Just downloaded and played the Bioshock demo up on XBox Live. I’m always suspicious of pre-release hype for videogames, and I’ve never done a review of a game per se, but I will give the 2K folks and Take-Two their props for creating Rapture, the undersea city that serves as Bioshock‘s backdrop. Its name, IMHO, is more than a little unfortunate, but Rapture isn’t the typical first-person shooter atmosphere that is set in a near-future full of aliens and anodized armor on a distant (or *ahem* “lost”) planet.
The game anchors itself in the year 1960, offering Rapture as an interesting commentary on the time period’s abhorrent twinning of geopolitics and technology (the game’s backstory shows us how the city promised an Objectivist’s paradise that truly only Ayn Rand could love). It only takes a few moments in the city to see that Rapture has clearly failed, and despite all its copper and art deco beauty, the neo-Atlantis has fallen to nightmare and teeters on complete collapse.
The demo is only one level long, but it’s still large enough (and better be, since the download is nearly 1.3 gigabytes…) to deliver the full haunt of this place. The water and lighting effects are more than mere atmospherics or clever triggers for (supposedly) equally clever killing methods (electrocution and immolation, just for starters); they are thoroughly capable of convincing me that Rapture is literally drowning in its own idolatry, suffocating from the heft of its own magnificence.
You know, like an Ayn Rand novel. Only intentionally so…