BioShock

Moby ID: 29886
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

In the year 1960, a plane crashes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with a man named Jack as the only survivor. He has the apparent luck of resurfacing in front of what looks like a door to an underwater complex. Without hesitating, Jack enters the door and is greeted by slogans that praise the city of Rapture, a paradise of free will built in the 1940s by a business magnate named Andrew Ryan. However, even before he assimilates all this new information, the descent to this supposed paradise ends and he can only see ruins and chaos. Learning about the destiny of Rapture will be now Jack's main motivation while he tries to survive the horrors that free will can create.

BioShock is a first-person shooter with gameplay elements and storytelling technique reminiscent of System Shock games. Rapture, the once-proud social experiment inspired by the real-world objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, has been nearly destroyed, its inhabitants either dead or fallen victims to bizarre scientific experiments. The retro-futuristic setting incorporates elements of sci-fi with art deco and steampunk influences, featuring interior design and propaganda posters reminiscent of 1950s.

The game's plot is largely revealed through recorded messages left by Rapture's inhabitants before they were killed or mutated. Much of the plot development is therefore dedicated to reconstructing the events of the past, similarly to System Shock games. Limited usage of stealth, the possibility to hack security cameras and other devices, and character customization are the gameplay elements that further tie BioShock to its spiritual predecessors.

At its core, however, the game is more action-oriented, restricting the role-playing mechanics of System Shock 2 to abilities and upgrades that can be acquired and equipped by the main character. Most of the enemies in the game are Splicers, the deformed and insane citizens of Rapture. The protagonist has an arsenal of firearms to combat them but is also able to use plasmids, which act similarly to magic and deplete a special energy called EVE. Various types of plasmids may directly hurt enemies, sabotage their movements, or enhance the player character's defense. Combat tactics often rely on successive usage of different types of weapons and plasmids. For example, encasing an enemy in ice with a plasmid makes it possible to shatter it to pieces with a single shot; protecting himself with an electric shield, the protagonist can electrocute enemies and strike them with melee weapons, etc.

The player can only equip a limited number of active and passive plasmids, and also has an inventory limit for every type of item. Restoring and enhancing items can be found by exploring the environment or purchased from vending machines. These can also be hacked, similar to turrets, cameras, safes, and other types of locks. Hacking is presented as a Pipe Mania-like mini-game.

Plasmids, on the other hand, are mostly purchased by spending certain amounts of a mutagen known as ADAM. This mutagen can be obtained from mysterious creatures called "Little Sisters" - little girls that can be seen in most of the game's locations, accompanied and protected by very strong, genetically enhanced humans grafted to armored diving suits and nicknamed "Big Daddies". In order to capture a Little Sister the player normally has to defeat her Big Daddy. Afterward, the player has the choice of killing the girl, harvesting large amounts of ADAM in the process, or sparing her life. Depending on the player's moral decisions concerning the Little Sisters, the game's story will be concluded with different endings.

The Playstation 3 version adds a harder difficulty level called "Survivor Mode" to the game.

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Credits (Windows version)

464 People (423 developers, 41 thanks) · View all

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Critics

Average score: 94% (based on 193 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 404 ratings with 17 reviews)

Who is John Galt? -- A question without an answer.

The Good
Do you like the term - intellectual shooter? I don't, since it’s used mostly to identify oneself as an intellectual gamer instead of celebrating the game itself. However, I think it’s impossible to find any other two words describing BioShock so fully and extensively. I mean it in the most neutral sense of the phrase, because it is a well-known fact that you can’t take good without the bad. And it can’t be more so as in case of BioShock.

Irrational Games’ lastborn child, a successor to the critically acclaimed, yet ultimately unknown System Shock series, BioShock has brought the company just two things they were short of – wealth and fame. Now if there was just a single developer company that didn’t get enough of that, I would have bet on Irrational anytime of day. During its eight years course it hasn’t released a single average game. Let me remind you of the the unique concept of Freedom Force, flawless game mechanics and stunning level design of SWAT4, brilliant storytelling and engaging multiplayer of Tribes: Vengeance. All of those games (including, of course, System Shock 2 – the masterpiece of sci-fi horror) clearly showed that Irrational Games is an extraordinary team worthy of any amount of hype, overreaction and 10/10 reviews making the unsuspecting X360 owners rush into the street in order to buy a title from one of the most prominent developer of the recent decade.

