Bioshock was made by Irrational Games (now known as 2k Boston/Australia), an offshoot of Looking Glass Studios that made interesting story driven, atmospheric games like System Shock and Thief. Irrational was given the task of making System Shock 2 as Looking Glass Studios was busy with Thief and Eidos were redirecting man power into Deus Ex. With Looking Glass no longer in existence and having made critically successful titles like System Shock 2, Freedom Force, Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich, Tribes Vengeance and SWAT 4, the expectation I had for Bioshock were pretty high. Well, not only did Irrational meet my expectations but they clearly surpassed it.
Action is tight and intense, weapons and plasmids are cool, animations are sweet, enemy AI is nice, story is superb, levels and missions are crafted in a meaningful way to help drive the story (those who have have played Thief will see identical mission structures and familiar game play elements), graphics and visuals are perfect, sound effects are plentiful and of good quality, music is hair rising and fits the game well, game play is fun and interesting, etc.
However Bioshocks true greatness lies in its presentation of a city called “Rapture” at the bottom of the ocean and injecting into it elements like politics, power, lust, greed, good, bad, heroics, sacrifice, love, hate, innocence, choice, deception, suspense, happiness, grief, knowledge, ideas, etc. that collectively comprise the “Art, Science and Industry” of Rapture. Bioshocks beauty is in its explorable environments. Take some time to explore the environments and you'll hear and see interesting stuff.
There's a lot more to Bioshock than what's covered in this review. But to summarize, Bioshock is all about choice.