When a game is capable of pulling you into a world and successfully immerses you in the moment, more often than not, you’re going to cherish those memories in that world. Video Games are often created with the intent of telling a story in a world that’s not like ours with a means of being an escape from reality. In many ways, this is also the same case with Andrew Ryan’s construction of the underwater city known as Rapture.
With tomorrow’s release of BioShock Infinite, I personally decided to sit down and experience the underwater paradise that was Rapture before setting foot in the city in the sky known as Columbia. The first BioShock came out in 2007 and managed to steal away several awards from both Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that year, along with being revered by some as the best shooter of all time. It was an awe-inspiring experience to many and went on to spawn a sequel in 2010, BioShock 2.
Welcome To Rapture
The first BioShock to this day is one of the most beautiful games to come out of this generation. The particle effects along with the lighting dynamics, character models, textures, every last bit of the game is an extravagant stroll into 1960, which is when the game takes place.
The game opens with a very questionable sequence on a plane that crashes into the ocean. Afterwards the player is directed to a giant lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Inside the lighthouse is a bathysphere that takes our character to the city of Rapture. As the bathysphere descends into the ocean, we are given a stunning look at all of the life under the sea, but the key moment is when we see the city for the first time. The bright lights, neon signs, piping, tunnels, structures, its all one sequence that is so indescribable that I feel sorry for the people that have not had the chance to witness it. Its quite breathtaking.
Once inside the city, the atmosphere of the game takes a turn for the worse, giving you a feeling of dread and the sense that something has gone terribly wrong. This feeling can actually leave you terrified as you play the game and is even something that some people will feel after playing through the game many times. The disfigured bodies and strange articles of clothing of the Splicers leaves an impression on the mind, but nothing can be as imposing as the special enemies that you encounter throughout the game, the biggest of which being the Big Daddy variations.
Rapture offers several different environments that allow you to determine how life works there. Going from area to area is enough to keep the player immersed while offering enough variations to keep things interesting. Some of the greatest moments are remembered within the areas, like encountering a Big Daddy for the first time in front of a stage, or a Houdini Splicer within Arcadia Gardens, and even facing people like Dr. Steinman in his eerie office/ operating room. There’s several things to be said about it all, and everyone has their own fond memories to take from each event.
Although there isn’t much music that plays throughout the game, the ambiance is perfectly set through ominous chords and offsetting atmosphere. The sounds within the city are beyond fitting and pulls you further into the city. Along with the music are several machines that can break through the atmosphere and become a beacon of hope at times when you’re low on items or ammo.
A Man Chooses, a Slave Obeys!
The city of Rapture is indeed a beautiful setting, but the city itself isn’t the only thing that makes Bioshock the riveting experience that it is. Many people already know of the major twists and turns that the game takes the player, but nothing has managed to do it anywhere near as well as Bioshock has. Like most tales, the setting starts before the story is told.
Rapture was created by Andrew Ryan as a means to escape the politics and laws that had established themselves throughout the world and offered many of the world’s wealthiest people to live in the city. The city flourished and went on to make strides in scientific progress. The discovery of ADAM that lied within sea slugs on the ocean floor led to the creation of gene-altering plasmids that allowed people to gain powers. However, like all other utopias, there’s always something that goes wrong and this came in the form of former gangster, Frank Fontaine. Fontaine saw a chance to divide the people and cause the collapse of Ryan through the help of Dr. Tenenbaum.
Tenenbaum created a market for the plasmids to strive by mass-producing ADAM through orphaned children that would become known as Little Sisters. In doing so, Fontaine was given the army he needed and he went on to attack Ryan in full force. As the battle ensued, Fontaine died and Ryan was given access to all of his assets, immediately doing everything in his power to remove the influence and stomp out the possibility of another uprising. However the city was left in shambles and many people under the control of Ryan himself.
Jack is the name of our hero and we know nothing about him or even where he truly comes from. A man named Atlas contacts him looking for help in overthrowing the tyrannous Ryan. We experience the story as it is told to us through voice recordings of life before the war, when tensions were rising. We hear of the atrocities that people committed, the deeds others did and the plotting of an evil man that catches up with us as the game progresses.
Ultimately, the pinnacle of the entire story comes in the form of the biggest plot twist I’ve ever seen in a video game when we find out that everything we’ve done up to this point was not only for a man thought to be dead, but also because we had no choice. Ryan reveals to us that Atlas had always been Fontaine and that we were a slave to his ambitions through what is now the most memorable phrase from the game, “Would you kindly…?”
After the revelation of everything and the death of Andrew Ryan by our own hands, we are set on a mission to become a Big Daddy and prepare for the final confrontation against Fontaine. As you progress in gathering supplies, you are also told about Jack’s birth, his means of creation and a grand scheme that was bigger than anyone could imagine. Of course, Fontaine has a retroactive way of stalling you and ultimately killing you, but Tenenbaum helps in taking that chance away from Fontaine by removing it.
The story concludes differently depending upon whether you helped Tenenbaum and the Little Sisters or harvested them for your own needs. Everything concludes on a bitter sweet note if you helped the Little Sisters. Upon escaping Rapture, you’re told that Jack took some Little Sisters to the surface and raised them as his own. If you harvested the Little Sisters, you’re told of the Splicers that make it to the surface and their attacks on its people.
The story leaves a great impression on the mind, forcing you to question everything that occurred. It even creates sensations that will remain reminiscent and stir with simple thoughts that arise in everyday life. The idea of a place such as Rapture existing is not only an impactful thought, but a very probable possibility as time continues on.
Fire at Your Fingertips!
BioShock has one of the most solid control schemes to hit the market. The mechanics feel smooth and switching between weapons and plasmids come easily. It’s a very rare occasion that you feel cheated by the game and question its gameplay functionality.
Guns are all visually typical of what you’d expect out of the 1960s, but the unique visuals come from the style of the game and the possible upgrades you acquire as you progress. Ammo is also in a balanced commodity, so it’s a very rare occasion when you have too much or not enough thanks to the vending machines in the game.
Plasmids expand that game’s mechanics even more, allowing you to combine them with weapons and environments to create unique effects together. With several plasmids being accessible and gene tonics to alter your character, it opens the possibility of playing the game through several times and making many different combinations.
Hacking machines to aid you in your quest is always recommended, especially security cameras. The hacking mini-game always follows the same premise, but as you continue through the game it becomes quite challenging at times. Luckily for the hacks that are at the top of the charts for difficulty can be bypassed by auto-hacks that you find throughout the game.