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CVG
40 Reviews

Bioshock

Review: Come and get it...

What did you do this weekend? We sat down and played Bioshock for seven hours. Without moving. On both days. And loved every second of it.

Ok, so you could put our social lives into question at this point (we managed to sneak in a few beers, promise), but the explanation is a just one; Bioshock is one of the most immersive, extraordinary shooters we've played since, well, Half-Life 2 - and, unless you've got the motion sickness problems of a Turok Q&A tester, you just have to play it.

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It kicks off in 1960 with your plane crashing into the sea. After a cinematic bathysphere ride you arrive in Rapture, an underwater city where the world's greatest minds have escaped the constraints of ordinary man. But Rapture's doctors, inventors and entertainers all suffer from the odd mental flaw; cracks which became gaping holes once the city's extensive genetic mutation products, called 'Adam', went into production.

Rapture's inhabitants were consumed by mutation and their obsession with Adam soon turned into civil war; brother turned on brother, babies were strangled in cribs.

Now all that's left is a crazed and demented populace of 'splicers', changing and enhancing their twisted bodies with all the Adam they can get, and a city moodier than Bianca from Eastenders at that time of the month.

Rapture is the star of Bioshock and it's one of the most extraordinary and atmospheric game worlds we've ever explored. After what feels like an eternity of space marines, knock-off Middle-earths and WWII beaches, 2K's underwater city is a refreshing and disturbing change of scenery.

Every corner of the environment has been carefully considered to project a living world with an unsettling aura that only the spiritual sequel to System Shock 2 could deliver. Water - amazing-looking water - pours from cracks in the ceiling. Debris litters empty apartments and the shadows of rambling, mental inhabitants haunt the empty hallways.

The demented, well-acted (uncomfortably so) people of Rapture might not be as animated as Half-Life 2's cast, but they'll leave a bigger impression on your mind. Splicers scramble with fish hooks pointed at your chest, screaming incessant cries about their lost children. It's all very unnerving. Rapture's different districts back this eerie feel up too ranging from gritty, damp factories to underwater forests. This really is a beautiful looking game.

A compelling narrative and a well-realised and believable game world are already enough to create a classic, but over a length of time a good story isn't enough to keep you entertained. Thankfully 2K hasn't overlooked the traditional shooter elements of Bioshock, it is an FPS after all.

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On its own Bioshock's gunplay wouldn't change the world of FPS; very quickly you have a revolver, shotgun and machine gun in your inventory but thanks to the limited supply of ammunition you have to continually hunt for, weapons feel a lot more empowering than in most other shooters.

You'll never have enough ammo to blast away with abandon. If you don't want to be left with the wrench (which, funnily enough, quickly becomes one of the most useful weapons in the game) you'll have to search every desk and spend every last dollar in the liberally scattered vending machines for bullets.

In the same way as Resident Evil, this ups the tension. To make it even worse, there's 16 different types of ammo in the game, three for each weapon. This lends even more weight to your decisions and where you're going to spend or conserve ammunition. We favoured conserving grenades and armour-piercing rounds for larger enemies, while the napalm, liquid nitrogen and electric gel ammo of the chemical thrower has vastly different effects depending on who you use it on.

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