- "You won't believe your eyes!"
- ―Postcard for Point Prometheus
The Proving Grounds is the penultimate and one of the most difficult levels of BioShock. Jack must run the gauntlet through a derelict museum while protecting a vulnerable Little Sister in order to gain access to his final opponent at the top of Point Prometheus.
Originally before the Civil War, the Armored-Escort Proving Grounds was known as the Memorial Museum of Point Prometheus, a grand establishment where citizens could visit and learn about ancient fossils and the splendors of the surrounding sea. After Big Daddies were assigned to become the protectors of Little Sisters, the entire location was closed to the public and hastily converted into a training area for Protectors and their Gatherers. The complex is topped with a dome, and the tower at the west end is the tallest structure in Rapture.
- Main article: BioShock
The Museum is one of the most powerful visuals demonstrating Rapture's fall. What was once a showplace of knowledge is now reduced to a corpse-ridden training gauntlet, sacrificed for the sake of the conflict and partially flooded. While a few of the exhibits have been stored in the Gift Shop, most have just been left in their displays and are now damaged. The winding hallways of the Proving Grounds are littered with fresh corpses from which Little Sisters gather ADAM while the Big Daddies protect them. Jack must follow a Little Sister to get through specially locked doors to get to Fontaine. To Tenenbaum's chagrin, the Little Sisters mental conditioning still forces them to stop and harvest ADAM before leading Jack on. These Little Sisters are no longer implanted with a slug, and are therefore physically vulnerable to attack. Gathering sessions are the focus of the mission in this area: the player escorting the girl safely through the Proving Grounds' linear route (divided into sections by locked "Little Sister doors"), while defending her from Splicers, Turrets, and finally a rogue Bouncer. Meanwhile, Fontaine keeps splicing himself to become more powerful in preparation of his confrontation with Jack.
The museum is accessed from point Prometheus through a large lobby, with stairs leading to the entrance and a large skylight above. Leaks in the ceiling allow water to cascade upon the stairs. Two mobile blockades are positioned in the middle, marking the security checkpoint left abandoned by the facility's guards. The next hall leads to the gift shop and the central atrium and has a Vita-Chamber and a U-Invent machine.
The gift shop is in a state of disrepair and has mostly been picked clean except for a few Pep Bars and Cigarettes. Several fossils are in display such as a trilobite pillar, next to a functioning Circus of Values.
The central atrium opens to the hallways of the Memorial Museum. Two whale skeletons hang under a curved glass ceiling. There's no time to appreciate the granduer to the room, though, as a pair of enemies are exchanging gunfire in the atrium. Below, a Baby Jane is seen duking it out with a Rosie. The Big Daddy shoots the Splicer down but, in her death throes, she fires her machine gun at the ceiling. This causes one of the skeletons to come loose from its cables and crush the Big Daddy as it falls.
The path goes from the East balcony to the North halls, back to the atrium, through the North halls and the West balcony before ending at the special exhibit entry. Several fossils are exposed on the lower floor as well as a basking shark in a display. Two turrets are hidden behind moving panels, sweeping the lower floor. Two doors on the upper floor lead to blocked hallways. Also the tower of Point Prometheus can be seen on the West side, overlooking the atrium. On the second time through the Central Atrium, a Bouncer is seen on the North balconies, threatening Jack before rushing to a door to the North Exhibit Halls.
South Exhibit HallsEdit
The first hall has a collection of corals and fossils, though most are either damaged or missing. A model of a giant angler fish lies inside a tank in the middle of the hall, and there is a large menacing shark jaw at the end. Facing the tank is the first "test subject," an ADAM corpse for the Little Sister to train herself, which she does compulsively as she guides Jack. Her gathering doesn't go unnoticed and hordes of Splicers appear to attack her.
The second hall has mostly empty displays and a long bench engulfed in flames. There is another test subject station prepared for the Gatherer, though it is guarded by both a Security Camera and a Flamethrower Turret. A Gun Turret lies before the door to the atrium and is a long range threat to the little Sister.
North Exhibit HallsEdit
The lower floor of the first hall is flooded, making it hard to progress while knee deep in water. Several Splicers lie in ambush under the flood, ready to attack anyone entering the water. Several models of fish species and crabs are exposed, with a large basking shark cut loose from its hanging support in the middle of the hall.
The second hall has large hunting trophies of mammals, the only earthbound displays seen in the museum. The last ADAM corpse is lying on the lower floor, guarded by a Security Camera but with a needed Health Station in reach. Outside the window, a building has begun to collapse, its lights still flickering. At the end near the upper door to the atrium, the rogue Bouncer seen earlier breaks through the wall of an empty display and angrily charges Jack.
Special Exhibit EntryEdit
At the end of the Proving Grounds is the entry to the special exhibit inside the museum's tower. The lobby opens to a single elevator going up to the top of Point Prometheus, the highest point in Rapture, and where Fontaine has been cornered. All kinds of vending machines are stored in the lobby, with several rare ammunitions scattered around. The Little Sister who guided Jack so far parts with him there, and gives him an ADAM harvesting tool to drain Fontaine, now over-spliced, of his ADAM.
Here We Go
Once More into the Abyss
On the Road Again
Preparing for Fontaine
When done, take the elevator to battle Fontaine.
Bugs / GlitchesEdit
- Shooting the fallen whale skeleton with exploding buck shot or igniting it with Incinerate! will cause the entire Central Atrium to be engulfed in flames that do not harm the player.
- Possible failure of developers, allows you to transit testing area with 1 or more Little Sister: After you complete the testing area. Take the syringe ADAM little sister's hand (do not go now face the Fontaine), return to Point Prometheus, wait for the door to open. After that, go back into the testing area and to get the Tenenbaum message again, allowing you to attract another Little Sister. A tip: When you re-enter the testing area at the entrance of the museum, walk to the first door (which now does not need a Little Sister to open). Before opening, note that there is a vent. Following the same direction you will see there is another vent, walk to your left and you will see that in the south hall there are 2 vents. If you are quick, you can hit up to 4 vents, so can attract 4 Little Sisters.[confirmation needed]
- Just as the escort mission is about to be completed, the Little Sister might freeze near the Vent when she is supposed to go inside and deliver the Adam needle to the player. It is unknown what causes this, but the Little Sister will simply stay there forever, urging the player to hurry up. To fix this either reload a previous save (recommended if you saved halfway through the mission) or alternatively and very painfully, you'll have to exit the Proving Grounds through the Bulkhead and enter again, this will respawn a Little Sister near you at full health and she will take the same path, however, she thankfully won't draw Adam from corpses making the journey much less enervating to the player.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- The "Memorial Museum" sign is reused in BioShock 2 for the Rapture Memorial Museum of Ryan Amusements.
- Both Bouncer and Rosie type Big Daddies appear alive in this level: an Elite Rosie and the rogue Bouncer which attacks Jack.
- Both have an error: the Elite Rosie is missing its red collar, like other corpses of the same type, and the Bouncer is labeled as Elite Bouncer when searched while being the regular model.
- Despite the Little Sister walking slowly, she will keep urging the player to hurry up.
- The rogue Bouncer in this level can be killed while he is staring at the player. If the player quickly hits it with Winter Blast when it is on the balcony, it can be shattered with the Machine Gun. This does not stop it from spawning and attacking the player at the end of the level, however.