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Posted on Sep 10, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Bioshock Review

By Ryan Stepalavich

The complexity of combat doesn’t come close to ending there. Following traditional weaponry is the player’s choice of "plasmids". Plasmids are special "magic" abilities granted to the user to aid him or her in their quest against their foes. Many of these plasmids are used in conjunction with another particular action. For example, the Electrobolt plasmid is primarily a stun weapon, to be used in conjunction with the monkey wrench melee weapon. It’s "the one-two punch" as is described in Bioshock. However, the Electrobolt is far deadlier when used while the enemy is submerged in water. The moment a baddie wades through a puddle, which in Rapture is a common sight, zap it with an Electroshock and what was originally a menial stun weapon suddenly becomes a one-hit kill.

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The enemies get progressively harder, however, and they force the player to evolve in their abilities. To do so, they must collect what is known as ADAM, the lifeblood of Rapture. Spending ADAM will allow the adventurer to upgrade their plasmids, or enhance their skills in particular conventional weapons such as wrenches or whatnot. Collecting ADAM to spend is easier said than done, both morally and physically. To collect ADAM, one must apprehend a "Little Sister", a mutated child that is designed to harvest ADAM from the dead. Guarding a Little Sister is the Big Daddy, an equally mutated behemoth that is nigh-on impossible to kill. The player must strategize their plan-of-attack just to simply kill the Big Daddy. Will they use brute force and charge head-on? Perhaps set up some traps, or even use plasmids to cause other baddies to attack the Big Daddy? The choices are up to the player and the player alone. Should the player actually defeat the Big Daddy, then what will the player do? Will the player save the Little Sister, or slay her? These are big decisions to make, in which the ramifications will effect gameplay throughout the story.

Choices are really the keystones to Bioshock. Should the adventurer wish, he or she could actually go through the game while hardly lifting a finger. Plasmids can cause enemies to follow the player, and the player can "hack" sentry guns and security cameras – in a nifty mini-game reminiscent of Pipe Dream – all in an effort to create a small army to fight for him or her. Or, the player can use ADAM to buff up their own combat skills, evolving themselves into something like The Incredible Hulk, bashing and smashing their way through Rapture by any means possible. It’s really up to the player. While the story does have a linear line to it, achieving that is anything but.

The storyline is a real barnburner. Without giving anything away, Bioshock is a truly worthy tribute to the works of objective theorist Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Rapture represents a world where profiting from one’s efforts is all that matters – no censorship, no moral stigma in science, no ethics – just pure, cutthroat capitalism in the purest sense. Of course, where Bioshock shows, such a society doesn’t come without a price. The story spirals through conspiracies, gang wars, back-stabbings and moral disasters the likes of which video gaming has never seen.

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