In the year 1960 a plane crashes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with a man named Jack as the only survivor. He has the apparent luck of resurfacing in front of what looks like a door to an underwater complex. Without hesitating, Jack enters the door and is greeted by slogans that praise the city of Rapture, a paradise of free will built in the 1940’s by a business magnate named Andrew Ryan. However, even before he assimilates all this new information, the descent to this supposed paradise ends and he can only see ruins and chaos. Learning about the destiny of Rapture will be now Jack’s main motivation while he tries to survive the horrors that the free will can create.
BioShock is a first-person shooter with gameplay elements and storytelling technique reminiscent of System Shock games. Rapture, the once proud social experiment inspired by the real-world objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, has been nearly destroyed, its inhabitants either dead or fallen victims to bizarre scientific experiments. The retro-futuristic setting incorporates elements of sci-fi with art deco and steampunk influences, featuring interior design and propaganda posters reminiscent of 1950’s.
The game’s plot is largely revealed through recorded messages left by Rapture’s inhabitants before they were killed or mutated. Much of the plot development is therefore dedicated to reconstructing the events of the past, similarly to System Shock games. Limited usage of stealth, the possibility to hack security cameras and other devices, and character customization are the gameplay elements that further tie BioShock to its spiritual predecessors.
In its core, however, the game is more action-oriented, restricting the role-playing mechanics of System Shock 2 to abilities and upgrades that can be acquired and equipped by the main character. Most of the enemies in the game are Splicers, the deformed and insane citizens of Rapture. The protagonist has an arsenal of firearms to combat them, but is also able to use plasmids, which act similarly to magic and deplete a special energy called EVE. Various types of plasmids may directly hurt enemies, sabotage their movements, or enhance the player character’s defense. Combat tactics often rely on successive usage of different types of weapons and plasmids. For example, encasing an enemy in ice with a plasmid makes it possible to shatter it to pieces with a single shot; protecting himself with an electric shield, the protagonist can electrocute enemies and strike them with melee weapons, etc.
The player can only equip a limited number of active and passive plasmids, and also has an inventory limit for every type of item. Restoring and enhancing items can be found by exploring the environment or purchased from vending machines. These can also be hacked, similarly to turrets, cameras, safes, and other types of locks. Hacking is presented as a Pipe Mania-like mini-game.
Plasmids, on the other hand, are mostly purchased by spending certain amounts of a mutagen known as ADAM. This mutagen can be obtained from mysterious creatures called “Little Sisters” – little girls that can be seen in most of the game’s locations, accompanied and protected by very strong, genetically enhanced humans grafted to armored diving suits and nicknamed “Big Daddies”. In order to capture a Little Sister the player normally has to defeat her Big Daddy. Afterwards, the player has the choice of killing the girl, harvesting large amounts of ADAM in process, or sparing her life. Depending on the player’s moral decisions concerning the Little Sisters, the game’s story will be concluded with different endings.
The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion
A lowly prisoner has been cast into the depths of the dungeon in the Imperial capital of the province Cyrodiil. The fate of this prisoner suddenly changed when the Emperor Uriel Septim descended into the prison with his guards, fleeing from unknown assassins who have already slaughtered his children. But even an emperor cannot escape his destiny. Before the last assassin delivered the lethal strike, the old emperor entrusted the prisoner with the Amulet of Kings and asked him to find his illegitimate son, the last of the Septim bloodline. The Septims and the Amulet are the last barrier between the continent Tamriel and the dark dimension of Oblivion, and the delicate balance is threatened by the Daedra Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon, the prisoner being Tamriel’s only hope.
Oblivion is the fourth title in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series. The game sticks to the style of its predecessors featuring action-based combat, first-person and third-person views, and vast free-roaming environments. The player’s chosen race and class determine the abilities the protagonist has in the beginning. The game allows the player to develop multiple types of characters without being limited to a specific role.
The advancement system, as was the case in previous games, is based on skill usage. When the player repeatedly use one of the skills, it improves. NPCs offer training (for a price) to help in advancing to the next stage. In time the protagonist can become an Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert and Master and gain certain bonuses for the skill. The skills of the foes are “levelled” to be approximately equal to or slightly above those of the main character.
There are numerous side quests which help the hero advance his or her abilities as well as gain fame. The player is free to roam the world without a particular goal, exploring towns, forts, caves, mines, and old temple ruins. Visiting shrines scattered around Tamriel grants the protagonist specialized skills, some permanent and some temporary.
Weapons and armor wear out with use and need to be repaired either with the help of special non-playable characters or by using an appropriately trained Armorer skill. Enhanced items (weapons, armor, clothing, rings, amulets) abound in the game for protection, resistance, reflection and special activities like walking on water, exploring underwater, becoming invisible or lightening the load. It is possible to open the gates to the Oblivion realm to grab their sigil stones, which can be used to make enhanced items. Higher-level mages can create their own spells, and enchant weapons, armor and clothing using filled soul gems in addition to sigil stones.
As opposed to Morrowind, mana points gradually regenerate over time, without the need to rest to replenish them. Active blocking has been added to melee combat. The game features full voice acting for all the NPCs. Dialogues typically contain less topics than in Morrowind, but more responses unique to different characters. In addition, the so-called “radiant AI” system makes characters follow their own schedules, engage in various activities or talk to each other regardless of the player’s input. The game features fast traveling, allowing the player to instantly visit Cyrodiil’s major cities or previously explored areas.