the year. Game Informer named it Game of the Year as did IGN. In fact, in August 2012, IGN named BioShock number one in their top 25 pc games since 2006. Needless to say it’s popularity lead to a sequel and even thoughts of a BioShock movie. Unfortunately, with a number of false starts, this has not happened as of yet. However, there is still a possibility that It may find its way to the big screen someday. Fans seem to want it so time will tell.
Have you had a chance to play BioShock, whether on your PC or on your console? If so, did you enjoy the game as much everyone else appeared to? Share your BioShock experiences with us at GeekVibesNation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.