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REVIEW: BioShock for XBox 360

BioShock

You stand in the foyer of a once bustling medical facility. A soothing voice still echoes over the PA system, touting the benefits of genetic enhancement. Meanwhile, the terrifying laughter of members of the hospital staff, now known as Splicers, bloodthirsty examples of genetic engineering gone wrong, surrounds you in the shadows.

And then the lights go out.

Welcome to Rapture. Welcome to BioShock. Welcome to the most amazing video game you’ll ever experience. In BioShock, your journey after a plane crash leaves you stranded in the ocean. After swimming to a strange tower jutting out of the water, you descend into the underwater city of Rapture. The city — the vision of the maniacal Andrew Ryan — was built to be a safe haven for those seeking to escape the moral and ethical confines of the civilized world.

Welcome to Rapture

But things went terribly wrong in Ryan’s utopia and now the once beautiful city is a wasteland, overrun by its genetically altered inhabitants. Your goal in BioShock is to escape in one piece, but along the way you’ll be tasked with uncovering the mysteries of Rapture and helping those survivors who remain.

You begin with only a wrench to aid you in your quest, but you soon have access to a whole host of weapons. You also gain access to Plasmids, genetic enhancements that grant you abilities like telekinesis or let you shoot fire from your fingertips. Both weapons and ammo can be upgraded and there are several different Plasmids out there to help you survive.

And you’ll need all the help you can get if you’re to make it out of Rapture alive. Splicers, the most common enemy type, feature smart A.I. and will often attack in waves. Best yet, the encounters in BioShock aren’t scripted, meaning you never know where the next threat will come from. Splicers also have access to many of the same weapons as you.

But the most difficult enemy you’re likely to encounter is the Big Daddy, the metallic behemoth that accompanies a Little Sister. You don’t necessarily have to fight a Big Daddy to beat BioShock (they won’t attack unless provoked or unless you threaten a Little Sister). But killing the Big Daddy and harvesting the ADAM carried by a Little Sister is the only way to expand your Plasmid abilities. And without Plasmids, your chance of survival drops considerably.

A Splicer

While the gameplay is top notch, the atmosphere and environments in BioShock are the best I’ve ever seen in a video game, bar none. From the moment you climb out of the water and enter Rapture, you are immersed in a living world that the developers at Irrational Games have recreated in painstaking detail. The NPCs you interact with are just as detailed as the environments in which they live.

You could write volumes about everything that seperates BioShock from the rest of the games out there, but no amount of words could do it justice. This is the next step in the evolution of video games.

BioShock
Developer — Irrational Games
Publisher — 2K Games
Sugg. retail price — $59.99
Rating — M for mature (Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language)
Final score — 9.9 out of 10