Irrational Games has always been a game developer that has gotten huge critical acclaim and numerous awards, not to mention a rabid cult following, but the developer with offices in Boston and Australia has never really been a huge sales draw when their games are finally released. Starting as an offshoot of the now defunct Looking Glass Studios, Irrational's first game was the instant classic System Shock 2 which surpassed the original in terms of immersive gameplay. It also showed that the developer was one of the few game studios that understood storytelling. Irrational's two Freedom Force games used the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby style of comic books to create a fun pair of action-RPGs that finally got rid of the super hero curse in PC games.
The developer then did something curious for its next two games as it created solid but ultimately unmemorable new additions to already established game franchises (SWAT IV and Tribes: Vengeance). As it turned out, these work-for-hire style games were set-ups for what the company was really itching to work on: BioShock.
Last April, FiringSquad traveled to New York City to attend a press event for BioShock (published by Irrational's owners 2K Games) where a number of journalists gathered to be among the first outside the developer to actually play a portion of the game for the first time (specifically the game's first couple of levels plus a small intro level). It took us a bit over two hours to play the portion we were allowed to play but it was more than enough to sell us on BioShock's merging of first person shooter and RPG with a little adventure game stuff thrown in. Since the build of the game we played was in early April and the title is due for release in late August we went in on the assumption that the title would be a bit buggy but aside from some lengthy load times in between levels it played and looked great. There's a couple of things we want to mention before we get started. First, if you simply want to know that the game is looking great and looks like it is going to be worth buying in a couple of months, the answer is a resounding "Yes".
Now if you want to be completely surprised by what happens in the game stop reading now as we will be getting into some plot details that will occur in the first two or so hours in the game. The other thing we want to mention is that we played the game with the Xbox 360 console and controller. Unfortunately, 2K Games did not bring a PC version of the game to play at the press event so we can't comment on how that version looks and plays with a keyboard and mouse compared to the Xbox 360 port. Both versions will be released at the same time in late August and according to the Cult of Rapture community web site the PC version will have DirectX10 features along with DirectX9 graphics.