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Bioshock

Daddy knows best...

Those that have been following Bioshock as closely as we have might possibly find themselves experi-encing an emotion completely at odds with the ethos of Irrational's organic, totally unscripted adventure FPS. You might find yourself a bit bored of it even. For the last year Irrational have been greedily guarding their game, only allowing us to see a select few elements of gameplay. And although we love the Big Daddies, they were starting to feel a bit familiar. It felt like we knew everything there was to know. It felt like we could tell just by looking at them what they had for breakfast. We were starting to wonder if this was a one-trick pony. Until now.

This month, we finally saw more of Bioshock, with a recent Microsoft pres-entation providing details on new enemies, new allies and more specifics on how Bioshock's revolutionary 'gene-splicing' RPG system works and operates. The only drawback is: the ecology of Bioshock's waterworld is so fragile that the behavioural patterns of Rapture's latest inhabitants aren't completely final, and thus Microsoft has requested that the media present are not to report on specifics just yet. Bah. Humbug.

What we think we can comment on, however - and if we turn up on next issue's welcome page with our tongues cut out, you'll know better - is how superb and fluid it looks. One of the new gene-splicing moves we saw in action required the flesh in our man's arm to literally rip open, with a vomit-inspiring amount of bone and vein on display. But before the upchuck reaches your tonsils, the whole wound seals itself back up again in one seamless, beautiful motion.

The thing to remember with Bioshock is that it isn't your traditional FPS. There are no exploding barrels, there's no wall-hugging, no mad online Deathmatches with a rocket launcher nestled in the corner of the map - it's an entirely different breed of shooter, where the gun is an extension of your brain and not vice versa. Bioshock is the kind of mind-harmingly original title that has immense potential but could get overlooked in favour of much flashier shooters with plenty of rev but nothing under the bonnet.

"The last thing we want", says Irrational's Ken Levine, "is a repeat of System Shock II, where it scored 95% in games magazines but sold next to nothing". Bioshock already looks like it can match System Shock II in terms of quality, and although it's easy to pin down why this should be a success, it's up to you, the consumer, as to whether it'll just flutter off into obscurity the moment Irrational raise their hands and let the finished Bioshock find its way into stores. We're praying not...

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