Genre: FPS/RPG/Horror | Players: 1 | Developer: Irrational Games
Jack is enjoying a nice plane ride when it suddenly crashes into the ocean. As the only survivor, Jack swims to a mysterious tower and the elevator inside takes him to the undersea city of Rapture. What was supposed to be an objectivist paradise has become a crumbling ruin of violence as the citizens fought each other over the substance ADAM which is capable of giving superpowers when administered. The few remaining sane individuals will guide you through radio transmissions. There is Atlas; a revolutionary fighting against the tyrannical leader of Rapture; Andrew Ryan; said tyrannical leader who will send enemies to kill you to maintain his vision of and control over the city; and lastly Dr. Tenenbaum; a scientist who makes the welfare of the Little Sisters her top priority.
The Little Sisters are little girls who were infected with the slug that is responsible for making ADAM and who now roam the city to extract leftover ADAM from the scattered corpses. They are protected by large armored bodyguards called Big Daddies which must be killed before Jack can choose to either save the girls from their infection or kill them and harvest the ADAM for himself. This is the crux of the moral choice system. Killing the Little Sisters will net Jack more ADAM which can be used to purchase Plasmids that provide a variety of attacks like Pyrokinesis and passive abilities like stat bonuses and more effective healing. Saving the Little Sisters will earn Jack less ADAM, but also gain the gratitude of the girls and Tenenbaum. There are also a variety of firearms that can be upgraded and ammo that can be rotated for maximum efficiency against different enemy types. Jack can switch on the fly between firearms and plasmids as well as between weapons and ammo types which takes a little practice, but players will eventually be switching from plasmid to armor piercing rounds with ease.
The game's dystopic, steampunk aesthetic is both pretty and unsettling. The atmosphere and enemies are often genuinely scary, but are undermined somewhat by the game's easy difficulty. The horror is dampened when ammo, money and medkits are all readily available and even new plasmid abilities are just lying around out in the open for free. This makes the whole moral choice aspect somewhat irrelevant as players realistically don't even have to bother with the Little Sisters if they don't want to get stomped by Big Daddies. Hacking the various cameras and turrets is also extremely easy and the vita chambers that revive Jack when he dies are plentiful and there is no penalty for using them. This makes dying a momentary annoyance and so any challenge can be overcome by sheer perseverance rather than dynamic choices and tactics. The game is still genuinely fun and the myriad of choices offers much for different playstyles as well as philosophical musings for any literary fans and some scares for horror buffs.
Available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Also available for both retail and digital download on PC, Mac and cloud service OnLive.
4 Those big fuckers can move like ninjas when they want to out of 5