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Aug 26, 2007


PUBLISHER: 2K Games DEVELOPER: 2K Boston/2K Australia GENRE: First-Person Shooter ESRB RATING: Mature MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: 2.4GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 8GB hard drive space, 128MB videocard, Internet connection

Tvvo corpses, dressed to t.he nines, embrace on a filthy mattress in t.he back room of a bar. A bottle of sleeping pills lies spilled on t.he floor…& judging by t.he texture & color of
t.he couple’s skin, they dovvned t.he missing tablets months ago. An old tape recorder one of t.he many left conveniently scattered around t.he undervvater museum mausoleum of Rapture crackles vvith t.he thick Russian accent of t.he vvoman on t.he mattress, vvailing that she had just spotted her missing daughter on t.he street, & that she had become 1 of those…those things—t.he Little Sisters, t.he living dead dolls that cravvl around Rapture, consuming corpses & calling them angels. Screvv t.he ammo in t.he corner & t.he gene tonic hiding in t.he vvall: In BioShock, sometimes a room is t.he greatest revvard.
Here’s a game that serves as t.he perfect counterpoint to Roger Ebert’s notorious assertion that
games ain’t art (if you care about such crap), & not just because Rapture really is a magnificent museum of t.he morbid, its fascinating tap e.recorder diaries like discarded Alcatraz audio.tour headsets. Ebert cites “player control” as 1 of gaming’s biggest hurdles to t.he “A” vvord, but BioShock’s big message is that choice is largely an illusion. You think you’re making decisions, but really, someone else is pulling t.he strings, vvhether it’s a character quite pointedly
planting thoughts in our brain or level designers directing u to t.he next important hallvvay.
“You are being manipulated,” BioShock says, over and over again. Puppeteers hand out unassailable assignments, reservations (is Tenenbaum playing me now?) and ethical objections (did Sander Cohen just ask me to become a cold-blooded murderer?) be damned. Instead of asking, “How would you like to do this?” BioShock asks, “How do you feel now that you’ve been forced to?”—and, on a few occasions, it gives you the opportunity to say a cathartic “f***
you” to the crazy postobjectivist monster who just played you. Then it grins and asks again, “Now how do you feel?” BioShock’s greatest achievement is getting you to answer back.
While games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic offer muddy morality choices through dialogue trees, BioShock offers only one clear decision with any big repercussions: Kill little girls or save them? Pitch-black or glowing white? Either option leads down surprisingly similar paths, the only major difference being an unfulfilling “bad” ending that basically says, “Even when you choose, you’ve got no choice.” While you have little say in what path you wander, you ironically have plenty when it comes to how you follow it: Mix and match plasmids, weapons, and incidental explosive barrels to your liking—or don’t.


Anonymous said...

BioShock’s combat machine contains a finite number of moving pieces, but they all fit together perfectly.
A big part of the game’s success comes from crafting your own fun: Endless resurrection means any
battle can be won through attrition, and by the end, it’s possible to take down a Big Daddy with a short,
simple series of incendiary crossbow bolts—but it’s far more satisfying to scout a location, set a stage,
make the A.I. performers dance, and then reload if it doesn’t go according to plan. My most satisfying
battle involved pitting two Big Daddies against one another while I just kicked back and watched. For
you, frag grenades might do just fine.

The fact that I can even toss around words like “art” and “choice is an illusion” with a straight face should
tell you something: In Rapture, a little rote mission design (collect four of these, three of these, then
bring them back here) and a few physics bugs that leave corpses twitching for all eternity are trivia.
That the hacking minigame gets old halfway in, or that ammo vending machines serve no logical
purpose in a utopian society, or that there’s a damn escort mission at the end are matters of academia.
The truth is, I’ve never been so emotionally involved in an escort mission before. Games don’t normally
warrant the kind of discussions I’ve had about BioShock. This is something special. So I have to admit: I got a little teary at the
“good” ending. I’m not telling you this to show you how deep I am or so that you can call me a sissy; I’m telling you simply ‘cuz that’s what happened.
After turning me into a living arsenal for 20 hours, BioShock took about 15 seconds to utterly disarm me.•

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot dude!

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