1 Store339 Reviews
Pros: great graphics, amazing gameplay and story, unique atmosphere
Cons: stupid pipe game, you have to save those items!
Its frightening. With an average of 96% on Game Rankings and perfect 100s from Game Informer and 1Up, a 97 from IGN, it looks as if Bioshock could very well be one of the highest ranked 360 games of all time.
The scary part is that, it deserves the score. Yes, every drop of it.
Bioshock is made by the folks who made System Shock 2 way back in the day, and I wonder at times if this game was the only thing theyve been working on since. The funny thing is that while this game gets a huge amount of press for being revolutionary, anyone who has played System Shock 2 will note the eerie similarities in gameplay. Ill get to that more later though. For now, lets break down why you should rob a bank, get a 360 and pick up what is no doubt, game of the year if not of the decade (its already half over anyway).
Graphics Graphics so good youll Tear Your Eyeballs Out!
While were all waiting for stupid Crysis to finally land and show us what next-generation really means, Bioshock currently takes head of the pack with a truly remarkable game engine and more importantly extremely well used effects. Lets face it, Doom 3 and F.E.A.R while being great looking games still feel like updated versions of Half Life 2. Theyre pretty but theyre missing an oomph dear god this is ridiculous.
Bioshock pulled it off for me. The moment the plane crashes and youre wading through sparking ocean water lit by the fiery airplane wreckage, you swim over to what appears to be a lighthouse and take a mysterious elevator down. Its 1970 and everything has touches of the period architecture that seem based off the book by Ayn Rand. Its a completely gorgeous underwater city that has everything, shops, living spaces, underwater corridors that connect you from building to building, and its wonderfully haunted by creepy inhabitants that have now taken to wearing costume ball masks and killing each other.
The thing that makes Bioshock stand out the most besides the uncanny attention to level design and details, are the special effects. Ive seen amazing puddles of blood in Doom 3 but, then theres Bioshock. Watching a pool of blood gleam off the ground in response to the light sources is unnerving. Or watching the water burst in through the doors, gushing in, has a new level of detail to it that truly makes me sit there and think- weve reached it.
Bioshock to me heralds a new age of gaming graphics that are not just inspiring, but show that games are finally becoming interactive movies. Thats not to say Half Life 2 didnt produce that effect with me. But as much as Half Life 2 had amazing quality and a great continuous story, it still in my opinion lacked a weight to the atmosphere that Bioshock is able to produce. Bioshock pulls that off. Theres just something remarkably real about the place as you wander around. Its twisted, fantastic, but believable. In Doom 3, and forgivably so, there are a lot of rooms where youll begin to notice texture reuse and what not. In Bioshock, while this of course is true as well, its not readily apparent. Youll walk into places and the arrangement of things and objects in the game are so well done you wont feel like youre walking through some kind of clone world thats to me what gives Bioshock a special place.
Oh and did I mention the water?
Storyline Yes its like Resident Evil but in a city underwater but who cares
Theres something going on with the people that is making them mad and driving them to kill each other with wrenches. Something has caused this supposed paradise underwater to become a hell hole. Sound familiar? Thats because its practically every video-game zombie plot on the planet. Still Bioshock at least does it well, to keep itself above the clones.
The storyline unravels slowly, and answers to who you are, why youre even down there doing this and what happened to you are told through little snippets. Like Doom 3, it uses a lot of recorded diaries that you pick up and listen to, to understand what happened to the place. It would have been nice to see a few cutscenes actually, but the creators of Bioshock were intent on not having any moments where control is really taken away from the user.
As a result, you wont really get to interact with people that much other than through the radio, which is a bummer, but that doesnt mean the story telling sucks.
The story is a carefully planned work of art. Bit by bit you learn about why things are the way they are, why there are largely armored scary drill-wielding Big Daddys that guard demented looking zombie girls. Things are explained with events and within these events are miniplots that deal with other characters who will talk to you over radio and tell you about plans and whatnot. Theres attention to the world in details; signs will tell stories, and even the bosses you face are shadows of the worlds citizens when things were normal, representations of the perverse beneath a sugar-coated exterior.
