After reading about it and watching trailers for it, the general public is finally able to get their hands on BioShock via Xbox Live.
The Xbox 360 game, due out on August 21st, is one of the best looking and most exciting games to come around in a long time. It's a first person shooter, developed on the Unreal engine, set in a 1960 underwater dystopia named Rapture.
The city of Rapture was seemingly founded in the mid 1940s as an alternative to Communism, Capitalism and religion. In Rapture, artists need not worry about constraints and scientists can explore the outer limits of their imagination without moral consequence. In fact, much of it is based on the writings of Ayn Rand, including some character names.
Of course, not all goes well. And, it is in this fallen city where you find yourself after a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic. All around you are reminders of what a wonderful place this must have been.
Art is everywhere. It surrounds you and helps to set the scene and tell the story of what used to be. The style mixes that of the WPA art projects and 1940s propaganda poster art. Add to that a good deal of neon, much of it flashing and flickering, providing eerie atmospherics.
And it's the atmospherics that excel so well in this underwater world. Not only do you have the sense of claustrophobia caused by underwater tubes and bathyspheres, but the fallen utopia itself permeates the game, resulting in you being on edge...constantly.
Then there are the characters who inhabit this world. The splicers, big daddies, and little sisters. The splicers and little sisters are evidently scientific experiments gone bad. The splicers roam the city looking for Adam, the juice of life which powers the city, and appear extremely frightening in their bunny and cat half-masks. The little sisters, dressed in their pink dresses and talking of angels, do nothing to calm any anxieties you may have. Large needles and syringes seem to be a recurring theme.
As you try to survive in this foreign setting you are contacted via radio by Atlas, an ostensibly benevolent guide. He fills you in on important details and attempts to guide you in the right direction.
One of the things that he helps to explain almost straight away are Plasmids, aka, biomods. These plasmids run the gamut from shooting electricity and fire out of your hands to telekinesis.
The inclusion of Plasmids gives the game a very Deus Ex feel to it. In fact, this game feels like a lot of other great games mixed together.
Take the pitch perfect setting and gameplay of a Deus Ex: Invisible War or Half-Life, add in some survival horror elements akin to Resident Evil 4, mix it with the eeriness of Rule of Rose, and then add the new element of an underwater dystopia and you pretty much have the best game ever.
Well, we'll see about that, but after playing the demo, I'm hooked.
You can expect a Lunabean BioShock Walkthrough and Strategy Guide beginning on August 22.