Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bioshock Day Is Coming

What is Bioshock, you might ask? It's an Xbox360 game. But that's not all, it's an amazingly creative and original work of art that I've been tracking for over a year. Also, it's the "spiritual successor" to System Shock, one of the most incredible and acclaimed games of the 90's.

It takes place in Rapture, a utopian underwater city, built in the 1950's by a genius named Andrew Ryan. He created it as a home to a select group of artists, scientists and industrialists, who could work in peace in a totally idealistic society. He calls it "a city where the artist would not fear the censor; where the great would not be constrained by the small; where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality."

As with any utopian society, it couldn't last. The city was destroyed by the very people chosen to populate it. And the game begins in 1960, with our protagonist on a routine plane flight that crashes into the middle of the ocean. Swimming from the wreckage, he finds himself at the entrance of the now ruined City of Rapture, knowing that going in is the only way out.

The game forces the player to make many moral choices. For instance, there are Little Sisters (not quite real little girls, more like little zombies) who harvest Atom, the city's energy force, from corpses they find. They are protected by Big Daddies, who are huge and have drills for hands (you don't wanna mess with those)! Do you try to take the Atom that the Little Sisters have harvested, and fend for yourself when the Big Daddy comes after you? Do you protect the Little Sister when somebody else tries to steal her Atom? Or do you just leave it all alone to the natural balance of Rapture?

In the words of Andrew Ryan, "If your life were the prize, would you kill the innocent? Would you sacrifice your humanity? We all make our choices, but in the end, our choices make us."

The game finally comes out a week from today! And yes, I'm going to have to take the day off to explore.

2K Games stated that there would be no demo for this game, much to everyone's chagrin. Well, two days ago they surprised everyone by unceremoniously dropping a demo on Xbox Live. And once the news media found out, people all over the country nearly crashed the servers by downloading in droves.

And the demo. Oh, the demo. It is so good. It begins where the game will begin, in the plane crash. The first thing to notice is that it's absolutely gorgeous. The water textures nearly popped my eyes out. I just stared at the ocean for awhile. Second, I noticed that it controls like butter.

Exploring Rapture for myself, for the first time, brought me a sense of wonderment I haven't felt since I was a kid. Water pours in all the cracks, as if the city could wash away at any moment. Old jazz music still plays in the lobby, tattered "Happy New Year 1959" posters are barely hanging from the ceiling. And then it all gets creepy.

I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that I'm going to play through the (woefully short - 45 minutes-ish) demo a few more times before release day next week, simply because I want to revisit this amazing world again and again.

See the awesome trailer here.

I can't wait till next Tuesday.

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