Thats why I think the beauty of Bioshock is that while it is ultimately a fast-paced horror 3d shooter as my girlfriend rightly remarked you just go around killing things, it has a level of depth in the story that show that Bioshock is moving the field in a new direction. Games dont have to be entirely shallow bloodbaths; they can actually have complex themes and plot to them.
The best part is? Its optional. If you look hard enough, Bioshocks got plenty of depth and intrigue to it. But if you just want to kill stuff, you can do that, and be equally satisfied.
Gameplay Special Powers, Guns and Guts
Bioshock gets a big reputation also for not just being dependent on guns, but having to actually (oh no here it comes ) think-! of strategies to take on enemies due to the games super limited ammo. I have a mixed take on the action. I dont think its revolutionary for one, because this is definitely where I have to say, play System Shock 2. Its as good if not better and once you play it youll be amazed at how a 10+ year old game still trumps if not holds up to Bioshock (Youll also see exactly why its by the same people).
That said, you can play Bioshock in a number of ways. You can run through it, rely mostly on FPS skills and try to get through things. The alternative is you can play it slowly by getting every bloody item around you, hacking every turret and drone you see, obtaining as much ADAM as you can, and wiping out every mutant zombie you come across.
The first method is possible but extremely difficult. The second way is what most folks I think will end up doing.
The cool part of this game is that you dont just shoot guns. You get special powers, some that let you ignite enemies on fire, causing them to run around in pain, others that let you electrocute them, shocking them for a brief period, and even one that like that gravity gun, lets you pick up and throw things. Later on youll acquire even more powers, some that let you activate the security system so that you can turn drones and turrets onto the bad guys, and another that have the Big Daddys doing some of the dirty work for you.
As one review exaggerated, the combinations of attack in this game are infinite (those crazy other reviewers). Between powers, guns, using the security system and the various sorts of ammo for each gun, there are a lot of things you can try. You can freeze an enemy in a block of ice with a liquid nitrogen gun or a super power, and then whip out a crossbow and shatter the block. You can alternatively grab a grenade that someones tossed at you using your telekinesis and hurl it right back at them. Or, if you prefer to not get involved in combat, you can use your ADAM points to improve your hacking skills and hack turrets and bots to do the fighting for you. Theyre remarkably durable and do a good job that I actually feel like you can take on most of the game with it. Some folks even go the route of electrocuting bad guys and then knocking them down with a wrench. If you choose this route its actually possible to get skills in the game that boost your wrench wielding skills and never ever fire a single bullet. Crazy, huh?
Odds are youll be involved in all of the combat forms in this game in one way or another. Me, Im a big fan of the electrocute, stun and blast with gun method and thats how I played most of the game.
The one thing thats clear though is that Bioshock insists that you develop a style of play beyond FPS. Theres a tremendous shortage of items in every regard, so unlike most FPS games where youll get a fair share of ammo and health to get you through things, Bioshock has you desperately trying to find bullets and ways to kill enemies that allow you to conserve health and ammo. Its not easy. If you play the game kind of haphazardly actually, youll find yourself in trouble later (which is one of the games main gripes) when youll reach a difficult part and have virtually no ammo or health to get through things. In Bioshock its fairly important to stock up and stay stocked up, and often times I would rifle through every room carefully to ensure I had lots of money in case I ever end up in a situation where I needed ammo or health packs.
In terms of acquiring items and skills, the typical way is to buy them at vending machines. You can hack vending machines to give you more item selection and some discounts. To get skills youre given a choice. You can get ADAM points, which let you buy skills by either harvesting girls or saving them, which I wont bother explaining- since the game will make this clear later. Skills can be everything from faster wrench swing to easier hacking to standard health upgrades and so on.
So in terms of hacking, whats the whole deal with it? Hacking is basically playing that stupid water pipe game, where you uncover pipes in a grid form, and just move things around so that water gets from one end to the other. If you mess up, you get shocked usually and lose health. While initially its not bad, after a while most folks get pretty good at this mini-game and it becomes more of a chore if anything. Hacking is vital to controlling turrets and drones, which is just something you cant go without, and also essential for opening safes, which carry the best loot. As a result youll always want to hack, but because the minigame is always the same, it gets boring.
