Number Two – BioShock

Platform: PC, Xbox 360

L-L-look at you, Hacker…” Whoops, sorry – wrong game. This isn’t the seminal System Shock 2, this is its spiritual successor, BioShock.

In development since time out of mind, BioShock was originally about exploring a Nazi bunker filled with zombies and mutants left behind from the dreadful experiments of WWII. The game would have had a firm horror feel to it and was more heavily targeted at the RPG end of the FPS/RPG genre.

My, how things changed...

BioShock ended up as something with much more of a sophisticated and unique feel. The player takes the role of an anonymous character who is aboard a plane when it crashes over the Atlantic. The only survivor, you swim to what you think is a lighthouse – only to find it’s actually the entrance to an extensive underwater city called Rapture, a place in dire need of a hero.

Founded by a man called Andrew Ryan, Rapture was intended to be a capitalist paradise where the best minds of the world retreated to live in harmony and peace, away from governmental pressures. Instead, Ryan dug too deep into the world and discovered a new type of animal which, when... um, processed... allowed the creation of new technology called Plasmids. The Plasmids allow genetic code of users to be re-written, granting new powers and abilities.

bit-tech's Top 10 Games of 2007 Two
BioShock, click to enlarge

The Plasmids carry a high price though and drove substantial portions of Rapture to madness while, at the same time, a civil revolt was in progress against Ryan and his followers.

The story to BioShock is a rarity in itself – something dark and powerful, but also intelligent and well-presented. In a industry littered with simple run and gun shooters, BioShock stands head and shoulders above the rest, marking itself as truly the Thinking Man’s Shooter.

bit-tech's Top 10 Games of 2007 TwoRapture is a haunting, ruined city littered with audio diaries, posters and the trinkets of those now dead...or worse. It’s a gory place, splattered with blood and littered with corpses. Deformed, crazed denizens lurk in the shadows and every time you kill one you feel a pang of guilt – you know that the person you just killed may have been somebody important. For them to even be in Rapture to start with they must have been a scientist, artist or doctor. It makes every fight vaguely repugnant and uncomfortable.

At the same time though, Rapture is a beautiful place. 1950s jazz floats down the hallways and the art-deco architecture of the building means that it is staggeringly gorgeous to look at. That’s the brilliance of BioShock – the fusion of sweets and sours to form a delicious whole which is perfectly balanced.

At every point in the game there is a choice to be made, be it moral or tactical, and every time the game makes sure you know the full ramifications of your actions. In fact the only action you can be sure you'll feel good about is actually picking BioShock up in the first place!
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