We never get tired of looking at BioShock - the underwater dystopia is literally swimming in evocative ambiance. In this clammy, stifling setting swarming with twitchy Splicers and hulking Big Daddies, it feels as though a few hundred thousand tons of pressure could come crushing in on you at any moment. Until it does, we're more than happy to explore the beautifully vivid horrors of Rapture.
Our latest hands-on time was spent in Arcadia, Rapture's verdurous garden district. Arcadia is where BioShock really starts to open up, both in terms of level design and gameplay. Arcadia is less linear and more open to exploration than the Medical Pavilion level we played through last time (see our previous BioShock preview). We also got to see more gene tonics, plasmids, and weapons, which drove home how profoundly Bioshock's upgrade paths affect gameplay. Every time we get our hands on BioShock, the intoxicating balance of deep character customization, realistic enemy behavior, environmental interactivity, rich storytelling, gripping music, and luscious art becomes more apparent. This is the next-gen experience we were promised.