BioShock (series)

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Bioshock series.jpg
The logo for BioShock, the first game in the series.
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Publisher(s)2K Games
Creator(s)Ken Levine
Composer(s)Garry Schyman
First releaseBioShock
  • NA: August 21, 2007
Latest releaseBioShock: The Collection
  • NA: September 13, 2016

BioShock is a retrofuturistic video game series created by Ken Levine, published by 2K Games and developed by several studios, including Irrational Games and 2K Marin. The BioShock games combine first-person shooter and role-playing elements, giving the player freedom for how to approach combat and other situations, and are considered part of the immersive sim genre. Additionally, the series is notable for exploring philosophical and moral concepts with a strong in-game narrative influenced by concepts such as objectivism, total utilitarianism, and American exceptionalism.

The series consists of three main games. BioShock (2007) and BioShock 2 (2010) take place in the 1960s in the fictional underwater city of Rapture. BioShock Infinite (2013) is thematically and narratively tied to the first games, but takes place in 1912 aboard the floating city of Columbia. The three games sold more than 34 million copies by December 2019,[2] making the series one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.[3] A motion picture based on the first game had been planned but was ultimately cancelled.

Work on Infinite led Ken Levine to drastically downsize and rebrand Irrational Games into Ghost Story Games to work on smaller titles, while 2K Games remained interested in the property. 2K formally announced that a new BioShock game was in the works by a newly created internal studio, Cloud Chamber, in December 2019.[4]


The games in the BioShock series are first-person shooters. The series is considered the spiritual successor to System Shock 2, which many of the developers were previously involved with through Irrational Games. While specific mechanics differ between all three games, they share a common theme of having the player use a combination of physical weapons such as guns and melee weapons, superhuman powers—including both active and passive abilities—granted by genetic alterations (plasmids in the first two games, vigors in Infinite), and features of the game environment to strategically work their way through enemy forces and tactical situations. These weapons and powers can be used in various combinations to aid in defeating foes; for example, electrocuting an enemy makes them prone to being knocked out from a subsequent melee attack. Scenarios in the game often feature multiple approaches that the player can take, such as opting to avoid enemies through stealth and deception, hacking a security turret to turn against enemy forces, or directly engaging in combat. The player is able to customize their weapons and genetic enhancements for the style of play they prefer. In addition to collecting new weapons and genetic modifications, the player gains ammunition, mana-like power required to engage the genetic modifications (EVE in the first two games, Salt in Infinite), restorative items, scrap items used to craft new materials, and in-game money to buy various improvements at vending machines throughout the game.


BioShock (2007)[edit]

BioShock was released on August 21, 2007 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360. A PlayStation 3 port was released on October 17, 2008. The game was critically very well received, with positive reviews that praised its "morality-based" storyline, immersive environment and Ayn Rand-inspired dystopian back-story.[5] According to Take-Two's chairman Strauss Zelnick, the game has sold around 3 million copies as of June 2009.[6]

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 social environment for individuals to work, live, and prosper out of the increasingly oppressive hands of the world's governments and authorities. Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum, Dr. Yi Suchong, and other scientists discovered a substance called ADAM, harvested from sea slugs that could be made into plasmids that gave the user psychokinetic powers. Frank Fontaine, a former gangster and businessman who brought black market goods to Rapture, found a way to harvest ADAM by implanting the slugs in the bodies of young girls, "Little Sisters", and profited from this. Ryan led an attack that apparently killed Fontaine and seized his ADAM production facilities. To protect the Little Sisters, Ryan created Big Daddies by conditioning and mutating humans into armored diving suits, designed to protect the Little Sisters. Leading up to New Year's Eve 1959, a new figure, Atlas, rose from the worker classes to lead a new revolt against Ryan, killing many and leading Ryan to mutate a number of his followers into Splicers to protect himself, creating the downfall of Rapture's utopia.

