For the first 6 months of my putting the Play That Game list together it really looked like BioShock might have ended up on top of the list. I know! I was a bit shocked too – and then more lists got added and some weighting was changed (totally required as Assassin’s Creed IV is not a Top 100 game) and BioShock settled in around the lower single digits.
I had trouble playing this game. This wasn’t anything to do with Bioshock just the yellow part of my belly that only shows when I play any video game with a horror element and/or enemies that jump out at me. I’m someone who is able to watch Irreversible without batting too much of an eye and yet the Boos from the Super Mario games can creep me out slightly.
Because of this idiocy of mine I had to detract from the sizeable atmosphere by playing soothing music to keep my heart rate down (Joanna Newsom’s Anecdotes worked wonders). Even with the music on and some of the ambient sounds turned down I was still utterly creeped out. Yes, I screamed whilst playing this game. Multiple times.
Scores of essays have been written about the plot and that big reveal of the city of Rapture (wow what a piece of game cinematic) so I don’t think my inelegant and uneducated ramblings about art deco and the politics of Ayn Rand is required. Even if you have never heard of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead you will be able to grasp a lot of the philosophy behind this game – and if you don’t you just need a few minutes with the crazy plastic surgeon.
It’s hard to talk anymore about the atmosphere or plot of this game without descending into spoilers. The bare bones of it is you crash land in the middle of the Atlantic and come across an underwater city where everything is incredibly fucked up. In order to battle for your survival you are able to take on plasmids – special magiclike abilities that you need use by injecting chemicals into your body (cue gross animations).
The plasmids are really great fun and, like Dishonored, you have a lot of options in how you attack levels. I’m not the biggest fan of the hacking minigame (probably because of the Xbox 360 controls), but it’s hard to fault the way they did the controls for two very different types of weapons.
If you are someone who has the ability to deal with jump-scares and love FPSs with a fantastic setting then you should get a copy of Bioshock post-haste. Else, you can watch the Cliff Notes on YouTube.