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Splicers are the main enemies within the BioShock series. The remains of Rapture's human population, they are the result of the violent conflict during the Rapture Civil War. During this war and the chaotic days that followed, the Splicers apparently murdered most of the sane population of the city. Due to abusive ADAM consumption, their bodies and minds have been deformed beyond repair (though some of their physical deformities can be attributed to Dr. J.S. Steinman's plastic surgery), and they have become dependent on the substance, both mentally and physically. Many of them still wear Masquerade Ball masks, perhaps, as Atlas suggested, out of shame at how ADAM has deformed their bodies. In BioShock Splicers wander the corridors and the tunnels of Rapture, searching for ADAM, usually in the form of Little Sisters, which often puts them at odds with their Big Daddy protectors—something which Jack can easily exploit to help him survive. Splicers tend to wear very little armor (if any), but they have advanced physical strength and tend to be extremely aggressive in contrast to the calmer Big Daddies. They will sometimes work in groups, use and sometimes even play dead to get the advantage on the player.
The Thuggish Splicer attacks with melee weapons. They can be found throughout the game and are fairly weak, but make up for it by running fast and attacking in groups whenever they can. Later on in the game this Splicer type upgrades, becoming immune to all electrical damage such as Electro Bolt and the Static Discharge Gene Tonic.
The Leadhead Splicer attacks with either a Pistol or a Machine Gun. They can also be found throughout the game, but are more dangerous than the Thuggish Splicer since they can attack from a distance. Leadheads will always keep their distance from the player whenever possible, but at very close range they will attempt to pistol-whip them. It is worth knowing that they have to reload their guns, just like Jack, and are defenseless when doing so. They also have more health than a Thuggish Splicer, making them harder to take down, especially if there are more than one.
The Spider Splicer is the first Splicer the player sees when they arrive in Rapture, although the player only starts fighting them in Neptune's Bounty. These Splicers can crawl on the ceiling and throw hooks at the player from afar, which can be caught and tossed back with Telekinesis. When on the ground, the Spider Splicer will get near enough to physically attack the player, then immediately jump onto the ceiling or backflip away and come at them from another angle. Their agility and ability to crawl on walls make them difficult to hit, and their modus operandi, which involves ambushing the player by crawling on the ceiling, can easily surprise anyone who is unprepared, although one can easily hear their movement thanks to the telltale sound of cracking plaster.
The Houdini Splicer is first encountered when the player enters Arcadia. These Splicers have the ability to teleport in the middle of combat, disappearing at a location and reappearing at another. They can be tracked through a cloud of smoke that appears around them whenever they do so, which becomes much more visible upon researching this Splicer to the fourth research level. The Houdini Splicer will most often attack by shooting balls of fire (and, in some cases, ice), but like the Leadhead Splicer, will attack physically when at close range. In combat, the Houdini Splicer uses a hit-and-run strategy by appearing, firing an elemental attack, and then vanishing to repeat the cycle.
Nitro Splicers are rarely found throughout the game, mostly in Neptune's Bounty. The first one the player will encounter is in the Medical Pavilion. They will attack by throwing Grenades (and, later, Molotov cocktails) at the player from a distance. At melee range, they will either throw a smoke bomb to the ground, temporarily blinding the player, or they will attempt to flee, tossing an explosive over their shoulder or attempt to kick the player, doing moderate damage . Upon dying, they will drop a live Grenade, with the intent of damaging the player if they were at close range. A common way of killing this Splicer type is by using Telekinesis to catch its grenades and throw them back at it. Researching this Splicer type will increase the chance that their explosives turn out to be duds.
After ten years of splicing and surviving, Splicers have become much more powerful than those who were encountered in the original game. They are far more deformed, with their faces often having conformed to the shape of their masks they often used to wear. Their limbs have heavily mutated, becoming lankier and, in some cases, the bone structure remodeling itself (such as the development of extra fingers, toes, or even talons). However, the remaining Splicers show a twisted form of unity, due to the influence of Sofia Lamb and the Rapture Family. The Splicers loyal to the Family are no longer hostile to Little Sisters, but they see Subject Delta as an enemy and attack him on sight.
Some Splicer models seen in the first game are still present in BioShock 2, such as Leadhead Splicers and Spider Splicers, among other newer or evolved models, now unique to the second game. Splicers are also able to throw grenades while firing their weapons at Delta.
