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Hands-on - Bioshock - Xbox 360

by Steven Williamson on 14 August 2007, 15:21

Tags: Bioshock, Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO), PC, Xbox 360, FPS

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Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Irrational Games's Bioshock received 17 awards on its public debut at E3 2006, where the company claimed that their latest masterpiece would be at the forefront of defining next generation gaming and would forever change our expectations for the first-person shooter.

For the first time, the public no longer have to read and listen to the praise lauded on the sci-fi shooter. The demo has now hit the Xbox live arcade and although a demo only gives us an insight into to what to expect when Bioshock is released later this month, it does give us the first clear indication as to whether the heady claims of publisher's 2K, the developers and the press are right; will Bioshock be the best first person shooter of 2007?

With websites dishing out scores of 10/10 and people banging on about how Bioshock may change the shape of videogames, you can probably understand that I've perhaps succumb slightly to the hype myself before even playing the game. While I'm suitably impressed by the graphical sheen, amazing water and lighting effects, creepy atmosphere and bizarre but captivating story-line, I've still been left feeling a tad disappointed. Don't me get wrong, judging by the demo, Bioshock will certainly be an above average first person shooter, but not because the developers have pushed forward the genre with a barrage of innovative ideas, but only because of the atmosphere created by some stunning graphics, the intense audio, scary enemies and a story-line that could be as compelling as the original Half-Life story.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

The demo begins with you waking up in the middle of the ocean, following a plane crash. There aren't many games that have managed to do this to me on Xbox 360, but I sat there for 20 seconds or so waiting for the game to start, assuming that the quality of the water effects and the flaming debris floating all around were still part of a cinematic cut-scene; they weren't. Bioshock really does look amazing from the outset. Water plays an important part in the game as you swim towards a lighthouse and descend into the depths of the enclosed underwater city of Rapture. Water leaks through small gaps and the city is merely a shadow of its former self after civil war broke out. The framework of the city is struggling to stand tall under the intense pressure of the water, with pipes bursting with the liquid, glass breaking under the burden and water-tight doors struggling to contain one of nature’s greatest forces. The use of water, the sounds associated with it, the look and the visual impact of seeing gallons of water cascading toward you, at the start of the demo, is extremely impressive and better than I’ve seen in any other game.