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Bioshock Review

January 19, 2009

Welcome to the world of Rapture.

So, here we have a port of a one year old game that won game of the year in 2007.  I didn’t get to play the game until the PS3 release so how does the game fare you ask? Let’s begin.

Story

You begin the game as your plane crash lands into the middle of the ocean.  Ahead is an entrance to a building which you come to learn actually leads to the under-water city called Rapture. Upon entering you witness a ‘Splicer’ attack someone and run off. You then spot a radio and a man named Atlas begins to help you as his family is being held captive somewhere in Rapture.  The story of Rapture is told through radio conversations with various people throughout the game. In addition, there are many audio diaries to be found which are recordings from various figures that help to fill in the story for you and immerse you into the world of Rapture a bit more. The story-telling in this game is incredibly immersive and works extremely well. In addition, the story was very well done with some very surprising twists and turns throughout.

The World of Rapture

The World of Rapture

Gameplay

The gameplay in Bioshock is a bit different from your standard FPS. What’s different is that you essentially use each hand to perform an action. The right hand controls your weapons while the left hand uses your plasmids.  Plasmids? What are those you ask?

Well throughout the game you can ‘splice’ yourself with additional powers called plasmids. These can range from electric bolts, fire balls, freeze blasts, and more. In addition to plasmids, you can also splice yourself with tonics. Tonics essentially enhance your abilities. These can range from fire resistance, med kits giving more health, increased hacking skills, etc. Hacking too?

Throughout the world of Rapture you will encounter a variety of different machines. You’ll find security cameras, safes, turrets, bots, vending machines and more. The cool thing? You can hack into all of the above, each having a different effect. Hack a security camera and it will now set off an alarm if it spots an enemy. Hack a safe, you can loot the contents. I absolutely loved this feature of the game. Now, on to ADAM & EVE.

ADAM is what runs Rapture. It’s the lifeline of it. What this means is that ADAM is very rare but it is needed for splicing. You upgrade your Plasmids & Tonics by using ADAM. When you use your Plasmid abilities, you use EVE (think Mana in an RPG). So how do you acquire ADAM you ask?

Little Sisters (not the Queens of the Stone Age song). Little Sisters are basically little girls…that are psychopaths. Taking candy from a baby right? Wrong. Each Little Sister is protected by a Big Daddy. Early on Big Daddies are absolutely brutal to fight. The first couple you encounter, I’m sure you’ll use every health kit you have to stay alive, and even then you’ll probably die. However, if/when you kill a Big Daddy you can then harvest ADAM from a Little Sister. Here’s where things get interesting. You have two choices here: You can choose to rescue the little sister which gives you a small amount of ADAM or you can choose to harvest the little sister which gives you a larger amount of ADAM.

I like the mix of the gameplay but I have to say the combat can get underwhelming at times. There are only a handful of cool plasmids, while the rest are filler. The weapons are pretty good but ammo is fairly abundunt to where you won’t even use many of them for most of the game.

Graphics

Overall the graphics in Bioshock are pretty top notch. The level of detail is very good throughout. I love the use of the neon lights underwater. It makes for some visually stunning moments. The only gripe I have in the animation department is that upon loading a save, periodically right after the save loads, you will actually wintess the textures load onto objects. I’m guessing this was to cut down on load times. This doesn’ t occur enough to make it a mark against the game but I felt it should still be pointed out.

Sound

The voice-acting in Bioshock is done wonderfully well. Some of the better voice-acting you’ll hear in a game. The sound works very well also and helps to immerse you into the world of Rapture. Again, the use of the Audio Diaries as a story-telling tool work excellently.

Take in Rapture

Take in Rapture

Extras/Trophies

The PS3 version of the game features trophies, a PS3-exclusive Survivor difficulty mode, and some Challenge Room DLC. Most of the trophies are straightforward ones. The Platinum trophy does not require that you earn the DLC trophies either.

Conclusion

Well, I have mixed feelings on Bioshock, but the one thing I can say is that this game is a must-play for anyone who has not experienced it. The story-telling is done phenomenally well and both the story and atmosphere really immerse you into the world of Rapture.

However, Bioshock does have some flaws. First of all, I think the length of the game is a bit long. In fact, it’s not really the overall game length so much as it is the length of each level. Some levels will literally take you 3-4 hours to complete. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if each level didn’t look so similar. Also, I loved the elements of hacking and enhancing your character but a lot of the actions become repetitive throughout the game.

And as noted earlier, I was a bit underwhelmed with the combat as the game progresses. There are really only 4 or 5 plasmids worth using while the rest seem near useless. Also, the combat and aiming system could be enhanced. Hopefully these are improved upon in the sequel which is due out sometime this year.

All in all though, Bioshock is a marvelously crafted game that really should be experienced by everyone. Even with it’s flaws it was good enough for me to run through two full times and despite the long levels, kept me playing for hours straight. Because of the incredibly strong story, including the twists in it, the top-notch voice-acting, and how gorgeous Rapture itself looks (not the levels per se), I am giving the game the score I am.

Amazing

Amazing

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