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BioShock (Windows)

94
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37795)
Written on  :  May 16, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars

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Summary

Prepare to be BioShocked

The Good

If anyone of you have played System Shock 2, you would have known that that game was set in the future. The same cannot be said about 2K's latest offering, Bioshock; the game is set in 1960, way before I was born. A plane crashes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and you are the only survivor. You resurface in front of what appears to be an underwater complex. You go and investigate this complex and, before you know it, you are taken to Rapture, a city that was built in the '40s by Andrew Ryan. It is supposed to be paradise, but you immediately find out that your descent into the city caused destruction and chaos.

The first thing I saw, long before I entered Rapture, was how amazing the water animates at the beginning of the game, and the fire around it. I think that this could be part of the DX10 enhancements in the game. It is this point in the game where you have to make your way to the bathysphere. Just looking around shows me what I could expect. As BioShock is set in 1960, the walls are decorated with old-style posters plastered around the walls and music that was common in that year.

After watching the introduction from Ryan, the window opens up to give you breathtaking views of Rapture, as the bathysphere takes you to one of the entrances leading to the city. I enjoyed the views while I was making my way there, with neon lights embedded onto each of the buildings. During the game, there are windows that you can look outside from, but these are not quite as spectacular as the one inside the bathysphere.

Around Rapture, there are a variety of weapons scattered in certain areas, and most of these weapons have three different types of ammunition. It doesn't hurt to try out all the types just to see what they are like. I prefer the machine gun for the early enemies, and the “Bucks” and the heat-seeking RPG for later ones. Of course, you will mainly use these weapons to kill Splicers. You will know when you are about to approach a Splicer: they chant and sing to themselves. As the manual states, a Splicer is a citizen of Rapture who became so obsessed with Plasmids that their overuse altered their genetic structure. Splicers are only alerted to your presence when you walk into their vicinity or shoot your weapon for no reason. Doing the latter takes me back to the days when I was playing Wolfenstein 3D when I could alert the Nazis simply by shooting at nothing. When they see you, they really do their best to destroy you. The audio logs that you can pick up (also an element from System Shock 2) are interesting to listen to, as these are a record of their memories during their time in Rapture .

Now, BioShock uses an element that was borrowed from System Shock 2 and the Thief games. When Splicers are killed, you will be able to go through their pockets and steal some useful items like extra cash, health, components, and much more. I enjoyed doing this as you never know what stuff you can collect. If you have enough of a specific item, the game doesn't let you get any more until it has been used. For instance, the game assumes that $500 is enough (even though there is a four-digit number for the money counter).

To get through the game, you need to use various machines. The manual has detailed information about these machines, so I won't bore you with all the details. Each of the machines attract the player to their location by playing some sort of melody or by speaking to you. “El Ammo Banditos”, for example, shouts something in Spanish. I can say that I used these machines more than twenty times in a level, to stock up on things like health, EVE, and ammo, as well as getting more Plasmids.

BioShock has two other elements that need mentioning, and these are also taken from System Shock 2. Security cameras are scattered around Rapture, and they are on the lookout for any intruders. Like SS2, once they have you in their sights they give a warning sound. Several seconds later, they confirm your sighting, sending security droids to your location, and these droids have orders to shoot and kill. You can destroy them, and put the droids to good use. That brings me to the second element: hacking. Hacking something brings up an interface where you have to connect some pipes until a pipe reaches the exit point. In this case, successfully hacking a security droid will cause it to protect you and shoot any splicers it sees. I enjoy how droids sound like bees when they follow you. Hacking is not limited to droids. You can also hack turrets, health stations, and most of the machines, but one machine that you can't hack is the “Gatherer's Garden”.