In 1960, Jack, the player-character, is in a plane crash over the ocean that is near the lighthouse which houses a bathysphere that takes him to Rapture. Atlas contacts Jack to ask his help against Ryan's forces. Jack discovers the Little Sisters and is warned by Tenenbaum not to harm them. After fighting through the failing city, Jack makes it to Ryan's offices. Ryan, patiently playing golf while waiting for Jack, reveals that Jack is his illegitimate son, and had been mentally conditioned by Fontaine to coerce his actions, specifically following any order preceded by the phrase "Would you kindly...?". Jack realizes Atlas has been using this phrase since his arrival. Ryan accepts his fate, using the phrase to make Jack kill him with a golf club, and Atlas reveals himself as Fontaine, having gone into hiding to plan a new strategy against Ryan. Fontaine leaves Jack to die, but he is rescued by Tenenbaum and the Little Sisters. Tenenbaum removes the conditioning from Jack's mind and urges him to defeat Fontaine and take the Little Sisters to the surface. In a final battle against Jack, Fontaine injects himself with numerous plasmids, but Jack and the Little Sisters overpower him, allowing for them to escape.

BioShock 2 (2010)[edit]

BioShock 2 was released worldwide on February 9, 2010.[7] The game was developed by a new design team, although it contained members of the team for the original BioShock. BioShock 2 was mainly developed by 2K Marin, with 2K Australia, Arkane Studios, and Digital Extremes providing additional support. 2K Boston, formerly Irrational Games, also assisted the game's development, with series creator Ken Levine providing input. The story received major changes over the course of development. Garry Schyman, the composer of the first game, returned to create the score for BioShock 2.

BioShock 2 takes place eight years after the events of BioShock, with the city having fallen into a dystopia. A new leader, Sofia Lamb, has risen up in the power vacuum after the death of Ryan and Fontaine, and has created a Utilitarianism and Collectivism-type cult of personality. Prior to the events of BioShock, Lamb had severed the bond between the Big Daddy Delta (the player-character) and her daughter Eleanor, the Little Sister he was assigned to protect. Delta, left for dead, wakes years later by Tenenbaum and the Little Sisters, and told he must re-establish his bond with Eleanor soon or will fall into a coma. Delta fights his way through Splicers as well as those loyal to Lamb, defeats Lamb, and sacrifices himself to help Eleanor, Tenenbaum, and other Little Sisters to escape Rapture.

Minerva's Den is a downloadable content campaign for BioShock 2, in which the player assumes the role of Subject Sigma, another Alpha Series Big Daddy, as he travels through Minerva's Den, home to Rapture's Central Computing. It was released on August 31, 2010.

BioShock Infinite (2013)[edit]

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.[8] 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.

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 1893 by the American government, during the Worlds' Fair in Chicago, 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 with Rapture, Columbia's intellectuals were able to develop new technology, including Vigors that grant the user new psychokinetic powers. At the same time, strange rifts in the space-time continuum called "Tears" appear across the city, and anachronistic elements can be seen and heard.

The player-character, Booker DeWitt, a disgraced member of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency discharged after his actions at the Wounded Knee Massacre, is sent to Columbia by Robert and Rosalind Lutece (the Lutece Twins) to recover Elizabeth, a young woman that had been kidnapped by Columbia's leader, Zachary Comstock, and protected by the robotic Songbird. Booker rescues Elizabeth (who subsequently accompanies the player as an AI-controller ally), who appears to have control over the Tears.[9] Their escape is hampered by fighting between the Founders, those loyal to Comstock, and the Vox Populi, residents of Columbia who have faced persecution. Booker comes to discover that Elizabeth is his daughter from one of numerous parallel universes, and that Comstock is a version of himself from yet another parallel universe whom had accepted a baptism to atone for his actions at Wounded Knee and established the beliefs that led to Columbia's founding. Comstock had kidnapped Elizabeth from Booker while she was an infant with the help of Tear technology provided by the Lutece Twins (in essence the same person from alternate dimensions), but in his escape, Elizabeth's finger was severed by the closure of a Tear, giving her the power over Tears. Booker eventually defeats Songbird and Comstock with the help of Elizabeth and the Twins, as Comstock had turned on them. Elizabeth shows Booker that these events will always repeat through the multitude of parallel universes, and the only way to end the cycle is to kill all versions of Booker before he can turn into Comstock at the baptism. Booker accepts this fate, allowing Elizabeth to drown him.

