Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Bishock (continued)

However, you have to get through their protectors first before you can make this choice. In order to protect their wards, the Big Daddies will attack any nearby splicers who are threatening the Little Sisters, so you can use them to your advantage if you want to set things up that way. Just be warned, that they will come after you next, so you need to be careful around. One of the cooler plasmids you can use allows you to hypnotize a Big Daddy, who will then follow you around and protect you, which gives you added firepower. However, this only lasts for a short period of time, and this hypnosis will end instantly if you turn on the Big Daddy and try and take them out while they’re under your spell. Another cool thing you can do with these creatures is to hypnotize them and set them off against one another if you want to, which is a cool feature as well. One of the great things about this symbolic nature of these characters is that it gives you something that is simultaneously good and evil. This is your enemy but can also be your friend, and this kind of makes a mini-boss where you’re kind of reluctant to take out. This adds a different level of strategy to the game, and makes Bioshock stand out from the hordes of shooters out there immediately. This isn’t something you can blow through mindlessly and really appreciate, in order to really get into the game, you have to slow down a bit and get into the game’s backstory and really soak in its atmosphere.

While many shooters on the market showcase gimmicky and eye-popping special effects, the developers here have used these effects in service to the story in order to create a more immersive experience. Bioshock’s water effects are impressive, but its pervasive wetness soaks through the screen to create something that doesn’t just offer a transitory effective. Instead, the developers use the pervasive water to create a sinking feeling that permeates the action. Even the relatively dry areas of the game are thick with atmosphere, where the light sourcing and shadows create a feeling of dread around every corner. You can see characters in silhouette at certain points, and get to know their motivations and surprisingly feel a little bit sympathetic towards them. There’s one sequence in the early part of the game when you come to a doorway and find an old man hiding behind it. In order to pass through to his level, you have to find a camera and take pictures of the various enemies so he can do research. After you do all of these elaborate tasks, things take a sudden turn and you find yourself on the other side of things. It’s this interplay between good and evil, where you can never be sure of a character’s true motivations that make Bioshock such an engrossing and entertaining experience. Along the way, many of Rapture’s doomed citizens left behind recorded diaries that add more depth and drama to the back story and allows you to discover what really happened slowly.

It’s a tragic story of ideals gone horribly wrong and as you find out more, you become more sympathetic to the misguided citizens who now find themselves trapped in an underwater hell. On the other hand, you also have the city’s founder Ryan talking to you, sending you messages and watching you every move as well, so you never really know if you’re acting on your own or having your strings pulled by him. Bioshock’s writers have done an excellent job in transporting players into this paranoid and bleak reality, and this makes you almost literally feel your character’s motivations in ways that most games can’t even begin to think about. This works brilliantly to make the player feel more immersed in the action, but also makes your motivations more ambiguous than you’d expect. The choices you make have an impact, and how you proceed and affect the other characters plays a huge role in how things ultimately end. This is quite an achievement for a video game, and Bioshock presents philosophical ideas, scientific progress and humanity itself as fodder for discussion. It has the effect of making you think, at least a little, before you mow down the splicers – you wonder if they are still human, how human they are and if it’s even right for you to shoot them, as violent and deranged as they have become. One of the more impressive aspects of the game is the acting, which is brilliantly done and helps to make the storyline even more immersive. The dialogue in Bioshock only adds more depth to the story and you can piece together the broader story of Rapture’s decline through these snippets. Its in these small pieces that come together, that you discover what has become of these people, what dreams they had and how the horrible situation they find themselves in came to be. These elements are brought together almost seamlessly and by allowing the player to discover much of the plot on their own, it makes Bioshock’s plot more of a mystery that you can piece together as you progress through Rapture’s bleak environs.

Irrational Games (now 2K Boston ) has poured a plethora of fascinating ideas into Bioshock and many games would probably sink under the weight of these ambitions. However, where the game sets itself apart is in its execution, which is nearly flawless. The many small details, such as the neo-fascist slogans on the posters, the game’s completely retro 30’s look and the authentic oldies music helps to make this one of the most immersive, evocative games produced on any next generation console. The texture mapping, brilliant design and beautiful look of Bioshock is nearly unmatched by and system to date. Bioshock moves at an impressive frame rate throughout and the characters’ animation and design is absolutely incredible from any standpoint. Everything from its elaborate water effects to the ominous and even haunted level design immerses you into a world that feels strange and oppressive. The fact that the game looks fantastic is secondary, however to how it plays. Bioshock creates a world and allows you to explore its many alleys, corridors and rooms without ever feeling like you are on rails. There is a slight sense of manipulation that comes into play later on, but that only works to make the plot even more engrossing and entertaining. You are given a number of different choices throughout the game, but the key difference between Bioshock and most other mindless shooters is that you have to deal with the consequences of your actions which adds a layer of strategy and thought to your decisions that most other games on the market probably wouldn’t even consider. There are a few minor problems with the game that can be considered minor, such as the too-frequent use of vita-chambers and the sometimes oblique mission goals, but these are extremely minor complaints in what is otherwise one of the most enjoyable and innovative shooters in recent years. Bioshock is probably the best example of what games as a medium can create. Far from being a game with lots of bells and whistles that you immediately forget afterward, Bioshock’s thought-provoking backstory and brilliant design will stay with you long after you’re done playing it. This is an incredible game from any perspective, and its cohesive world, brilliant story and immersive gameplay delivers what is an absolutely unforgettable experience.

- Michael Palisano


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