BioShock is a shooter set in an eerie city that still manages to unsettle after nearly a decade, a metropolis built at the bottom of the Atlantic by a man by the name of Andrew Ryan. Throughout your stay in Rapture or as I call it Atlantis, you’ll experience something more sea worthy then all of the games that you’ve played. Options for combat, different upgrades for your weapons and plasmids and something that isn’t just a promise, it’s a reality that many other games claim to have.
But to call this a FPS like 2013’s BioShock Infinite is a complete disservice. BioShock is a beacon to how games should be and is a beacon to how games should become, it’s a monumental experience that you’ll never experience again or will get to experience under once in a blue moon. This isn’t an evolution of System Shock 2, it’s an evolution of games that must be taken up and embraced with open arms, it still is a wake up call to the videogame industry even now in the modern day. Games like this push the demand of great games and demand more of publishers and developers, BioShock is a shining example of how to get things done right.
If you haven’t played BioShock, here’s a rundown: It starts off as a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the year 1960 and your character must survive in the underwater utopia. Irrational plays on your fears of monsters and what makes mankind animals and how far are we willing to go to make our realities come true.
The goal in BioShock is to get to Andrew Ryan and he is anything but an awful villain you might see in a few videogames here and there, he’s a man of ambition and values and he’s a man that built his city at the bottom of the sea at the end of WWII and he was convinced that the earth above would be destroyed by nuclear war as he saw the effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so he built his city and is obsessed with what makes a man, a man and what makes a slave, a slave. Andrew Ryan’s vision of Rapture came true but now, it’s a leaky bucket of dreams and promises that never came to be, the goal is to explore this sunken ship and plunder it while trying to get to him and discovering why have you stumbled upon this city of gold.
As you continue through this underwater city of promises and dreams, you’ll discover something that might speak to you like it did to me, many years ago. The themes of BioShock are so powerful, it acts like a good book and it acts like a good movie but in game format. It assaults you with ideas that pop right into your head and you stop for a moment and say, why am I thinking about this? Irrational gave everybody in the game, some sort of backstory much like how the environment is. Rapture has a story, why is there a city at the bottom of the sea? Why did Ryan create this city? Why did he choose the bottom of the sea? Why is there is? Why is there that? It speaks to you, the environment speaks to you and you keep asking all of these questions that not many games offer.
It’s the little details as well that pop up once in a while, like the Andrew Sisters rendition of ” Bei Mir Bist Shein.” that pops up and the well-known rendition of “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin that plays only once in the Southern Mall section of Fort Frolic, the way how every room is structured on how the world looked like in the 1940’s, it was almost like a dream. The way how the neon lights bright up and down, the way how the game is like a 1930 radio play with numerous characters on the radio, the way how the game just comes together. It’s nothing that we’ll ever see again.
The way how Irrational plays on your fear of monsters is unique too, it’s something that is eerie and frightful like something you might see in the middle of the night.The splicers of the game who are your traditional human beings aren’t like in BioShock Infinite or Mafia or some other game, these are monsters. They’re not zombies or raiders, these are self-aware monsters. They’re regretful of what they become and they’re regretful of coming to this paradise beneath the sea, they’re trapped and it’s like they want you to kill them so they can no longer be trapped beneath the waves.
You might even come to pity the splicers as well as pity the guardians of Rapture, the Big Daddy who is a human being inside a suit but are no longer human. Their organs and their bodies are now transfused in the suits ( more on this is explained in the sequel, BioShock 2.) , they will wander around the leaky halls of Rapture and knock on the vents of the Little Sisters who come out and if you save them or kill them, another Big Daddy will come and be confused on why nobody is coming out of the vent. It’s another example of why BioShock is one of the greatest games, these Big Daddies are something grotesque and yet so intriguing just to follow them around and see what they are up to.
Then there’s the combat. The combat in BioShock: Remastered is basically more of the same in the original, after all it is a remaster. The combat is still the weakest part of the game, and is the weakest in the series but it offers alot of options. Each weapon have three upgrade paths and three ammunition types that came in handy when you get closer to the endgame and then there is the plasmids.
This isn’t a game where you’re stuck with a standard assault rifle or a standard SMG, you have to use your plasmids which are basically superpowers as well as gene tonics which increases your character’s slots, changes your playstyle. BioShock plays more like a RPG then BioShock Infinite, you can do numerous things in BioShock that would seem fitting in an RPG. Use trap bolts from your Crossbow, tell a Big Daddy to defend you from a wave of splicers using the Hypnotize Plasmid, shock an enemy and whack em with your wrench, attack with bees. You can experiment and it’s so fun to see how many ways I can kill multiple people.
You’ll be forced to experiment as you face the Big Daddies who appear in every stage of the game, they’re mini-bosses of sorts. They deal heavy damage and have heavy reflexes unlike the Splicers of the game, they put up a fight especially on Hard or Survival which is the new mode.
BioShock is an art form in every sense of the word, it’s realized to it’s full potential and it’s a powerful game that speaks to the medium that yes, videogames can be art and videogames are not always meant for children. It’s a game that is sinister, beautiful, engaging. It’s a monument.