A downloadable content expansion, Burial at Sea, was released in two-parts on November 12, 2013 and March 25, 2014.[10] Elizabeth finds one version of Booker has ended up into the city of Rapture from BioShock, working as a private detective. Elizabeth joins him as they search for a missing girl named Sally, but become caught up in the events of Atlas' war against Andrew Ryan. They find that scientists of Rapture have been working with those on Columbia through Rifts, sharing technology such as Plasmids and Vigors, and the Big Daddies and Songbird. After discovering Sally has already become a Little Sister, and losing her Rift-controlling powers, Elizabeth kills Booker, and sacrifices herself to assure that Sally and the other Little Sisters can be rescued by Jack.

Future games[edit]

In February 2014, while promoting Burial at Sea: Episode Two, series director Ken Levine revealed that BioShock Infinite would be Irrational Games' last game in the BioShock series. Levine let go of most of the staff of Irrational Games in February 2017 and rebranded the division as Ghost Story Games within 2K Games to work on smaller narrative titles. The rights to BioShock remained with 2K.[11] In a 2016 interview, Levine explained that the pressure and stress of managing a large team as he had to for Infinite had impacted his health and personal relationships, and rather than stay on to build a larger game, decided to leave the BioShock franchise.[12]

Following Levine's decision, 2K Games stated that the BioShock series will continue, telling Game Informer they "look forward to exploring the next BioShock".[13] In May 2014, 2K Games stated that work on the BioShock series was continuing with 2K Marin at the helm,[14] despite the fact that in October 2013, 2K Marin had reportedly been shut down by 2K Games.[15] It was reported that work on this title had started as early as 2015 at the Austin-based third-party studio Certain Affinity. However, by 2016, 2K decided to pull the project from Certain Affinity and bring it in-house, establishing a yet-to-be-named studio, as well as rebooting the development process.[16] Previously, Kotaku had reported in 2018 that several employees from Hangar 13, another development studio within 2K Games, had joined a new studio in the San Francisco area and were working on a project known under the working title Parkside, believed by other Hangar 13 employees to be a BioShock title.[17]

2K formally announced in December 2019 that a new BioShock title was under development but was still some years from release. The game is being developed by a new internal studio, Cloud Chamber, with offices based in San Francisco (2K Marin's old offices) and a newly established location in Montreal. The studio is led by Kelley Gilmore, who had previously worked at Firaxis.[18] The lead staff include lead art director Scott Sinclair, who had worked on the first BioShock, Jonathan Pelling as design director having previously done level work for BioShock and Infinite, and Hoagy de la Plante as creative director after having worked on the other BioShock games in numerous roles.[19]

Concept and development[edit]

Release timeline
2008BioShock: Challenge Rooms
2010BioShock 2
BioShock 2: Minerva's Den
2012BioShock: Industrial Revolution
2013BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite: Clash in the Clouds
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode One
2014BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode Two
2016BioShock: The Collection

Concerning the influences behind 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."[20] Levine has also mentioned an interest in "stem cell research and the moral issues that go around [it]."[20] 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."[21]

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.[22] In his narration of a video initially screened for the press at E3 2006, Levine pointed out many similarities between the games.[23] 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 fulfill the same storytelling role that e-mail logs did in the System Shock games.[23] The "ghosts" (phantom images that replay tragic incidents in the places they occurred) from System Shock 2 also exist in BioShock,[24] 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.[25]

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.[26]

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, [27]



A visit to the GE Building and its statue of Atlas in New York City was the principal idea that led to the art deco stylings of BioShock.