However that should not cloud one’s judgment in light of the most obvious of BioShock faults, which we’re going to look over shortly.

Now to the premise. BioShock casts you in the role of a simple man living a simple life, who accidentally discovers a huge underwater city which the brightest minds of the post-war (WWII) world have made their home. Rapture. The world of unlimited possibilities for anyone who is willing to work and create. It opens its gates for anyone except for a single man - a parasite, a man who’s unable to do anything with his life, carrying his pathetic existence through the false notions of compassion, mercy and morality. Those who live in Rapture reject these people and all the governments supporting them, which is pretty much the whole "civilized" world. “It was not impossible to build Rapture at the bottom of the ocean, it was impossible to build it anywhere else”, says Andrew Ryan, the architect and the mastermind behind the city.

But you arrive too late to ripe the fruits of one man’s vision. As with all the ideas and utopias there is always one thing people forget to account for – it’s the faulty nature of the man himself. In case of Rapture, greed and lust for power turned out to be the harbingers of city’s downfall. You can’t build a society based on rationale and objectivism, because (watch out! Another Star Trek quote is coming!) human-beings are extremely irrational creatures and logic is just the beginning of wisdom. Despite seeming overwhelmingly complex the main idea of the game’s story is actually very simple and profound. It’s about how faulty the man is. No matter how much we strive into the sky towards perfection we should not forget about the chains on our legs, chains of human nature. The only thing that can beat the story of this game is the presentation of it..

The postfactum nature of BioShock’s storytelling provides the most impressive strength of the game. You’re not experiencing the story through the series of cut scenes or dialogs. Actually there’s no even a story to experience. Of course there is a series of events taking place inside the gameworld with varying objections and motivations but it is secondary to the history of the place. It’s not that important who you are and what you’re doing, what is important are the characters of Rapture and the details of their sad demise. The game achieves that sort of unusual narrative through the series of audio logs scattered throughout the gameworld combined with the detailed vision of what a certain environment has become. Irrational doesn’t connect the dots for you as it is done in many games via cutscenes or long dialogs. It offers you point A and point B and let your imagination do the rest, with results being much more striking and impressive.

That level of immersion is possible only in a video game, which in its own turn creates a much needed excuse for ideas of BioShock to take form of a video game. It creates an illusion of time overlapping – you hear the choices people made, the feelings they’ve experienced and at the same time you see the consequences of those choices and feelings right before your eyes. An amazing example of the interactive storytelling!

Ron Gilbert, the creator of Monkey Island series has once said that a game is a shitty place to tell a story. Yes, Mr. Gilbert it is, but instead of trying to tell it with the common devices used in movies and books, (yes, Square, you too) BioShock chooses another method unimaginable in the limits of those two media.

Certainly, a knowing man would notice that all of that (retrospective narrative, audio logs, post-factum presentation) was already presented by both System Shocks, Doom 3 and lots of other games which thought this to be a neat way to cut expenses on cutscenes, motion-cap and character modeling. But very few of them offered such an amazing treatment of this technique as BioShock did and neither has put it to so much use. The counterarguments to the tenets of objectivism, coined by Ayn Rand, are perfect fit for the BioShock’s way of narrating, with the characters speaking not of the current events or explaining a lot unnecessary info but expressing their thoughts and views in words instead. This in its own turn creates one of the most fleshed out set of videogame characters of recent years.

