on 3 June 2012
"Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture" - Andrew Ryan - As introductions go, 2k's Bioshock can do no wrong, whether it's that excerpt from the greeting on the projector in the submergence elevator or at its initial beginning, the crash of an airliner plummeting down into the ocean on a stormy night, while the protagonist of the story reminisces and desperately swims towards an unknown obelisk amongst the flaming wreckage. If those enticing speeches and visuals weren't enough, there's the in-game trailer showing one gratuitously gory possibility of your future gaming deeds, a future too graphic and altogether confusing to put into words. It's at this point I was ashamed of my own reluctance, apathy, cheapness, to even consider purchasing Bioshock and giving it a deserved go.
"Welcome To Rapture"
The game is a story driven, first person shooter based in the incredible surroundings of 'Rapture' - an underwater metropolis built in the mid 40's and finished in the 50's whiles the protagonist explores it in 1960. Created by one smooth operator (Andrew Ryan) it was thought of to be a utopia in which "the artist would not fear the censor, the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, the great would not be constrained by the small!". Our introduction to this neo-Atlantis is a breathtaking one, with gorgeously gloomy vistas and a frightening reality check that it is no haven when your quaint little elevator gets torn up in the dark by a psychopathic 'splicer'. Turns out that this place had suffered a civil war, thanks largely to the focus on 'ADAM' - a substance which acts as a consumable substance that people can't get enough of as it correlates to the use of 'Plasmids'. The surviving civilians all turned insane over time, don creepy masks and fashion themselves in the styles popular back in the 50's. Lured here by your own inquisitiveness, you're all alone until the voice of a man known only as 'Atlas' contacts you via radio and tries to explain what is going in and why you should follow his word. Throughout the game you'll find several audio tapes to listen to for interesting insight to the gruesome events, some relative, others whimsical or helpful. It's these subtle events and mysterious storyline that at first is your main reason for playing.
"You'll be no better off with the metal Daddy, Little Fish"
No ordinary FPS, Bioshock makes use of creative weaponry instead of just highly accurate firearms (which are still included). Classic TommyGuns and Shotguns to your ever hand wrench can be upgraded via Stations sparingly scattered throughout the game, with upgrades for damage, ammo and effects. Plasmids however, really shake things up, consuming EVE (mana/stamina/magic) they use lightning bolts, Fireballs, Insect Swarms and Telekinesis - Most of which can be essential to progressing through the game or accessing secret areas. Tonics make for even more complex involvement, as passive abilities that shorten alarms or ADAM/EVE absorbing techniques when hacking. Which brings me onto the minigames - required to hack various vending machines for ammo, medpacks, EVE etc. You must arrange a set of pipes in order to allow the slowly advancing water to flow through to an exit, avoiding virus' and your own pace. These make sure you know what you're dealing with as they can alert flying machines with mounted turrets, just when you need some calm to reload and restock your supply, this can prove a troublesome tactic... or you could just pay for your goods at a steep rate.. Strolling around the levels are menacing Splicers who attack you on sight, ganging up on you with their blood stained buddies. Also on walk abouts are the infamous 'Big Daddies' and their 'Little Sisters'. These badass monster wear gigantic deep-sea diving suits and wield a terrifying rotating drill on one arm to disembowel anyone stupid enough to go near his little friend. This however is a big part of progression in the game as disposing of the Big Daddies will net you more ADAM mmmm. This also poses a choice for you - Rescue or Harvest the little sisters... The controls and variables are off-putting slightly at first, but with time you get your bearings, similar to the way you understand your surroundings and goals which you must complete in order to proceed through the vast zones of Rapture.
