Irrational gaming has truly handed us a masterpiece with this one. Bioshock is clearly one of the best games on the xbox 360 to date and will likely remain so for quite some time to come. The degree to which irrational (now known as 2K) has perfected this game is really incomparable. Bioshock is a first person shooter, but it is entirely different from it's peers Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3. Bioshock takes the FPS platform and uses it to most effectively connect you and your in-game persona in ways and to a degree never before seen. At points throughout the game you may have to take a minute and seriously think about not what the character is doing; but what you are doing through the character.
Bioshock uses a simple FPS platform and incorporates RPG elements that give the game a slower pace than most shooters on the market today. This isn't to say it lacks action, there will be many times where you're in the thick of it, the slower pace just allows to enjoy the masterful storyline and lushly detailed environments more. In addition to firearms, you are also armed with Plasmids: biological implants that give you various powers such as shooting lightening out of your finger tips or confusing enemies into attacking each other. Genetic Tonics are also available which will improve your health, eve (plasmid energy), or improve your abilities in some way or another. The RPG aspects come into play when buying tonics, ammo, plasmids, or other items, aswell as upgrading existing plasmids or weapons. The environments are also littered with loot to collect, then sell or use as you see fit. On higher difficulties, money isn't the easiest to come by and ammo is even scarcer which adds a level of survival suspense to the already rich experience.
Bioshock takes place in the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture was built to be a utopia for artists, scientists, and the working man. However, like all utopias, it went horribly wrong as its inhabitants were turned to madness by the very plasmids and tonics that they thought would enrich their lives. "Splicing" (getting gene implants) turned the city to insanity, and that is where your adventure begins as your plane crashes into the ocean and your only hope for survival lies within a strange structure which then transports you to Rapture. The story that begins here is arguably the best storyline in a video game to date. If they hadn't pulled a Marvel Comics ending fight scene the storyline would be 100% perfect. The story itself along with the way it is told and experienced through Rapture should be enough to close the case on whether or not video games (like movies) should be considered an art form. This is helped all the more by a great original score by composer Gary Schyman, aswell as a nostalgic collection of classic tunes from the 40s and 50s.
The game doesn't stop at great sound and a powerful story however. Graphically it's also one of the best games on the market. Weapon effects are good and lighting effects are outstanding. The detail and texture work present adds to the realism of the environments and the water graphics are incredible (how could they be anything other when the game takes place underwater?). Frame rate stays fairly good throughout the game although some of the larger fights can make it flutter a little.
Overall, Bioshock is certainly one of the best video games for next-gen consoles. It's story is incredible, it's RPG elements are well handled if slightly monotonous towards the very end, and it's also a pretty good basic shooter, not to mention the games benchmark-setting graphics and sound. The game has almost no negatives except the lack of online play (although with the gameplay style this is perfectly understandable). I recommend this game with the highest commendations to all who can appreciate it.
Positives: Powerful and suspenseful storyline, richly detailed environments, simple design makes in-depth RPG elements easy to manage, good campaign length, stealth element flows nicely in and out of some intense fighting.
Negatives: Slightly far-fetched final battle.
Graphics: Excellent 9.5
Sound: Excellent 10
Controls: Excellent 9
Campaign: Excellent 10
Gameplay: Very Good 8.5
Total (not an average): Excellent 9.6