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Welcome to Rapture
Bioshock is a story-heavy first-person shooter that takes place in the year 1960, deep under the ocean in the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture was created by the ambitious Andrew Ryan, who wanted to create his own world where people could realize their potential without being held back by what he perceived as a broken system of rules.
“Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?" That’s the opening line of Ryan’s introduction video to Rapture and sums up his intentions fairly well.
Scientists in Rapture developed a substance called ADAM from stem cells taken from a certain species of sea slug. ADAM accelerated things like genetic engineering research and made possible the creation of plasmids that would give the user special powers. These special powers were fueled by a substance known as EVE; the ADAM and EVE naming schemed coincided with Ryan’s perception of Rapture as Eden.
In the underwater city, you’ll face off against various foes with an arsenal of very steampunk-esque weaponry and the aid of plasmids. The enemies you’ll encounter will mostly be comprised of “Splicers", citizens who have been driven mad by an overexposure of ADAM. However, the most notable and iconic characters are the “Big Daddys". These are genetically enhanced humans in diving suits that were created to protect the “Little Sisters" - young girls who have had sea slugs implanted in their bodies that have been programmed to extract ADAM from the dead.
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I realize that the above explanation is quite lengthy, but that is necessary to really explain the magnificence that is Bioshock. It’s a beautiful and haunting adventure in a world that has been more painted and fleshed out than any I’ve ever seen in a videogame. For that reason alone, it’s worth a playthrough. I almost feel that the first-person aspect plays second fiddle to the adventure itself; it's like they simply needed a way for the player to experience Rapture and the FPS view was the most effective method.
As for the actual combat – while it’s not the best I’ve ever experienced, certainly not on par with games like Crysis – there are no glaring problems with it and it serves its purpose. The guns all feel powerful and using the various plasmids – like fire, ice, and lighting – is an absolute blast.
Fighting Splicers is one thing, but fighting a Big Daddy is something that has to be experienced. When I came across a Little Sister and her protector for the first time, it was something that I had been heavily anticipating. It was amazing to see – this little girl walking around, talking to her protector and using a syringe to extract ADAM from dead bodies. The Big Daddy was stomping behind her, occasionally surveying the surroundings. It’s his (or her, no way to tell) job to defend, not attack. So as long as you keep your distance, you’ll be fine. You want the ADAM that the Little Sister has however, so you have to make a choice. If you do decide to attack, know that you’ll be fighting for your life and you’ll have to throw everything you’ve got at the Big Daddy if you hope to come out alive.
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Bioshock is a beautiful game, both graphically and from a design standpoint. While certain things rely on how powerful your gaming rig is, even on the lowest settings the game looks good, and the design is the main draw anyway. Rapture is breathtaking to look at it and the denizens of the city look absolutely terrifying.
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The minimum system requirements for Bioshock aren’t as terrifying as you might expect, but you may need an upgrade. You’ll need to be running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Vista, with at least a P4 2.4 GHz processor and a graphics card that supports DirectX 9.0c, Pixel Shader 3.0, and has 128 MB RAM.
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Bioshock is something that must be experienced by everyone. I won’t go as far to say it’s the best game I’ve ever played – it’s not – but it’s possibly the most memorable. It left me both awestruck and terrified, a combination that’s not easy to bring about.