The best one being nobody else but the creator of Rapture himself – Andrew Ryan. Much as his prototype – Ayn Rand – Andrew has emigrated from the Soviet Union when he had found himself unable to cope with all the changes happening to his country. Yet he didn’t find any rest in USA either. Everywhere he was despised for his talent, money and radical views. He didn’t want the parasites, people without ambition or talent, to impose their will upon him. Much in fashion of Dostoevsky’s characters Ryan saw himself as an extraordinary being far above the issues of morality and decency. But unlike Raskolnikov, Ryan doesn’t doubt his beliefs and is not tormented by them. He is the man of great faith and strong convictions. He firmly believes in everything he does and doesn't care what others think of it. So even in time of his death he remains as strong in his faith as he ever was.

To be frank, the scene of Andrew Ryan's death requires some more space of this review. This is undoubtedly the piece of drama that will stay in your mind forever. Without spoilering much I can only say, that during witnessing it, I haven't thought for a second about how great/talented/skilled the guys at Irrational are. All of my thoughts were with that man before me, who even in his death doesn't lose a single inch of his faith and views. Very strong and convincing scene, indeed. It would make every movie director jealous.

In the spotlight is also a well-known duo. Big Daddy and Little Sister are perfect metaphor to unconditional love that requires no objective or rational explanation. You will love those interplays, they bring warmth and create a very important contrast to the cold and menacing environments of the city. Of course it’s a cheap argument to put a cute little girl on one plate of the scales and Ayn Rand with her philosophy on the other. The contrast works well, however.Partly, because it is a contrast which you, the player, must inevitably break, not by your choice, but by the necessity.

Other characters do not disappoint either. Each of them is a representation of a specific part of the new, corrupted Rapture. Art, Science and Industry. Fueled by plasmids (which are essentially a plot device and a key gameplay feature) they strive for perfection in those areas. A mad plastic surgeon with his mind completely whacked, an artist finishing his last masterpiece of dead bodies and a smuggler with non-existent values. Each character has lots of background to him depending on how thorough you are in examining your environments, finding clues and actually thinking. Because, as I mentioned earlier, Irrational doesn't care if you're following a story or not. This is excellent, since it always keeps you on your toes and your mind is always working, trying to figure out the real motivations of the characters. No wonder there are so many plot-analysis written after the game's release.

Visually, Bioshock is nothing but stunning. The game's visuals are a beautiful example as to what exactly constitutes great graphics in a game. Obviously, not technical superiority or the hardware the game is capable of taking advantage of. The true brilliance of graphics lies on sole shoulders of an artist. Artistically, BioShock is a very ambitious project. It has been compared to Fallout on numerous occasions with similarities in its 30's ads stylistic approach. Some people attached "art-deco" label shortly after. But the truth is that BioShock is something you haven't ever seen before. It seamlessly combines incombinable. The screaming ads of smiling people reminiscent of mid-20th century America is merged with technological wonders which feels more at home in Wells and Verne novels, than in the works of Asimov and Clarke, and all that is spiced up with the extreme attention to details. Texturing, modeling, special effects - everything in here is working in a single unit to bring the atmosphere of the decayed city of wonders as to close to reality as possible. I've already known that level designers of Irrational are miracle workers with their amazing job on SWAT4 realistic levels, but this time, when they were not constrained by limitations of our real world, they outdid themselves. Sometimes, I even felt like crying staring looking over beautiful locations, so different and yet following the same stylistic guidelines.

That does sound like a perfect game, doesn't it? Well, I don't want to break it for you, but it isn't. The irony is that if BioShock didn't have all those extraordinary things I've mentioned up to this point I might have had no problem with it whatsoever. But the game's unique and unusual subject, superior artistic design and overall professional quality brings me to blaming BioShock for a thing I wouldn't consider to blame any other game for. Namely, it's genre choice.

The Bad
Why on Earth this game decided to be a First Person Shooter?

As I said I had no problems with any game's choice of genre up to this point. You see in games like No One Lives Forever, System Shock I & II, Outlaws, Dark Forces, Strife, Half-Life - all the additional features (non-shooting) are used to enhance them. Thus, it results in a perfect blend. We take a shooter canvas and put some nice touches on it that elevates it above it's contemporaries. It worked on numerous times, and should have worked with BioShock as well.

