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Bioshock-ing Video

Bioshock (click to see it bigger!)If being the spiritual successor to what many still call the scariest game ever made wasn’t enough, Bioshock had to take home a lot of “Best of E3″ awards on top of it. This was all well and good for the people lucky enough to see it behind closed doors, but for anyone shut out like me, the game remained this promising sounding title that we’d only seen a paltry few screens of.

IGN has been lucky enough to get its hands on over ten minutes of footage from the game, taken from the Xbox 360 version (the game is also heading to PC and PlayStation 3) and focuses mostly on the graphics and artificial intelligence, while detailing a little bit of its backstory.

For anyone not keeping tabs, Bioshock is set in a secret underwater civilization that was built in the late Forties as a Utopia for the elite. The smartest of the smart lived there, and quickly their work in genetic research far surpassed what people were doing on the surface above. They discovered something called “Adam,” which enabled them to reshape their own DNA to give them new and improved skills and abilities. This became the currency for the civilization, and as greed and excessive modification swept through the civilization, like many others, it fell.

Your character discovers this place, which is no longer civilized but still populated, after your plane crashes in the ocean near its secret entrance. It’s the only place for you to go, so you go there, presumably to try and find safe passage back to land and to perhaps uncover its secrets while there.

Bioshock (click to see it bigger!)Technically the game isn’t doing anything particularly new or notable, but artistically the combination of submariner environments mixed with a late Forties style of décor and architecture is a strikingly different direction than most games.

They want you to feel like the ocean is trying to break in and drown you, and judging from the video, they’ve made great strides in that direction.

The twisted creatures that dwell there, though, do not all necessarily want to kill you on sight. Two such types were the “big daddies” and the “little sisters”. The little sisters are thin, frail, and gaunt-looking little girls who go about harvesting and reprocessing Adam from dead bodie, by extracting it with a nasty looking syringe and then injecting it into themselves.

The big daddies’ job is to protect and escort the little sisters. These slow moving brutes wear diving suits, and their heavy metal boats make for a very recognizable sound. So long as you leave the little sisters alone, they’ll ignore you. Get too close and they’ll push you away. Persist and they’ll resort to more extreme measures.

Irrational Games really wants you to feel like these creatures are living, breathing things, and as such they’re set up to just go about their business dynamically. You’ll be able to choose whether to engage, avoid, or to try and enlist the help of these and other people (if you can still call them that) as you play through the game, and it’s just one facet of what is being touted as a very open-ended experience.

Bioshock (click to see it bigger!)Little is shown of the skill system (based around Adam of course) and what abilities you’ll be able to discover and upgrade, and very little of the story is being shown either. But artistically, the design, animation, and imagination of this game are amazing, and the AI is looking very interesting.

All things staying on course, we should have a very deep and scary experience to look forward to when 2K Games release the game next year. If you’re interested in taking a look for yourself (and I recommend it), you can do so on IGN. People on dial-up modems need not apply.

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Jon Condit