New York City-I had the chance to play through the first few levels of Bioshock, the new masterpiece from Irrational Games, at a loft in New York City recently. Anyone looking for the future of interactive entertainment needs to look no further than this Xbox 360 and PC game from 2K Games that ships August 21.
Set in 1960, the game opens with your character aboard a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean in a terrible storm. The plane crashes into a structure in the middle of the ocean, leaving you alive but stranded. Fortunately, there’s an elevator that takes you down to a hidden, seemingly abandoned world. It’s the underwater city of Rapture, which was built in 1946 by Dr. Andrew Ryan.
From the moment you see this aquatic city, which has huge skyscrapers rising from the ocean floor and a 1940s art deco feel, you’re truly transported to another world. Abandoned years ago, the city is literally falling apart with leaks everywhere. The decay and crumbling rooms provide an eerie sense of dread as you make your way through this world. It’s like Jules Verne on crack.
Everything’s a mystery, including Levine, the “friend” that talks to you via radio and gives you hints. The only residents of this decrepit metropolis are humans that have gone insane (the result of DNA manipulation by Dr. Ryan). They’re easy enough to deal with thanks to weapons. The real challenge lies in the Big Daddies and Little Sisters that inhabit the world. These hulking, metallic beasts protect the little girls and they’re not easily defeated. It’s like a boss battle every time you run into them (assuming you strike first, they leave you alone if you keep your distance). The world is filled with booby traps and that open up strategic ways to off your enemies.
Aside from the truly mesmerizing underwater nightmare utopia, complete with 1940s records playing in the backdrop, the artificial intelligence in this game is so advanced that every challenge will be different. You can enter a fight 100 times and never combat the AI enemies exactly the same way. This opens up this world to truly challenging events.
I’ve never experienced a game that so fully ported me to a world so different from anything I’ve ever seen or imagined. When you think next generation games, Bioshock has to be at the top of your list. This is what gamers have been waiting for: an experience that goes beyond anything Hollywood could create, a mystery deeper than even a best-selling novel, and an adventure that never grows old. The time I spent inside of Rapture, a failed utopian society built to harvest the powers of an underwater slug, stayed with me long after I walked away from the Xbox 360. That’s telling. And this is high definition videogame adventure that you have to take this August.