BioShock (series)

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For the first game in this series, see BioShock.
BioShock
Bioshock series.jpg
The logo for BioShock, the first game in the series.
Genres First-person shooter
Developers Irrational Games
2K Australia
2K Marin
Publishers 2K Games
Creators Ken Levine
Artists Scott Sinclair
Writers Ken Levine
Composers Garry Schyman
Platforms Microsoft Windows
Xbox 360
PlayStation 3
OS X
Platform of origin Microsoft Windows
Xbox 360
Year of inception 2007
First release BioShock
  • NA August 21, 2007
Latest release BioShock Infinite
  • WW March 26, 2013
Official website www.2kgames.com/bioshock/

BioShock is a first-person shooter video game series developed by Irrational Games[1]—the first under the name 2K Boston/2K Australia—and designed by Ken Levine. The first game in the series was released for the Windows operating system and Xbox 360 video game console on August 21, 2007 in North America, and three days later (August 24) in Europe and Australia.[2] A PlayStation 3 version of the game, which was developed by 2K Marin, was released internationally on October 17, 2008 and in North America on October 21, 2008[3] with some additional features.[4] The game was also released for the Mac OS X operating system on October 7, 2009.[5] A version of the game for mobile platforms is currently being developed by IG Fun.[6] A sequel, BioShock 2, was released on February 9, 2010. On August 12, 2010, Irrational Games unveiled a trailer for a new game titled BioShock Infinite, released on March 26, 2013.[7] As of 2011, the BioShock franchise has sold over 9 million copies.[8]

Concept and development[edit]

In response to a question from the gaming website IGN about what influenced the game's story and setting, Levine said, "I have my useless liberal arts degree, so I've read stuff from Ayn Rand, George Orwell and all the sort of utopian and dystopian writings of the 20th century, and having developed the System Shock franchise, some of my first games, I felt that the atmosphere was a good one to set for a dystopian environment, one we borrowed heavily from System Shock."[9] Levine has also mentioned an interest in "stem cell research and the moral issues that go around [it]."[9] In regard to artistic influences, Levine cited the books Nineteen Eighty-Four and Logan's Run, representing societies that have "really interesting ideas screwed up by the fact that we're people."[10]

According to the developers, BioShock is a spiritual successor to the System Shock games, and was produced by former developers of that series. Levine claims his team had been thinking about making another game in the same vein since they produced System Shock 2.[11] In his narration of a video initially screened for the press at E3 2006, Levine pointed out many similarities between the games.[12] There are several comparable gameplay elements: plasmids in BioShock supplied by "EVE hypos" serve the same function as "Psionic Abilities" supplied by "PSI hypos" in System Shock 2; the player needs to deal with security cameras, machine gun turrets, and hostile robotic drones, and has the ability to hack them in both games; ammunition conservation is stressed as "a key gameplay feature"; and audio tape recordings fulfil the same storytelling role that e-mail logs did in the System Shock games.[12] The "ghosts" (phantom images that replay tragic incidents in the places they occurred) from System Shock 2 also exist in BioShock,[13] as do modifiable weapons with multiple ammunition types and researching enemies for increased damage. Additionally, Atlas guides the player along by radio, in much the same way Janice Polito does in System Shock 2, with each having a similar twist mid-game. Both games also give the player more than one method of completing tasks, allowing for emergent gameplay.[14]

In the reveal of the third game of the series, BioShock Infinite, Ken Levine stated that the name "BioShock" is not in reference to any specific setting or location, but instead a means of encapsulating common gameplay elements that reflects on their earlier games such as System Shock 2, and the BioShock series.[15]

To me, there's two things that make a BioShock game BioShock. They take place in a world that is both fantastic and ridiculous. Something that you've never seen before and something that nobody else could create except Irrational, but it's also strangely grounded and believable. The other thing that makes it a BioShock game, it's about having a huge toolset of power and a huge range of challenges, and you being able to drive how you solve those challenges.

