What makes Rapture so enticing to me and what made BioShock such a classic in my eyes? It was Rapture. There has never been before, nor do I believe that will be a moment like the opening sequence to BioShock.
The opening monologue. The plane crash. The lighthouse. Django’s rendition of La Mer. The bathysphere. And finally, the moment where after Ryan’s speech and you see the city for the first time, it takes your breath away. The utopia that is far beyond the sea.
But allow me to go back to the moment I played BioShock for the first time. What an experience playing it for the first time, I didn’t know what I was expecting out of it after hearing how BioShock was one of 2007’s best videogames and how BioShock could be one of the best videogames of all time and could be one of the best videogames of the late 2000’s but I know just by seeing the opening sequence and the descent into Rapture, it exceeded my every expection and made me a fan for life. Now, that BioShock is about to turn 9 years old in 2016, I’m starting to look back at the characters, the 20th century era playlist like Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” and Bobby Darin’s rendition of “Beyond the Sea” and of course Rapture.
In BioShock, you can say or argue that Rapture is a character in it’s own way. A location filled with memories, echoes of the past in it’s leaky halls, and which that has fallen into despair after a raging Civil War. I admit I have a real obsession with the agendas and political messages and the overall message that Rapture has, and the philosophy behind BioShock as well as the source material for BioShock. Put aside the overall narrative which is one of the best narratives in whole of gaming in my opinion and focus on the philosophy behind BioShock, it is revolutionary.
BioShock is one of my favorite videogames of all time, and of the late 2000’s, everything about it was outstanding. The attention to detail, you can only imagine how Rapture looked before Jack arrived to the city, and you can imagine how Rapture looked like if Rapture was a real place, BioShock empowered your inner imagination and brought it out in ways that were pretty violent but most of the time, your imagination would spring to life when you went exploring around the map.
The recreated look of ArtDeco, the juxtaposition of the elements like the beautiful artwork, the sounds of a bygone era to create a haunting environment, all made the videogame for me. To find rooms that were submerged by the water pipes to create this beautiful world, you knew things were happening. The sea was now reclaiming the famed city, the denizens roamed it’s leaky halls, all of it dynamic and made you feel like you were in this breathing, living world where consequences and choices would impact your every move.
The sound also sold the feeling. The sounds of the era, the sogginess of the world, the floors submerged, you recieved the notion that Rapture wasn’t as secure as previously thought and wondered how did the city get submerged, what happened here?
And through all of it, Rapture managed to have these quiet moments of respite where you would stand in a middle of a hallway, searching through trashcans and bodies while The Ink Spots softly crooned in your ear or through your headphones, and in that moment you had the world to yourself. A world that has been destroyed and will most likely be submerged or destroyed by the sea, this beautiful city that is a backdrop to one of gaming’s best stories told in my rightful opinion.
Whenever I return to the city one day, whether that be in BioShock or a future BioShock videogame like a proper sequel to BioShock 2, I will always be in awe for what Ken Levine and Irrational created deep below the ocean surface.