What secrets does the original BioShock still hold?
Return to Rapture
BioShock’s not a game that’s easily forgotten, yet there’s more buried beneath its gorgeously moody seas than you know. And never mind nostalgia: if you didn’t play it at the time, it’s just as intriguing, thrilling and relevant now as ever. Politically, perhaps more so. Still waters run deep, and in BioShock, you’re in very deep water…
Whether you’re new to BioShock or a fan of the franchise, you can now stream BioShock Remastered on NVIDIA SHIELD with a GeForce NOW membership ($7.99 a month and free to try out for one month). BioShock 2 Remastered is also available to purchase via GeForce NOW for 75% off its regular full price for a limited time, and comes with an additional free key to download the game on PC.
Why’s it called Rapture?
Coincidence or conspiracy?
It all starts in 1960 with a terrifying plane crash into the Atlantic, within sight of a mysterious lighthouse that leads – via bathysphere – to the secretive ocean-floor city of Rapture. As the sole survivor, Jack, you discover a decaying utopia that destroyed itself two years earlier. The few survivors are mostly insane, hostile and deeply creepy. But what’s going on with the city’s creator, billionaire Andrew Ryan? Who is Atlas, the resistance leader who guides you via radio? And how, exactly, is your miraculous appearance in Rapture connected to it all? The answers remain as fresh today as a decade ago (we won’t spoil them), and if you already have know the ending, take another look – it’s amazing what you see second time around.
It’s got nothing to do with the Rapture ‘Everybody’s Gone To’. Instead, it’s a reference to the ‘rapture of the deep’ – nitrogen narcosis, a condition that affects deep sea divers. It’s a kind of drunken madness that leads to everything from laughter and over-confidence to hallucinations and death. It’s a fitting name for this grand, failed utopia, as the semi-sane survivors make increasingly clear. For the full story, make sure to search out each and every Audio Log.
Was it ahead of its time?
There’s a lot of politics beneath BioShock’s surface, but don’t let that put you off. It’s built into everything you do – and while many games look hopelessly dated in today’s fast-changing world, BioShock only seems more relevant, more incisive and more important. It’s all about your central moral choices.
Creator Andrew Ryan builds Rapture on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which says selfish grasping is moral and poor people are parasites. She most famously explored it in her novel Atlas Shrugged, which reviews noted was ‘almost perfect in its immorality’ and ‘shot through with hatred’. Time magazine wasn’t sure if it was a novel or a nightmare. This is the world you descend into in BioShock…
Evidence? Andrew Ryan is an anagram of Ayn Rand, while US Republican Paul Ryan (now Trump’s Speaker of the House) is a lifelong Rand admirer who’s given speeches to The Atlas Society. Furthermore, there’s a statue of Atlas outside New York’s Rockefeller Centre, the art deco skyscraper that inspired the game’s style. But while oil baron Rockefeller was America’s first billionaire, he saw great value in philanthropy. Will you follow Ryan’s philosophy, or Rockefeller’s? It greatly affects the outcome.
Dive deeper and you also find references to George Orwell’s 1984, Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate and classic sci-fi flick Logan’s Run, too.
Why is there fire coming out of my arm?
Despite knowing that Plasmids cause addiction, madness and death, the good capitalists of Rapture sold the superpowers to everyone. You, as Jack, can use them to shoot fire, electricity, sonic booms and swarms of insects; stir up cyclones; hypnotize or turn enemies against each other; create fake hologram targets; freeze enemies solid, or manipulate gravity itself. If all your gaming weapons have been guns and grenades of late, a return to Rapture is a beautiful treat.
What’s with the little girls?
With Rapture’s science unchecked by morality, Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum was able to not only develop DNA-manipulating Plasmids that created superpowers, but implant the sea slugs which provide the raw material in the best incubators – very young girls. These hosts became the Little Sisters, and you can either save them or fatally ‘harvest’ them in exchange for a greater reward. Note that Tenenbaum, whose conscience has finally woken up, will have strong reactions to your choices.