To those of you that aren't familiar with BioShock
, it is a story about a man named Andrew Ryan who built an underwater city to escape the oppression from the surface world. The city, known as Rapture, is home to medical marvels and scientific breakthroughs. Rare inventions called plasmids were created to genetically alter its user's DNA. Without giving too much away, your character crash lands in the ocean and finds his way into Rapture after complete chaos has broken loose and the city has torn itself apart.
BioShock is two things. First, it is a shooter and then it is an RPG. Delivering on the shooter aspect first was essential to make compelling gameplay and that distinction is important. Doing that makes it more accessible to more people. By being too stat heavy, it would have created moments where it wouldn't feel like aiming for the head did much good. But by creating a damn good shooter at the start, BioShock is able to redefine the genre. It is a near perfect amount of addiction. Mixing and matching run and gun gameplay with intelligent strategy creates something new and refreshing. It creates a reason to keep playing after you die.
And you will die, but it won't be permanent. After every life lost, you will be revived at checkpoints called Vita-Chambers. They are a blessing and a curse, really. It is good that death isn't too punishable, but it also sucks when the nearest Vita-Chamber was two screens over and getting back to where you were is an exercise in reflexes to not get killed again.
The meat of the game devotes itself to the exploitation of its plasmids. Like I said earlier, plasmids are DNA enhancing power-ups. There are different types of plasmids including combat, physical, and engineering plasmids. There are some plasmids that shoot out an electrical shock to an enemy. There are even some that can make hacking safes and sentry turrets easier. There are over 50 plasmids and each one adds a level of strategy in how you approach each situation.
Using plasmids is tricky though. The main resource for plasmids is a genetic material called Adam. Adam is a very hot commodity in Rapture and there is a unique character that travels around the city extracting Adam and she is called a Little Sister. She carries all of the Adam, so in order to get it you either have to kill her or rescue her. Oh, it isn't that easy because she is protected by a hulking behemoth known as a Big Daddy. He is very hostile about her safety, so if you want to get her Adam, you have to go through him.
Each Big Daddy essentially acts as a mini-boss for each level. Sometimes there are more than one Big Daddy per level, but the more you kill, the easier it becomes to take them down. Arguably, that first Big Daddy you come across is going to be the toughest of them all simply because you don't have the resources to come up with cool strategies yet.
There are plenty of little things that help define the city and one of the most important things are the audio diaries scattered throughout the destroyed halls of Rapture. There are hundreds of tapes that chronicle everything from security codes on elevator doors to how Rapture went to hell in a hand basket. If you want to soak in the entire story, these tell key parts that won't be spoon fed to you in the cinematic scenes. But, you could also ignore them entirely if you wanted. It is completely optional and not necessary.
While it is generally a somewhat linear experience, BioShock succeeds where most other games fail like creating incredibly memorable characters and set pieces. One great example is a man named Sander Cohen who refuses to assist you until you create a work of art for him that requires certain grizzly means in acquiring the canvas. The entire cast of BioShock is demented, insane, and crazy but at the same time endearing and somehow relatable. Story-telling doesn't get much better than this. It sets a new standard for what new games should hold themselves to and it deserves to be played.