Ken Levine, Irrational Games, [16]

Gameplay[edit]

The games in the BioShock series are first-person shooters, and considered to be a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, which many of the developers were previously involved with through Irrational Games. In the first two games, the player controls a character as they explore Rapture, learning of the city's past and the fate of its citizens, defending themselves from attacks from Splicers along the way as they complete missions given to them by the few unaffected survivors. The player is given several options to approach many situations through combination of a number of game elements. The player collects an arsenal of weapons; weapons can be upgraded over course of play, and each can be loaded with different types of ammunition which can have different effects on different foes. The player also gains plasmids, ADAM-infused concoctions that grant the player active superhuman-like powers such as telekinesis or pyrokinesis in addition to passive abilities such as increased speed or better damage resistance. The player can use weapons and plasmids in conjunction with the environment to set traps or to turn the security systems of Rapture against the player's enemies. For example, all enemies in a water-filled room can be shocked by electrocuting the water, sentry guns and cameras can be hacked to fire on detected Splicers, or explosive proximity traps can be set through the help of telekinesis.

As the player explores Rapture, they will come across health and EVE (the substance used to power plasmid-granted powers) recovery items, recording devices that reveal more of Rapture's history, and money. The money can be used at vending machines to acquire more ammunition or health and EVE items. Plasmids are purchased by collecting ADAM from Little Sisters after defeating the heavily armored Big Daddy that protects them. Both BioShock games give the player a choice of how to do this; the player can either safely extract the sea slug from the girl, earning a modest amount of ADAM and leaving the child alive, or they can kill the child, and extract a large amount of ADAM directly. Though the player can purchase numerous plasmids, they can only equip a limited number at any time, though devices throughout Rapture can allow the player to change this loadout at any time.

Games[edit]

Aggregate review scores
As of January 8, 2012.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
BioShock (X360) 95.07%[17]
(PC) 94.58%[18]
(PS3) 93.66%[19]
(X360) 96[20]
(PC) 96[21]
(PS3) 94[22]
BioShock 2 (X360) 87.78%[23]
(PC) 87.75%[24]
(PS3) 87.05%[25]
(X360) 88[26]
(PC) 88[27]
(PS3) 88[28]
BioShock Infinite (PS3) 95.94%[29]
(PC) 92.62%[30]
(X360) 91.89%[31]
(PS3) 94[32]
(PC) 94[33]
(X360) 93[34]

BioShock[edit]

Main article: BioShock

BioShock takes place in 1960, in the fictional underwater city of Rapture. Built in the late 1940s by business tycoon Andrew Ryan, it was meant to be a laissez-faire utopia for humanity's elite to work, live, and prosper out of the increasingly oppressive hands of the world's governments and authorities.

The scientists of Rapture soon discovered a substance called ADAM found in a species of sea slug on the ocean's floor. With ADAM, they could create plasmids that would modify a person's genetic material, granting them superhuman-like abilities, and soon became a valuable commodity. They devised a means of harvesting ADAM using little girls, named "Little Sisters", implanting the sea slugs in their stomachs. Extended use of ADAM was found to lead to mental instability in its users, and along with other political and social movements within Rapture, the Little Sisters became targets of those desiring more ADAM. To protect them, the scientists created Big Daddies, mentally conditioned and mutated humans in armored diving suits that drove off any attackers from Little Sisters.

On the eve of 1959, war broke out in Rapture between its classes, fueled by ADAM-addicted "Splicers".[35] The war left Rapture a dystopia within a year, with the few non-ADAM users sheltering themselves from Splicers.[36]

The player controls Jack, a man that stumbles upon Rapture after his plane crashes near the Rapture bathysphere terminus. Jack is quickly guided by a man named Atlas via radio to help protect himself from the Splicers and to save his family from the ruthless hands of Andrew Ryan.

BioShock was released on August 21, 2007 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360. A PlayStation 3 port was released just over a year later on October 17, 2008. The game received overwhelmingly positive reviews, which praised its "morality-based" storyline, immersive environment and Ayn Rand-inspired dystopian back-story.[37] According to Take-Two's chairman Strauss Zelnick, the game has sold around 3 million copies as of June 2009.[38]

BioShock 2[edit]

Main article: BioShock 2

BioShock 2 is a direct sequel to BioShock, taking place about eight years after the first game. The player controls Subject Delta, one of the first Big Daddy test subjects who was abandoned by its creator. Continuing through the remains of Rapture left after the first game, Subject Delta must come to understand his origins and fight through the cult created by Dr. Sophia Lamb created in the power void left after BioShock to prevent a threat to the surface world.

