The Xbox 360 demo came out for Bioshock last night, and oh my goodness is it good. I just slowly played through and savoured every bit. The demo is fantastic. I'm rushing out to preorder the limited edition right now.
The design of the game is beautiful. The setting is Rapture, an 1940s underwater city built by the eugenicist Ryan as his utopia. It's a sort of Xanadu under the sea, an Ayn Rand fantasy gone terribly wrong. An inspired and novel setting with lots of fun period music and graphic design. And the game design leads you through the scenery in a beautifuly cinematic way. There's lots of visual tricks to draw your eye up to see magnificent details. Great use of spotlighting, too.
The game is very much a System Shock / Deus Ex successor. Most of the same gameplay elements; personal upgrades, turrets and robots, a hacking minigame, booze and cigarettes and a big wrench for bashing zombies (er, splicers). All that's missing is Overworld Zero, and with any luck it's buried in there somewhere. I enjoy gameplay innovation, but there's something to be said for improving on proven gameplay designs.
The other thing that made System Shock and Deus Ex fantastic was the interesting narration that progressed via gameplay. Bioshock looks to be doing a great job of that as well. The demo only shows a little, but it seems like Ryan is being set up to be a new SHODAN for us to battle once we make our way through the splicers and little sisters roaming the halls. I can't wait to find out.