"A man chooses, a slave obeys"
Your controllable fellow isn't much for words which seems like a bit of a cop out at first, but if anything its better that way as you can simply listen to all the events unfolding before you. Atlas acts as your guide through the majority of the game with his thick Irish accent, but despite his willingness and helpful nature, something's just not right about him.. Andrew Ryan, the aristocrat who dreamed the impossible appears to be the one man you're trying to find. He pops in and out of the game on recordings left strewn all over the place as well as making his feelings known on radio frequencies and intercom broadcasts. Dr. Tenenbaum is a previous employee under Ryan Industries and managed the experiments on the Little Sisters. Distraught and repenting of her own work, she strives convince you to spare all of the demonic children you come across. The accents and mannerisms of all characters are so well defined and original that it makes for a rich, fine experience when in one way conversations with them, again proving you don't need a voice. Perhaps a little thin on notable characters.
"Look Mr.Bubbles, it's an angel!"
What makes Rapture a creepy place to navigate are its imminently flooded, decaying casinos, ER's, Theatres and gardens. Despite the chaos, levels still have the grandeur of art deco inspired rooms, plastered in post war time illustrations and gun powder. What makes the levels even work is the interactive elements, for example, should an enemy be standing in a pool of water, blast em' with a shocking electrocute plasmid and they suffer the consequences of their bumbling idiocy. The same goes for firing rockets and projectiles - which can be redirected with telekinesis. Changing up the gameplay and responsible for multiple outcomes to situations, no fight is ever the same as long as you're willing to test out your observation skills. Part of the reason to Bioshocks fame (besides the underwater element) is the 50's design - everywhere is kitted out in super retro decor that perhaps interests the graphic designer in me more than the avid gamer. The malfunctions in machinery that keep Rapture ticking also make for uncertainty when playing, should a pipe burst, a room flood or even worse, the pant-pooping moment when lights cut out and you're left with the mindless muttering of splicers and their weapons scraping on the tiles. From time to time you'll come across a lonesome Daddy, or Little Sister plunging a syringe into a corpse, a mad surgeon fondling organs or laughing about previous malpractice. Someway through you gain a camera to research enemies, adding additional traits to your arsenal, exploiting their weaknesses.. or you can use it to photograph the mangled bodies at the will of an eccentric maniac - Thanks to all this, its not only an FPS but a stylish, horrifying one.
"How much is that doggy in the window?"
The icing on the soggy cake is by far the music. Sticking with the theme and time of the 1940's - 50's, levels are altered with the vinyls of old appropriate tracks like Bobby Darin's 'Beyond the sea', the Inkspots 'If I didn't care' and some real oldies like 'Danny Boy' and more modern tracks like 'Please be kind' by Frank Sinatra. These tunes get blared out on old scratchy dictaphones during some real inappropriate yet ironic times that the game unfolds in cinematic quality. It has a wealth of music that is largely overlooked today and well worth considering the unofficial soundtrack. Surprising at first, your thoughts will change to how down right creepy the music becomes when paired with the dank n' dark underworld, along with its dastardly violent inhabitants. When I acquired the game I completed it with the space of 3 days, staying up late largely thanks to the addictiveness of gaining more plasmids, tonics and searching for endless amounts of ADAM! So one could stipulate that its a fairly short game in comparison to so many other games in the genre. I think it's this briefness that makes the game succeed, every moment counts, concentrating brilliant parts altogether with no filler or weak points. Looking back now, Bioshock was from a time when video games still had promise, conjuring up original, imaginative games instead of recycling the passed glories of record-breaking titles. Coming from 2007 may make this dated, but it certainly doesn't stop it from making a genuine, charming impact.
on 28 June 2010
Well to start of with the blunt truth, I tried the demo and was really disappointed, I couldn't believe the reviews it was getting. I played the full thing and couldn't stop. I'm honestly not sure why, maybe the demo was just not long enough to capture me and left me sitting going "huh what?".
Anyway, this game is a masterpiece, up there with the likes of the Half-Life series in terms of strength in all aspects. The setting and presentation are stunning, the art design is wonderful and seriously memorable. the characters are great, you care about each, good or bad, they're all brilliantly done and you want to see what their story is.