The thematic core of BioShock was born when Levine was walking at Rockefeller Center near the GE Building in New York City. He saw the uniqueness of the art deco styling of the building along with imagery around the building such as the statue of Atlas near it, and recognized that these were spaces that had not been experienced in the first-person shooter genre.[28] The history of the Rockefeller Center fed into the story concept; Levine noted how the Center had started construction prior to the Great Depression of the 1920s; when the primary financiers had pulled out, John D. Rockefeller backed the remaining construction to complete the project himself, as "a great man building an architectural triumph against all the odds".[28] The history of Rapture and the character of Andrew Ryan is loosely based on Rockefeller's story.[28] He also considered that many of the characters of Rapture were all people who were oppressed once before in the lives and now free of that oppression, have turned around and become the oppressors, a fact he felt resonated throughout human history.[29]

The team wanted to have the player care for the drones in some way and create pathos for these characters. The idea of using little girls came out of brainstorming, but was controversial and shocking within the team at first, recognizing that they could easily be killed and make the game more horrific in the style of Night Trap.[28] However, as Levine worked on the story, he started to incorporate the ideas of dystopian and utopian thinkers from the twentieth century, including Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell, and considered their ideas "fascinating".[20] He brought in the ideas of Objectivism that Rand primarily outlined in the book Atlas Shrugged, that man should be driven by selfishness and not altruism, and used this to inform the philosophy behind the city of Rapture and Andrew Ryan's work, tied in with his previous observations on Rockefeller and his writings.[28] This was extended to the use of the little girls as drones (now Little Sisters), particularly the question whether the player should try to save the girls or harvest the ADAM for their own benefit.[28] 2K Games expressed concern about the initial mechanic of the Little Sisters, where the player would actively prey on the Little Sister, which would have alerted a Big Daddy and setting up the fight with the player. This approach did not sit well with Levine, and 2K Games asserted that they would not ship a game "where the player gets punished for doing the right thing".[28] They altered this approach where the Little Sisters would be invulnerable until the player had dealt with their Big Daddy, though LeBreton considered this "a massive kludge" into the game's fiction.[28] The idea of creating the Little Sisters and presenting the player with this choice became a critical part of the game's appeal to the larger gaming market though would still be met with criticism from some outlets.[28] Levine desired to have only one ending to the game, something that would have left the fate of the characters "much more ambiguous", but publisher pressure directed them to craft multiple endings depending on the choice of harvesting Little Sisters.[29] Levine also noted that "it was never my intention to do two endings for the game. It sort of came very late and it was something that was requested by somebody up the food chain from me."[30]

Other elements came into the story design. Levine had an interest in "stem cell research and the moral issues that go around [it]".[20] 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".[31] The idea of the mind control used on Jack was offered by LeBreton, inspired by films like The Manchurian Candidate, as a means to provide a better reason to limit the player's actions as opposed to the traditional use of locked doors to prevent them exploring areas they should not. The team had agreed that Jack's actions would be controlled by a key phrase but struggled with coming up with one that would not reveal Atlas' true nature. Levine happened upon "Would you kindly" after working on marketing materials for the game that asked the reader hypothetical questions such as "Would you kill people, even innocent people, to survive?", later working that phrase into the first script for the game.[28][32]

BioShock 2[edit]

Sofia Lamb, the main antagonist in BioShock 2, is loosely based on German philosopher Karl Marx.

