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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Preview: BioShock

Due out in late August of this year, BioShock seems poised to show all of us what a real game can be. When I first saw the trailer for this game, I immediately put BioShock at the top of my must-have list. Not only does the story seem suitably well-written and extremely creepy, but the AI, graphics and gameplay all seem to point to BioShock being one of the biggest games to hit shelves this year...or ever.

If Irrational Games and 2K Games deliver a solid game that lives up to the hype, BioShock should easily be considered for top game-of-the-year honours. However, with both GTA IV and Halo 3 being released right after BioShock's August 2007 release date, it'll be interesting to see how many units of BioShock get sold. It's always sad to see critically acclaimed games stagnate on the shelves as the more popular titles sell out.

Pushing all sales concerns aside, however, I'd say that BioShock is well on track to deliver one of the most intense and atmospheric games of all time! And that's what it's all about, right?


BioShock's Story

What's this BioShock game about anyway? Have you seen the trailers but still find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about? I'll let 2K Games give you a little insight into BioShock:

BioShock is the "genetically enhanced" first person shooter that lets you do things never before possible in the genre: turn everything into a weapon, biologically mod your body with plasmids, hack devices and systems, upgrade your weapons and craft new ammo variants, and experiment with different battle techniques in an incredible and unique underwater city.

You are a cast-away in Rapture, an underwater Utopia torn apart by civil war. Caught between powerful forces, and hunted down by genetically modified “splicers” and deadly security systems, you have to come to grips with a deadly, mysterious world filled with powerful technology and fascinating characters. No encounter ever plays out the same, and no two gamers will play the game the same way.

BioShock is loaded with some of greatest, most modifiable weapons to ever blast their way into a shooter. But guns alone won’t be enough to defeat the devious AIs of Rapture. There are literally hundreds of other strategies players can use to take out his enemies. Here’s just a few things you can do a foe:
  • Catch his Grenades in Mid Air and Toss Them Back at Him
  • Freeze Him Solid and Shatter Him with Smack of your Wrench
  • Lead him and his comrades to water and Zap them all with 1000 Volts
  • Burn Him Up With Home-Made Molotov Cocktails
  • Booby Trap Healing Machines and Watch Them Blow up IN his Face
  • Brainwash Him to Become Your Personal BodyGuard
  • Invent your own Ammo Types to Prey on his Vulnerabilities
  • Turn his own Security System Against Him
  • Light Him on Fire and Launch Heat Seeking Missiles At him
  • Torment Him with Plagues of Insects
  • Take Research Photos of Him to Learn his Weaknesses
  • Send Him Flying into the Ceiling to Knock him Senseless

No encounter ever plays out the same way twice. No two gamers will ever play BioShock the same way.

- 2K Games

Now try and tell me that BioShock doesn't sound like one of the coolest games ever!


BioShock's Developers and Publisher
A game is only as good as its developers and its publishers. Luckily for us, the minds behind BioShock are some of the best in the business.

IRRATIONAL GAMES is the award winning developer of System Shock II and Freedom Force. Irrational Games has studios in Boston, MA and Canberra, Australia comprised of dedicated designers, programmers, artists and business facilitators. Irrational team members have worked on some of the premier titles of the industry, including Thief: The Dark Project, Ultima Underworld and System Shock.

Founded in 1997, Irrational Games is dedicated to bringing deep RPG and strategy games to both the PC and next-generation console markets. In the words of co-founder Ken Levine, "While continuing to deliver outstanding, content-rich PC titles, Irrational is now also poised to bring their unique sensibility to the world of console development."

- Irrational Games

Although I never played System Shock II, which I regret immensely, I was fortunate enough to play Freedom Force. If you haven't played either of those games, let it suffice to say that Irrational Games knows how to make a great game!

As for 2K Games, BioShock's publisher:
Founded in 2005, 2K develops and publishes top-line PC, console and handheld entertainment software, with a strong concentration in three distinct categories, sports, high profile licenses and specialty product.

