Highly Interactive Environment
Another key element of gameplay in Bioshock is using the environment to your advantage. Rapture is filled with security systems which consist of armed security turrets and security bots, the latter of which are called up by security cameras. The security system attacks you when it is alerted. However, all security system mechanisms can be temporarily disabled (by using your plasmids to electroschock or freeze them) which then allows you to hack them to make them become friendly. The hacked-friendly security mechanisms then attack your enemies instead of attacking you.
You can also use your telekinesis plasmid power (acquired early in the game) to pick up explosive objects (e.g., gas cylinders, oil drums), place them in a pile and then set off a huge explosion by shooting at it —from a distance of course— with your pistol. Using this along with certain weapons such as proximity mines and trapped bolts and a hacked-friendly security system allows you to set up elaborate traps for some of the game's more formidable foes (like the Big Daddies). This highly interactive environment in Bioshock has made for some of the most sensational gaming I've ever had.
Bizarre Second-rate Looking Weapons
The weaponry in Bioshock is, well, bizarre to say the least. Whereas other video games strive to provide an arsenal of sophisticated modern weaponry with a litany of performance statistics, e.g., the DK147 submachine gun with a fire rate of 1200 teflon-coated rounds per minute capable of piercing kevlar body armour, etc. Or maybe they'll give you some kind of hyper-advanced sci-fi weapon of the future a lá the plasma gun in the classic Doom II.
But none of that stuff for the makers of Bioshock.
Instead, they bum rush the whole show and go in the exact opposite direction. Yeah sure, you get three different kinds of ammunition for each weapon. But the weapons themselves, sheesh, they look like the most outdated, second-rate pieces of junk you could possibly find in the world of armaments.
For example, your pistol appears to be some kind of old-fashioned top-break loading revolver from the post Civil War era of the late 19th century. Your shotgun appears to have undergone some quick and crude repairs (or modifications, not sure which) using a piece of leather and some carpet tacks. Your machine gun is an old tarnished tommy gun sporting a beat-up antiquated circular drum magazine.
And your grenade launcher... (*chuckle*)... okay this is something you've got to see to believe... Your grenade launcher appears to be some kind of entirely home-made contraption pieced together using some old tin cans, a spark plug and an empty vegetable box. (I kid you not. Take a close look at it before you pick it up. You can actually see the label 'homemade asparagus' on the side.)
To top it all off, your weapons can also each be equipped with upgrades by using special machines located throughout the game. However the 'upgrades' —although they perform perfectly well— are curiously low-tech mechanical eyesores and are sometimes grossly oversized and look like they were created by an R&D department run by a bunch of stand-up comedians.
All this subtly fantastic and absurd attention to detail is something that I just lap right up. Hats off to Bioshock developers 2K Boston/Australia for having such wacky imaginations (or hats off to whatever they were smoking on "let's layout the weapons" day).
Creepy Atmosphere and Rich Story Full of Twists
Okay bottom line... I haven't crapped my pants like this playing a videogame since Silent Hill 1. The art-deco setting in the Bioshock's city of Rapture with its eerie throwback to the 1950s complete with arcane architecture, nostalgic poster ads and old-phonograph-scratchy-sounding easy-listening music is enough to make your skin crawl. And largely because all that cheesy pleasantville happy hype beautifully contradicts the macabre mayhem that the city of Rapture has become. The combined effect is thoroughly creepy. And weird.
Of particular note is the way Bioshock warns you that an enemy is near. Whereas in other shooters you'll hear the monster uttering his signature call be it a growl, grunt, whatever, Bioshock has the enemies (the citizens of Rapture) all meandering about as a bunch of cranky, irrational lunatics. So as you journey through Rapture, you'll hear them constantly off in the distance spouting things like, "Stop laughing at me!" and "I'm trying to think here!" or singing a children's Sunday school diddy. Very strange stuff.
As for the story, it is well written, richly presented and so deeply entwined in the gameplay that Bioshock very much resembles a survival horror (although unfortunately they give you way too much ammo to be a real survival horror). This is something you rarely see in a shooter which typically updates you with a full motion video clip once in a while and then for the most part just has you slugging it out with the enemy. Aside from that I better not comment too much because Bioshock really throws some imaginative curve balls at you and I don't want to spoil it for you.
You'll just have to play it and see.