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Best of the Decade: Bioshock


Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Release Date: August 21, 2007

Publisher: 2K Games

Developer: Irrational Games

Bioshock is a masterpiece of interactive storytelling. From the moment your plane mysteriously plummets into the ocean and you're forced to swim through its flaming wreckage to take refuge inside an ominous lighthouse, you know you're in for a special experience. The descent into Rapture in the bathysphere, with Andrew Ryan's captivating speech welcoming you to his dilapidated wonderland, is perhaps my favorite opening in gaming history. 

Luckily, the game doesn't let up after its introduction. Through a mix of subtle environmental clues, creepy audio diaries, and infrequent dialog with the few other humans left alive, Bioshock delivers an engrossing narrative that actually uses the interactive nature of the game to its advantage in one of the best story twists ever seen in a game. 

While you're exploring this fallen paradise, you'll be kept interested by the many ways you can creatively off your enemies. From traditional weapons, which can each be upgraded for added kick, to the bizarre plasmids, which give you powers that would seem nearly magical if it weren't for their dangerous origin, you'll never lack get bored between story revelations. 

Let us not forget the roaming protectors of Rapture, the Big Daddies. These menacing, if questionably named, foes wander the wasteland with their tiny companions, the Little Sisters, in tow. Together, they do the dirty deed of collecting Adam from the dead in order to make the plasmid powers you rely on possible. You must defeat these enemies, though, like the best morality tales such as Shadow of the Colossus, it's never made clear whether you're actually doing the right thing. Once you bring down these hulking behemoths, you must steal the crying little girl away from the inhuman corpse and decide whether to do what you can to save her at the cost of your own power or sacrifice her life in the name of personal gain. 

For most players, the real draw will be simply exploring the fascinating world of Rapture. Ryan's underwater utopia is one of the most compelling and fully realized worlds ever presented in a video game. Every corner is detailed and every room believable. The gorgeous art style tops off the tremendous presentation package with a take on art deco that turns every room into a piece worthy of a museum. 

Games like Bioshock don't come along very often. It does nearly everything right. There's a feeling you get when playing games like this that's difficult to describe. As you're exploring leaky hallways and abandoned dwellings, you know you're playing something special. You know you're experiencing a unique game, one that will set standards and remain a talking point for generations to come. 

When next you're lucky enough to come across a gaming gem like Bioshock, savor it. When that feeling washes over you, bringing a knowing smile to your face, remember it well. Even on this large list of the best the industry had to offer over the last ten years, few titles are as seminal as this one. 

Bioshock is a rare treat in a sequel-fueled landscape; an oasis of creativity and imagination that is truly capable of transporting you to its world and enveloping you in its tale. Even calling it one of my Best of the Decade somehow seems like faint praise. 


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