There's just such an immersive world here, it's incredible. There's so much story too, not just in the strong driving main story but in the logs you find aswell. It's really a fully fleshed out world, not just a corridor you run down shooting stuff.
I saw a review saying it was "short and easy". I've played a lot of games, an awful lot, and a lot of shooters. Bioshock has a very long story, or at felt long at least. I explored and did everything I guess but it's definately long, so don't worry about it being over too fast, it seems to go on and on, in a good way:). As for easy, well maybe on easy, yeh, isn't that the idea?. I started on normal - I got pasted. I had to scrape myself off the walls of Rapture and learn to adapt, rare in a game like this. You can't just run in and "shoot em in ther face!", you need to plan out the big fights and be quick and effective in the small ones. Nice to find a challenging game these days.
I could go on and on but I won't. Buy this game, you'll probably love it if you're here looking at it. Don't expect CoD under water or an on rails shooter, this ain't the game for you then. This is an atmospheric, immersive, beautiful, challenging, personal, story driven masterpiece. There's such a wealth to do here. You'll find yourself thinking "it was good enough already, now it gets even better?!". I certainly did, despite being a reluctant embracer of the game. It's as good a time as any to buy now. Bioshock 2 is out, and another cracking game, so you won't be left counting the days til the next game:)
on 29 March 2010
Modern warfare 1/2 were so good I totally forgot I had this game and so when I found it at the weekend I thought I had better blow off the dust and give it a whirl. And I'm glad I did as it is a pretty amazing game.
Firstly, the mix of heart warming 50s culture mixed with the horror elements of Rapture is an amazing contradiction and very unsettling. This gives the game a sense of edge missing from many games. The graphics are quite nice and the baddies look particularly good. After a while you start to wonder if you're losing your mind as everything in rapture is pretty horrific and the baddies are bonkers...still it is another day in the office for a gamer!
There are some elements of this game which are strengths or weaknesses depending upon your skills level with FPSs. Its true the weapons are pretty weak overall and you can get killed unexpectedly at times. Ending up fighting an elite bouncer with a spanner isn't ideal. Its easy to think that powerful sounding weapons will do a lot of damage and they do...mainly to yourself when you get blow back from the grenade launcher! However, I was okay with this as it made the game a bit harder and forced me to think a bit more about the tactics used to kill different types of baddies rather than just one super weapon to kill everyone.
The use of special powers is a key factor in this game and I quite liked the effects they have on baddies and the environment. I didn't like that you have the option to "harvest" little girls (albeit twisted forms of girls) as a means of gaining more power; in a game meant for young people this isn't ideal. I know the game carries an 18 but lets get real; kids of all ages will get a hold of this game and it is quite gory in places...thats my only reason for dropping it a star.
So in summary, a well put together game with lots of atmosphere and decent gameplay. Its just a bit gory in places and so is best kept away from younger kids...you dont need to worry about them having nightmares after playing this; the gaming environment is the nightmare.
Possibly the most beautifully designed game-world ever - a decayed 50's art-deco undersea city, and a very well-told story with superb voice acting and well-written dialogue (sadly something of a rarity in games still).
I won't list all the positives, just say that for the most part it is a stunning game.
The few negatives that drag it down just a little...
Little variety in the enemies you fight.
Almost all the combat is in confined spaces, sometimes you long for a big open-arena Gears Of War style shootout to break it up a bit.
The combat itself, can feel lacking at first. It takes some patience and imagination to get the best of of it - the guns and aiming never feel 100% natural, and it's all too easy to go through most of the game just zapping enemies with electricity then whacking them with the wrench - if you put a bit of time into experimenting with the weapons and plasmids, you'll start to find a lot more entertainment and variety in the combat, but the game pretty much leaves it up to you to do that, if you just use the simplest methods to get through the game it can feel very repetitive, and I can understand how some people have found the FPS-combat element of the game lacking if they haven't tried out all the different possibilities.
