Screenshot of Bioshock Game Cover

BioShock is the first game in the franchise developed and published by 2K Games. It is a first-person shooter videogame that can be played on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows systems. The game incorporates elements from important books of the 20th century and draws inspiration from the works of Ayn Rand and George Orwell.

Key facts about BioShock

  • BioShock has an original presentation, with a fantastic narrative that gets players fully hooked to the plot and characters.
  • At the time of its release, the videogame had some of the best graphics, animations and art style of any first-person shooter videogame
  • BioShock spent a lot of time in development, but the gameplay is superb and players compete against highly intelligent opponents.
  • The lasting appeal of the videogame is what makes it stand out from the crowd, with the single player spanning over more than 20 hours.
  • BioShock and its two sequels all scored an average rating of more than 90 out of 100 making it one of the best series of all time.

The BioShock games

BioShock was the most innovative game of the year, equally driven by the stellar narrative and gameplay. The developers found it worthwhile to come up with sequels and two more games were added to the franchise over the next five years. BioShock 2 was announced just one year after the original game hit the stores and it builds on the popularity of the original. At the same time, the new game is very different and doesn’t simply continue the story of the first game.

BioShock games get players immersed into the gaming atmosphere that is dark and gloomy. Decisions are extremely important throughout the campaign and they affect its outcome as well and the manner in which in unfolds. BioShock Infinite is a steep departure from the previous two games, and introduces the idea of multiple universes. Action is fast-paced and the scenery changes completely, with none of the characters from the prequels featuring in the third installment.

Of all BioShock games, only BioShock Infinite got an episodic expansion which goes by the name of Burial at Sea. It continues the story of the main game while introducing new characters and new missions. There are rumors that developers are working on new games that will augment the series.

What is BioShock

BioShock is a first-person shooter that takes place in 1960, in the underwater city of Rapture. The game is a brilliant combination of first-person and role-playing elements, but it is the story that makes it stand out from the crowd. Developed by 2K games and published by the same company, it was made available right from the start on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and later on Microsoft Windows powered PCs.

Gameplay of BioShock

BioShock has all the characteristic elements of first-person shooters, but is also a popular game among role-playing videogame fans. It includes stealth elements and encourages players to collect resources, upgrade equipment and improve the collection of weapons. Switching between weapons is intentionally made a bit restrictive, to motivate players to use strategy rather than going in guns blazing.

Screenshot of Bioshock Little Sister
Screenshot of Bioshock Little Sister

The gameplay of BioShock is further complicated by the fact that ammunition is somewhat limited and plasmid guns consume the EVE just as quickly. Compared to other first-person shooters, this one has a health meter that decreases whenever players take damage and doesn’t go up automatically. As a result, it is essential for players to take shelter, plan a couple of moves in advance and keep their eyes open for syringes and medical packs. When players die, they respawn at the last Vita-Chamber visited.

Direct combat represents only the tip of the iceberg and it is usually less effective than stealth tactics. Players can also hack into the automated systems of Rapture and this process takes the form of short mini games. If they fail to hack the device, they will lose health, which will further ramp up the pressure to find medical kits. The BioShock gameplay is influenced by the role-playing videogame elements.

Players are given a research camera early on to take photographs of enemies and learn more about them. This is a perpetual action that allows players to know the enemy’s weaknesses and strong suits. Players collect money as well as ADAM, which can be used to purchase ammunition or plasmids. The limited number of tonics and plasmids that players can carry at any given time makes the game more difficult.

Plot of BioShock

The narrative of BioShock starts in 1960 when the protagonist Jack crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. He survives and finds refuge in the underwater city of Rapture built by a rich magnate called Andrew Ryan. Here, he encounters Splicers and his only friends and guids are Atlas and Dr. Tenenbaum. As he tries to escape the maze created by Ryan and the monsters populating it, Jack has to make difficult decisions.

Screenshot of Bioshock Big Daddy
Screenshot of Bioshock Big Daddy

At times, Atlas and Dr. Tenenbaum give conflicting advice such as to kill or spare Little Sisters. Players get to choose between sacrificing the little ones and harvest ADAM or gather the resources elsewhere. The Little Sisters are protected by Big Daddies, which need to be defeated anyway. Some of Ryan’s former employees try to kill Jack and prevent him from capturing his master. Eventually, all his tricks fail and the day of reckoning comes, with Jack having to make one last difficult decision.

Killing Ryan is not the end of the story, because Atlas is revealed as Fontaine. By using the catchphrase “would you kindly”, he compelled Jack to do things he didn’t necessarily want to do. In the end, he tries to kill Jack as well, but he is saved by Dr. Tenenbaum with the assistance of the Little Sisters he saved throughout the campaign. The single player campaign can end in different ways, depending on the final decisions made by the players.

We won’t ruin the fun of discovering the ending by yourself. What we can tell is that the finale is so good that many players choose to replay the final missions just to see the alternate ending.

Development of BioShock

Development on BioShock only started in 2004, but the division working on it was created in 1997. Irrational Games was given a lot of freedom in developing the plot and it used the Unreal Engine 2. The game was intended to be a spiritual successor of the popular System Shock 2. That game achieved worldwide popularity mostly due to its thick plot and the decision-making system that influences it.

BioShock spent so much time in development because the plot was changed several times. The team working on it intended to have the narrative take place in a World War II era laboratory. That concept was eventually dropped and the idea of a utopic underwater city turning into a dystopic one gained traction. The gameplay was also changed several times to reflect new ideas and to make the game more difficult.

Screenshot of Bioshock Melee Fight
Screenshot of Bioshock Melee Fight

Where can I download BioShock?

BioShock can be downloaded from the official website alongside all the games in the franchise. At the time of writing there are three main titles and an expansion, which can all be acquired as a bundle. The alternative is to head on to the publisher’s website where you can find other 2K Games. Mafia III, WWE 2K14, Battleborn, NBA 2K16 and XCOM 2 can all be acquired here.

What are others saying about BioShock?

BioShock was a major hit right from the start, with players and reviewers being equally impressed. The story was widely regarded as one of the best in videogame history. The first-person shooter was also praised for its uncanny ability to create a fantastic atmosphere. Many acknowledged the educational value of the game as well as the references to famous writings of philosophy and fiction.

What the critics have liked above everything else was the fact that the game actually make players feel. With an average score of 95 out of 100, BioShock receive flawless scores from several major reviewing companies. It set the bar very high for the sequel, which was also praised by critics and players alike.

BioShock tournaments

The game has such an impressive single player campaign, that the absence of multiplayer is totally understandable. Granted there are no BioShock tournaments, playing by yourself is immensely rewarding. If you seek the adrenaline rush of first-person shooters played online, there are better options out there. Check out Counter Strike Global Offensive, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Rainbow 6 Siege or F.E.A.R 3.

My rating of BioShock

BioShock should have a place in any top 10, even one that is not necessarily centered on first-person shooters. I have a hard time coming up with a videogame that has a better storyline and I’m quite certain there’s no game with a better atmosphere. The narrative is so convincing and the decisions so difficult to make, that you actually feel the need to stop for a moment and ponder your options. I’ve replayed the game several times and I’m quite tempted to do it again. Whether I give into temptation or resist the urge, I’m going to rate this game 10 out of 10.

Overall Score