Bioshock should surprise most FPS players, because the enemies are actually a bit trickier than your standard walking zombie fare. For one, theyre all obscenely fast, and I think more often then not, I wanted to chuck my 360 controller for a mouse. Head shots are pretty hard to come by and most of the weapons you use have a lot of recoil, which makes them tough to aim. As you get adjusted, its not nearly as bad, and the shotgun definitely provides a fair deal of punch, but the bad guys for the most part have a pretty large life bar if you plan on just shooting them. This is also why the ammo thing quickly becomes a problem. You can easily spend all the ammo youve managed to stock up to take out a Big Daddy, and every enemy you kill will dwindle the limited supplies you have.
Bioshock lacks a varied selection of bad guys. After a while youll get sick of the way too accurate gun toting mutants. There are a few varieties of them, but for the most part the guys you meet early on will be the same guys youll be facing late game. The Big Daddy is a special exception, and its the heavily armored drill wielding, water-suit wearing behemoth you see on the box cover. Hes extremely fast, has a juggernaut charge, and either shoots at you and throws grenades, or uses his drill to create mini-earthquakes to stun you and then rips you apart. Its a very scary encounter, as he takes a lot of hits to down, but for the most part doesnt attack you unless you initiate.
In terms of other bosses offerings, Bioshock is lacking in this department. You wont really have any large scale showdowns and while this is typical of most FPS games to be lacking in the boss department, Bioshock while it does offer bosses theyre nothing more than beefed up versions of normal guys you fight.
Gore Factor If you thought Doom 3 was bad
Bioshock is really gory and I think folks will be surprised at how dark and creepy this game is. Its more along the lines of Doom 3, showing you a couple sick twisted shrines that echo something terrible happened there, and then shocking the hell out of you with some monsters from behind. Nothing so flagrant such as opening a passage way behind you to reveal an army of hell-minions but due to the extremely fast moving bad guys and the fact that some of them can teleport or crawl on the ceilings, youll typically be looking all around, and get hit when you least expect it.
As for the gore there are pools and pools of blood all over the place.
Sounds / Ambience / Screaming Voices
Bioshock has super high production values, and so the voice acting is basically perfect for the game, intense, and plays an essential role in the atmosphere. The sound effects are really good, and also play a huge role in keeping everything vivid. The use of music in this game is really smart and extremely creepy. Theyll play these old hits from the 60s over record players left lying about, and it adds to help make the world more believable.
So What Sucks About Bioshock?
The common criticisms are the whole item restriction bit. If you dont play the game carefully enough you might end up later on with no cash and health and find it nearly impossible to progress through the game. This however, I think is more fault of the gamer than the game, so I actually think reviewers who bring this up just plain suck at FPS games, no offense. An easy mode does exist for them.
I honestly am trying to sit here and think of stuff, but I have to say, there really arent any major qualms I have with the game. I suppose if I had a choice, Id increase the amount of monsters, and lessen their health points. Id like to play this game more like a 3d shooter sometime and wish there would be more ammo rather than having to switch between powers and hack stuff. I think the hacking minigame is actually one of my biggest problems with the game. For me, it interrupts the whole gameplay when youre in the middle of a firefight and you suddenly run over to a turret, and begin playing pipedreams for a moment
Conclusion One of the best FPS games ever
Games rarely disrupt my sleep pattern. Even Blue Dragon with its great RPG moments does not have any ability to keep me up at night. Bioshock on the other hand did. Even when I played it till 5 AM I was dead tired, and the gameplay was starting to get tedious, I kept on going. Even when I died a couple of times, I got frustrated but I still wanted to keep going. Its one of those games. You lose yourself in the world, the moment and pretty soon hours and hours have passed and youre still trudging through.
Bioshock has everything going for it. It represents the future of games I think, such that one day if there is ever, a Video Game Appreciation class where this material is studied, Bioshock would be a classic. Folks would raise their hand and discuss the symbolism and gore and what it represents to our society and hopefully at some point some kid would be like, shut up its just a good game ok.