bioshock
This is confirmation that BioShock does, indeed, not suck. (Okay, we admit, we failed to glean new megatons from tight-lipped creative director Ken Levine who oversaw our hands-on, so we're just gonna wax poetic.) If there is one nagging concern, we suppose it would be that BioShock seems derivative of Half-Life 2. One man against a dystopia. But to suggest that BioShock is just Half-Life 2, the pinnacle of "narrative" shooters, draped in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, pulled tight, and dunked into the depths of the ocean is a gross misrepresentation. This game is not simply an imitator (though developer Irrational Games admits to borrowing from the best of sources, including Pokémon Snap, and puts to use the forgotten skill many of us acquired through wasted hours of Pipe Dream). It's no errant medley of game genres either. BioShock is still a first-person shooter and at its very base presents a well-laid "meathead-safe" romp.

Some will inevitably pick up BioShock and quickly run n' gun (and pummel and zap and ignite and freeze and distract and clothesline and ... ) past the decaying set pieces and gently placed story devices. Meh, it was a'ight, they'll say, and then set their sights on the next shooter to devour. But for the devoted player, there is an onion to peel back. Seeing first a later stage in the game, where an almost unending stream of engineered freaks must be slaughtered (on-the-fly) by using booby traps, mind tricks, IEDs, telekinesis, and even mini cyclones is overwhelming. But, starting from the beginning, coaxed by a dynamic hint system, you'll slowly tiptoe through darkness until you're forced into the vivid brutality of this perverse underworld. You'll adapt and modify, hack and tinker, and free demonic little girls -- or not. To reveal too much about BioShock would be to spoil an intimate adventure that you should not pass up.

With only and hour and change spent with the game (a work-in-progress build) it's still an easy call: BioShock will be hailed by critics. But even with an early lead (release date: August 21), 2K Games is gonna have a helluva time promoting its game over Halo, GTA, and the general noise Sony and Nintendo will be making about their year-end lineups (commencing next month at min-E3). So do your part, save BioShock from drowning.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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