Especially, if we take into consideration, that the "shooter canvas" of it is much more superior to any other FPS. You have lots of abilities to choose from, different plasmids in various combinations can easily provide a lot of unexpected results. It's fun to experiment with those techniques, trying to find an instant-kill solution. Which, of course, is impossible to find, prompting you to keep chaging your approach in every situation. I didn't miss any of the System Shock exclusive features, like inventory, research or character stats, and was completely satisfied with the way revival chamber were realized in BioShock. So, what's wrong? We have an excellent story/subject and great gameplay which easily result in a game like one has never seen before, don’t we?

The problem is that those do not go together at all. I think the reason of that lies in BioShock's subject which requires everything to work for it. It wasn't a problem in NOLF - where subject required you to be a spy, you did what spies usually do (at least in 60's movies), in Outlaws - subject required you to take revenge on your dead wife and daughter. And what does BioShock subject (counterarguments to objectivism) requires you to do? Nice question.

Kill hordes of zombie-like Splicers is the answer. Now tell me, how does that reinforce the game's point? What is the reason to all the time I spent in-between admiring locations and listening to the logs? There's none. BioShock with its serious subject would have looked much better in the canvas of adventure or an RPG (as showed by Bioware/Black Isle) or maybe tried to get there by some other means. The core of the BioShock's gameplay should have been "a choice" instead of "a shooting". The choice players face in the current game is laughable, because it doesn't provide any effect on the story, (it shows another cut-scene in the end, true, but how does it help to change the message of the game?) and benefits from saving the girls are obvious from the start.

Once again, I will say that have the subject of the game been simpler and less dominant; it wouldn't have made the action seem much more appropriate. But as it is, each part of the game must work towards a single goal -- conveying an idea. Obviously, "shooting zombies", which is somewhere around 70% of the game doesn't help that cause much.

I completely understand the reasons behind BioShock's choice of genre. First, people were expecting a successor to System Shock, secondly, one cannot expect BioShock the Adventure to break as many sells as BioShock the FPS did. Which is a shame, since in the end, it did outgrow both System Shocks, and perhaps became the best top-sold game of the last decade. It certainly deserved upon much better treatment.

The Bottom Line
This is my first review that features a newly created rating system. It came up as I wasn't satisfied with the criteria usually used for game ratings. I called it TAPEA, with each letter standing for a certain aspect of Developer Company as reflected by the game.

Talent: 5/5

One should not doubt the talent of Irrational. Once again they proved that they were touched by God himself. I can't imagine an untalented person coming up with those outstanding locations and brilliant ideas. Rapture, Big Daddies, Art-Deco, Plasmids, Little Sisters, Underwater setting – they're constantly feeding you high-class ideas, which could’ve only born in the minds of extremely talented individuals.

Ambition: 4/5

In BioShock the developer offered something rarely seen in a video game. A mature subject venturing beyond love/hatred/revenge clichés. Unfortunately they didn't dare to carry this ambition through. I mean creating a gameplay that would have been on par with the game's subject, hence a drop in one point.

Pteity (Pushing The Envelope - ity): 3/5

BioShock does go when nobody has gone before. It changes your mind on the subject of how games can communicate stories and ideas. Unfortunately, all of those elements have been already seen in other games, even if executed on a much lower scale and with much lesser effect. The story repeats itself in game play department as well - it does provide some unique ideas, but nothing warranting a legion of clones.

Effort: 5/5

The colossal attention to detail and the game's impressive length (around 12 hours) show many sleepless nights and cups of coffee drunk in the Irrational Games headquarters.

Adequacy: 5/5

The overall coherency of different departments is the evidence of how much the developer cared about how things are fitting together, the style and theme are always maintained regardless of the situation. I won't drop any point here since even the game's questionable FPS attitude towards gameplay is reasonably justified within the limits of the gameworld. Completely adequate and nothing feels out of place.

In the end we receive 4.4/5 which is an average score of those five equally important criteria.

