When you think about the 1960s, underwater metropolises and drill-armed creatures in anachronistic diving suits probably aren’t what typically come to mind. Then again, Bioshock isn’t your typical first-person shooter.

When you think about the 1960s, underwater metropolises and drill-armed creatures in anachronistic diving suits probably aren’t what typically come to mind.

Then again, Bioshock isn’t your typical first-person shooter.

The game’s opening drops you (quite literally) at the saltwater-soaked entrance of Rapture, a would-be utopia at the bottom of the ocean, after your plane goes down over the mid-Atlantic.

Things only get worse upon arrival to what’s left of the ruined city. Rapture’s creator, Andrew Ryan, has been playing god, giving the populous access to genetic modifiers called plasmids (which wreaked hell on them) while enforcing a 1984-esque rule to preserve his so-called perfect society.

The initial introduction to the city’s freaky denizens–an assortment of mutated nasties in Prohibition-era masquerade ball masks, fedoras and the like–sets the unique tone for the remainder of the game, in both style and game mechanics.

Although the game saw outings on the Xbox 360 and PC last year, 2K Games has now ported Bioshock over for PS3 owners. If you’ve played either previous iteration before, the main game hasn’t really changed. However, if you’ve yet to navigate the waterlogged streets of Rapture, then you’re in for a real treat.

That being said, Bioshock is something of an amalgamation. Although it’s undoubtedly a shooter, there are some light adventure and RPG elements to the game that make it stand out from many another titles in its genre.

What this means in the gameplay is that you get an interesting story and some possibilities for weapons and ability customization. And while that might not sound like much on paper, it goes a long way towards the game’s overall playability.

Since most first-person shooters dump you in a world, give you weapons and tell you to shoot things, it’s refreshing that Bioshock offers a little more.

Throughout the game you can pick up your own plasmids, giving you abilities like fire throwing and using telekinesis to pick up items.

Morality is also used in an interesting way. Aside from its genetically modified populous, Rapture is also populated with Big Daddies, the diving suit-clad guardians of Little Sisters, small girls that have been corrupted with Adam, the genetic material that served as the cornerstone of Rapture’s society.

Adam is used to buy plasmid upgrades, and only Little Sisters carry it. But before you can get your hands on any you’ve got to take down the girl’s Big Daddy (no easy task).

Upon the death of a Big Daddy you are then presented with a choice: either save the defenseless girl-thing in front of you, or harvest her body to get more goodies.

Naturally, the game is slightly altered depending on whether you harvest of save more Little Sisters, but the real point is if you don’t care enough to save the lives of helpless (albeit genetically altered) little girls, you’re going to feel kind of dirty, which is no small feat in the era of Grand Theft Auto.

In addition to 2K’s interesting take on the genre, Bioshock looks damn good. Rapture itself is a degenerate whirlwind of neon-signs and 1940s Americana (the city started construction in ’47, according to the game).

Character models are highly detailed and are generally pretty creepy (as they should be). The environments and Big Daddies look especially sweet, like something Jules Verne might have created if he was still around in the ’60s.

The rendering of Rapture looks amazing as well, with atmospheric lighting giving everything a slight gloss. Thankfully, this is a natural fit for the game, rather than being something that sticks out as inherently artificial.

Rapture is also realistically modeled thanks to the damn-close-to-ubiquitous Havok engine pioneered by Half-Life 2.

Although the game remains good looking, it is a shame that the graphics weren’t given an overhaul to take advantage of the PS3’s processing power. Sony’s edition of the game does feature some new downloadable content in the form of “challenge rooms” as a bonus, though they won’t be available for download until Nov. 1.

Nevertheless, between the DLC and a newer, tougher-than-all-hell difficulty level, this one is the most complete version of Bioshock your money can buy.

The bottom line is, if you haven’t played Bioshock, you should. The game’s bizarre, peculiar world will have you intrigued before the action really even starts–and from there it only gets better.Anchors aweigh…

BioshockPS32K Games$59.994 1/2 stars