1 Store339 Reviews
Pros: Character customization, interesting story, multiple ways to progress through the game, beautiful visuals/art decor
Cons: Enemy models offer little variation...
I've pretty much been out of comission in the gaming sense for the past three and a half years. High School graduation hit, and in perfect normal fashion life started to come heavy which ran my time and money to spend on games straight into a brick wall. Bioshock is one of those games that sucks you in from the start and spits you back out in a chunky mess, justifying every dollar and minute spent on it. It's been close to a year since BS came out, and even with the historical Halo 3 release that basically trumped all news in gaming at the time, Bioshock has managed impressive sales and a rising fanbase that will only get broader with the upcoming Playstation 3 release.
Bioshock starts you off having just survived a fiery plane crash into the ocean in the middle of the night. After collecting yourself from taking in the beautiful graphics and realizing that you can actually control your character and swim around, the only place to swim to is a small lighthouse on a tiny island. From here if you haven't already realized it, you're about to go on a wild ride. Once inside the light house you find a submarine sphere that takes you underwater and introduces you to the once wonderful city of Rapture. After a small introduction by Rapture's Mayor/Creator that sets the 1940/50's era setting, a man named Atlas contacts you over the radio and asks you to help him find his family and get them to safety.
Once you reach Rapture you encounter your first dose of the terror that's torn Rapture apart - the splicer, which are what is left of Raptures citizens that got too heavy into genetic splicing, causing them to lose their minds and turn on other people of Rapture. You see, Andrew Ryan considers himself a visionary. A rich visionary at that, and so he created a city for people like artists, scientists, and the like to get away from the general people. The story treads on issues like objectivism and is supposedly based off a real literary piece, though I've never read the book nor do I get involved with political issues so if you want to know more look online for the bookname.
After the brief intro by Ryan and Atlas you finally step out of the Bathsphere and into Rapture where you pick up a wrench and begin the descent into Rapture. There isn't really much more to be said about the story. You're just kind of thrown into the game, and instead of cut-scenes that break up the gameplay you learn about the story as you progress through the game and listen to Atlas directing you where to go. There are tape recordings spread through out the game that you can collect that give you clues to the backstory, which make it worth the time to explore every area that you can.
Bioshock has some of the most entertaining gaming moments I've played in a first-person shooter. You start out with a wrench and begin to acquire other weapons as you make your way through Rapture like a pistol, shotgun, machine gun etc. They even resemble weapon designs of the time BS is set in. I just don't feel like calling BS a first-person shooter is doing it enough justice though. I'd actually call it more of a first-person adventure with deeper weapon and character customization than most games on the market. Even confined to the restraints of an underwater city, there is so much in BS that can be missed that simply going straight from point A to point B takes away all the allure.
There are so many ways to play through Bioshock that if you chose to smash your way through with the wrench, you could. Since Bioshock's atmosphere is similar to Resident Evil in that it has many horror qualities, health packs and ammo are fairly scarce throughout the game. If you're more into the running and gunning ala Halo, you could be in for a world of hurt later in the game where there is bound to be a particular point of frustration. I was ammo conscious throughout the game and relied on meleeing with the wrench, so I ended up with full ammo on every weapon pretty much.
There's so much more than beating enemies down with a wrench or gunning them down. That's where hacking comes in. There are various ammo, inventory, and health stations that you can "hack" into for cheaper prices, done by a mini-game where you move tiles of tubing around in order to complete a water flow. The best part about hacking are the various security cameras and gun turrets placed throughout rapture. Hack into security cameras and when a splicer walks into it's view it'll send flying security bots to take care of them. With the gun turrets, hack them and they'll attack enemies that come in range. With some of the backtracking necessary, you may come back through an area with a turret you've already hacked and find a gun fight you can watch to the finish or jump in on and finish yourself. They also provide a great tactical advantage when you're in a squandral with multiple splicers.
Now onto the customization available to your character through plasmids and tonics. Plasmids are the "magic" system in Bioshock limited by a gauge that uses EVE to be replinished, and they're switchable by injecting a needle into your arm for each plasmid, which is where the genetic splicing comes in. There are various kinds of plasmids to use such as the ability to electrocute enemies and temporarily stun them while you move in to finish them, to shooting balls of fire, to eventually sending out a swarm of bees to preoccupy enemies while you unload on them. Plasmids are used through the left hand by pressing the trigger to switch over and pressing the trigger again to use. Since the right trigger brings up your actual weapons and you can only have either or up to use at a time, the response in switching between both arms is pretty fluid most of the time. There are also character building items called tonics, which can add more damage and faster swing times to the wrench, deal more damage when using elemental plasmids, and ones that slow down water flow and decrease the amount of alarms and short circuit boards when hacking. The farther you progress, the harder enemies get, though to start you're limited to only two slots for plasmids and each tonic category.
In order to upgrade plasmids, health, and add slots for more plasmids and tonics you have to have Adam to "purchase" them at giant kiosks called Gatherers Garden. Adam is the primary resource for the genetic splicing and is the reason half the dwellers in Rapture went crazy. Adam is found inside "Little Sisters," who are little girls that extract Adam from dead bodies in Rapture. In order to get their Adam you have to "harvest" it killing the little girls in the process, or "save" her by performing an exorcism. Anyone seeing any correlation in these terms? The moral delimna present, even in a game, can be tough, as you receive considerably more Adam when harvesting them than you do saving them. Not wanting to have the guilt of slaying innocent little girls, even in a video game, I opted to save all of them. These decisions will affect how the rest of the game plays out, so many players will play through just two see how both choices affect the game.
Oh yeah I forgot, you have to get past the Big Daddys (the big guy with the huge drill attached to his arm on the game cover) before you can even think about touching the little sisters. These enormously intimidating bio-suit wearing "daddys" escort little sisters while they collect Adam. Thankfully, as massive and scary as they look, they will not fight unless they're provoked or you get too close to a little sister. There aren't really any bosses in the game, so coming across big daddys and fighting them feels like a bunch of mini-boss' if you will. Multiple times was I sent back to the last vita chamber (save capsules that automatically save your game when you pass by one) while fighting big daddys. They fight hard, and they hit hella hard.
Visually, Bioshock is everything that you've heard about. The art direction is fantastic and even in the underwater kind of setting, they make it work. From the very beginning plane crash as you see the fire rising in the air and the water washing over you to various hallways and stores with posters and pictures hanging off the wall, you get an idea of what the city once was like. The game is very dark and even the smallest shaped shadow that you see after turning around or entering a new area may have you jittery. When I first fired up the game it was almost two in the morning and after the first splicer run-in I seriously contemplated shutting the game off and start it again in the daytime. Bioshock deserves every part of the Mature rating it got. Dead bodies everywhere, blood splatters aplenty, blood smeared on the ground from a dragged and missing body, tortured corpses hanging from walls - it's no Dr. Seuss story book.
The sound rounds out the overall polish of the game, bringing the atmosphere created by the visuals to life. Old-style music rings through the halls, things blowing up, security cameras moving back and forth - it all comes together brilliantly. More often than not you'll hear a fight about to come up before you even see them. This allows for some f*cked up scares as you frantically turn around and around to find where the splicer is at, only to be jumped from behind. Brilliant, especially late at night. I can only imagine a full media setup and how much immersion that brings.
Bioshock is one of the most all around immersive games that I've ever played, and one or two hours of playing quickly turned into three and four more and so on. I can't remember exactly how long it took me to beat, but on the normal difficulty and taking time to search out every area that you can, it was at least 8 hours. If you haven't played it by now, you're only hurting yourself.