As for the closing part I'll just repeat the one-liner "Who is John Galt?" It's a quote from "Atlas Shrugged", book by Ayn Rand, which BioShock names as its primary source of inspiration. It's a synonym to hopelessness and inability to change anything. The same feelings I am left with after completing BioShock. I understand that you can't have best of both worlds at the same time. You can't be commercially successful and yet break new grounds, at least not on a scale, shareholders' meeting would appreciate.

Perhaps, you need people like Andrew Ryan or Dagny Taggart (a character from the book) to do it, people not constrained by the concerns of others or by the questions of appropriateness and decency. Men who uses only common sense and objective truth as their Bible. And, you know, I am sure that the phrase "BioShock could have been so much more" would have been written somewhere in that book.

Maybe Ayn Rand was actually right?

Nah. :)

Windows · by St. Martyne (3648) · 2007

An Artful Spiritual Successor To System Shock 2

The Good
The moment that the game's undersea city, Rapture is revealed to an intense orchestral flourish, shining like a retro-styled future dream in the vibrant depths, the player is drawn into an experience. That is indeed what Bioshock is - an experience. The game has an atmosphere of terrific substance, a triumph of design.

Graphically, there is no doubt that the technology is incredible. Most especially, lighting and water effects will cause jaws to drop in awe. Early in the game, I witnessed a cascade of water and could not believe the realistic look of it. And in a game set under the waves, this is used to wonderful effect.

Yet graphics are really only a means to express the visual experience. As we found with Oblivion, no matter how pretty a game is, a poorly designed world becomes tedious and boring. Bioshock succeeds in avoiding such problems. Every location is distinct and meaningful. It is not simply a matter of individual levels, but individual districts and rooms which have a sense of...well.. place. And, further, they have a sense of the people who had inhabited them. Everywhere, the player who looks will find tiny stories being told of someone who was there before them. Many of these are quite chilling. All of them are seamlessly expressed within the game's world.

Sound effects are a big part of any game, but in the survival horror genre they serve the essential purposes of causing tension and indicating the presence of nearby enemies. Bioshock's sound is of a quality beyond reproach. Although voice tends to be well done, it is in the combination of lush environmental effects with haunting 30's and 40's style music coming from sources in the world itself that the player is truly drawn into the game.

Combat is creative and enjoyable. There are a great many combat encounters, yet one can avoid them entirely or choose to use indirect means to take down their foes.

One highly touted aspect of the game is the use of the environment in fighting. For instance, hacking a health machine will cause enemies to be poisoned when they try to use it. New dimensions certainly open up in Bioshock for those with the creativity and presence of mind to use them.

Much like its spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2, Bioshock's intense atmosphere and randomly spawning enemies succeeds in creating that essential "never really safe" feeling I love in these games. This, combined with the descent into a world of madness and terror in Rapture, creates an unforgettable experience.

The Bad
While Bioshock is the spiritual successor to the game which I consider to be one of the greatest of all time - System Shock 2 - it does not quite live up to the older product. Certainly, technology has been upgraded. And there is no doubt that the AI and the use of environment are substantially improved. However, beyond this, I find that Bioshock consistently falls short of System Shock 2.

While I do praise the sound and also the quality of the voice acting, the range of script and casting is far too limited. It seems as if I am constantly encountering the same people who are saying the same things over and over. Yes, in System Shock 2, there were similar limitations. But it does not bother me there, perhaps because of the "uncanny valley" effect. In other words, I do not have an issue with worm zombies moaning out repetitious lines because they are so inhuman. When a very human seeming splicer rants the same lines as five other splicers in the last half hour, it is so close to human that it becomes very noticeable to me.

The AI is better than in System Shock 2, but it is still pretty poor compared to what is available. In a world after F.E.A.R.'s incredible tactical combat, the bar has been raised so that it is no longer acceptable for AI to charge at me with guns. I want them to try to flank, to be aware of what weapon I am using and when I am reloading it. Certainly, I would like a bit better than what Bioshock provided.

System Shock 2 was a PC only release, while Bioshock was developed for multiple platforms at the same time. Many people suggest that this caused Bioshock to be "dumbed down" for the more casual console market. Whether this was the reasoning or not, there is little doubt that this is a far easier game and one with much less complexity.