Sure, there are weapons that you can use to kill the Splicers. But the real magic of BioShock is the Plasmids that you can also use to perform special attacks. For example, you can electrocute your enemies, incinerate them, throw them up in the air and make them go down hard, sick bees onto them, and even turn Splicers against one another. Just because you selected specific Plasmids at the start of the game does not mean that you are stuck with the same ones throughout the game. You'll find hundreds of Plasmids to choose from at one of those “Gatherer's Garden” machines. If you had enough of your equipped ones, you can always buy new ones. (Hint: You might want to purchase a slot to store the plasmids in.) I like those “Evolve Today” black-and-white ads that introduce the Plasmids. They are hilarious to watch. Of course, you need to stock up on EVE if you want to keep using Plasmids. If you have no EVE, you cannot use Plasmids.

As you walk in some locations, as I said earlier, you can hear actual '60s music playing in the background. I describe the music as slow-moving, but in some places it just has a jazzy feel to it. If you like the music, you can stop what you are doing and listen to it right through to the end.

Two characters that I enjoy most are the Big Daddies and Little Sisters. The Daddies walk around making bear noises, then stop making those noises when they are accompanied by a Sister. Because the Daddies go around in diving suits, that must explain why they are called “Mr. Bubbles”. As the manual says, you can't do anything with the Sisters until you have dealt with the Daddy first, but it takes a lot of firepower to defeat them. When defeated, the Sisters mourn the Daddies as if they are a part of their family. I like how you have two options of dealing with the Sister. You see, you can harvest (kill) them to get a lot of ADAM, but that won't be pleasant to look at. An alternate, safer way is to rescue the Sister but you get less ADAM than you would by killing them. ADAM is one of the important items to get as it determines how many Plasmids you can get. What I did during the game was kill the Sisters, but only if I was very low on ADAM. I prefer to save them, however, since I don't believe in hurting innocent young girls. Once you have enough ADAM, you can spend it at one of those “Gatherer's Garden” machines.

One thing that I had to laugh at are what happens when you decide to save Sisters. When you manhandle her, all they say is “No!” four times while you are trying to get at the ADAM. After you release her afterward, she forgets about the Daddy since she is too busy saying “Thank you. You've saved my life” or something along those lines, then goes back to where she came from.

Although you have that yellow Quest arrow pointing to your objective at the top of the screen, I ignored it most of the time until I am ready to accomplish it. As with most first-person shooters, I like to explore a bit, hunting for weapons, health, EVE, and other stuff. This way I can avoid spending the cash I just collected on vending machines.

The controls are easy since you may be more familiar with them playing early first-person shooters. I really like how you could quickly switch to another weapon/Plasmid by turning the mouse wheel, and by switching between weapons/Plasmids with the right mouse button. It doesn't hurt to memorize the key bindings for special weapons/Plasmids. More often than not, I happened to press the wrong keys when I got involved in a full-blown fight with a Splicer and I end up losing a lot of health for doing this.

The Bad

I found that the areas are far too dark to see anything, even if my monitor/video settings are set to a satisfactory level. I had to rely on the Quest arrow to get me out of those dark areas.

About the vending machines: hacking machines doesn't really give you much of a discounted price. It is normally 15 dollars less than the normal price. They would not be worth hacking into since this is the case.

The Bottom Line

In BioShock, you can hack, steal items from your enemy's pockets, and evade security cameras; and these are the elements that were taken straight from System Shock 2. Each section of the game should take about 30 minutes to complete, but it may take longer if you are like me and explore the area a bit, ignoring the Quest arrow as you go. You encounter a variety of Splicers, and nearly all of them run towards you and jump in the air for an attack, so it is better to use what weapons you have to kill them before they are inches away from you.

Two characters that play an important role in the game are the Big Daddies and Little Sisters, both of which are funny to look at and listen to. There are three endings to this game, but what ending you view will depend on how you deal with the Sisters. If you view a specific ending, it would not hurt to play BioShock two more times and try the other endings.

The sound is great, and the music reflects the year that the game is set in. The same goes for the graphics, but you won't get the extra benefits without a DX10-compliant video card,

BioShock is the first games in the series, so expect a second and third game to be released later. There is also a movie that ties in with the third game.