Jul 5, 2013

Welcome To Rapture: A Look At Bioshock

This is another post about a video game, but even if you're not into video games I think you'll enjoy your introduction to the city of Rapture.

Rapture is the setting for the video game Bioshock, one of the most popular and widely acclaimed video games of the year when it came out. Bioshock led to an equally terrific sequel, and a third game called Bioshock Infinite, which takes place in a city that is suspended high in the air.

Rapture is a city that exists at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, a gorgeous Art Deco metropolis conceived by the capitalist Andrew Ryan, built in 1946. The buildings are connected by reinforced glass tunnels and by a network of bathyspheres that residents use to get around. A completely self sustaining metropolis, it has buildings where trees and fresh fruit and vegetables are grown, and power is provided by the volcanic activity the city sits on. 

Ryan's goal in building Rapture was to create a capitalist society free of religion and government, where any citizen could achieve for their own gain. The "world's best and brightest" were granted freedom of will and choice in Rapture, unrestrained by government, religion and similar established institutions. 

Rapture was intended to be a secret city; the world was never meant to learn of its existence. This led to smuggling by a mob boss called Fontaine, and ultimately to Ryan's downfall. In 1958 a civil war broke out between Fontaine and Ryan, and one of the weapons used were genetic enhancements that gave the user super powers.

By 1960, Rapture was on the verge of collapse, the city severely damaged by the civil war, its citizens driven insane by their use of genetic enhancements. This is where the video game Bioshock begins.

Jack, the main character, is in a plane which plunges into the North Atlantic, and is the only survivor. Rising from the North Atlantic is a small tower with a bathysphere. With no where else to go, Jack gets in and is taken to Rapture.

Watch the video below to take a tour of Rapture. This is video of the game play without commentary; your tour of Rapture begins at the 2:15 mark, with Jack trying to survive the plane crash. Your arrival at Rapture takes place at the 5:55 mark. Upon arriving, Jack realizes how dangerous Rapture has become. He will have to fight to survive in this once gorgeous city.

The most mesmerizing feature of Bioshock is the incredible design of the city and all the little details that serve to make you forget you are playing a video game. You are completely immersed in this world, and every level, even in its disrepair, is utterly gorgeous. Here are some snapshots of Rapture.

One of the most iconic and memorable inhabitants of Rapture are the Big Daddies. 

Big Daddies are genetically enhanced human beings who have had their skin and organs grafted into an enormous diving suit. Their primary purpose is to protect Little Sisters while they escort them around Rapture. 

Little Sisters are young girls who have been genetically altered and mentally conditioned to reclaim a substance called ADAM from the corpses in Rapture. 

ADAM is the raw form of the unstable stem cells that can be genetically manipulated to give the person injecting it amazing properties, but also causes cosmetic and mental damage to people. In the end, the user will have to take in more and more ADAM just to remain sane and healthy, progressively deteriorating as they do so.

Below is another tour of Rapture, when a Big Daddy and Little Sister are first encountered. Note the Art Deco details of the buildings. Rapture is crumbling, but it must have been a magnificent city in its heyday. If such a place existed I would have loved to have live there.

  • Rapture City Archives - A collection of pictures, signs, and posters of Rapture for you to remember your visit by
  • The Brothers Rapture - An impressive fan film about a pair of brothers and their genetic-altering experiments in the city of Rapture
  • Big Daddy Costume - Volpin Props founder Harrison Krix makes astoundingly accurate movie and video game props, and documents each step in the process. His most ambitious project was a full size wearable Big Daddy costume. See the whole process from start to finish!
  • Big Daddy Photoshoot at Acquarium - Krix was given permission to have his Big Daddy costume photographed, along with a Little Sister, during Dragoncon at the acquarium, and teh results are phenomenal. Check them out! He also documents the building of the ADAM syringe HERE

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