First, the roleplaying game aspect has pretty much disappeared here. In System Shock 2, the player had to assign points to upgrade both their attributes and their skills. You were not automatically able to hack any computer, use any gun, and project psionic blasts. In order to do any of that, the player had to make choices. So you could never be a super-soldier, master hacker, and psionic wizard at the same time. That made for true gameplay choices. Meanwhile, all skill and stat points are now gone from Bioshock. Now your character automatically is capable of any hacking, plasmid usage, or weapon usage with perfect skill.

One of the key aspects of survival horror is the need to survive. These are taken separately from other action games because they impose difficult restrictions which force a careful, thoughtful style of play amidst a chaotic, dangerous environment. Generally, this is achieved through a combination of limited health and limited resources.

System Shock 2 truly put the survival in survival horror. On the first play-through, most will find the game's difficulty to be incredible. You begin to hoard every resource you can, avoid combat when possible, and rejoice at finding even one more bullet. Every action you take is a calculated risk of your chances to survive. By contrast, I found that even on Hard, I was overflowing with resources by mid-game in Bioshock. There was never any desire to avoid combat except in the very beginning. I had so much stuff that I was often unable to pick up more of it. My ammunition and money was constantly full. All of this served to decrease my sense of truly surviving.

Much was made before release about the supposed choices made in Bioshock. However, in reality, there was only one line of choices being made - whether to harvest the "Adam" (money to spend on genetic powers) fully from the zombie little girls who ran about gathering it, thus killing them, or whether to save them for a much lesser amount of Adam. Not only was this rather black and white question the only moral issue to solve, but if you chose the "good" path then you would receive repeated large gifts for doing so - thus making the Adam difference between the two paths very little. I would have been happier if being the good guy meant you had to work harder.

Combat could be a bit unsatisfying at times in Bioshock. The problem was balance. Near the end of the game, enemies became superpeople who could laugh off your plasmid abilities. Being engulfed in flames seemed to have little effect on them, for instance. Yet some weapons proved to be so overpowered that it felt like cheating to use them. So the creativity of the environmental style of combat ended up being lost in the shuffle.

The Bottom Line
I would recommend Bioshock for its atmosphere alone, but there is a lot more to love about it. There is no doubt that this game is a 5 star title. However, those expecting a real return to the brilliance of System Shock 2 should be aware that it is not to be found here - only a shadow of that glory.

Windows · by Steelysama (82) · 2008

A very big disappointment

The Good
Drug users might appreciate the graphics - during combat BioShock often seems more of a psychedelic arcade game what with the quick pace and all the chaotic effects thrown in.

The Bad
First of all, this game was supposed to be a spiritual successor to the epic FPS/RPG System Shock 2. Unfortunately something went terribly wrong in the process and we ended up with a incoherent shooter where nothing really works. Oddly hailed by essentially all reviewers as revolutionary, BioShock does not really bring anything new to the genre. Sadder still, it's mostly a setback, at least as far as PC games are concerned.

The complex gameplay from SS2 was drowned to the point where one begins to wonder which SS2 they were making a sequel of: System Shock 2 or Serious Sam 2? Gone are the stats that differentiated one player from another: you can now do everything right from the beginning. Gone is the limited inventory. Now you can carry around everything you pick up. Well, not quite. You can only carry nine med-kits and nine eve-hypos. Apparently despite totting around a flame thrower with several huge canisters of ammo, a grenade launcher, a shotgun, a machine gun and god knows what else, if you picked up one more med-kit when you already have nine you'd collapse to the ground from your burden. Gone is the weapon degradation. You pick up a revolver in the beginning and it works perfectly even after firing a thousand rounds and being dragged alone through water, fire and god knows what else. The grenade launcher looks like it's made of cloth... luckily it's special indestructible cloth. Gone are limited resources, now you'll regularly reach the artificial limits on the ammo you carry with you, which in a way is good because unlike in SS2 you'll be forced to empty entire machine gun magazines to clear the average room.