In 2013, Liz Lanier of Game Informer included Lamb among top ten female villains in video games, stating that "an extremist obsessed with the "greater good", Lamb will sacrifice anything and anyone for her own agenda; whether that means brainwashing or murdering to create her utopia, she's down."[33] In contrast to the first BioShock's focus on objectivism, libertarianism, and philosophies derived from or related to Ayn Rand, BioShock 2 focuses on versions of utilitarian and collectivist ideals.[34] Lamb's philosophy of altruism is based on historical figures Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill, along with modern figures such as Richard Dawkins.[35]

In comparison to BioShock's questions of free will and humans' destiny, BioShock 2's director Jordan Thomas said that the player character is "almost the ultimate individual" whom Lamb goads to fulfill her goals.[34] BioShock 2 also deals with cult of personalities,[36] Marxism,[37] abandonment,[36] technocracy,[38] moral absolutism,[39] altruism,[40] fatherhood,[36] class war,[35] equalitarianism,[40] capitalism,[38] utopianism,[40] being,[41] childhood,[36] socialism,[38] selfishness,[39] adolescence,[36] poverty,[36] liberalism,[35] moral relativism,[39] rationalism,[35] empiricism,[35] Christianity,[37] Social Darwinism,[39] subversion of being,[41] transformation,[41] genetic determinism,[37] and the benefits of family and religion.[38]

Professor Ryan Lizardi draws parallels between BioShock 2's themes of community versus the individual and the issues of McCarthyism and the hippie movement that occurred around the time period of the game's setting. "As this sequel is an extension of the first game's storylines and characters, there are direct contrasts between the extreme politics of Andrew Ryan's objectivism and the extreme religion/politics of Lamb's collectivism", he writes. "BioShock 2 specifically asks players to question all sides of debates when extreme stances are taken, and asks players to weigh their decisions in an alternate and complex history."[42] Lizardi also noted BioShock 2's multiplayer option, "which in games often represents the least narratively challenging moments, but which in this game is used as a place to hammer home a connection to the first game's politically extreme spectrum."[42]

BioShock Infinite[edit]

American exceptionalism, as exhibited at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, was central to the theme of Infinite.

Creative lead Ken Levine stated that players are supposed to draw their own conclusions from the game, and ultimately decide "what is good and bad". He explained that "there are many parts of Infinite that are open to interpretation, and the purpose is that you draw your own theories from them". To this end, Levine avoided providing an authoritative final answer regarding the game's ending, replying "What actually matters is what people think. Why does my interpretation matter more than yours?"[43] Acknowledging that Infinite's themes left fans debating and frustrated, Levine was nevertheless satisfied by the game's opacity, stating that it was his intent, and compared the game's interpretation of quantum mechanics to some of his favorite films; 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fight Club, The Master, Miller's Crossing, and There Will Be Blood.[43] Rob Crossley of CVG stated that "To [Levine], the [game's] Many Worlds Theory is a storytelling device; one that gives his narrative something unique in games yet celebrated in film: interpretability.[43]

Levine claimed that the core messages in Infinite were neither personal nor political, insisting instead that they were historical. In response to people discussing Columbia "as a particularly racist society," he said that the game was making no particular point about the theme of racism and that the game's depiction of it was merely "more a factor of the time."[43] The racism portrayed in Columbia was based on the nature of American exceptionalism of the early 20th Century, and seen by Levine "more as a reflection of what race relations in the U.S. were like in 1912;" Levine explained that the game was "less about exploring the good and bad sides of racism and more just a reflection of the time and how it impacted that era."[44] He noted that several historic American figures such as the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were "men of their times", great men who nevertheless held racist beliefs because of the culture in which they were brought up. Consequently, Levine reasoned that the depictions of white supremacy and white nationalism were warranted in the game, saying that to not do so would be "dishonest" and "strange" to the time period.[44][45] Many reviewers praised the game for its treatment of race.[46][47]

In addition to racism, the game was interpreted as tackling political and social problems,[48] as well as exploring several themes such as constants and variables, American exceptionalism,[49] extremism,[49] religious fundamentalism,[50] ethnic nationalism,[51] fanaticism,[52] cultism,[52] authoritarian populism,[53] religion,[53] dichotomy,[54] sameness,[54] multiple realities,[54] fatalism,[55] choice,[55] consequences,[55] free will,[56] hope,[56] self-loathing,[43] denial,[43] rebirth,[57] and redemption.[57]