BioShock 2 was released worldwide on February 9, 2010.[39] The game was developed by a new design team, although it contained members of the team for the original BioShock, and it received positive reviews.

BioShock Infinite[edit]

Main article: BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite takes place in 1912 in Columbia, a city suspended in the air through a combination of "quantum levitation" and giant blimps and balloons. It was built and launched in 1901 by the American government under President William McKinley's directive, to much fanfare and publicity. However, it was later involved in an "international incident" by firing upon a group of Chinese civilians during the Boxer Rebellion. The city was disavowed by the United States government, and the location of the city was soon lost to everyone else.

As a result of the city's isolation, a civil war eventually broke out on Columbia between different factions of citizens. At the time of the game's events, only two main factions remain. One group is the Founders, the remnants of those retaining power over the city led by Zachary Hale Comstock, which seeks to keep Columbia purely for American citizens while denying foreigners the same privileges. The other is a group named Vox Populi, a rag-tag resistance group, led by Daisy Fitzroy, formed from several factions with similar ideologies that fought to seize control and restore the rights of Columbia citizenship to all. However, years of war and struggle have driven Vox Populi to fight the powers-that-be solely out of blind hatred, resulting in more violent and brutal methods and leading to subfactions in the group.

The player in Infinite controls Booker DeWitt, a former disgraced member of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to recover the girl Elizabeth from her captivity aboard Columbia for the last twelve years under Comstock. Booker finds the city in violent political strife and works with Elizabeth to understand why she was held captive and the secrets of Columbia's creation. The story is thematically linked to the previous BioShock games, and a scene within the game as well as upcoming downloadable content for the title revisit the underwater city of Rapture through this connection. The player augments weapons and abilities with Elizabeth's own to aid their escape from the falling city.[40]

BioShock Infinite was announced on August 12, 2010, for release on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems on February 26, 2013; on December 7, 2012, Irrational Games announced that release would be delayed by another month, to March 26, 2013.[41] Previously known as "Project Icarus", BioShock Infinite is not a direct sequel or prequel to the original game, but carries many of the same gameplay concepts from the BioShock title.

Burial at Sea[edit]

Burial at Sea is an episodic expansion to the BioShock Infinite, it consists of two episodes, the first of which was released worldwide on November 12, 2013, with Episode 2 released on March 25, 2014.[42] The DLC links the settings and themes of Columbia and Rapture, and follows Booker and Elizabeth investigating a case in the underwater city a year before the events that incited the fall of Rapture witnessed in the first BioShock game, reintroducing many of the characters from that original setting.

The first episode received mixed reviews. It was praised for its detail, however many people slated the length of the DLC saying that it was too short and rushed to a conclusion.

Cancelled PlayStation Vita title[edit]

A version of BioShock for the PlayStation Vita had been announced at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo by Levine during Sony's press event, alongside the introduction of the Vita, but few details were revealed at that time.[43] Levine later described the title as still in the works, a game that would neither be similar to the first two BioShock titles nor be a version of Infinite for the Vita.[44] He stated that "I'd rather do something that's an experiment and that's a little different. And is unique for the franchise."[44] By April 2012, with Irrational working heavily to finish Infinite, Levine had put the Vita game on hold.[45]

In interviews in December 2012, Levine revealed that little work had been done on the game, as the dealing with working with Sony was in the hands of Irrational's publisher, Take Two, though he was still interested in the title.[46] Levine finally revealed in July 2014 that the deals between Sony and Take Two had failed to materialize, and the game unlikely to be made,[47] despite Sony being bullish on promoting the future title at it's Vita reveal before any development work had been started.[48] He further clarified that his idea would have been a strategy-style game similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, with the game set prior to the fall of Rapture.[47]

Future[edit]

