Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: First Person Shooter
From a creepy little girl to possibly the most stunning water visuals ever in a game, Irrational's Bioshock is a game that will drop you to your knees and thank the heavens for the strength of the PC and 360. Bioshock ultimately asks the question, "how far will you go to survive?" and makes the player answer it in this- the thinking man's FPS.
When I sat down with the guys from Irrational at 2K's booth at this year's E3, I was ready to be impressed. But, not this impressed. The level that they showed us was fairly early in the game. A little of the back story tells that you are a renegade in an underwater utopia gone awry. Ahh... those utopias. they always seem to go awry. The utopia's inhabitants at one time were the creme de la creme of human society, but that which made them the best also made them ignore all social morays and decline into a society of maniacal creatures only in search of adam.
Because we all know what happens when there is a single source of goodness in the world, I wont go into too much detail. Just suffice it to say that some will stop at nothing to gain more of the sweet, sweet adam. the moral decision that you as the player must make is how much of the adam are you going to acquire and how are you going to get it. Very early in the game, you are introduced to a Big Brother character and a little girl (who refers to him as Mr. Bubbles.) What I learned about this little girl is that she is one of the few sources of adam left in the world. She sticks an incredibly large and disgusting needle-like object into dead bodies and sucks the adam from their cold bodies. (She accompanies this extraction with a "look Mr. Bubbles, adam..." and a hacking cough that would better befit an octegenarian nicotine addict.)
Levels in this game can be accomplished by either shooting your way out, or by thinking about the level as a puzzle and go through it without the typical run and gun offense. Shooting some will likely be necessary, but choosing to avoid the immediate battle to approach it without a fight- perhaps by disarming a security system or causing one character to attack your immediate enemy- will bring about your own flavor to how the game is played.
To talk about how this game looks is nearly impossible. There is almost nothing to compare the visuals to- except real life. For the first few minutes of the demo, if I hadn't been sitting five inches from the controller moving the characters in the game, I would not have believed that it was actual game play. To develop this game, Irrational hired one artist only for the water- and it shows. The characters are original looking with enough of a hint of sci-fi to make it especially creepy.
Bioshock is one of the best looking and playing games that I have ever seen. By making the player choose how they want to play the game, rather than going on a linear path truly brings to life the decisions on morality that the wants to focus on. With very serious overtones and millions of decisions to make, Irrational has the beginnings of one of the knockout titles of E3 '06. So far, nothing but incredibly complimentary things to say about the spiritual sequel to System Shock 2, but if that changes, you will be the first to know.