The game's theme of "constants and variables" received attention, primarily drawn towards the characters of Robert and Rosalind Lutece, who are shown to be key figures behind Columbia and the drivers for the game's events. In an early scene, they ask Booker to flip a coin, which has come up heads 122 times out of 122 flips (evidenced by tally marks on both sides of the sandwich board worn by Robert), indicating that the Luteces have recruited a different Booker from a similar number of alternate realities, in order to accomplish their aims. The coin-flip is a "constant" present in every universe and is thus destined to always have the same result.[58] This scene has been compared to works like The Garden of Forking Paths and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which have similar themes about the subject of choice versus fate.[59]


The series has a large fanbase.[60] Fans of BioShock have made notable artwork,[61] books,[62] and fan fiction[63] about the series. It also enjoys significant popularity among cosplayers, primarily due to the series unique characters and setting.[64][65][66]

In 2014, a fan of the series created portions of the original BioShock in Unreal Engine 4.[67][68] In 2016, a YouTube account titled rosslittlejohn recreated the original game's "Medical Pavilion" level with the same engine.[69][70]

In 2018, fans of the series released BioShock: From Rapture to Columbia, a detailed book related to "the development of the games and their stories, citing influences from real world history and mythology and recounting bits of the story in a detailed synopsis."[62][71][72][73]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Aggregate review scores
As of May 24, 2018.
Game Metacritic
BioShock (X360) 96[74]
(PC) 96[75]
(PS3) 94[76]
BioShock 2 (X360) 88[77]
(PC) 88[78]
(PS3) 88[79]
BioShock Infinite (PS3) 94[80]
(PC) 94[81]
(X360) 93[82]

The series has received critical acclaim for its morality-based storyline, immersive environments, and unique settings. It is commonly listed among both audiences and critics as one of the greatest video game series of all time and a demonstration of video game as an art form.[83][84][85][86][87] The original's plot twist, where the player discovers that the player-character Jack has been coerced into events by the trigger phrase, "Would you kindly...", is considered one of the strongest narrative elements of recent games, in part that it subverted the expectation that the player has control and influence on the game.[85][88][89]

In February 2011 the Smithsonian Institution announced it would be holding an exhibit dedicated to the art of video games.[86] Several games were chosen initially and the public could vote for which games they felt deserved to be displayed via a poll on the exhibit's website. BioShock was considered a front runner to be displayed because of its status as a game that demonstrated how artistic the medium can be.[87] John Lanchester of the London Review of Books recognized BioShock as one of the first video games to break into coverage of mainstream media to be covered as a work of art arising from its narrative aspects, whereas before video games had failed to enter into the "cultural discourse", or otherwise covered due to moral controversies they created.[84] Peter Suderman for Vox in 2016 wrote that BioShock was the first game that demonstrated that video games could be a work of art, particularly highlighting that the game plays on the theme of giving the illusion of individual control.[83]

Other media[edit]

There have been two official BioShock novels. BioShock: Rapture, a prequel to the first BioShock written by John Shirley, was published by Titan books on July 19, 2011.[90][91] BioShock Infinite: Mind in Revolt is a novella written by Joe Fielder and Ken Levine, offering insight to the world of Columbia and the motivations of Daisy Fitzroy, the leader of the Vox Populi. Mind in Revolt had an eBook release on February 13, 2013, with the hardcover version released later through the Irrational Games store. Other print media includes art books for all three games: BioShock: Breaking the Mold (2007),[92][93] Deco Devolution: The Art of BioShock 2 (2010), and The Art of BioShock Infinite (2013).

