BioShock is perhaps one of the best shooters of the modern gaming era thanks to fantastic level design, storytelling, and a fun combat system. This 2007 title was then followed up by two sequels, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite, both of which were solid titles in their own right. Yet, with three games and a wealth of DLC one has to wonder what were the best moments in this series. There’s no doubting that all of the BioShock games are full of fantastic moments, but certain ones helped define the series as a modern staple.
When judging which moments made it onto this list we will not just be factoring in story or character moments, although expect a few of those to appear. We will be taking into account gameplay sections and in-game moments that can be experienced by players who are exploring these two failed cities. However, if you were to ask us what makes BioShock so special, here are the 10 best examples we can give.
Warning: Major Spoilers Below!
10. Fighting Your First Big Sister – BioShock 2
One of the new additions to BioShock 2 was the slender and more powerful Big Sisters who would appear after a player dealt with a certain amount of Little Sisters. You have a brief encounter with one early on in the first chapter, but it’s not until a little bit later that you get your first real taste of combat with these acrobatic powerhouses. Before the fight begins you will hear their screeches ring out while warning signs pop up on the screen and let you know one’s on the way.
This is not only an intimidating start, but the fights themselves are incredibly difficult thanks to the Little Sisters’ ferocious attack style. While laying out some traps with your Rivet Gun may help turn the tide, there will always be something nerve-wracking about hearing that first screech as one closes in on you.
9. The Wild Bunny – BioShock
Audio Diaries are BioShock’s way of filling in exposition of character development without having any real cutscenes. It allows us to get a glimpse into the lives of these people and help better understand what their motives are and ultimately what caused their demise. Enter Sander Cohen, the artist that you encounter at Fort Frolic and someone that doesn’t seem completely insane. Well, he doesn’t seem like that until you stumble across an Audio Diary titled “The Wild Bunny.”
Not only is this poem about a rabbit losing its mind over not being able to remove its own ears chilling, but it helps you understand that even Cohen is beyond salvation. It helps players realize that your trust in him shouldn’t exist and reinforces the concept that in Rapture you can only trust yourself. It also doesn’t help that Cohen screaming the last lines of the poem is super terrifying the first time you ever hear it.
8. Be the Little Sister – BioShock 2
The Little Sisters are perhaps the most iconic character from this series and up until the last few chapters of BioShock 2 we really didn’t understand their perspective on the world. Thankfully, this all changes when we take control of a Little Sister who’s perception of Rapture changes from nightmare dystopia to something out of a storybook. Blood turns to roses, corpses on the ground now have “wings,” and the halls are full of warm, welcoming light.
It’s an important moment because it allows us to not only see what these children do but helps us understand just how they still remain largely sane in such a world. Even if the concept is incredibly chilling, this also helped reinforce the bond between them and their protectors the Big Daddies.
7. Welcome to Columbia – BioShock Infinite
Ascension! Ascension! Those words ring out as Pinkerton Agent Booker DeWitt rockets into the air from a desolate lighthouse in possibly the shadiest looking rocket of all time. Up until this moment we really didn’t know what to expect from BioShock Infinite, but once you break the storm and look up at the city, there’s something calming about it all. Combine this with the perfect music and you have one of the best entrances to a level, period.
Plus, the lead up to the raffle lets you actually explore the city and allows players to get a better understanding for not only the new location but the citizens. It’s an interesting choice to not have the city be plunged into chaos right away and it pays off wonderfully.
6. Paging Doctor Steinman – BioShock
BioShock is full of interesting and colorful characters, but one of the most unsettling is definitely the deranged Doctor Steinman. Not only is this man trying to turn human’s into cubist forms, but he suffers from hallucinations about the goddess Aphrodite. Leading up to your first real boss fight there will be dozens of mutilated corpses, warped monologues via Audio Diaries, and diagrams showcasing his attempted experiments.
Once you finally reach him at the end of Medical Pavilion you not only interrupt him during surgery, but he is surrounded by dead corpses. Steinman then declares that you are ugly (rude) and opens fire with a machine gun. While he is easy to defeat, this man marks the first time you really encounter a citizen that’s still alive in Rapture. It’s incredibly unsettling and certainly sets the tone for the rest of the game.
5. The Thinker Reveal – BioShock 2 Minerva’s Den
Minerva’s Den is the only story DLC added on for BioShock 2, but it has arguably a better story than the core game. Following Sigma through the machine workshops of Rapture, you come across a man named Porter who’s tasked you with retrieving a program called The Thinker. Up until the very end this program is hidden in shadows, with only small teases and clues brought up to the player. Yet, the big twist at the end is not one that player’s might expect and lends Minerva’s Den a more tragic feel.
Apparently, in his desperate attempt to save his wife’s memory, Porter uploaded information about his dead wife to the computer. This created The Thinker, which is a monument to not only Porter’s depression but his mourning and loss as well. A reveal like this isn’t meant to get you angry like with Atlas/Fontaine, but one that lends Minerva’s Den a tragic weight that makes everything you’ve done up until then even harder to accept.
4. Between Worlds – BioShock Infinite Burial At Sea Part 2
This is when things starting getting exceptionally weird for the BioShock franchise as players returning to the underwater city of Rapture were in for quite a surprise. Not only did it turn out that both Columbia and Rapture share many of the same qualities, but characters from both alternate universes were actually interacting. Through various audio diaries and in-game moments, players are shown just how deep these two cities are entwined.
It’s a fascinating piece of storytelling and allows players to understand just how these two cities are similar. Listening to records of Fink interacting with Suchong is not only important to the story, but a great moment that helps bring the game’s story full circle.
3. Killing Your First Big Daddy – BioShock
Up until this point, all you’ve seen of these legendary foes are the mutilated corpses and terrified Splicers that roam the halls of Rapture. Once you defeat Steinman you are tasked will slaying your first Big Daddy and it’s incredibly intimidating. Not only is the first fight very difficult, but it helps highlights the various different ways you can go about fighting in this game.
Do you hack the turrets to offer you a distraction, go in guns blazing with your shotgun, or try to lure the Big Daddy towards a camera so an alarm goes off? These are all viable options and act as a great final test for players until all of their training wheels are taken off and you’re thrust into the world.
2. Who is Booker DeWitt? – BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite’s ending can be quite confusing when first glanced over, but the big reveal that Booker DeWitt is actually Comstock from a different reality was not predictable. Not only does this change your entire perception of the main character, but helps twist your relationship with Elizabeth. You are both monster and knight trying to hold onto the same girl, which is a concept that isn’t explored in many mediums.
While the entire ending to BioShock Infinite may embellish in its complexity a bit too much, this last pull of the curtain helped cement BioShock Infinite as a fantastic sequel to a legendary game.
1. Would You Kindly? – BioShock
One of the greatest twists in all of fiction, the big reveal that you’ve been mind controlled during the entirety of BioShock is one we doubt many saw coming. On top of that, you are then informed that the lovable Atlas you’ve been helping is actually the criminal Fontaine who’s been using you as a way to kill Andrew Ryan. It’s one of gaming’s greatest betrayals and is masterfully pulled off thanks to the wonderful cast of voice actors. It’s rare when video games can draw such a powerful emotion like rage, but realizing that you’ve been used this whole time certainly sparks it.
The BioShock series is a fantastic work of both video gaming and fiction that masterfully weaves storytelling and gameplay. While there and hundreds of great moments, these stand out as some of the best that all three games have to offer.