Welcome to our annual Horror Halloween Bash. As usual, I’m here to deliver da goods. And by da goods, I mean your typical average review you get from me. In the spirit of Halloween, I too have picked a “scary” game, but it isn’t exactly one in the traditional sense like say Resident Evil or Amnesia or Silent Hill. As you probably guessed from the title, I chose Bioshock. Bioshock is important to me because it was the first game I played that I could really see the concept of video games being an art form and actually agreeing with it. I’m not going to say that Bioshock is the Citizen Kane of video games (there probably isn’t one), but it really gives you a sense of what a developer can do by crafting the perfect environment for their game.
From the moment you pop in the game, you realize that just something isn’t right. Here’s the lowdown: your plane crashed, you find a lighthouse, inside the lighthouse is a bathysphere. You take it down underwater and you end up in this place called Rapture. By the way your name is Jack. It was supposed to be this utopia where society’s elite could dick around without the government getting into their business, but when you step out into it, you notice it’s not quite the way the founder, Andrew Ryan had planned it. Right away you can sense this impending dread, like you’re being watched. And this is where all the creepy shit starts. You see this deranged woman huddling over a stroller, telling you to go away as you inch closer, and then she disappears, only for you to realize there was nothing but a revolver in there. Kind of unnerving, or at least I had thought so.
Throughout your journey, you have a helpful guide named Atlas (hurr hurr Atlas Shrugged) pretty much holding your hand, telling you how such and such works and what not. Eventually you find that big freaking dive suit thing with the giant dildo drill on the cover of the game, which are called Big Daddies. Big Daddy loves these little girls, who are affectionately called “Little Sisters”. Little Sisters gather a substance called ADAM which allows a human to gain super powers and stuff like that by altering their DNA. Atlas wants you to kill the Little Sisters for their ADAM, but a kindly older lady scientist named Dr. Tenenbaum explains that the Little Sisters have no control over themselves, and can actually be saved. You (the player) has the final decision though. However, your main focus, or at least, what Atlas says, is to take down Andrew Ryan for allowing Rapture to become the mess it is.
At this point, things have gotten a little too real for ol’ Jack. Jack wants to leave, but Andrew Ryan decides to become a giant cock block and destroys the bathysphere. Well I guess he’s stuck in hell for a while. You fight your way into Ryan’s mansion, and further until you get into his office. At this point the climax of the game occurs. Jack is Ryan’s illegitimate son, taken by a man named Frank Fontaine and conditioned with the phrase “Would you kindly?” which would act as a trigger to force him to do any task as long as it was preceded by said phrase. Ryan ends up goading you into killing him yourself (like any loving father would), only for Atlas to reveal to you that he is Frank Fontaine and now with Ryan out of the way, he no longer has any opposition any more.
Or so he thinks. I can’t stress enough how powerful this scene is. I am not the only one out of my core group of friends who found the confrontation between Andrew Ryan and the player character to be completely and utterly bone-chilling. The phrases “Would you kindly?” and “A man chooses. A slave obeys.” will always be a memory of Bioshock operating at it’s zenith.
And… then you go beat Fontaine up and then the game ends. You’ll get a good ending or bad ending depending on what you did with the Little Sisters. I know it seems like I rushed the end there, but while Bioshock is a good game, the last ⅓ of the game is just a borefest. That’s it. You go kill Fontaine. Big deal. The story of Bioshock is okay, but it’s the whole atmosphere that takes it to a whole other level. There are a lot of cheap scares, and you should expect them around every corner. One of the games finest is thinking you’ve ran into a dead body, only for a Splicer to jump up and start attacking you. And it will do it for a few times, and then you figure “Ah well, I’m too smart for that any more” and the game just stops doing it for a while. Then right when you’re running down a corridor, you’ll run by a seemingly lifeless corpse… only for it to jump up and start attacking you again. Like I said, cheap scares, but incredibly well done cheap scares. My rather ho-hum review doesn’t give this game the justice it deserves, it is one best played with the lights off and the sound up. And considering just how damned cheap this game is, there’s really not an excuse to pick it up by now. I’d play through it again if I didn’t have a backlog the size of Olympus to play through. In short, if you like “deep” thriller games with a story ripped from the works of Ayn Rand with a sprinkle of killing crazy robotic pedophiles, than Bioshock is the game for you.
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