Bioshock has been on the radar for a long time… but it wasn’t until I saw some of the live demonstrations of the game during E3 that I realized how well it was coming together and how well it was living up to its promise.
There’s never been any doubt about the atmosphere of the game. The claustrophobia of the underwater city. The feeling that the ocean is almost an evil entity trying to break in and drown you have been apparent for a long time.
The unique and refined style of the game has always leapt out of any screenshot or video that 2K Games or Irrational Games have sent our way, but its only now… a mere month from release, that Bioshock has started to show how goddamn *fun* it looks.
We’ve seen how creepy it looks. We’ve heard about all the moral decisions we’ll have to make such as whether or not we can kill something that looks like a sweet little girl. Only watching someone playing the game, not focusing on showing anything in particular… not focusing on completing a mission but just messing around has it become clear how deep, immersive and fun Bioshock is going to be.
As you probably know, throughout the game the player has the ability to modify their own body in order to gain incredible abilities. It doesn’t sound special on paper… but Bioshock has two things going for it.
First of all is that this gameplay mechanic isn’t just explained by the plot, it’s actually a central part of it. Second is that the abilities seem to have been designed with the ultimate goal of being fun to use.
During GameSpot’s demonstration of the game, the guy demonstrating the game was basically just focusing on the combat to show how many different ways you can use your abilities to kill people.
Precursors to Bioshock, such as Deus Ex, Morrowind and of course System Shock 2, weren’t praised for their combat… but Bioshock will be. This is a game where you can telekinetically pull an enemies Fedora off of their head using psychic powers, set that hat on fire, and then sling it back at the enemy setting them on fire.
Sure, you could probably just set the enemy on fire, but it’s this devilish playfulness that really stood out.
Sure you could just put a mine on the floor and lure an enemy to run into it… but when you can put a mine on the ceiling and a cyclone trap on the floor beneath it that will push the enemy up into the air and into the mine… why would you do something so normal and boring?
Throwing lightning from your fingers is a pretty big video game cliché… but it takes on a whole new meaning when you’re talking about an underwater city with water leaking into it all over the place. Why electrify your enemy when you can electrify the water they’re standing in?
This level of violent expression is made possible to a number of systems behind the scenes… from the customizable weapons to your psychic powers to the games research system.
Keeping in mind that Irrational Games are striving to make Bioshock one of the scariest games ever (and considering they made System Shock 2, widely regarded as one of the scariest experiences in any media) and keeping in mind how atmospheric and polished the game is looking graphically… there’s no question for me.
Bioshock wasn’t just the best horror game at E3… it was the best game at E3 period.
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