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Welcome Back to the West
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The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...

BioShock Member Review for the Xbox360

Sharvie By:
GENRE Shooter / RPG 
DEVELOPER Irrational Games 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

BioShock is a stunning first-person shooter from 2K Games on the surface, but it's so much more when you dig deeper into the game. It is the tale of one man's elusive fantasy which, in turn becomes a secluded city's worst nightmare.

The game begins with a plane crash-- your plane crash-- and your the only survivor among the wreckage. As you float in the sea of the Atlantic you notice a lighthouse is your only hope of salvation, as you enter it, a bathysphere lies in wait for your arrival to take you into Rapture. Rapture itself was once a thriving metropolis, the creation of an idealistic man named Andrew Ryan.

As the city flourished, so did its scientific advancement which resulted in creations people could only dream of outside of Rapture. This creation was plasmids, a genetic modification devise that granted the user incredible abilities. However, the Rapturians were not ready for this advancement and paid a costly price for these abilities. It is upon entering Rapture that you discover the horrific cost of power. The psychotic people of Rapture are horribly deformed "splicers" raiding the city for ADAM, the key substance that makes these modifications possible. And they will do anything for ADAM--even kill.

To discover the secrets and tribulations of Rapture, you will have to use weapons and plasmids. The primary weapons are a pistol, shotgun and machine gun. However later in the game you can come across grenade launchers and flamethrowers to aid you in your quest. You will have the opportunity to upgrade your weapons to increase their damage and firing rate. You can also invent new items at U-Invent machines in Rapture where you can make new ammo variations like heat-seeking RPGs. Each weapon offers variation to the way you unleash your payload on the inhabitants.

Bioshock's weapons are fun to use, but it is the plasmids that differentiate BioShock from other FPS. You will collect the electro-bolt plasmid near the start of the game, but as you progress more advanced and more powerful powers will become available. Plasmids also offer a more tactical element to the game as you can use the area around you to your advantage like firing a lightning bolt into water with splicers in it to give them a real shock. The plasmids offer an alternative side to BioShock instead of just running and gunning down enemies which on the whole, makes the game a winner in itself.

To use plasmids to their full effect, you can also obtain gene tonics. These are tonics that will pass over time but can give you a real edge of your enemies. They are split into three categories: physical, engineering and combat. Physical tonics will make you more resistant to damage and become stronger. Engineering tonics improves your machinery skills like hacking safes. Combat tonics can vary from increasing melee damage to making you more prolific with your weapons. But to obtain these tonics and plasmids, you need ADAM.

ADAM can be taken from Little Sisters. Little Sisters used to be ordinary little girls, but experiment have changed their whole way of living. Little Sisters travel through Rapture, extracting ADAM from the various bodies that lie in the city. At first they will seem like easy prey but Little Sisters are protected by a Big Daddy. These monsters, clad in armour-like diving suits, protect Little Sisters with sheer brutality and unmatched aggression.

Big Daddies come in two pain-wielding varieties: a rosie and a bouncer. A rosie carries a mammoth gun whereas a bouncer dishes out pain in close combat with his enormous drill. Defeating a Big Daddy is one of the biggest challenges in the game so you will have to use your weapons and plasmids to great effect. They are quick for such huge and intimidating characters so you will have to move fast and think quick. Creating Armour-piercing bullets is a sure fire way to bring them down along with using your plasmids with the environment around you.

After taking down a Big Daddy, you are rewarded with the presence of an extremely vulnerable Little Sister. Should you harvest all the ADAM from her, or do you rescue her from her genetic sarcophagus but only receive half of the ADAM to use on your modifications. The decision is yours.

Among the chaos of Rapture is a very sophisticated defence system that Rapture's ruler, Andrew Ryan imposed on the city. These defences come in the form of security bots, machine gun turrets and and rocket-propelled grenade launchers which call all be hacked to work in unison with you. To hack these machines, a mini-game must be successfully completed. To complete it you must line up the pipes successfully from start to finish to allow the liquid to pass all the way through. Failing the game will cause the machine to short circuit and damage your health. Vending machines which can provide you with ammo and health packages can also be hacked which in turn can lower the price of the items.

One of the first thing you notice about BioShock when you first play it is how good the game is visually, and how good the audio is. The water effects for the game are simply stunning, from swimming in the ocean at the beginning of the game to walking under water leakages and watching the water pour down the screen. Despite Rapture's sadistic nature, the city still looks beautiful. The buildings are consistent with the 1960's time period, ever little detail counts from the old elevators to the decor furniture of the city. The sheer detail of the characters is astounding, you get detailed view of splicers with their blood ridden clothes and their eerily scary part masks they wear to cover their mutilated faces. You will be hard pressed to find a graphical fault anywhere in the game.

One of the most impressive features of the game is how the atmosphere is portrayed. Playing the game is a thrilling and exciting experience that no other game can offer. The characters in the game are also very intriguing and it is very interesting to see how they develop through the game. Atlas, the man you first meet is a ordinary man with a shocking secret. Andrew Ryan is very complex and neurotic man, which his crazed visions of greatness are a treat to watch. Even the lesser characters have very different qualities to them. You will encounter an insane surgeon who is obsessed with cosmetic perfection with truly terrifying results. Audio dairies are also littered through the city which, if read, offer some interesting insights into what life was and is like in Rapture.

Bioshock has accomplished everything it has set out to do. As a story, you can squeeze about 15 hours out of it including playing it through again and just by exploring the wide open city. However as a FPS, it offers a unique blend of shooting, powers and story-telling that any gamer should not pass up.

More information about BioShock
A- Revolution report card
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