Friday, August 17, 2007

Bioshock

Everybody knows I'm a sucker for that special genre of video game known as the First Person Shooter. The most imaginative and satisfying experience to be found in all the myriad of gamerealms is the FPS. HalfLife 2 is the standard by which all other FPS are to be judged, and Painkiller comes pretty darn close to achieving that standard. Now there is a new FPS that looks very promising: Bioshock.
My housemate owns an Xbox360 and was thoughtful enough the other day to show me the Bioshock demo. I was immediately blown away by the Art Deco aesthetic that pervades the game. The story involves an Ayn Randian utopia built at the bottom of the sea where something has gone terribly wrong. It looks like your standard inmates-take-over-the-asylum scenario, one into which you have to navigate your way with a nice array of weapons and talents.
But the scenery-! The city is absolutely dazzling for anyone with even a passing interest in the Art Deco style. It harkens to a mythical fifties, in which all the B-movie SciFi tropes are true: scientists have succeeded in improving humanity through genetic experiments, and the resulting "better world" is awash in tuxedoes and martinis and Gotham-style architecture. Think Dark City-meets-Atlantis.
This could be the next greatest FPS of all time, and hopefully will inspire a sequel, in which events go back to an even earlier era, the Belle Epoque.

2 comments:

andy said...

I recently picked up an HDTV (long story), and downloaded the long-awaited BioShock demo. First of all, the graphics are incredible, especially the water effects. The designers said that they wanted water to be another character in the game. It really adds to the claustrophobia, especially when you see sprays of water coming from cracks in a nearby door.

But more than the design or the graphics, BioShock is amazing because of the immersive storytelling. It’s one thing to see a cutscene that you have no control over; it’s completely another to watch a horrific scene going on outside your window, while you are trapped inside. Keeping the game in the first person makes you feel like a voyeur. And tell me, how many times in a game have you watched a scene being played out in shadows on the wall? When you see the shadow of a woman hunched over a baby carriage, and her horrible rantings…I was just stunned. This game really draws you in. I can’t wait for the retail version to come out.

andy said...

By the way, I clicked the link for Belle Epoque, and the first picture reminded me of the gate to Shivering Isles, which you can see here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shivering_isles