Release Date: 21-Aug-2007
Developed By: Irrational Games
Published By: 2K Games
ESRB: MatureOfficial WebsiteWhere to buyAdd review
Bioshock is described by the developers as a "spiritual successor" to their previous PC title System Shock 2. It has been in development since late 2004 (and in planning for some time before that). On January 9, 2006, Take-Two Interactive announced that they had acquired Irrational Games, and would be publishing Bioshock under their 2K Games publishing label, "planned for release in the second half of 2007". The game will be an Xbox 360 and Windows XP/Vista title only.
Bioshock is said to include a great deal of interactive environments and player-driven choices, called emergent gameplay by the developers; with Ken Levine stating its interactivity would be, "unprecedented". While the term has been used for a variety of games, such as the popular Grand Theft Auto series, most believe this gameplay will borrow highly from System Shock and System Shock 2. Another point of focus is the "AI ecology", which will dynamically search for opportunities to fulfill their purpose. The player can even exploit the ecology to his/her advantage, making enemies and NPCs turn against each other or otherwise manipulate them into helping the player.
The game starts with the player underwater following a plane crash in the ocean, surrounded by debris. No introductory cut scene is displayed explaining how this happened, leaving the player to decide for themselves why they were on the plane. Nearby, a lighthouse is sticking out of the water, in the middle of the ocean. Upon getting inside and traversing the internal stairwell, the player finds a bathysphere, with a corpse inside. Upon removing the corpse and descending in the bathysphere (having nowhere else to go), the player eventually reaches an underwater city on the ocean floor.
A plot unfolds involving the crumbling city, named Rapture, and the utopian society for which it was built. A man named Andrew Ryan, a former Soviet citizen, built the city in 1946, and the society was envisioned as the ultimate capitalistic and individualist paradise, with the elite achieving for themselves, rather than for the whole. Protected by a network of giant sea walls and consisting of a cluster of enormous skyscraper-shaped hive towers, Rapture was designed to be entirely self-supporting, with all of its electricity, food production, water purification and defense systems powered by the natural undersea currents of the ocean. At one point, it is learned that Rapture's population numbered several thousand at its peak during the early 1960s, composed of those people Ryan viewed as the best examples of mankind. A large and tiered economy grew among the people, catering different quality products to different levels of the society. The city itself is inspired by Art Deco and has an appearance merging the futuristic and archaic.
A scientific discovery upset the balance of the society. Two scientists studying ocean-floor dwelling creatures discovered a species of sea slug that secretes pure stem cells. These could be used to enhance one's body, improving physical or mental capabilities, curing diseases and healing injuries. A young entrepreneur named Fontaine invested early on in the research to gain control over the material. The substance, dubbed "Adam", became so sought after in the society, that it became the dominant currency of the city. A "full-scale genetic arms race" broke out between Ryan and Fontaine as Fontaine's monopoly on Adam threatened the current social structure. Ryan eventually won, but everyone in the city was permanently changed. During the war, it was discovered that Adam could be used to modify one's body, combining technology and mutations to adapt and survive the conflict, but losing their humanity in the process. During the conflict, all natural sources of Adam were destroyed, which eventually resulted in a major shift in the "ecology" of the city, as all inhabitants had become biologically dependent on Adam to survive.
When the player arrives in Rapture, the city is in a state of disrepair, its vast underground living areas and laboratory complexes scarred by the effects of the civil war and poisoned by biological weapons. Low-level flooding is also found to be a problem, as the use of high-powered explosives and corrosion weapons during the war created small breaches in the city's sea walls, allowing the sea to enter some of the buildings.
As the player descends through the underwater city, he or she will explore the many levels of the giant undersea base, including the huge living quarters modules, the multi-floored scientific headquarters and the undersea monorail transport network. Remnants of the last days remain in notes and recordings made by the citizens before and during the collapse of Rapture's society. Not only does this provide background, it also opens new avenues in the player's interaction with the ecology of Rapture.
The game was originally planned to be set at some point in the near future, in an abandoned WW2 laboratory. Coverage in the March, 2006 issue of the magazine Game Informer sets the game in the 1960s, in an underwater city known as Rapture.
* Aggressors: (splicers) Deformed, genetically modified remnants of Ryan's army, the Aggressors cannot survive in an oxygen atmosphere due to their extensive biological modifications. They wear little or no armor, and normally roam the levels of Rapture, searching for other inhabitants to kill and steal Adam from. As their name would suggest, they are aggressive and violent, and will use their enhanced physical strength, group tactics and, sometimes, semi-biological weapons to kill all in their path.
* Gatherers: (Little Sisters) Genetically modified children, the Gatherers were created as a solution to the Adam shortage. They extract Adam from the dead, and their bodies reprocess it into a usable form (Eve) again. The team designed them so the player would have a moral conflict in killing children to obtain Adam.
* Protectors: (Big Daddies, or Mr. Bubbles as some of the Gatherers call them) Lumbering bio-mechanical monstrosities, created to protect the Gatherers. They are heavily armored and wield high-powered weaponry, including a large drill. Their armor somewhat resembles large diving suits. Most of the inhabitants stay out of the way of the Gatherers and Protectors. According to lead designer Paul Hellquist "Once you mess with them, you find out why no-one messes with them."
* Security Bots: Through out the city of Rapture, there are various security cameras. When disturbed, a siren will sound and an unlimited supply of security bots will pour out. The only way to take them down is to destroy the camera or like in the demo, shut off the security system. Security bots appear to hover and fly using the same method as helicopters and are armed with machine guns.
To adapt and advance their character, the player can spend Adam to gain upgrades called "Plasmids" to modify themselves and give themselves new and/or enhanced abilities and weapons. Some of these are grouped under trees such as Weaponry, Engineering, and Psionics.
One of these abilities is an Aggressor Irritant, which causes all nearby Aggressors to attack the target of the plasmid. There is a Plasmid that allows the player to sound like a Gatherer, gaining Protector aid and scaring away some Aggressors.
Bioshock was originally going to run on an enhanced version of the Tribes Vengeance engine, the highly modified version of Unreal Engine 2.5 technology, used by previous Irrational titles Tribes: Vengeance and SWAT 4 and SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate. In an interview at E3 in May 2006, Levine has revealed that, " we've moved to Unreal Engine 3.0, we've done a lot of modifications on top of it," particularly to the way the engine handles water effects, which he claims will be very impressive, "we've hired a water programmer and water artist, just for this game, and they're kicking ass and you've never seen water like this."
Levine has stated in an interview with gaming magazine IGN that the project has drawn on many influences, mostly from utopian and dystopian literature; "And I have my useless liberal arts degree, so I've read stuff from Ayn Rand and George Orwell, and all the sort of utopian and dystopian writings of the 20th century, which I've found really fascinating." He also states that he wanted to confront challenges that face the modern world such as, "stem cell research and the moral issues that go around."
In an interview appearing in gaming magazine EGM, Levine says, "As a kid, I was obsessed with 1984 and Logan's Run. I love exploring what happens when good ideas fall apart. [...] This world is self-contained. It has its own products, its own culture, its own movies...even its own advertising. Rapture is populated with real entities who do their own thing. They have their own goals. Take the Big Daddies and Little Sisters: all they care about is harvesting genetic material from corpses. If you don't get in their way, they won't bother you. Live and let live. But if you mess with them - watch out.
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