Towards the end, I felt like it was being dragged out a bit - the story was ready to reach it's end, but I was still being forced to collect assorted objects to open the next door etc.
The security cameras can be a nightmare at 1st - you walk cheerfully into a room, suddenly alarms are ringing like crazy, and flying security-bots are swarming all around you - after a while you realise that you can sneak up on the cameras and destroy or hack them - but it took a while to get into the habit of looking out for the telltale security camera lights as you explore.
Overall, a superb single-player game - if you're prepared to put a little thought and effort into it, you can get a lot of fun out of the combat element, the story is good, the setting is outstanding - there's no multiplayer, and I'm not sure it has the replay value to make you want to go through it over and over like some games - but certainly for 1 playthrough at least, it's one of the best games of this generation.
BTW - you are given a simple choice of paths between doing something good or bad - the ending if you choose good is much better, and if you are into the beautifully told story, it's well worth the effort of following the "good" course of action.
on 26 August 2008
When I first started playing Bioshock I wasn't as amazed as I'd been expecting. Sure the graphics are stunning, and the controls work very nicely, and the voice work is perhaps the best I've ever come across. But then I picked it up again a few days later, and suddenly found I couldn't stop playing the game without wanting more.
This is a very addictive game. The graphics are A+, and for me the level of difficulty is worth a mention. It's not super-hard if you don't want it to be, and I didn't find myself having to replay many bits of the game at all. Also the controls are a joy to use, and many of the weapons are superb. I particularly enjoyed freezing the splicers, and then shooting them to pieces with the shotgun.
Do you rescue or harvest the little sisters? That was an interesting dilemma the first few times, but got a little tiresome after a while. There was also a bit too much running around finding things, although having hints and a map was very handy.
And then there's the ending...I won't spoil it, but boy does it suck. Well it did for me. After 2 fairly lame levels which didn't feel in keeping with the rest of the game, there was a pretty quick video which also didn't totally make sense, and then...nothing. Just the home screen to start the game all over again. I've since read that even the developer didn't like the ending.
So in summary, a very good FPS, which is a joy to play once you get into it, and up to around 80% of the way into the game is great fun, spooky, atmospheric and memorable in so many ways. Pity the last 20% dragged and had such a sucky ending.
Definitely worth 4 stars, and worth a purchase.
on 20 July 2008
Bioshock is amazing. As far as I can see, there's only one flaw in this entire game, and that's the hacking. But that's only because I'm not very good at these puzzle game type things, and they're generally not very hard.
The graphics in this game are fantastic, it's using the Unreal 3 engine extremely well, unlike many other games with the same engine. The water effects are the best in any game ever released, realistically flowing and splashing everywhere. The setting is very dark, which adds to the overall terrifying setting of Rapture, making every Splicer shock you as it comes charging at you out of the dancing. There's a lot more, but I think you get it; it's a nice looking game.
The gameplay is not like your average first person shooter. You don't have to run around, wilding shooting your guns, screaming, and this is what makes Bioshock unique. There's so many ways to kill your enemies, you'll be experimenting with everything you've got. This is reinforced by the Plasmids, and there are loads of them. Also, unlike many other first person shooters, there's a lot of puzzles to complete, which don't slow down the game whatsoever (except the hacking minigame).
The story is great, aided by the many audio-diaries scattered across Rapture, which gives you an interesting back-story as to how Rapture became what it is. The diaries, along with 'ghost scenes', really make you understand the setting a lot more. The main story itself contains a lot of twists, which I really like in any story. There's also the option of harvesting or saving Little Sisters, which messes with your head and the two possible endings. There are little to no games that have such an in-depth story such as this.
I could go on, but I think I've made my point. Bioshock is one of the best games I've ever played. IF you enjoy games, you will enjoy the good 20-hour long experience that is Bioshock.
on 3 July 2008
It is very different. What a concept. Your plane crashes in the middle of the ocean and you happen across an underwater city!? What a great idea, because in this concept all rules of the normal world can be extinguished.
