UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:
One of the must have games this generation, Bioshock has really made a name for itself. As a spiritual successor to System Shock, it had a lot to live up to. Added upon that was talk of the theme of morality, and a involving story, both kicking up the hype. I know, I know, the only question you have left now is “Well Nick, I know all that, but did the game deliver by your standards?”. The answer is... in the following review.
The graphics in Bioshock are beautiful, theirs no doubt about that. This is one of those games that can set a mood through visuals alone, and it does. The atmosphere in Bioshock is one of the greatest parts in the game. Looking out through various windows to see the underwater city is a sight I took in every chance I could. Bioshock has a style reminiscent of Fallout, in that it shows a twist on the earlier 1900's. While later on in the game, it does tend to kind of drop this atmosphere a bit, it's still amazing while it lasts, and the visuals still give off a creepy tone. Even if the consistency of style does seem to drop towards the end, the graphics are still very sharp, very stylized, and very easy on the eyes. It could be argued that Bioshock is the most graphically impressive game on the 360.
Sound is not usually essential in games. It's just something to play in the background, help set the mood a little. Few games really make sound essential, really use it to their advantage and show the full potential of it. Zelda, Silent Hill 2, Bioshock, all three of these do just that, and what is one thing they all have in common? They're all unforgettable experiences, they made you feel more than you usually do while playing a game, you cared a little bit more. The extra personality set in the music is what I believe gets this emotion across. Hearing the old 60's music, the mutated humans talking to them selfs, the audio diary's. It all adds up and creates some of the most believable and creepy environments in a long time.
Bioshock is a FPS. Yeah, it has RPG elements, but lets be honest, its a FPS. It's fun, yeah, but its nothing that hasn't been done before. You have two categories of attack types, Plasmids, which are almost like magic attacks, and then weapons, like a wrench, shotgun, pistol, etc. For the first half of the game, this is a total blast, nothing beats smacking a crazy person in the face with a wrench. But even this grows less entertaining toward the end. You'll be able to upgrade all of your weapons and plasmids, which adds a little variety, and you can also take pictures of enemies to study them and gain advantages over them. Still, it boils down to shoot, kill, repeat.
The story of Bioshock is the most impressive thing, no doubt in my mind, and that's saying something in such a overall impressive game. Without giving away anything, I'll say that your plane crashes and you enter Rapture, the underwater city, only to find that its corrupt creator has trapped a poor soul and his family down there. It's your job to save them. Sounds simple enough now, but just wait, after some plot twists and unexpected turns, the story really starts to show what it's made of. Great writing and voice acting really help the story along, adding even more to the atmosphere I've been going on and on about.
I can't explain how amazing this game is, it is one of those things that just needs to be experienced. It's in the top 3 games I've played this generation and I wouldn't be surprised if it stayed there. The game tells an interesting story in a chilling atmosphere, and it's a shooter no less. While the big morality system that was talked about so much really comes down to “what ending do I want?”, it's still a step in the right direction. Hopefully Bioshock 2 can improve on this, and the repetitive nature of the game. But for now, Bioshock is a game for those of you who love complex storylines, yet can't keep yourself interested in RPGS. Or for those of you who like games in general. Just take my word for it, you will like this game.