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pendelton21 avatar 2:08 PM on 09.18.2008  (server time)
Level-Headed: Fort Frolic

In my opinion, there has never been a first-person shooter quite like Bioshock. The story, the levels, the characters, the plot twists. All of it is pure genius at work. For this episode of Level Headed, I decided to take a look at what I believe is the most beautiful and brilliant area of the game, Fort Frolic, home of the psychotic artist Sander Cohen.


Look at him. He just oozes crazy out of every pore.

Fort Frolic, the 7th area in the game Bioshock, much like Storm Eagle's level, epitomizes the best parts of the game in one entire level. Known as the social hub of Rapture, Fort Frolic was a glorious shopping mall, theater, and strip club, all in one. Each distinctive area holds one of (IMO) the best parts of the game. For instance:

Fleet Hall: Upon arrival to Fort Frolic, a voice on a loudspeaker (Sander Cohen) invites you to visit the theater known as Fleet Hall so you can have a chat with him. Upon arrival, you witness one of the most fucked-up moments in Bioshock, and, perhaps, gaming in general.

"I'm trying, I'm trying!!!"

When you enter the theater, you hear a soft piano melody playing. Upon closer inspection, you see it's a Splicer chained to a piano on the stage. And the piano just happens to be covered in dynamite. This is Kyle Fitzpatrick, a follower of Cohen. Cohen makes Fitzpatrick play a piece called "Cohen's Masterpiece" (my favorite Bioshock song) over and over, until he gets it right. But, Kyle gives up, saying he can't do it anymore. In what seems to be a set-up, Cohen blows up the piano, killing Kyle, and forcing you, the player, to photograph his corpse. This is all a part of Cohen's plan to make the perfect art instillation in Fort Frolic, and he needs your help. From here, you kill 3 other enemies of Cohen, take their picture, and place it in a frame on a small stage. But we'll get to that a bit later.

Eve's Garden: Ah, yes, there's nothing that livens up a video game like a visit to a strip club. Duke Nukem knows that rule perfectly. But, I bet Duke never had to fend off drug-crazy psychotics just to look at some boobies. You, on the other hand, do, but you don't get the pay-off of naked ladies. Instead, you come upon something that I don't think anyone was expecting; the corpse of your mother.

Dude that chick's hot...WAIT! MOM?!!?

Yep, upon hearing an audio diary in the back room of the Garden, you learn that "Andrew Ryan's favorite gal" became pregnant with Ryan's child a while back, and, because of it, was killed. Later on, you find out that you were sired by the great Andrew Ryan, and, in turn, you're the offspring of a stripper. It doesn't get much crazier than that. Well, that is, until you meet Sander Cohen face-to-face.

The Atrium: Remember when I talked about taking pictures of dead people and placing them on a stage? Yeah, here's where that stage is.

"I'm sorry for that outburst. You'll have to forgive an old fool and his artistic temperament."

Upon placing the final portrait in Sander's Quadtych (his name for the sculpture), Cohen appears to gaze over his most marvelous work. To the sounds of "Cohen's Masterpiece", Sander walks down a flight of stairs, gazing at his beautiful statue, and being his crazy-old self. Here's where another brilliant moment comes: if you wish, you can kill Cohen right here. In doing so, while you are cut off from a secret area you can come back to later, you can get the "Irony" achievement, one of the coolest in the game. All you have to do is kill Cohen, and, as a twist on his masterpiece, take a picture of his dead body. Brutal irony, indeed.

Other Random Areas:
The Pharaoh's Fortune: A casino where you can still gamble your money away, if you so wish.
Robertson's Tobbaccoria: A specialty cigar store where you can find some items and a little money.
Sir Prize: Again, like Pharaoh's fortune, a casino area where you can test your luck.
The Water Room: Not sure if this area has a name, but it scared the shit out of me the first time I played it. Upon entering the room, you have the chance to go to the other side and grab a grenade launcher. As you move around, you realize that statues start appearing out of nowhere. Then, at once, all the statues reveal themselves as Splicers and attack you. One of the more fucked-up surprises in the game.

EDIT: Rev. Anthony reminded me of this. I can't believe I forgot it. Watching this video still sends shivers down my spine:

Congrats to Zeno, winner of the contest! He was the one who posted a header closest to what I wanted to make, but didn't have the ability to make. Thanks to all who entered, and I'll be sure to have more contests soon!

Airport 1001 (Mega Man X)
Crescent Isle (Skies of Arcadia)
Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem (Zombies Ate My neighbors)
Temple Of Ice (LoZ: Phantom Hourglass)

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