Shock Value: Bioshock

[Shock Value is a weekly segment which runs down inexpensive titles that are more than worth the money spent.]

  • Title: Bioshock
  • Developer: Irrational Games (PC, Xbox 360), 2K Marin (PS3)
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Release: August 2007 (PC, Xbox 360), October 2008 (PS3)
  • Platforms: Mac, PC, PS3, Xbox 360
  • Pricing: New: $20, Used: $15 (PS3 & Xbox 360) | Steam: $20 (PC)


Bioshock is without a doubt one of the most influential and prized games ever to have been created. It stands as a solitary bastion in gaming and is testament to the emotionally and mentally powerful potential that video games possess as an art form.

It is a game that, if you play video games, you are entitled to complete and also a game that is often cited in the “video games as art” argument. Enter Rapture, an underwater utopia secluded from conventional society that allows the thinker to think, the artist to paint and the writer to write. Every square inch of the game is covered with a distinctive, early American art style and ambience.

It combines superb music, visuals, art, story and gameplay to create a game that is nearly perfect in every fashion of the word. Games like Bioshock are beyond comparison to others and make their own names in the crowded industry. Bioshock is simply that good; it’s better than i can explain to you in just one page.

You take control of a plane crash survivor who just happens to stumble upon the entrance to this paradise. This iconic moment becomes wrought with symbolism when you uncover more of the games powerful narrative. While the game technically is an FPS, RPG elements like character progression and the gradual unlocking of powers and abilities gives the game a nice hybrid feeling.

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Trapped so many leagues under the sea in what used to be a utopia but now is a dysfunctional dystopia, the game absolutely absorbs you in its powerful imagery and storytelling. As you complete the game, you’ll learn more and more about the story of this amazing place, its creator Andrew Ryan and his gradual descent into madness.

The main enemies in the game are Rapture dwellers who’ve become insane in their lust for a magical drug that makes them stronger and gives them remarkable powers. The main character can also utilize these plasmids, and they give him an amazing array of powers  like telekinesis, fire and ice and a hissing swarm of hornets.

You can strengthen and customize weapons, earn money to buy items and resources and collect tapes that detail the lives and events of characters who’ve long since fell victim to the madness that is rapture. The game is absolutely shameless in its submersive capabilities.  The phenomanal music sets the tone and mood for the game perfectly, pulling tracks from the 1960s and earlier.

You limp into a room harmed and shoot down an insane splicer creeping eerily along the roof, collect a short account of the death of a citizen of rapture, hear the sweet laughter of a small girl and turn tensed for battle at the sound of a hulking big daddy walking slowly and solemnly beside his little partner.

You traverse this huge destroyed paradise, collecting bits of the history, culture and descent of this marvelous place with nearly every step. The narrative is gripping and relevant, moreso than perhaps any other first person shooter ever, and culminates with one of the biggest plot twists in not only shooters but in any genre, period. This game is incredible.

Basically, Irrational Games has created an absolute masterpiece with Bioshock. It could be considered one of the best known, widely praised and critically acclaimed titles in this generation of gaming. While the sequel and upcoming spin-off may have diluted the series to some extent, it just doesn’t get any better than the original Bioshock.

It stands toe-to-toe with any number of games released since it came out as a timed Xbox exclusive more than three years ago. You owe it to yourself to play Bioshock; it’s worth much, much more than the less than twenty dollars you’ll pay for admission. So, would you kindly go indulge in one of the defining games of our generation?

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Kenneth Richardson

Kenneth is a Graphics and Game Design student who's worked as an author for since June of 2010. His favorite gaming genres are Fighting, Role Playing and Sadistic Action games like Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta. In addition to gaming, he is also strongly interested in music, fashion, art, culture, literature, education, religion, cuisine, photography, architecture, philosophy, film, dance, and most forms of creative expression.

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