BioShock carved out a unique identity and developed quite a devoted fanbase across three games. The Art Deco style used in the underwater city of Rapture in the first entry set the game apart from other titles at the time with its unusual visuals and the engaging gameplay, captivating story and a certain phrase cemented it as a title that just about everyone should experience. The charm of the original BioShock wasn’t a fluke as the franchise was able to evolve and change but maintain its high level of quality across BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite. Going beyond the gameplay, the storytelling and style of these games all contributed not just to their popularity but also to an overall level of intrigue with the franchise. This is where the French publisher Third Editions comes into play, as they have recently translated their book about this trio of games to English.
BioShock: From Rapture to Columbia is a book that complements the BioShock games, written with the most hardcore BioShock fans in mind. The relatively short hardcover book, falling just a hair short of 200 pages, is filled with a lot of behind the scenes information about the worlds found in Rapture and Columbia. The book offers insight into the development of the games and their stories, citing influences from real world history and mythology and recounting bits of the story in a detailed synopsis.
What makes BioShock: From Rapture to Columbia interesting is how the book covers so many different facets of the series. It obviously covers the three main games along with the assorted DLC, but goes into detail about the development process. It’s well known among BioShock fans that there are political and philosophical influences across the franchise, and this book discusses the role these ideologies factored into shaping the unique BioShock. The influence of Ayn Rand, objectivism and American exceptionalism are discussed in how they influenced Rapture, along with the conflicting economic theories of capitalism and consumerism.
These concepts and how they interplay with the BioShock titles is interesting, but you may be wondering if there’s more about the actual games themselves. There is no need to worry, as this book examines how BioShock fits into the standard first person shooter mold and more importantly how it distinguishes itself from other titles in the genre. The book examines the development of the characters throughout the series and how the story, art design, gameplay, cultural influences and a certain catch phrase came together to create a game where the whole was greater than the sum of its part. BioShock 2 was considered by many to be a disappointing follow up, despite still being well received by critics and a great game in its own right, but this book sheds some light on that and the decision to move BioShock Infinite to a new city in an earlier time.
BioShock: From Rapture to Columbia may be overkill for casual BioShock fans, but a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to delve deeper beyond what is presented across the games. Looking behind the scenes has always been something of a personal interest and this is a title that fulfills that sort of voyeuristic curiosity. It’s an interesting read, filled with information about an interesting series of games, and as such Third Editions would ask all BioShock fans: would you kindly read BioShock: From Rapture to Columbia?