A new Splicer type which makes its first appearance in BioShock 2. The Brute Splicer is much bigger, more powerful and bulkier than any other Splicer, and is able to pick up an array of items or debris strewn around Rapture, such as large rocks, and explosives, and throw them at the player. Brute Splicers can also perform staggering jumps several meters in length and height, such as off of balconies, or onto walkways above the ground.
Before Rapture's Civil War caused Splicers to become mentally and physically unstable due to withdrawal, many Citizens were actually seen using Plasmids and Tonic enhancements, with little visible signs of genetic or mental damage. Some can be seen in Market Street and High Street, such as the waiter assisting customers at Le Temps Perdu, and a man attracting the opposite sex with his spliced aesthetics. This does not mean that dangerous Splicers were not present. Rogue Splicers, Many of them the remains of Fontaine's army, were locked away in the sunken Fontaine's Department Store, after Andrew Ryan and the City Council seized and shut down most of Fontaine's businesses. With there connection to Rapture's ADAM supply cut off, the splicers grew more and more deranged.
Many are either Leadheads or Thuggish Splicers, and a newly seen Splicer type: the Frosty Splicer. These Splicers are not as mutated as those met during and after the Civil War, but show the characteristic mental instability associated with ADAM abuse, and various injuries from fighting Ryan's forces and each other. Being cut off from the rest of Rapture before the 1958 New Year's party, they lack the distinctive masquerade masks seen in earlier games. Most of these male Splicers can be seen wearing wooden crates or crudely cut-out poster images as masks, of brands like Hop-Up Soda, Circus of Values, and Meal-Time Frozen Dinners. Some female Splicers hide their faces with heavy makeup, or masks that are either domino-like or a facial prosthetic patch.
Covered in protruding, icy growths, Frosty Splicers can fire multiple projectile blasts of ice at Booker DeWitt, not only causing him to be temporarily stunned, but freezing any enemy in the way as well. Their transformation is a result of an overdose of the new drinkable Plasmid, Old Man Winter. The first Frosty Splicer is encountered at Rapture on Ice. They are likely immune to frost-based (or similar) attacks.
- Early in the design process of BioShock, Splicers were known only as "Aggressors".
- The term "Splicer" is a reference to gene splicing, a natural process that occurs during RNA transcription in cells.
- Several Splicer models are based on soldiers from the First World War, who sustained horrific facial injuries and subsequently underwent pioneering surgery to reconstruct their faces.
- There is a last splicer model in BioShock 2 which was removed from the game and appears only in the "Hunting the Big Sister" video. Concepts art for this model also appear in the Deco Devolution artbook. Despite the model having a full face, the concept implied that most of his facial features and teeth are missing. The only inclusion of this Splicer model in the game appears in the prologue cutscene, as one of the 1958 Splicers that surround young Eleanor, which Subject Delta steps on him by dropping from above a staircase. One distinct trait of this model is the right sleeve is marked with a broken "Great Chain" symbol.
- In BioShock 2 there is always one original model and three variations for each of the Splicers' models, plus some variations for specific levels or characters, such as Brute models dressed as orderlies and Toasty models dressed as inmates in Persephone Penal Colony, or Daniel and Simon Wales' Breadwinner and Crawler specific models. Most of these variations, which consist on different clothing, hair and skin colors, are shown in BioShock 2's artbook, Deco Devolution.
- The most noteably deformed Splicers in BioShock and BioShock 2 are the Crawler, Rosebud, and Brute and until later rest of other splicers in Bioshock who are now almostly deformed are Toasty, Smith Lady S., Jane Baby J. and Breadwinner.
- And least deformed Splicers in Bioshock and Bioshock 2 are Buttons and Heady becaused mainly due isolation from rest of rapture they never change appearance from Dr. Steinman`s surgery or lack any attack from other insane splicers damaging their appearance.
- Frosty Splicers are based and reused of Cut Enemies named "Vigor Junkies" which they existed in flies as incomplete Shock Jockey Junkies put no attack animations and sound files. Put however some attack animations where put in used to Cornelius Slate a mildly shock jockey vigor junkie who a little crystals in his far-left in his forehead to distract Booker from using vigor due him being irrational belief that make him into motorized patriot. And enemy Crow were also part this Cut Enemy type judging from their concept arts and E3 2010 demo (When Crow junkie throw Crows on player) until they become serparate Enemy in Retail verison.