Penny Arcade! - Our Continuing Series
Penny Arcade discussing Bioshock.
Having never played System Shock 2 - or, indeed, any game from Irrational, like other deprived console gamers - Gabriel had no idea what to expect. He wasn't prepared to to be confronted with emotional manipulation on the level that these people are capable of. I say "these people," as though they are some nebulous enemy force, but in some ways this is true. I expect to be wrung dry by these monsters and their devil priest, Ken Levine. One does not typically load up a shooter and, within the space of ten minutes, bear witness to a sobering meditation on loss.
One need not absorb that meditation, and indeed one may cut it short with violence, but most games don't even attempt to engage the player on this level. I'm not suggesting that we as gamers are affixed to a decrepit industry and that, through violent revolution, narrative power must become the only currency of the medium. But when it does happen, when a game tells a story so holistically, we should certainly recognize it.
In terms of raw Gameplay, it looks like a first person action game, but that term usually means something specific about how story is delivered. That is to say, it is not delivered. You can't really thresh out the genre in the classic way, because it has the eloquent world building we usually associate with Adventure Games, and depending on how stingy they are with resources could very easily be called Survival Horror. It doesn't seem to know - or care - what genre it is.