Wednesday, August 15, 2007

BioShock Early Impressions

I'm apologize in advance for the enormous amount of hyperbole I'm about to spew, but BioShock is, by far, the best game demo I have ever played. From the moment the demo began I felt totally immersed in a world real enough to touch. From the initial elevator ride down into the city to the first visceral murder happening right before my eyes, and myself helpless to do anything about it, my thoughts kept returning to the first Half-Life game and how a part of the game world it made me feel. The detailed, art deco environment, the moody atmosphere, the chaos around you every step of the way, everything about this game draws you further in for the entire hour.

As you make your way down into the underwater city, you get a real sense of the dire state of the society. Rapture (named for the utopia of brilliant minds "left behind" in the city) is falling apart and its citizens have all gone crazy. Enemies frequently mumble to themselves, refusing to accept the reality in which they live in. The areas themselves are painted with the evidence of a once prosperous city. Discarded party favors and masks litter the room of an abandoned New Year's masquerade ball. Audio diaries clue you into their troubled lives. The clever use of "mise en scène" promotes the player to search every crevice of the world for answers to just what went wrong with this place.

From what I've seen in the demo alone, I believe this could be the game changer for the shooter genre. After this, I'll be sort of let down if I play a shooter and I can't loot the bodies of my enemies or I can't interact with my environment in meaningful ways. Within the first hour ofgameplay , I was able to hack a bunch gun-wielding security bots into fighting for me, and sent them to preoccupy my foes as I clubbed them with a wrench. At another point I lit enemies on fire, stood in awe as the fire spread to the rest of the bathroom, then watched as they ran to a pool of water to douse themselves which allowed me to shock them like a toaster-in-a-bathtub. I've seen more surprises in the first half hour of this demo than most movies throw at you. And this is just the tip of iceberg. There's the item crafting system, weapon upgrading, and character development via genetic modifications. It's really part horror FPS, part RPG.

Oh yeah, and the water is un-freaking-believable. I'm not joking when I say I literally stood by a window just to stare out into the ocean. August 21st can't come soon enough. Like Cartman and his quest for the Wii, please cryogenically freeze me until the release date..

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