• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Daily Game

Video Game News and Reviews, Sports, 3D Blu-ray and Electronics

BioShock

BySara

May 22, 2006

It’s easy to read about BioShock and think it’s going to be a Deus Ex clone. Heck, we even flat-out asked that of Irrational Games at E3 when we got our private demonstration. The game’s played from a first-person perspective. Its story explores the highs and lows of human nature. It lets players make modifications to their physical self or gives them the freedom to not make a single one. Sure sounds like a clone to us. But there’s one key difference that will take BioShock above the already-high levels of Deus Ex: an actual in-game ecology.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
The premise of BioShock is that a small sect of humans sought to create a utopia, so to get away from any and all outside influences, they setup camp in an underwater “station” of sorts. This underwater haven is decked-out in an art deco style ripped straight from the 1950s, and the music that echoes in the background is classic era-appropriate jazz. Carpets, signage, stairs, clothing…it all reeks of a stereotypical 1950s locale. There’s just one problem: the station, for all its luxury and utopian nature, is dead. And it’s leaking. That leaves you, as the main character, a short amount of time not only to escape, but to find out what happened to the people who so desperately sought the perfect life underwater.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
As it turns out, the people who used to inhabit the underwater haven were consumed with a desire to be perfect beings, including the so-called perfection promised by a body-enhancing substance called Adam. Barry Bonds, take note: Adam is bad. Very, very bad. Or is it? Theoretically, Adam lets players augment their body (much as the former inhabitants did) to give themselves special abilities. But the more Adam that players (and the former residents) consume, the more their humanity changes. Their bodies distort. They mumble to themselves. They wonder what went wrong with their enhanced perfection, and why they haven’t realized the utopia they hoped to create.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
Unfortunately, Adam is the only thing keeping many residents alive, or at the very least semi-sane. With Adam now a precious commodity, freaky little girls wander the station with the sole purpose of gathering Adam from corpses and hidden areas. Likewise, each girl is protected by Adam-altered creatures whose sole purpose is to use their monstrous old-fashioned SCUBA-diving outfits (and weapons) to help the girls collect Adam.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
And therein lies the ecology: these creatures, as ghastly as they appear and as much as players might want to shoot them, are completely harmless. They, like every other creature in the BioShock world, operate with a purpose, and only those people who stand in the way of achieving that purpose are in danger. Stay out of their way, and you’ll be fine. Cross them one too many times or push their comfort level, and you’re in for a serious battle.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
Given the complex ecology in BioShock, though, the ways in which you cross them (or don’t) are completely open and natural. For example, in one scenario during our E3 demo, we found ourselves inside a room with a security camera, an automated turret and a wall-climbing used-to-be-human freak who wanted nothing more than to kill us and scavenge our corpse for Adam. Rather than confront the freak head-on, we lured her into the line of sight of the security camera, which activated the turret, which in turn filled her with lead while we snuck out of the back door unnoticed. In another instance, we saw a girl, her protector and one of the freaks in the same room going about their ecological business. Again, rather than confront the freak, we coaxed her into moving too close to the little girl, which freaked out her protector, which in turn killed the freak for us while we stayed far, far away. It’s this sort of interaction and natural feel to BioShock that takes it one step above the Deus Ex games in terms of social complexity and freedom of choice.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
As the spiritual successor to System Shock 2, often regarded as one of the scariest games ever made, BioShock might not seem to be all that frightening. But the ecology and freedom of Adam-induced upgrades is what Irrational Games believes will make BioShock even scarier. The freakiest characters, they believe, are the ones who are no longer human but still seem bizarrely familiar. In addition, the fear in BioShock won’t always come from funhouse-like doors popping open with bogey men (although there will be a few instances of that), but from gamers deciding for themselves just how much of their own “humanity” they’re willing to sacrifice when augmenting their bodies in an attempt to survive. In real life, moral decisions are always the scariest. BioShock looks to carry that over to the digital world, too.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
Just looking at the screenshots with this preview, it’s clear that BioShock is trying to re-create reality graphically as well. From the spot-on art deco style to the detailed character models, BioShock looks as “alternate universe” real as you can get. And as much as we hate to hear comments about “next-generation water,” BioShock really does have it. For a game set underwater and in which the leaking water is as oppressive as the decisions players will face, that’s an important point to realize. Water, in a sense, acts almost as a character itself, so it makes perfect sense that Irrational Games would spend as much time creating believable water as they did creating a believable ecology and characters.
BioShock Xbox 360 screenshot
BioShock isn’t scheduled to release until 2007, but when it hits, it’s bound to take Xbox 360 owners and PC gamers into a whole new world. Sure, there’s the underwater world to consider, but really, it’s more about taking them into a world in which they face questions about what makes humans “human.” Sound too deep? Maybe it is. Then again, the game’s utopian society was created at the bottom of the ocean.
— Jonas Allen

By Sara

My name is Sara Anslee, I live in Colorado. I am very fond of gaming, writing, and blogging. I share the latest news and tips about sports games, video games, gaming movies, gaming devices, and accessories. I also love watching movies and traveling.