Interviews

Bioshock

BioShock creative director Ken Levine guides us even further into his deep, dark, submarinal adventure...

Bioshock is one of 2007's most eagerly anticipated shooters and with a release date of August 24 set in stone it's not a million miles away. PC Zone recently caught up with the game's creative director and Irrational Games big cheese Ken Levine and subjected him to a quick grilling...

How far off the beaten track will BioShock let you stray?

Ken Levine: I think of most other shooters as a ball of string - you go from place to place, but at the end of the day it's one long string that you follow from beginning to end. One corridor that magically opens up other areas, and there's nowhere else to explore. What we have in BioShock are more exploratory areas, there's a whole bunch of them. There's also a lot that's off the critical path, and it's in these areas that we hide weapon upgrade machines, special ammo and more involved story elements. That's a thing about this game; you can explore every nook and cranny.

And how do the various areas of Rapture differ?

Ken Levine: It's almost like when you go and see that Grindhouse movie - one by Tarantino, the other by Rodriguez - two very different films. Here, you have all these levels that do their own thing - this wharf town Fisheries area, the underwater forest of Arcadia, Fort Frolic which is for theatre, shopping, restaurants and strip clubs, an industrial area, a residential area and a science area. They all just feel wholly different. The level of detail and visual storytelling is huge - it's not a bunch of prefabs. Everything is built entirely from scratch and all handcrafted.

One thing that's instantly apparent when you play are the myriad of different ways you tell the story - audio logs, written logs, graffiti, stuff left lying around the place...

Ken Levine: We've also licensed all this period music, and I've just written this song that's by this horrible songwriter called Sander Cohen. It's an anthem for Rapture, and it's called Rise Rapture, Rise - we recorded it the other day and you'll hear that in the game. Plus, the vending machines talk, the gatherer sings her little song. A lot of it comes in at the last moment too. We were recording another character's lines recently and I asked: 'Can you do a little girl's voice? Hang on, I'm going to write a song.' Then I wrote the Gatherer's Garden song, which we recorded right there and then.

In the last presentation I saw, there were fishes at the windows. I didn't see fishes at the windows when I was playing last night...

Ken Levine: There are! There are many fishes at windows - I promise you there are fishes at windows. This is a pretty packed game, if you look at the density of objects and geometry... It's packed to the gills. In some places we can have fish, in some places we can't have fish. But I promise you fish. You saw the whale on the way in, didn't you?

Yes I did. And it made me very happy. I don't know much about whales but...

Ken Levine: You will have your fish my friend.

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