Psi powers are replaced by some sort of Oblivion-like magic spells. Compared to psi powers there are far fewer of these spells, they aren't as nearly as inventive or intricate, and the spell mana is never in short supply. You can hypnotize a big daddy to help you or throw stuff around with them, but other than that they're just like weapons except that at certain points the game will present puzzles to you that involve these spells. Unfortunately the puzzles are laughably simple, as in melt some ice blocking your way with the incinerate spell. Very revolutionary.

Much was made of the choices that you could make in BioShock. Except one non-choice that affects only which end-game cinematic you receive, the choices involve which gun you'll shoot an enemy with. I remember Levine saying that this is going to be a game that's impossible to write a walkthrough for. Now that the cat's out of the bag we finally see what he meant: it would be extremely tedious and counterproductive to write a walkthrough for a completely liner shooter like BioShock. Shockingly, Levine said a lot of things yonder at TTLG which now look like complete lies because he knew TTLG'S SS2 fans would promote his product for free.

Much is now made of the physics that BioShock presents, however even though they used the well-tested Havok engine they evidently couldn't figure how to set it up properly. Dead bodies twitch uncontrollably, boxes fly towards the ceiling when I walk over them, and so on. And the physics is pretty much limited to throwing things around. You can throw as many grenades around as you want - you'll never break glass. Wouldn't it be cool the glass cracked if you shot it too much and water invaded the place (of course at that depth that would be insta-death). But that would be innovative. The game also has many invisible walls, which always signal lazy design.

The combat is very chaotic. There are a ton of enemies, they move around very quickly, never standing still, and everyone seems to tot around a whole armory. Unfortunately it's extremely repetitive as well, as the game only has two kinds of enemies. There are splicers, which are humans gone crazy. There minimal visual variation between them and they seem to posses no intelligence whatsoever. One kind of them can climb ceilings, which is fun the first ten times you see it. And there are "big daddies" - walking diving suits that protect invincible "little sisters". A limitation of Havok means you can't gib enemies. No matter how many grenades you chuck at a dead big daddy he'll just ragdoll. Wonderful progress!

The interface did not escape the dumbing down - gone is the right-click into interact mode from SS2 where you could do everything. And even worse when you access anything the game pauses. In SS2 moments when you had to access the inventory or hack a system or whatever were always very tense because the game kept running while you were doing this. In BioShock you can run up to a hostile rocket-launching turret and spend all the time you need hacking it since the world is temporarily suspended for your benefit. Gosh, if only real life had that feature. Fonts are now big, and game text is short and to the point. I guess modern casual gamers can't be trusted with too complex a prose. There's even a freaking "quest pointer" ala Oblivion. Except it's taken to the next level. Not only does it show you which direction to go to, it even points exactly which doors to traverse! Maybe in BioShock 2 the game will walk automagically and you'll only have to shoot enemies as you coast along.

Like in SS2, the game does not end if you die. You respawn in a Vita Chamber. Except that this time the machines are far more frequent, do not require activation, cost nothing, and restore half of your health and mana. In SS2 it was often very inconvenient to die, and especially on hard/impossible it was preferable to load a saved game, but in BioShock it makes you effectively immortal. One has to wonder why bother with the respawning at all? Just have the player be in god-mode like the little sisters.

The artwork and story did nothing for me. I'd already read Rand's work a long time ago so seeing it butchered in a below-mediocre game was distinctly unimpressive. Thanks to the chaotic gameplay it's very hard to follow what exactly is going on at all, and listening to audio logs is a pain since there's almost always shooting going on.

The survival-horror element from SS2 is gone, for the above reasons. BioShock has a strong cartoony-arcadey thing going, kind of like Serious Sam.

What else? Well, there's the DRM. It works for some people, it doesn't for others. All I know is that my DVDRW has been failing a lot since I've installed SecuROM (which also comes with the demo?!)

