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E3 2007: BioShock


2K Games

Easily the most-anticipated game of 2007 that doesn't have either 'Halo' or 'Grand Theft Auto' in the title. Since we first got a glimpse of the eye-catching underwater city of Rapture behind closed doors at last year's E3, the grass-roots buzz (as opposed to marketing-fed hype) for BioShock has been building.

Students of gaming history already know that BioShock's producer, Ken Levine, is best remembered for the System Shock series, which combined first-person shooting with puzzle-solving, adventure and RPG game elements. His company, Insomniac, couldn't nail down the rights to produce another game in the series, so BioShock is what we?d call a spiritual sequel, with much of the same thinking-man's shooter vibe.

2K Games

Most gamers will be going in cold, so all you need to know is that the game starts with a mid-ocean plane crash, where the sole survivor miraculously finds a man-made station sticking out of the water, leading down to the decrepit ruins of an undersea city. The pseudo-1940's art deco vibe is a nice break from the warehouses and space stations that most first-person shooters seem to be set in, and the level of detail is impressive, from the faux period advertisements to the big band music playing in the background.

Naturally, all is not well in the city of Rapture, which was founded as a utopian experiment for scientists and artists. Genetic manipulation led to the citizens developing super powers, and a civil war ensued, leaving a handful of psychotically deranged survivors, most of whom are not exactly rolling out the red carpet for you. Traveling through the city in a somewhat linear fashion, you must use wits, guns and some of Rapture's patented genetic power-ups to survive long enough to find a way back to the surface. Much violence ensues, but we liked that you can choose to attack head-on, set traps or even use you newfound powers to pit enemies against each other.

We've gotten a few opportunities to play BioShock as a work-in-progress over the past several months, and the latest build here at E3 continues to impress, from the different every time enemy AI to the fantastic water and lighting effects that create real sense of underwater claustrophobia. With an August release date for PC and the Xbox 360, you'll likely be hearing a lot more about this game in the coming weeks.