I understand that many of my regular readers here are not into video games, so lemme start by saying this. Bioshock is like the Arcade Fire's 'Funeral' of video games. It comes out this week to an unprecedented amount of praise. As of now, the current gamerankings mark (metacritic for games) is a whopping 97%, which is just about the best ever. And not only is the game a technical achievement, but the story just about pushes the envelope farther than anything ever done in the medium before. When a video game elicits Ann Rand comparisons, you know there's something special going on.
Clearly glowing opinions of this game are not in short supply, but let me set the scene. It's 1960, and you are some dude on a commercial airplane that crashes into the middle of the Atlantic. You swim to this odd lighthouse structure to seek refuge and find yourself at the entrance to this underwater Utopian society. Now bear with me for a sec...This world was created by billionaire socialite Andrew Ryan, who gathered the best minds of Art, Science and Industry to create a world that promotes personal freedoms over government or Godly intervention. The entire world is a series of rooms, airlocks and tubes, all created in this imposing Art Deco style. It's quite brilliant, honestly.
I've barely scratched the surface of this game, but it appears, from the various clues you come across, the whole society went to shit sometime around the 1959 New Year. One of the innovations of this world was that the ability to alter your genetic code was available on the consumer level by the way of various injections. These things let you create fire and electricity from your fingers, move things with your mind...ya know. So needless to say, the abuse of all this stuff led most of the population to go mad. You find yourself in the middle of all this, with a lone, sane fella on a radio helping you through. The actual plot so far, despite all this story depth is actually pretty vague, but it seems your main goal is to get out of this place alive, while trying to meet up with and save anyone who is still sane enough to want out.
I don't think I've gotten 1/5 of the way through the game yet (just reached the mad doctor who strives to surgically create the perfect being.) And I haven't even gotten to a 'big daddy', who are these massive robots who maintains a symbiotic relationship with these little girls who apparently possess some sort of pure blood that everyone craves. But I'm already very impressed. There is a big leap, in my opinion, between a technically prefect game such as last year's Gears of War and something like this. This is more than a game. As much as Citizen Kane or The Godfather were more than just moving pictures. This is the type of game that should make people realize that video games have the capacity for depth and emotion and more than just mindless violence and shallow entertainment. It can be art.