Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
BioShock Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Superb but gory gameplay in first-person shooter.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 55 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 107 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players are forced to make moral choices, such as whether or not to kill "Little Sisters" (needle-toting girls) to absorb their powers.


Plenty of shooting, gore, and blood, including the option to kill mutated little girls. You can use regular weapons including shotguns, machine guns, grenades, and crossbows; as well as special powers, thanks to Plasmids, including incineration, insect swarm, ice blast, lightning strike, and more. Some of the puzzle solving is about how to kill your enemy, such as giving enemies a fatal electric shock by using your lightning strike power on water they're standing on.


The game contains a strip club that is advertised throughout various levels. There is no sexual activity but at one point you will see the ghost of a brutally murdered stripper laying on a bed.


Examples include "f--k," "s--t," "Goddammit," "hell," "bastard," "son of a bitch," and "piss."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

You can drink alcohol in the game, which affects your vision and performance, as well as shoot up with a needle to obtain special powers. There are also advertisements for smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this game contains graphic violence and gore, and the controversial option to harvest "Little Sisters," mutated 10-year-old girls who extract a coveted fluid called "Adam" from dead people. The game presents you with a moral dilemma: Kill a girl for the most "Adam," or save her life for less. Choosing the latter yields payoffs including bonus items and support from other characters. This game is adult in nature across the board with some sexual overtones, foul language, and references to alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byredcommander27 June 23, 2011

No educational value?

I'm quite surprised the viewer failed to mention the underlying themes of the game. Bioshock is unbdoubtably gratuitously violent, but it is not without ed... Continue reading
Adult Written byLupus November 16, 2016

An exceptional FPS

Despite BioShock's M+ ESRB rating, commonsensemedia's 18+ is a little overkill. Of course BioShock is violent--like most first person shooters, enemie... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byptwin May 26, 2011

amazing game with layer upon layer of meaning.

This is certainly a fantastic game, and I'm glad that the website recognizes this, but I was surprised that it overlooks the underlying commentary about ob... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byHardcoreChristian April 9, 2008

Unbelievable Game, but read this just to understand the ESRB rating better.

Good morning...and in case I don't see you good after-noon and good night. Great game. Absolutly great. This is the sequel to what most game gurus will tel... Continue reading

What's it about?

2K Games' BIOSHOCK from 2K Games begins with you as a survivor of a plane crash in the North Atlantic. After swimming to shore through flaming debris, you find a lighthouse with an elevator that takes you on a one-way ride down into Rapture, a hidden underwater city that has been torn apart by civil war. Not only must you find a way out alive in this non-linear underwater world dominated by biologically mutated citizens, robotic enforcers, and little girls who steal life-giving fluid from the dead, but you have to solve the mystery of what happened here. You can biologically modify your body to create superhuman weapons, and dozens of unique plasmids and gene tonics (often found in vending machines throughout this world) must be consumed to enhance your abilities.

Is it any good?

BioShock is an exhilarating adventure that breaks new ground in interactive storytelling and digital art design. More so than any other game in recent memory, it is dripping with atmosphere and intrigue, and it's one of those rare titles where story, dialogue, and character development are just as important as the action sequences. Xbox 360 players who are 17 or older will not want to miss out on this extraordinary interactive adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the game introduces very mature themes. Could the game makers have delivered the same kind of visceral experience without pushing the mature envelope? And how about the moral decision to kill or save the "Little Sisters"? Do you become heartless when choosing to kill them or is this acceptable within a game setting, especially given its creepy sci-fi context?

Game details

  • Platforms: Xbox 360, Windows
  • Price: $59.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: 2K Games
  • Release date: August 20, 2007
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • ESRB rating: M for blood and gore, drug reference, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language
  • Last updated: August 25, 2016

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