By Dan Zuccarelli . August 24, 2007 . 1:18am
Whew, Bioshock. Even in light of the crazy hype surrounding the game leading up to it’s release, it somehow manages to live up to expectations. Not with it’s FPS mechanics mind you, they're largely by-the-numbers (though we'll get into how it excels in some areas). No it’s the city of Rapture in which the game takes place that raises this experience up to top level status.
The basic story line goes like this: a man named Andrew Ryan felt that the benefit of a man's work should be only that man's and not shared for society at large (like the anti-communism). That it shouldn’t belong to the government, the church or the weak. The great shall not be limited by the small. Unable to find a place with his ideal he decided he would build a city under the sea, where his society would be free to operate on it's own accord. Where the only constraints were work and the free market. Where the scientist wouldn’t be limited by law and the artist needn’t worry about the censor.
When you first enter the city you confronted with a huge statue of Ryan and a banner that proudly proclaims, "No Gods or Kings. Only Man." A lot of people have been comparing it to Ayn Rand’s vision most famously put forth in her book “Atlas Shrugged”. Which to fans of Ryan's is not necessarily a good thing. Being that this "utopia" has failed and riddled with civil war and crazies might not speak all that highly of Ayn Rand's ideals. Of course she never factored in DNA re-writing plasmid weapons that makes you go crazy, so those upset might need a healthy dose of salt.
Of course this is a somewhat exaggerated situation so what we get it is a city that looks like something out of an alternative 1950’s universe built on the ocean floor. And this isn’t some underwater pod looking structure, but a complete city with “skyscrapers” and neon lights lining the “streets.”
I’m pretty sure I’ve never really seen anything like it. No doubt it’s completely ridiculous that one would build something like this, yet it feels completely real. I think that’s what sets Bioshock apart from other games, the city of Rapture really and truly seems like a real place.
All the little details are there to flesh out a living, breathing city. Advertisements and PSA’s fit perfectly with the art deco style and just seem to belong. From the biggest building to the placards on restroom doors, it's all been very finely crafted and contributes overall feel. To those with the run & gun mentality, this probably won't matter.
Of course by the time you get there things have pretty much gone to hell so the whole place is starting to fall apart. It adds a cool haunted house quality to the city, just inherently creepy. There's water leaks everywhere and things are just generally broken down and dirty.
I spend just as much time looking at the scenery as I do fighting the baddies. This has gotten me into trouble more than a few times so far but I just can't help myself. I can only think of a few games that spent such energy creating a space like this to play in.
Outside of the city itself, the other big element people like talking about are the Little Sisters and their protectors, the Big Daddies. This relationship and what role you play will be the focus of the next part of my thoughts on Bioshock!