2K Games is headquartered in Manhattan and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.

- 2K Games

When 2K says that they've published top-line games, they're not kidding! Take a look at these monster titles: Jade Empire, Prey, Sid Meier's Civilization IV, The Darkness, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, to name a few.


Trailers and Gameplay Video

Before we get to news and previews of BioShock, let's take a look at some trailers and videos. Reading's good, but who doesn't like a good movie?

X06 Trailer: Here is the first trailer I ever watched for BioShock. If you were to tell me that you watched this trailer and didn't want to play BioShock right away, I'd have difficulty believing you.

Second Trailer: This trailer explains a little more about BioShock's story; although, you'll to put up with the standard movie-trailer-announcer voice-over.

Water Video: Any game that put this much detail into its water effects has got to be good!

7 Minute Gameplay Montage: Want to know how the game plays? Check out this recent video showing multiple levels available for play in BioShock!

Medical Pavillion: Watch this video and you'll get a good sense of the atmosphere that you'll have to deal in the game. Considering how jumpy I am at the best of times, I may have problems keeping my cool at the right moments if the rest of the BioShock environment is even half as creepy as the medical pavillion...

Hunting Big Daddy: If you don't know what a Big Daddy is, watch the video below. Be forewarned: fighting these behemoths is not for the faint of heart.

BioShock EGM Preview: The Electronic Gaming Monthly staff managed to pin down the gifted minds behind BioShock and have managed to come away with an entertaining and information packed video. You may want to watch this one a couple times to avoid missing certain key details.


BioShock Themed Blogs and Sites
There are a lot of other sites out there that have done an incredible job in gathering a ton of information about BioShock. The following sites are all exclusively dedicated to BioShock and are a must read for BioShock fans:

  • Cult of Rapture
    This one's actually run by 2K Games and provides a wealth of information about the game. And if you decide to join the Cult of Rapture, you may be rewarded with one of the many perks that come with membership, including free Xbox 360 Dashboard Themes and exclusive Gamer Pictures.
  • Wrath of Rapture
    Wrath of Rapture includes so much more than BioShock news and screenshots. They have pages devoted to the characters, weapons, plasmids, and the enemies found throughout BioShock! Awesome site!

  • Rapture Gazette
    As the name implies, the Rapture Gazette is a nice little blog providing ongoing tons of up-to-date coverage of BioShock and its upcoming release.

  • BioShock Online
    Another slick web site devoted to bringing its readers as much information about BioShock as humanly possible. News, interviews, faqs, media, and forums are all there for your viewing pleasure!


BioShock Previews
BioShock's gonna be big! Need proof? Read the following previews written by the some of the biggest game review sites around!


BioShock Forums

Before a game's released, everyone's got something to say! BioShock 's fan base is no exception, with multiple forums having sprouted up across the Internet. Join the feeding frenzy by visiting some of these great forums!


BioShock LE Details and Little Sisters

Dustin, over at the Xbox 360 Fanboy, has recently put up a couple great articles about BioShock.

The first article, Official details on the Bioshock LE, discusses the contents of BioShock's highly anticipated Limited Edition release.

The second article, A closer look at BioShock's Little Sisters, provides an in-depth look at BioShock's creepy Little Sisters.

After reading the article about the BioShock LE, I'll definitely be spending the extra $10 to pick it up. The Big Daddy figurine alone is worth it!

GamePlanets: New BioShock Details
Ahh, nothing better than finding out that new information has surfaced about a game you really want to play. The news below comes to us courtesy of GamePlanets.

The details listed below are gathered from the July 2007 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly:

  • The game will take about 25 hours to finish, assuming you're not trying to race through the game. I figure it will take me a little longer since I'm not the greatest FPS player out there. Plus, it's really hard to play while holding my Xbox 360 controller in one hand and covering my eyes with the other hand.