Pre-orders of BioShock Infinite granted the purchaser with an access code to a browser-based puzzle game, BioShock Infinite: Industrial Revolution, developed in conjunction with Lazy 8 Studios.[94] Irrational had concerns developing a pre-release puzzle game to tie into the retail title. Several of the Irrational team had played and enjoyed Lazy 8's steampunk-like Independent Games Festival-winning title Cogs and considered using them to build this pre-release game.[95] Irrational believed the studio would be able to develop a game that would provide "challenging puzzles in a steampunk style", according to Lazy 8's founder, Rob Jagnow.[96] The game's mechanics are a simplified version of the Cogs puzzles, and involve creating devices from basic machines like gears and pulleys to achieve a specific action; the game contains 59 such puzzles culled from more than 70.[96] Lazy 8 focused on the gear puzzles as they were a fan-favorite from Cogs.[95] Jagnow found through happenstance that the game's mechanics led to a "dual-space system" that may be challenging to the player.[96] The game places the player as a mechanic aboard Columbia, who can align with either the Founders or the Vox Populi; decisions during the game's story on which side to support are permanent, even if the player attempts an earlier puzzle.[96] Jagnow, who worked on the story under Irrational's guidance, wanted to have the player "constantly second-guess their decisions" on which side to support.[96] Solving the steampunk-based puzzles grants the player unlockable items within the main BioShock Infinite game once it is released.[94]


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.[97] The Limited Edition version of the game came with The Rapture EP remixes by Moby and Oscar The Punk.[98] 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.[99] BioShock's soundtrack was released on a vinyl LP with the BioShock 2 Special Edition.[100]


BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition[edit]

BioShock: Ultimate Rapture Edition is a retail package containing BioShock and BioShock 2, along with all downloadable content for both games including Minerva's Den, 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.[101]

BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition[edit]

BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition is a retail package containing BioShock Infinite and Burial at Sea. It also includes the Clash In the Clouds arena mode, as well as all pre-order bonuses and exclusive weapons. BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition was released on November 4, 2014.

BioShock: The Collection[edit]

BioShock: The Collection is a remastered collection of the BioShock series, containing BioShock, BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite, and all of their single-player downloadable content including Minerva's Den and Burial at Sea. It features updated graphics and a documentary with commentary from Ken Levine and Shawn Robertson. The multiplayer component of BioShock 2 is not included in the collection. It was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in September 2016.[102][103] BioShock Infinite's original PC version was ported to console for the collection, but was not remastered since it "already meets current-gen console standards and runs smoothly on high visual settings", according to 2K Games. Players that own either of the first two games on Windows will be able to update to the remastered versions for free.[104] The Collection, as well as individual releases of the remastered games, were released for the Nintendo Switch on May 29, 2020.[105]

Cancelled projects[edit]

Film adaptation[edit]

Industry rumors after BioShock's release suggested a film adaptation of the game would be made, utilizing similar green-screen filming techniques as in the film 300 to recreate the environments of Rapture.[106] On May 9, 2008, Take-Two announced a deal with Universal Studios to produce a BioShock film, to be directed by Gore Verbinski and written by John Logan.[107] The film was expected to be released in 2010, but was put on hold due to budget concerns.[108] 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 was in talks to direct with Verbinski as producer.[109]

In January 2010 the project was in pre-production stage, with director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Braden Lynch, a voice artist from BioShock 2, working on the film.[110] 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", restricted for people younger than 17 without adult accompaniment.[111] 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."[112] Verbinski later cited that by trying to maintain the "restricted" rating, they were unable to find any studios that would back the effort, putting the film's future in jeopardy.[113]

Levine confirmed in March 2013 that the film had been 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 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.[114]

BioShock Vita[edit]

A version of BioShock for the PlayStation Vita, tentatively known as BioShock Vita,[115] was announced at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo by Levine during Sony's press event, alongside the introduction of the Vita, with few details revealed at that time.[116] 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.[117] He stated that "I'd rather do something that's an experiment and that's a little different. And is unique for the franchise."[117] By April 2012, with Irrational working heavily to finish Infinite, Levine had put the Vita game on hold.[118]

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 Interactive, though he was still interested in the title.[119] Levine revealed in July 2014 that the deals between Sony and Take-Two had failed to materialize, and the game was unlikely to be made,[120] despite Sony being bullish on promoting the future title at its Vita reveal before any development work had been started.[121] 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.[120]


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External links[edit]