With the sequel released in a few days , I've been playing Bioshock on the PC after buying it on the Steam sale.. That's even after I completed it twice on the X-box 360. Why? Well for starters I Bioshock has become one of those special games to me, in the same way GTA: Vice City and Deus Ex are. I can go through the game almost in my sleep, but just to exist in the world they present is so intoxicating that even though the story and gameplay are familiar, the game seeps into my imagination and it becomes a welcoming place despite all the danger and death. And just like the Hong Kong stage in Deus Ex, there is one special level in Bioshock, the kingdom of Sander Cohen, Fort Frolic.
Fort Frolic is interesting because as you arrive, Cohen manages to take you away from your quest to meet and kill Andrew Ryan. Cohen blocks out all radio messages from Atlas and Ryan, and instead commissions you to finish his new work of "art". The word art being used loosely there, as after you arrive Cohen kills a young man playing at a piano by detonating a load of explosives strapped to the piano. Urged to take a phot of the young man's corpse, you then are charged with taking a photo of his remains and posting it on a jumbled collection of frames. Cohen tasks you with killing 3 other individuals who he favoured before they became doubters. Deliver the pictures of their corpses, then you can proceed on your journey.
Replaying Fort Frolic has proven it to be much more enclosed and smaller than other levels in Bioshock, but it's so much more unique and filled with standout moments. The plaster clad splicers stalking you in the basement of the Wine shop. The ghostly and revealing flashbacks in Jasmie Jolene's room, the pac-man cheese on the ground..... Fort Frolic is packed with more character and standout moments than a dozen lesser games. What has me excited about Bioshock 2 is that Jordan Thomas, the level designer behind Fort Frolic (and Thief 3's masterpiece level, The Cradle) is the creative designer on Bioshock 2
. If he can fill the game with the same atmosphere and smart designs from Fort Frolic into Bioshock 2, then I'm gonna be a happy man come Thursday.
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