  • The city of Rapture is known as a "city where the artist would not be censored, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small". Sounds like Los Angeles...

  • BioShock will never force you to backtrack. I guess that's a good thing - I honestly don't mind backtracking and useless fetch quests, having grown up on RPGs and kill/loot games. Still, it's nice to know that developers are looking out for those of us too impatient to wander about mindlessly.

  • Rather than coming into a room and having enemies spawn in known locations, it appears that some of Rapture's nasty inhabitants will wander about looking for Adam (a super stem cell secreted by newly-discovered sea slugs). These enemies will react to sound just as you'd expect the case to be in real life. Looks like the time it will take me to finish this game has just been bumped up to 40 hours if I need to be stealthy: I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to creeping along at snail's pace.

  • Enemies will spawn in different locations each time you play through the game (and, I believe, each time you die as well). Good! I needed a few more jump scares in my diet anyway!

  • Splicers, inhabitants of Rapture who've mutilated their bodies beyond recognition, will seek out medical assistance as they approach death. Just what I need: freaky looking wall-crawlers who'll heal up and come back for seconds!

  • There will be three Big Daddies to take out in each section of Rapture. My question: do I need to take them out or can I sneak by like a coward ninja?

  • Once you've got a hold of a Little Sister, you can either harvest the Little Sister for Adam or save her. By harvesting, the Little Sister is unfortunately killed in exchange for lots of Adam, while the latter method results in a safe little girl and less Adam. Given that I feel strongly against hurting little girls, I'll have to make due with very little Adam, I guess. Unless of course there are Achievement Points to be earned by harvesting...

  • Little Sisters will be invincible until it's time to harvest their Adam (if such a time comes, mind you). That means no need to hold back if a Little Sister happens to find herself in your line of fire while a Big Daddy bears down on you.

  • A camera will be made available during the game. This camera can be used to photograph and research the enemies inhabiting Rapture, allowing you to learn and exploit their weaknesses. By taking various snapshots of your enemies, you'll earn points that can be used to earn bonuses against different Splicers. I wonder if they'll be bonuses against Big Daddies as well?

  • There are two separate entities in the game, one pushing you towards becoming Rapture's destroyer and another entity wanting you to be its saviour. Atlas wants all the Little Sisters harvested which will allow you to power up enough to help Atlas get his family out of Rapture. Tenenbaum, on the other hand, wants all of his creations, the Little Sisters, saved. This seems like the typical Good vs. Evil Jedi thing: it'll probably be harder to finish the game while saving the Little Sisters, but there will be some great rewards by doing so.

  • Adam, the snail-goo stem cells harvested from Little Sisters, will be used at Gatherers' Gardens to purchase plasmids (a.k.a. nifty powers) and gene tonics (a.k.a. character-tweaking stuff).

  • Any contraption found in Rapture can be modified by you to change how it interacts with the rest of the world. For example, you can hack a medical station to have it poison Splicers who attempt to use the station to heal.

  • And finally: you'll be able to customize your weapons and create new plasmids, just like Oblivion's system of upgrading weapons and creating spells. Hopefully the weapons and power upgrades will prove more than they did in Oblivion, however. Honestly, if I'm going to take the time to customize something, I'd better be able to make something really kick-ass that completely unbalances the gameplay in my favour!
Go check out GamePlanets for the original story.


The 1UP BioShock Special!

Seriously - how can I get a job in the gaming industry? Imagine going into work one day and finding out that your next assignment involves heading over to Irrational Games to take a closer look at BioShock. I am in the wrong business...

As I look for a way to upgrade my career, enjoy the following video, courtesy of the fine folks at 1UP.com and GameVideos.com:


GameSpot gets their hands on BioShock

It seems that the fine folks at GameSpot got a hands on look at BioShock. Sweet!

Luckily for us, they managed to fill their readers in on all the details. Read the full article here!


This post will be updated to reflect any news I may come across as I wait for BioShock to hit store shelves.