Let me start out with the plot. The plot of BioShock is one of the most original and compelling pieces of work I have seen in recent gaming. It takes place in the 60's, where you're character gets stranded in the ocean after a Plane crash. He finds his way onto a surface elevator and makes his way down to the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture is an entirely self reliant city, having been built by industrialist Andrew Ryan, and populated by the greatest minds of its time. Ryan wanted to create his own city free from the oppressive rule of governments, and those out for their own political or religious agendas, so he built Rapture in the mid 40's.
During the mid 50's, scientist in rapture developed ADAM, stem cells based on research of a rare breed of Sea Slug. With the help of ADAM, research of genetic manipulation speed up, and soon people could alter their own DNA to cure things such as a Cold, or being Bald. However, they could also alter their own genetics to gain abilities such as Pyrokinesis and Telekinesis. These latter abilities, however, required the use of EVE, a serum usually stored in a one-time use hypodermic needle.
By the 60's, as the game starts out, civil war has destroyed a good portion of Rapture. It's now populated by crazed Splicers, normal people who used far too much ADAM, and have gone insane, as well as Little Sisters, who extract ADAM from deceased corpses and process it within themselves, and the Little Sisters protectors, the Big Daddies.
The controls should feel pretty familiar to FPS players, as the game uses a standard layout, with some tweaks. Instead of just using guns and other firearms, the player has the ability to gain Plasmids, orbs that give you abilities which use ADAM. Plasmids, essentially, alter your DNA structure to give you the ability that they contain. You can get a range of abilities, from Pyrokinesis, to Telekinesis, and beyond. Even the ability to make your worst enemy your best friend.
While one side of the controller's Trigger and Bumper is used exclusively for firearms, firing and switching, the other side is used for Plasmid abilities, as well as switching which current Plasmid ability you have set to use with the trigger. Each ability takes a certain portion from the EVE meter, which is located under the health meter in the upper left corner of the HUD. The rest of the controls are pretty normal, movement and looking are done by using the left and right sticks, respectively. The controls for the game feel perfect. Reloaded is a single button, and is done by having a Weapon out, or a Plasmid out. Pressing the reload while a Plasmid is out, will reload your EVE meter, by using one of your EVE hypodermic needles. This is useful at times, especially if you're expecting a huge battle, and don't want to have to hide while the game auto reloads your meter, or weapon.
Clicking the left stick allows your to crouch, while clicking the right controls how much you zoom (This is based on which weapons you're using). Jumping is a standard ability, but does come in handy at times if you're trying to save time navigating the massive city of Rapture. You also get a button for specifically using First Aid kit's that you've picked up along the way. This is quite useful, and can be done at any time, even while being attacked. The last button is used for Interactions, including looting foes bodies, and interacting with machines, or other people.
Another rather unique feature is that each weapon has multiple ammunition types, which can be changed on the fly using the D-Pad. The controls are really tight and solid, and are easy to get used to.
The sound and graphics of the game are nothing short of extraordinary. The game takes place in 60's, and it truly feels like you've gone back in time. The games design is very crisp, and every time I play it I feel such immersion in the game. You'll probably notice I have hardly mentioned the Sound and Graphics, mostly because I feel they speak for themselves, better than I ever could.
Now to get to the meat of the game. This game features one of the best enemies I have fight in almost any video game. Yes, thats right, I mean the Big Daddy. Big Daddies themselves only have one goal, protect the Little Sister at all costs. They do not aggressively attack you unless you attack them, or the Little Sister first. If the Little Sister feels threated by you, they will also attack, but most times you can just walk right by them, and everything will be fine. Big Daddies come in two varieties, the Bouncers, which have giant drills on their right arm, and the Rosies, which carries around a rivet firing cannon.
Big Daddies may seem like giant, slow, hulking beasts, but their speed is quite amazing. They will charge you from almost any distance, and trust me, they can close that distance quick, too. Especially if they lunge directly at you. Big Daddies are not easy to beat, by any means. As you progress through the game, they may seem to get easier, but then you come across the upgraded ones that are even more difficult to defeat. Defeating the Big Daddy is necessary to get to the Little Sisters, the source of all ADAM in the game. You need ADAM to get more Plasmids, and upgrade Plasmids. After defeating the Big Daddy, you're given a moral choice to make. You can Sacrifice the Little Sister to get the most ADAM out of her, or you can Save her, and get much less. The Moral choice effects the game in more ways than one, but I don't want to go all the way into that.
Defeating Big Daddies also usually nets you some money from their own corpses, which is quite useful for buying items from automatic vending shops called “The Circus of Value”. There are other automatic machines like these, each with separate usages. The “Power To The People” machine upgrades any one of your weapons once, for free. Once used, the machine permanently deactivates.
“Gatherer's Gardens” are used to upgrade, switch out, and buy new Plasmids, which are bought by spending ADAM as a form of currency. There are many other types of Vending machines, that I will let you discover for yourself. Another unique thing about this game is that you cannot actually die, for good. You can die in-game, but you'll always be brought back to life by the nearest Vita-Chamber you passed with whatever you had on you when you died.
The game features a unique mini-game for hacking machinery to convince it that you're not an intruder in Rapture. Machines, such as Turrets and Security Cameras. Hacking can also be used on Safes you'll find to get to what's inside. Hacking the vending machines will give you cheaper prices, and sometimes allow you to buy items the machine didn't previously have available. Hacking is done through the a mini-game where you take out and replace parts to make a complete pipe between two points, while avoiding any obstacles in your way, in the alloted time. If the electricity feed reaches you before you finish, you'll get slightly electrocuted.
The only thing this game lacks is a multplayer experience. However, with the level of pure immersion the single player game presents, I am sure everyone will find something to like about the game, if not everything. I am personally completely impressed with the game on various levels. And even without multiplayer (Which shows the faith 2K Games had in their product), the game is excellent enough to earn my first 10 out of 10. This game is a must own for any Xbox 360 owner, and for anyone with a good enough PC to play it. If you've not played the game, and you're still reading this, what are you waiting for? Go make one of the best and most fulfilling purchases of your life.