The Bottom Line
BioShock is a terribly over-hyped shooter. What I wrote above just barely scratches the surface of what's wrong with it. IMO it's inferior to FEAR and the like. About as fun as Quake 4, I'd say. At first I thought I was just getting too old for this sort of stuff, so I fired up some older games I used to love (System Shock 2, Silent Hill 3, Psychonauts), but no, they're as good as they were then. I've finally realized that it's not me at all - BioShock is just a really bad game.

Windows · by dorian grey (243) · 2007

[ View all 17 player reviews ]

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German PEGI (uncut) Steelbook Cover Art Zerobrain (3053) Oct 15, 2010
Yikes. Indra was here (20768) May 16, 2009
They're doin' it for themselves Slug Camargo (583) Mar 21, 2009

Trivia

1001 Video Games

BioShock appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

German version

To ensure that the game wouldn't be put on the infamous list of BPjS/BPjM indexed games, 2k Games released a slightly modified version of the game and the Collector's Edition with only the German language on the disc in Germany. The changes include less blood, some changed cutscenes and no wounds on burned bodies. This version got rated "Not free for minors" by the German rating organisation USK.

Hacking

The hacking mini-game (which can be performed on a variety of devices including safes, security cameras, item dispensers, robots, etc.) is basically a slightly altered version of Pipe Dream.

Reception

According to Wall Street Journal Take Two's shares increased by nearly 20% after early favorable reviews of BioShock.

References

In Farmer's Market cantina, you can find a piece of cheese that resembles Pac-Man, even with the dots!

References to the game

BioShock was parodied in an episode of "Die Redaktion" (The Editorial Team), a monthly comedy video produced by the German gaming magazine GameStar. It was published on the DVD of issue 12/2007.

Soundtrack

On August 24, 2007 2K Games released a 12 track compilation with songs from the orchestral score composed by Garry Schyman. The compilation can be downloaded for free here: http://downloads.2kgames.com/bioshock/BioShock_Score.zip

One of the songs that were included on the Bonus EP in the Collector's Edition, was made by Moby. It's a remix of "Below the sea".

Water

2K Games had to hire a water programmer and a water artist to implement the pools and the pouring water around Rapture. This involved modifying the Unreal 3.0 engine to create realistic water effects.

Awards

  • Games for Windows Magazine
    • March 2008 - #4 Game of the Year 2007
  • GameSpy
    • 2007 – #2 Console Game of the Year
    • 2007 – #2 Xbox 360 Game of the Year
    • 2007 – #3 Game of the Year
    • 2007 – #3 PC Game of the Year
    • 2007 – Best Art Direction of the Year
    • 2007 – Best Sound of the Year
    • 2007 – Best Story of the Year
    • 2011 – #2 Top PC Game of the 2000s
    • 2012 – #2 Top PC Gaming Intro
  • Mac|Life
    • December 2009 - Editor's Choice Award

Information also contributed by Agent 5, Apogee IV, [bakkelun](http://www.mobygames.com/user/sheet/userSheetId,70962/), [Emepol](http://www.mobygames.com/user/sheet/userSheetId,12364/), [PCGamer77](http://www.mobygames.com/user/sheet/userSheetId,1717/), [Scott Monster](http://www.mobygames.com/user/sheet/userSheetId,35225/), [Sicarius](http://www.mobygames.com/user/sheet/userSheetId,70866/) and [WildKard](http://www.mobygames.com/user/sheet/userSheetId,16566/)

Analytics

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Related Games

BioShock 2
Released 2010 on Windows, Xbox 360, 2012 on Macintosh
BioShock: Remastered
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BioShock Infinite
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BioShock Infinite
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BioShock: Remastered
Released 2016 on Windows, 2017 on Macintosh
BioShock: Collection
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BioShock: Triple Pack
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BioShock 2: Remastered
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BioShock (Limited Edition)
Released 2007 on Windows, Xbox 360

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MichaelPalin.

OnLive added by firefang9212. iPad, iPhone, PlayStation 3 added by Sciere. Macintosh added by Zeppin.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Maw, Zeppin, Jason Strautman, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, FatherJack, firefang9212.

Game added August 23, 2007. Last modified February 19, 2024.