Monday, February 17, 2014

Top 50 Games - #15

No videos any more, every damn YouTube gameplay video out there has some numpty blathering over the top of it.

15. BioShock
Developer: Irrational Games (as 2K Boston)
Publisher: 2K Games
Year: 2007
Format: Xbox 360, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3
When the opening movie of BioShock finishes, and you’re bobbing in the sea, I didn’t move for ages because the graphics were so good I thought I was still watching a cutscene.  Then when I did move I got distracted by some bricks because they were the best looking bricks I’d ever seen.  This was one of the first games I bought for my 360, admittedly, but it’s still an intensely pretty game.  Except pretty’s not the right word because it’s also hideous and terrifying.
   And clever.  When was the last time a game introduced you to a whole philosophical idea?  I’d never heard of objectivism before I started playing this, but I know about it now. 
   The basic concept is that in a sort of alternate 20th century, a secret city under the sea was built by visionary/nutjob/visionary nutjob Andrew Ryan, who embraced the theory of objectivism – personal gain is all that matters – wholeheartedly and wanted to give the world’s best and brightest a place to flourish away from “the parasites” (read: normal people with their normal morals who prevent great artists, scientists and thinkers from truly achieving their potential).  Rapture, as it is called, seems to work initially but come on.  You stumble across it after a ruinous civil war that engulfed the city and left it a wreck.  Oh, and the war was fought with superpowers, thanks to a scientific discovery that lets people shoot lightning from their hands or whatever.
   So you pick your way through Rapture in a first-person shooter with heavy survival horror elements.  The gameplay is satisfying (although I’d argue that its not-developed-by-Irrational sequel BioShock 2 has better core gameplay) and the world is fascinating (although I’d argue that its developed-by-Irrational sequel BioShock Infinite has a better, richer world with a stronger plotline, though it’s a very close-run thing, and Infinite gets awfully confusing in places compared to the original’s vibrant clarity of purpose).  As a whole package, though, the first is still the ‘Shock to beat.  Like any truly great linear game, it’s a collection of “remember that bit”s.  Remember that bit where you first encountered a Splicer?  Remember that bit where you met Sander Cohen?  Remember that bit where you gained the ability to shoot bees from your fingers?  Remember that bit where the entire game’s plot turned on its head and deconstructed one of the key tropes of modern gaming perfectly?
MAGIC MOMENT: that whole plot-turning-on-its-head thing.

No comments: