The seemingly (at first) laughable 1940s band music playing through out Rapture (the slowly crumbling underwater city in which you find yourself) becomes increasingly creepier and eventually downright unsettling as you progress further into the game.
At first glance, "Bioshock" just seemed like another first-person shooter. However, very rarely have I come across a game that combines multiple genres so well. The Role Playing Game elements of upgrading your character are bountiful here. For example, through the use of PLASMIDS, you gain upgrades to access powers such as the ability to harness electricity (Electrobolt) as well as fire (incinerate).
The puzzle elements in this game like hacking vending machines or security bots (gun turrets) to help out in tough situations, or locating key items and characters throughout the game, or perhaps finding alternate routes or means to accomplish various objectives, keeps "Bioshock" full of surprises.
Another interesting aspect to this ambitious title is the very biological aspect of the elemental interactions in the game. One of the goals 2k Games attempts to achieve here is real-world behavior, like water conducting electricity, fire spreading, etc. So the powers in "Bioshock" further reflect this very organic environment.
But let's not forget the horror, another refreshingly original concept, in the increasingly crowded first-person shooter category. The story and environmental backdrop of a deteriorating utopia from the 1950s blend seamlessly with the horror elements of the game. You have been warned: this game is bizarrely frightening and you will love every spine-tingling moment of it.
The enemy AI is extremely challenging. Countless hours were spent crafting the AI of the different enemies and their reactions, and it shows. We caught up with Ken Levine, president and creative director of 2K, in Boston for a behind the scenes look at "Bioshock" and what could possibly be the most controversial pair of characters in the game. He explains that though the game has been in development for more than four years, and many of the game's story lines have changed, the original core design elements have remained. He further explains that the enemy AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been vastly improved upon as previously indicated.
There are sort of two types of enemy AI. The first is the standard aggressive type enemy AI like the insane, deformed aggressive Splicers that hunt in packs and will try to trap you whenever possible. The second is the more passive-aggressive type which deserves a bit more explanation.
The brutish hulking "Big Daddies" whose sole purpose is to protect the "little sisters," which contains the game's critical resources have a very unique role not quite scene before in this genre. Generally, the "Big Daddies" won't attack unless provoked, but, unfortunately for you, they must be eliminated in order to harvest the precious ADAM (the key resource needed to upgrade your character's powers) from the "little sisters," which will give your character upgrades.
Crafty players will try their best to use the enemies and environments against one another to get through the levels with as little physical damage to themselves as possible. It's not as easy as it sounds, because there are some scripted events where you encounter enemies and bosses but most of the time enemy locations are random, which serves to enhance the replay value immensely.
But no revolutionary change in standard game design goes without some sort of complaint. As such, there have already been some noted complaints in regards to the widescreen field of view (FOV). We did a follow up with team "Bioshock" in regards to this and were directed to this site, http://www.2kgames.com/cultofrapture/home.html, which housed their explanation.
According to this site, team Bioshock states, "...Instead of cropping the FOV for 4:3 displays and making all 4:3 owners mad in doing so, we slightly extended the vertical FOV for standard def mode: we never wanted to have black bars on people's displays. (This way, everybody is happy...) This does mean that people playing on a standard def display see slightly more vertical space, but, this does not significantly affect the game-play experience and, we felt that it best served our goal of keeping the game experience as close as possible to the original design and art vision on both types of displays. Reports of the widescreen FOV being a crop of the 4:3 FOV are completely false."
Perhaps this explanation will put to rest some of those who might have felt somewhat underserved but only time will tell.
To call "Bioshock" the game of the year would be a pretty bold statement. While "Bioshock" is definitely one of 2007's "must own" titles for the Xbox 360, the lack of multiplayer support, as well as the fact that we have yet to get our hands on a final version of "Halo 3," "Call of Duty 4," or "Medal of Honor: Airborne" leads me to believe that the coveted Game of the Year status is still very much up for grabs. But "Bioshock" is definitely in the running.
By Jeremiah Wallace and Alberto Araya