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BioShock (Xbox 360)

Shock The Monkey!

The Good
Released in 2007, Bioshock, is the spiritual successor to the, System Shock, franchise. The series that helped re-define what a FPS could be. With such a storied past and all the critical accolades, can Bioshock live up to the hype?

I would like to note that, despite the fact that I finished Bioshock, about a year ago, I for some reason, had trouble articulating my thoughts on the game. Thus making a review an unlikely prospect. This being the first time that I have ever found myself in such a precarious position.

Anyhow, after a second play, taking the other path, I feel I am at last prepared for this review.

Bioshock begins when your plane crashes somewhere in the Atlantic ocean. Being the only survivor, you swim towards a beacon, before the suction pulls you under. Enter the bathysphere, and you are treated to a flyby of Rapture, or what is left of it anyway.(It reminds me of the flyby of Los Angeles in Bladerunner-MM-)

Built by megalomaniac Andrew Ryan, Rapture, is now decaying at the bottom of the sea after a genetic civil war. Ryan also is one of the few people still alive in Rapture, and interacts with you. One memorable scene involves meeting Ryan for the first time in person, and he is playing golf while his city burns.

You see first hand the brutality of the splicers, gain your first plasmid, and see a Big Daddy doing what they do best. At this point the game is very suspenseful, and invokes a sense of dread, much like it’s predecessors.

One of the first areas the medical pavilion, is very disturbing. Your encounter with Sander Cohen also stands out in my mind in overall creepy factor.

Bioshock even reuses the audio logs like in System Shock, and more recently in Doom 3. They are a nice touch and help flesh out the world of Bioshock, and it’s more that a little creepy to think that most of these people are dead, or in some cases will die by your hand. On one audio log in particular you actually hear the last moments of one the major characters.

Bioshock for all intents and purposes is a FPS. And while it has some RPG elements, it is by and large a FPS. Combat is simple and fairly effective. Using your plasmids in tandem with your firearms offers a sort of one-two punch. (Kinda like in Undying.-MM-) And there are a great deal of fire arms at your disposal. A pistol, shotgun, crossbow, and flamethrower among others.

There are also many plasmids. Some attack, like Electro Bolt, Some aid you such as Hypnotize Big Daddy. And there are also some that are passive, like cloak, and speedy hacker. All plasmids are purchased with Adam. And the only way to get Adam, is to get a Little Sister, which in turn are protected by Big Daddies.

A Little Sister is a genetic construct, little girls made to gather Adam, which they draw from dead splicers.(Some of Bioshocks’ creepiest moments are when watching a Little Sister draw Adam, and say, “I’m a good girl!”) To get the Adam they carry, you must take the Big Daddy. These hulking brutes were human…once. They have heavy fire power and resistance to damage, but can die. Once destroyed you can either Harvest the Little Sister, or Rescue her. Harvesting gains you more Adam, but rescuing them is the only way to accesses, some of the better plasmids, much as Hypnotize Big Daddy. Harvesting Vs. Rescuing also determines what alignment you have good or evil. And changes the ending.

The story moves along at a brisk pace, and there are few times where you stray from the main objective. There are however lots of secrets to uncover, and achievements to earn. Like collecting all the plasmids, or audiologs. Bioshock is also fairly lengthy for a FPS. Clocking in at about 25 hours, in your first play.

The graphics is Bioshock are amazing. One review on Moby claims, that you would have to be on drugs to appreciate the graphics. I don’t know what that means. Because the visuals are a sight to behold. Between the art deco design of Rapture, and the eerie look of the splicers, and the amazing lighting effects I don’t see how you could NOT like the graphics. You must play it on 1080p, if you have the means. The unreal engine never looked better.

The music is very good. From the original score to the real world songs form the 40’s and 50’s.

The sound effects are all good. From the gunshots to the plasmids, it all sounds great. But this pales in comparison to the voice work. The psychotic mumblings of the splicers is genius, and often disturbing. You see the splicers brains are so rattled that they say things from there past lives, such as, “Get the fuck out my office!” , “Jesus loves me.”( Christians are creepy.-MM-) and, “Go ahead leave me for that bitch!”

And all the main characters have good voices, and the dialog is well written which I feel is more important.

The Bad
Combat is way to frequent. There are only supposed to be a handful of people left in Rapture, yet by the games end you will have killed hundreds of them. The only positive side is that there is a good variety of splicers. Nitro, Leatherhead, etc.

Sometimes you will need to backtrack, say to use a vending machine, you go back to rooms that you just exited, and all the splicers are back.

This then leads to always needing ammo and health packs. And while it is rare that a splicer will be able to kill you, it is still very annoying. You are really better off avoiding any backtracking.

There are only two different paths, good or evil. And two endings, good or evil. There is not even a neutral path! Deus Ex had four different endings, yet Bioshock could only manage two, WTF?

Furthermore there are very few points in which you can change the outcome of an objective. There is really only one part in which you get to choose to kill a character or not kill them in the entire game.

The Bottom Line
At the end of the day Bioshock is worthy successor to the legendary System Shock series. In some ways it is actually surpasses those games. If you are a fan of FPS and have a PC or Xbox 360 you simply have to play this game. Seriously it’s required by law, or at least it should be. And well read gamers will certainly enjoy it even more.

By MasterMegid on August 18th, 2010

BioShock (Windows)

By MasterMegid on August 18th, 2010

BioShock (PlayStation 3)

By MasterMegid on August 18th, 2010

BioShock (Macintosh)

By MasterMegid on August 18th, 2010

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