I recently revisited the ever so beautiful Rapture as I played through BioShock for the second time, this time playing on Hard as I tried to obtain the last two achievements I needed from the game. When I first started the playthrough, I wasn't expecting to do anything in the game other than do what was necessary to obtain the achievements, but it wasn't long before I was completely hooked on Rapture again.
Now some may question why one would get hooked on a game's location after having already seen it once before and in some cases, their questioning of it would be completely justified. But Rapture is different; it's not just a location formed to assist a gameplay mechanic, storyline or to show off the graphics. It is infact all of these and yet, that's not the reason Rapture draws you in. It draws you in because it isn't just a game location. No, instead it's absolutely real. When you're playing BioShock, you are IN Rapture.
Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? How can something you see and hear on a TV screen feel real when it's just a bunch of pixels? Well, I honestly don't think there is any other way to describe just how much Rapture (and therefore BioShock) draws you in while playing.
The attention to detail in the game is amazing. It can be something as big as seeing buildings of the city outside as you look through the windows, or it can be something subtle like a small stream of water running down the wall because of a crack in the ceiling. It doesn't matter what it is, everything as a cohesive whole draws you into the city of Rapture and there really is no other place you would want to be while playing the game. Every room, hell, every corner of every room seems to tell a different story which only further draws you in. You are, after all, seeing Rapture dying. There may be blood stains on the floor potentially suggesting that someone had died there. There may be water coming through a hole in the window, suggesting that a fight may have taken place nearby. Or there may be something as simple as food and drink on a table suggesting that people had recently dined there.
As I said before, it doesn't matter what it is, everything combines to draw you in the world and it absolutely works. It is also one of the reasons I love BioShock so much. It is easily one of the most atmospheric and immersive games I have played. When you consider that I have played some great atmospheric titles like Metroid Prime, Silent Hill and Condemned - that's saying a lot. I won't deny it, I was biased towards the game before it even released (the whole underwater city thing was just too cool for me to pass up on) but luckily for me when I finally got to experience the brilliance that is BioShock, I was presented with a game that wasn't just that, a game. It was more than that, it was an experience first and foremost and secondly it was a tour. A tour through a dying city that had a history. A history that was interesting, compelling and most of all obvious. Obvious in the sense that, well, people lived there. Some still do, but it was once a city like New York or Sydney and now it's turning into ruins. A memory. History and nothing more.
The fate is sad, actually. Perhaps not as sad as some of the events that occurred to particular residents of Rapture, but sad all the same. The game was touted for having the moral choice (do I save or harvest the little child, otherwise known as the Little Sister?) of good and bad, but to me the game shone through a different light. Or should that be plight? The plight of Rapture and its denizens. To me, seeing a city of such strength falling into nothing was more involving, immersive and important than any amount of ADAM could ever have been.