In February of 2014, while promoting Burial at Sea: Episode Two, series director Ken Levine stated that the Burial at Sea will leave fans "walk[ing] away pretty satisfied with feeling a sense of completeness", with Courtnee Draper (voice of Elizabeth) calling it "the wrap-up for the whole BioShock series".[49] Shortly after, Levine revealed that Burial at Sea would be Irrational Games' last game in the BioShock series, leaving the intellectual property in the hands of 2K Games, should they like to continue the franchise with another developer.[50] That same month 2K Games stated that the Bioshock series will continue, telling Game Informer, "The 'BioShock' universe remains a rich creative canvas for many untold stories, and we look forward to exploring the next 'BioShock' experience." [51] In May 2014, 2K Games stated that work on the BioShock series is continuing with 2K Marin at the helm.[52] On the 24th of July 2014, 2K's official twitter teased an image showing a poster detailing "Eve's Garden" and the "Poseidon's Plaza" commenting "Ooo, what COULD this mean?! [53]

Other media[edit]

Ultimate Rapture Edition[edit]

BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition is a single retail package containing copies of both BioShock and BioShock 2, along with all downloadable content for both games, and a set of stickers based on BioShock Infinite. The edition was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in North America on January 14, 2013, Future release dates planned for other regions.[54]

Art book[edit]

BioShock: Breaking the Mold, a book containing artwork from the game, was released by 2K Games on August 13, 2007. It is available in both low and high resolution, in PDF format from 2K Games's official website.[55][56] Until October 1, 2007, 2K Games was sending a printed version of the book to the owners of the collector's edition whose Big Daddy figurines had been broken, as compensation for the time it took to replace them.[57] On October 31, 2008, the winners of "Breaking the Mold: Developers Edition Artbook Cover Contest" were announced on cultofrapture.com.[58]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: BioShock (soundtrack)

2K Games released an orchestral score soundtrack on their official homepage on August 24, 2007. Available in MP3 format, the score—composed by Garry Schyman—contains 12 of the 22 tracks from the game.[59] The Limited Edition version of the game came with the The Rapture EP remixes by Moby and Oscar The Punk.[60] The three remixed tracks on the CD include "Beyond the Sea", "God Bless the Child" and "Wild Little Sisters"; the original recordings of these songs are in the game.

In BioShock, the player encounters phonographs that play music from the 1940s and 1950s as background music. In total, 30 licensed songs can be heard throughout the game.[61] BioShock's soundtrack was released on a vinyl LP with the BioShock 2 Special Edition.[62]

Film[edit]

Industry rumors after the game's release suggested a film adaptation of the game would be made, utilizing similar green screen filming techniques as in the movie 300 to recreate the environments of Rapture.[63] On May 9, 2008, Take-Two announced a deal with Universal Studios to produce a BioShock movie, to be directed by Gore Verbinski and written by John Logan.[64] The film was expected to be released in 2010, but was put on hold due to budget concerns.[65] On August 24, 2009 it was revealed that Verbinski had dropped out of the project due to the studio's decision to film overseas to keep the budget under control. Verbinski reportedly feels this would have hindered his work on Rango. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is in talks to direct with Verbinski as producer.[66]

In January 2010 the project was in pre-production stage, with director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Braden Lynch, a voice artist from BioShock 2 both working on the film.[67] By July the film was facing budget issues but producer Gore Verbinski said they were working it out. He also said the film would be a hard R.[68] Ken Levine, during an interview on August 30, 2010, said: "I will say that it is still an active thing and it's something we are actively talking about and actively working on."[69] Verbinski later cited that by trying to maintain the "R" rating, they were unable to find any studios that would back the effort, putting the film's future in jeopardy.[70]

Levine confirmed in March 2013 that the film has been officially cancelled. Levine stated that after Warner's Watchmen film in 2009 did not do as well as the studio expected, they had concerns with the $200 million budget that Verbinski had for the BioShock film. They asked him to consider doing the film on a smaller $80 million budget, but Verbinski did not want to accept this. Universal then subsequently brought a new director in to work with the smaller budget but with whom Levine and 2K Games did not feel was a good fit to the material. Universal gave Levine the decision to end the project, which he took, believing that the film would not work with the current set of compromises they would have had to make.[71] According to Kotaku, Sony Pictures has register the domain name for the movie.[72]

Novel[edit]

BioShock: Rapture, written by John Shirley, covering events in Rapture up to "a point before the first game" was published by Titan books on July 19, 2011.[73][74]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]