Bioshock stands high on a pedestal to me as to what my ideal video game should be. Mysterious, moody, atmospheric, subtle creepiness, interesting characters, fun mechanics, interesting protagonist, interesting antagonist, the audio diaries, just being plain old fun. The list can go on and on.
When I look at Bioshock from a micro level, it's nothing really special. It's a linear, corridor shooter that really revolves around the gimmick of plasmids, and tonics. What makes Bioshock click is the narrative, the atmosphere, the characters, the enemies, etc. Real basic things if you ask me.
Irrational isn't really a big name studio. They're not the Rockstar, or the Epic of the gaming world just yet. But Bioshock still went on to sell 4 million units, which proves that gamers appreciate good narrative, and a good atmosphere.
My question is why can't other developers do this? What's the trick that has Irrational a cut above the rest? Are other developers just that lazy to write good narratives, or is Ken Levine really that good of a writer? I'm sure if developers really wanted to create a nice, and moody atmosphere they could. Yet, in most games it's plain, and cold. Is it really that difficult to make a moody atmosphere like the one found in rapture?
Why is Irrational getting it on a narrative front, on a character front, on a level design front, on a atmospheric front, yet to many developers can't even come close to irrationals efforts?