Last Father’s Day, my thoughtful-and-smoking-hot wife surprised me with a copy of Bioshock for the PS3. The game originally debuted for the PC and XBox 360 in 2007, and later ported to the PS3 in 2008. It’s a first-person shooter, much like the classic games of yore that I used to really enjoy, such as Wolfenstein 3D and Half-Life. Did you notice that I said “used to enjoy”? Well, yes, I used to be really into first-person shooters, and no, I never felt nauseous or dizzy while playing them. As a matter of fact, I felt immersed.
However, after some time away from most games in this genre, I got into third-person (over the shoulder) games like the those of the Uncharted series, and also Heavenly Sword. I like them better, because you can still be the character, and yet see what’s going on around. Who’s in front of you, who’s behind you, who’s creeping up next to you with a shotgun. It’s the best of both worlds. In comparison, first-person shooters seemed a little…… I’m not sure how to describe it. I guess what unnerved me was that in those first-person games, you can’t see someone behind you or sneaking up next to you. I don’t like scary surprises — I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t even like showering with my eyes closed. Call it paranoia.
Back to the present — it’s been nine months, and I hadn’t played Bioshock yet, but I knew it was a fantastic game. I mean, I heard, anyway. Early last year, I had downloaded the demo, and it was some scary shit. The visuals were beautiful, but the geez, the atmosphere was too real. The background sounds, the dangerous splicers off in the distance talking, the occasional approaching footsteps that aren’t your own. Man, talk about unnerving. It was scary, and yet exhilarating. I was unnerved (probably unnecessarily since it’s just a game), but since it’s so beautiful and enthralling, I was so intrigued.
So, there was I was this month. It was a quiet weekend, I’d recently beaten Uncharted 2 a few weeks earlier. I popped in the Blu-ray game disc, and bam!, back to be freaked out. I’ve played only a few hours so far, but wow, it’s a fantastic game. The visuals of this art-deco city under the ocean are stunning and enchanting, and the gameplay is….. well…. it’s well-done, but utterly unnerving. Twice so far, I’ve walked into a room, and then the lights went off. Footsteps approached quickly, and I was attacked. So yeah, a guy who doesn’t even like to close his eyes in the shower, and there I’m fighting in the dark for my life.
So what’s the premise? The game is set in an alternate 1960 in the underwater city of Rapture. This fellow named Andrew Ryan built a city underwater, and took the so-called “best and the brightest” with him to create a utopian society, far away from religion, capitalism, and communism. Down there, scientists discovered some sort of sea slug that could be used to synthesize this stuff called ADAM, which could be used to make various plasmids. These injectable plasmids would rewrite your DNA, and give you abilities like shooting electricity, fire, etc, out of your hands.
Somewhere along the way, the utopian society gave way to madness and anarchy. Most people went crazy, and started killing each other. Your airplane (you are Jack) crash lands in the water near the Rapture, and end up in this decaying, falling-apart city under the ocean, and surrounded by the surviving denizens of Rapture, now called “splicers.” Oh, they’re all quite mad. Quite, quite mad. People walking around with large butcher knives, blood splattered on the walls, freaky stuff written on the walls in blood, people wearing those weird animals masks (a la The Shining.) One time, there was this one woman crying over a coffin. I walked up to her, and she turned around and started attacking me, while wearing a bunny mask. I killed her, and looked in the coffin. It was empty, except a cake.
If the story and the visuals weren’t so amazing, I would have thrown the disc into the fireplace a long time ago.