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Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Boston
System: Xbox 360
Genre: Action RPG
Release date: Available now
Review by: Andrew Clark
The realization of a utopian society is as impossible as, say, building an entire city beneath the sea, but both ideas are attractive propositions, to say the least. Most attractive to Ken Levine and his team at 2K Boston (formerly Irrational Games), masterminds behind the first-person role-player, BioShock, a genetic foray into the abyss of the Atlantic ocean where moral decisions, creative thinking and the salvation of a city lie in the player’s capable, albeit altered, hands.
Andrew Ryan is a wealthy industrialist fed up with the way things work in the world. He’s tired of America’s charity toward the poor, overly cautious of mother Russia’s growing Communist threat and unreceptive to the holy word of the Vatican. Ryan envisions a world where the scientist has liberty to experiment and the artist can create with abandon — and none of the stagnant laws which have held progress captive for so long stand in their way. So in 1946, while the world was still celebrating the fall of the third Reich, Andrew secretly built his paradisiacal fantasy: Rapture, a self-sustaining underwater metropolis fathoms under the frigid currents of the Mid-Atlantic.
Ryan’s creation lay undiscovered, hidden from the rest of the cruel world for over 20 years. That is, until the airline in which you’re riding makes an unscheduled pit stop just outside of the only above sea-level entrance. Miraculously, you survive, but flames and wreckage surround you, and a monolithic lighthouse, being the only thing not on fire or sinking, presents itself as a welcome alternative to Davy Jones’ locker. You’ll call and complain to the airline about the flight later; right now, necessity dictates solid land and wringing the saltwater out of your wool sweater. Once inside, lights trace your path through the structure as an instrumental rendition of “Beyond the Sea” trickles through overhead speakers. No one else seems to be present, just a bathysphere with an overt glowing handle and the undeniable redolence of curiosity.
As you make your way down, an introductory video narrated by Ryan himself beckons you to enter Rapture, describing a paragon of science and industry where one can reap the benefits of their own creation and not have to worry about parasitical “hangers on” demanding a share. But as you actually enter, you find a city crumbling under the weight of its own genius, political upheaval and the pressures of the most abundant resource on the planet.
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