From the very beginning of the game you realise its not your normal kettle of fish, riding the elevator down from the ocean surface it instantly takes on an eerie feel, and you know this is going to be a self survival mission. Once the elevator door opens you catch a glimpse of your first tenant of the city in the form of a "splicer", of course at this stage you don't know what the hell it is, only that its weird, and completely lost its mind.
The game itself is all about self survival in a man created world underwater called Rapture. The city is vast and I absolutely love how it has been created in a 1930's "art deco" style. Rapture's entire occupants who went their to escape the modern world have gone crazy, and are now nothing but scavenger's constantly on the hunt for anything they can get their hands on. You find yourself permanently on edge searching for weapons you can use to fend off the crazed and lethal hordes of psycho's who live there.
The graphics are truly superb and the controls are straight forward and easy to use. The weapons are also great, from your standard pistol, to shotguns with armoured piercing rounds and genetic powers....
Along the way you must track down individuals in order to take certain posessions to progress the game. Firstly you must take on the deranged plastic surgeon! god what a psycho! You see him operating on what appears to be a woman, before he begins screaming his head off that "yet another has died"...sick. But you can't help but love it. The game also gives you snips of what life was like in Rapture before it all went belly up, a civilised, cultured and elitist place to live. But it also shows you its demise.
An interesting twist to the game is the "Little Sisters", whom appear to be little girls protected by the formiddable "Big Daddy's", who appear to be giant men in those really old diving suits. The little sisters carry within them a power known as "Adam", if you can get hold of her and either a) kill her or b) release her she will give up her power to you, which in turn you can use to purchase upgrades from vending machines. These upgrades are in the form of genetic powers such as flame throwers or telekenetic powers from your bare hands! This however is easier said than done because as soon as you try to touch her you must take on the Big Daddy and what a protector he is!! The Big daddy's must honestly be the toughest characters ever conceived on a video game, my god do they take some killing! Absolutely lethal and deadly, and super quick, I felt genuine terror everytime I took one on. The good bit however is that you don't have to fight him, his only interest is in protecting the little sister, if he perceives you as a threat he will let you know, if not he will walk on by....only take one on if you really have to!
The game see's you trying to find your way through the twisted and mangled city with the help of a "friend" you have never met via a comms link, who gives you help and directions. And this "friend" is a fundamental part of the game, will he double cross you??
The only negative thing I would say about this game is that its really long..By the end you just start wishing it was all over, there's only so much your nerves can take!
A really great game.
on 19 December 2007
I didn't really know what to expect when I bought this game having not read any reviews but it was recommended by a friend. I wasn't dissapointed, once you submerge from the opening plane crash into rapture the game delivers on pretty much every level.
Firstly the story line is very good. Most FPS I play the story line has little effect on the game and I'm more interested in getting stuck in. However Bioshock is a totally different ball game, the story really engages the gamer and because of this it increases you overall enjoyment. You're immersed into a 1940's utopia and the detail to the period is quality and completely enhances the game, from the scratchy 40's music to the decor and smokey rooms.
The controls are good and after a bit of practise aiming becomes easy although switching weapons and plasmids can become frustrating, especially in the middle of an attack. Weapons wise you start with a wrench and finish with a flame throwing, electricity charging, grenade lobbing, microwaving gun of death!!! You're also given a number of plasmids which are like a supernatural chemical enhancement and range from incineration (flame throwing) to telekensis. The only snag is you get so many that you don't always get the chance to use them and sometimes just stick with your weapon as it's easier. Saying that setting fire to a enemy and then electricuting them when they jump in the water to put themselves out is cruel but funny!
The gameplay does get progressively harder but never to the extent where you think it's too hard. The finale though is a bit of let down with the final battle against your nemesis proving to be a bit easy in comparision to the rest of the game.
