In Bioshock, the latest 3D action game from 2K games, something is rotten in the city of Rapture. Shortly after surviving a plane crash, the player finds himself descending via a bathysphere from a lighthouse to the submerged city of Rapture.

No sooner does the player arrive at Rapture, and then a horrific and violent reception awaits them. Via radio connection, a person know as Atlas attempts to guide the player along and get him up to speed on his situation while tasking him to do missions in an attempt to survive.

It does not take a genius to realize that this utopian society has gone horribly wrong, and that thanks to gene research horrible mutations roam the halls with a thirst for blood, especially yours.

Thankfully, there are weapons on hand and players will be able to upgrade from their basic wrench to more advanced weapons such as machine guns, shotguns, chemical throwers, grenade launchers, and more. Bioshock cleverly encourages players to explore every area of the vast city, as cash, and other loot can be found which will come in very handy as the game unfolds. The game also cleverly fills in the story by way of tapes, that players will find, and can playback to learn who the key players are as well as some of the events that happened before the player arrived.

When players have enough cash, they can purchase new ammunition as well as first aid kits and weapon upgrades from the vending machines that populate the city. Weapons can use different types of ammunition from incendiary to armor piercing for example, and this allows players to cause greater damage by selecting ammunition that an enemy is not as resistant to.

By use of a camera, players can take photographs of the denizens of Rapture and conduct research which helps them learn which types of ammunition an enemy is most susceptible to. Players will also be able to upgrade their weapons to increase range and power as well as stability and other factors from vending machines.

If you think this is much more than your traditional shooter, you are right, and I have not even touched upon the games more impressive feature, the ability to modify your genes to give players supernatural powers.

With factors ranging from combat, technology, healing and more, players can modify themselves with plasmids, and maintain their abilities via blue shot called Eve. I was able to use telekinesis to move objects, toss grenades back at an enemy, as well as freeze an enemy solid, light them afire, or fry them to a crisp while they stood in a puddle of water. Of course this paled to being able to unleash a swarm of bees upon them and other abilities, all of which could be upgraded, modified, or swapped as they game unfolds via special vending machines.

This ability can be tricky as to purchase and upgrade many powers, players must collect a substance know as “Adam” but this is found only by harvesting it from Little Sisters, demonic looking little girls, who unfortunately are protected by hulking and deadly Big Brothers, who must be dealt with before a player can collect what they need.

This little dilemma also powers the games finale and will determine which ending a players will get, but more on that later.

The stunning amount of details and the attention to the setting really helps immerse you in the game and keeps you riveted, even when the plot becomes murky. The game also tasks players with playing a mini game to hack locks, safes, and other items, or pay money to open them for those who do not possess auto-hack technology.

The graphics in the game shine in both Direct X 9 and 10 modes, and are a nice blend of lights, darkness, water effects, fire, and much more that really helps Rapture come alive.

The sound FX in the game is solid as are the voice acting, and weapons, which all combine to make this game a truly memorable experience.

If I had to find fault with the game it would be that the endings were less than satisfactory, especially after slogging your way through the length of the game only to be left with more questions than answers, and a fairly pat ending, that detracted greatly from the overall experience of the game.

Another issue I have is with the lack of a multiplayer mode for the game. The designers have said that this was omitted to focus on the story portion of the game, and that future segments of the game would likely have this feature.

While this may be true, I would point out that games such as F.E.A.R. and Half Life all had detailed and immersive plots as well as solid multiplay in them. Half Life 2 did ship without multiplay but had that feature added soon after via updated, which is what I hope will happen to Bioshock as the abilities combined with the weapons and great locales would in my opinion set a new standard for online play if done correctly.

That being said, Bioshock is a very solid and entertaining game that is likely to be in serious contention for many game of the year honors.

4.5 stars out of 5