Computer Platform: PC (Windows)
Produced by:
Price Range: $31-40
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: Mature Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Patches / Upgrades: 1 Patch available online
System Requirements: Windows XP [more]

w/ Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista, Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or equivalent processor, 1 GB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compliant video cared with 128 MB RAM, must support Pixel Shader 3.0, 100% DirectX 9.0c compliant sound card, Internet connection required for activation.

     Reviewed By: Sean Domis

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆
Genre: With RPG Elements
Rating: 2 of 5 (poor)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 1 of 5 (extreme)
Adult Content: 2 of 5 (heavy)

Bioshock.  Illustration copyrighted.

I am Andrew Ryan, and I am here to ask you a question.

Is not a man entitled to the sweat of his brow? No, says the man in Washington, it belongs to the poor! No, says the man in the Vatican, it belongs to God! No, says the man in Moscow, it belongs to everyone! I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose something impossible! I chose… Rapture.

These are the words you hear as you enter the ruined undersea city of Rapture. What follows is a twenty-hour adventure that explores the depths of mankind’s vanity, scientific prowess, and insanity. And you are more involved with the workings of Rapture than you know.

Andrew Ryan was a man fed up with the workings of the conventional world, angered at the perceived injustice that society’s weak fed off of the strong. Rapture was his solution, a place where the greatest scientific and artistic minds could gather without fear of censorship or their work benefiting the weak.

Bioshock.  Illustration copyrighted.

As in any tale of a man-made utopia, his plan fails. By the time you reach Rapture (as the survivor a freak plane crash) the city is in ruins, overrun by insane mutants- the former citizens of the city, mentally destroyed and physically deformed by their own inventions. Discovering the reason for Rapture’s fall and why you’ve found yourself as the center of attention for its few survivors are the core of the game’s well-realized story.

Central to the game are creatures called Little Sisters, genetically modified and mentally conditioned young girls who have been programmed to seek out and extract a substance called ADAM from dead bodies. Protecting them during their work are the Big Daddies, superhuman creations encased within thick diving suits that use bolt guns or giant drills to ward off any danger.

ADAM provides various powers for your character, in addition to standard firearms you find throughout the city. Everything from creating a decoy of yourself to controlling Big Daddies themselves. Some even improve your physical being and allow you to do perform certain actions better, such as hacking cameras or disabling alarms. The powers are widely varied and never feel cheap or overpowered.

Bioshock.  Illustration copyrighted.

ADAM cannot be found anywhere but the Little Sisters, however, and to get to them, you have to go through the Big Daddies. The first fight with one of these behemoths will shatter all your perceptions about them. As soon as you barely cast a shadow over the little urchin, what was once lumbering and slightly awkward becomes a speedy and efficient killing machine. You’ll find yourself dying many times in your first encounters with these behemoths.

The touted ‘moral choice’ of the game comes when you’ve defeated a Big Daddy and are faced with the crying Little Sister. You can rip the ADAM right out of her for a quick bonus to your reserves, killing her in the process. Alternatively, you can heal the little girl and allow her to live, receiving less immediate ADAM but greater long-term rewards.

The problem with this ‘choice’ is that it isn’t that much of a choice at all. The only thing that your decision of how to deal with the Little Sisters affects in the long is which brief clip you’re shown at the game’s ending. This sort of black-and-white, good-and-evil melodrama is kind of a letdown from what the the game was touted to be.

Bioshock.  Illustration copyrighted.

There isn’t much choice in the game outside of those advertised on the box. You can be an evil jerk or a God-loving flower child all you want, but the missions are linear and there’s no real impetus to explore, despite some dazzling visuals and creepy big-band and jazz age music floating through the deserted hallways. To top all that off, a giant arrow floats above your vision, constantly reminding you where you should be going.

Speaking of dying, the major set-back to this game has to be the idea of Vita-Chambers. Scattered throughout Rapture are large tubes that crackle with energy. Should you have the misfortune to die, you warp back to the tube with a certain amount of health and EVE (similar to mana, controls how much you can use ADAM powers.) The problem with this system is that it leaves the game exactly as you found it – enemies that you killed stay dead, and enemies on the verge of death need only that one slap more before they’re pushing up daisies. Thankfully, the patch allows you to turn them on and off at will, so this is only a problem to those who have a slow internet connection and can’t download it. With Vita-Chamber on, the game ceases being challenging when you realize you can literally kill a Big Daddy with your wrench.

The violence is as gory as most ultra-realistic games. Bodies don’t fly apart as a result of attacks, but do expect a large amount of blood and gore. Beyond the actual acts of violence present, there is a lot of macabre imagery to be seen as you explore the game world such as messages scrawled in blood, eviscerated corpses, and the “experiments” of a crazed surgeon. It should be noted that you can’t directly harm the Little Sisters- should you make the choice to harvest the ADAM directly from them, the resulting scene is handled with as much restraint and dignity as is possible for such a dark subject.

Adult content is sparse, but intense in those rare instances. Certain ‘ghost’ sequences show young couples frolicking in a Garden level, flirting with one another in a very overt way. Equally troubling is a gentleman’s club named “Eve’s Garden: Come Bite The Apple!” Andrew Ryan is even revealed to have had an affair with one of the top dancers.

Bioshock.  Illustration copyrighted.

Language is sparse but harsh in the same way. F–—, d–—n, sh—-, bi—-. The imagery of the game’s terminology (Rapture, ADAM, Eve) is never explored beyond the obvious implications.

Truthfully, there isn’t anything I can say about BioShock that hasn’t already been said. It’s a fantastically well-realized game that presents issues that most games haven’t had the courage to deal with. But bear in mind that those issues are of a dark, twisted, and deeply troubling manner.

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Year of Release — 2007

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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