All in all Bioshock is a class act that would keep the most ardent 360 gamer glued to the control pad.
on 27 August 2007
Deciding if this game was worth 5 out of 5 was really a no-brainer. Having played lots of computer games and valued them for things like: atmosphere, intelligence, ability to create suspension of disbelief, graphics, intuitive gameplay, maturity, attention to detail, addictiveness, voice-acting, sound, action, scariness, soundtrack and style it scores at the highest level for each. How many other games can claim that?
Basically there are so many things to recommend Bioshock that it's hard to know where to begin. Do you start with the fact that it's one of the best FPS on the market or just talk about the sheer amount of creativity fuelling the whole experience? In this game you pump the buttons like any good shooter while having to think and even make limited ethical choices. Plus there is a dialogue (if you're up for it) between yourself and a story that references everything from Ayn Rand and eugenics through to militant strikes and elitist propaganda. Shoving in the near RPG level micromanagement of your character's abilities you really should be in clover here. Bioshock tries to please everyone and pretty much manages to do so.
The story has you plunging into the city of Rapture--a decaying, undersea 40's style vision of the future--following a plane crash. Once in you are initially led around via a radio link to one of its disillusioned inhabitants as you discover genetically altered `splicers' and a technology that seems culled from a lunatic meeting of H.G. Wells, J.G. Ballard and Phillip K. Dick. Going further you also mutate and increasingly depend on bizarre chemicals to survive. Soon it is becomes entirely commonplace to incinerate, freeze or telekinetically slaughter your enemies with a flick of your wrist. Then of course there are the `Little Sisters' leeching from the corpses you've left behind, who you in turn need to leech from, while deciding if its right to kill them or save them.
So is this the perfect game? Unfortunately the answer is no. Rather than becoming more interesting (i.e., more creatively challenging) at the crucial pinch-points it runs back to dully launching large numbers of enemies at you and forgetting its IQ. This soon gets to be irritating when you've been fully lost in the world and then frequently thrown out of it by crass stupidity. It tends to leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Similarly the game lacks any element of stealth, there are very few puzzles worth a mention, the respawn points are silly, the environments are often just background (indestructible light fixtures, etc), the AI can be uneven and the whole thing has quite openly begged, borrowed and stolen from other games. If you've played a lot of shooters then you may be taking a tour down memory lane.
The final recommendation is that you should buy this gorgeous release even if it is flawed. When playing through Rapture the problems that would sink an average title become niggles and minor complaints in an otherwise rewarding and completely entertaining experience.
Bioshock is undoubtedly one of the finest games ever made and it has set the benchmark that other companies will either meet, exceed or get nowhere near when releasing their own product. It is an evolution in gaming such as befits the content that rightfully put it there.
on 12 November 2009
I had originally bought my Xbox 360 purely for GTA4. My previous-gen consoles (Ps2 and Dreamcast) had been all but dedicated to Driving and GTA/Sandbox style games, with very few FPSs.
Truth is, I had got bored of the FPS genre after the original HalfLife. The Quakes soon became repetitive, run down futuristic corridor shooting improbable monsters. I was not overly impressed with Halo 3 (there, I've said it!), and having originally seen the television advertisement of fast-paced-shooty-shooty-monster-bang-no-attention-span, was sure that I wouldn't like Bioshock.
I found myself one day, sat at the Marketplace browsing Demos, and thought I'd give it a try, what did I have to lose.
I am so glad I did.
The initial moments when you are in the stunningly recreated water, surrounded by fire, and look up to see a beautiful lighthouse piercing out of the darkness set the tone for the rest of the game.
I must admit to being an art-deco fan, designs from the early-mid 20th century interest me (eg. Chrysler Building, old Advertisement boards, Citroen Traction Avant/DS etc.) so the setting was an absolute treat, stunningly recreated retro-futuristic devices from the premise of a billionaire wanting to build a technological and artistic utopia safe from the rest of post-WW2 humanity.
The plotline is fantastic, and the enemies provide some real scares. Best played with the lights off and the sound up!
Would recommend Bioshock to anyone with a 360 or PS3.