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The Quixotic Engineer

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bioshock Preview

Bioshock Big Daddy

If you're at all tuned in to gaming news, you've heard of it and possibly salivated a little. I'm not going to say anything new here that you haven't heard before.

To everyone else, the word of the day is Bioshock. A spiritual successor to the innovative System Shock series and scheduled to be released in late August, the game is attracting a lot of seemingly well-deserved hype. I can say from personal experience that every person who I've shown the game to has expressed an interest in purchasing it.

From what information has been released thus far, we know that the setting is the underwater city of Rapture. Built by a man named Andrew Ryan in the late 40's, the city was to be an objectivist utopia where "the artist would not fear the censor, the great will not be constrained by the small and the scientist would not be bound by petty morality..."

It is in this city that an underwater source of raw stem cells, dubbed ADAM, was discovered. Citizens of rapture quickly began using these cells to modify their bodies and minds, but for some the price was their humanity. A civil war soon broke out between Ryan and a young entrepreneur named Tenebaum who had a monopoly on ADAM. In the conflict, all natural sources of the cells were irreparably destroyed. This was bad news for a city now entirely dependant on ADAM, which functioned as both lifeblood and currency for the population, and society quickly degenerated into chaos.

Bioshock Little Sister

As a means of preserving the ADAM that remained, Dr. Tenebaum conceived a way of harvesting it off dead. He created the Little Sisters, genetically modified creatures in the form of little girls who wander Rapture with gigantic syringes. When they find a dead body, they suck out the ADAM and drink it, their bodies converting it into a stable form. As a player, these creatures present an interesting dilemma, as they possess the genetic material that you need to upgrade your character. However, harvesting this material off the Little Sisters, we are told, will result in their death.

Bioshock Big Daddy & Little Sister

It is for that reason that Dr. Tenebaum also designed the Big Daddy. While little is known about what exactly the Big Daddies are, we know that they resemble men in giant diving suits, and are often armed with shotguns and drills. Their goal is to escort the Little Sisters around Rapture and protect them from harm. They will not attack you unless you attempt to harm the Little Sisters. The AI interactions between the two are amazing to watch, as the Little Sisters skip and jump ahead of their protectors, whom they refer to as "Mr. Bubbles" (yes, that's where I stole this name from). Big Daddies are generally too strong to be killed by the player alone, but can be felled by cunning use of the environment (as demonstrated in the Hunting the Big Daddy video.) As such, they represent a sort of optional roaming boss battle, with the rewards being ADAM that the little sisters possess.

Personally, this concept alone is enough to sell me the game. It's this kind of innovation that the FPS genre has been sorely lacking in recent years. To see the game in action, check out the following video demo, and follow the links for more at the bottom of the page.



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