BioShock Review

Oh, BioShock… The last year or so you’ve been called the next big game by many journalists and gamers, won numerous awards at conventions and events, and spawned a day or two of nothing but BioShock related discussion on many game-related message boards. All of this, and you weren’t even out yet! For a game without the huge name recognition (Halo, Mario, Metal Gear, etc.) that’s quite an amazing feat. Know what’s even more amazing? It delivers on all of the hype.

I was a little worried at first, because the first hour or two of the game really gave no indication that BioShock is anything other than a good looking generic shooter. Just as I was wondering what would happen if I were the first person to give BioShock a non-awesome score, things picked up, and I knew I didn’t have to worry any longer, and that I was in for a hell of a ride.

Unlike a lot of games, BioShock isn’t successful because of the gameplay; it works because of the narrative and atmosphere. Judging the action and combat alone, it really isn’t that great of a game. Sure, the plasmids (basically genetic weaponry you equip) are a lot of fun, and some of them are entertaining to use, but there’s nothing too original, and most people will just stick with the basic few plasmids and weapons needed to get through most of the game. Much like Halo and Gears, what Bioshock does right isn’t necessarily what it contains, but rather how it packages it all together better than anyone else.

The mix of the 1960s idea of sci-fi with retro environments which would fit in Fallout 3 add a lot of nice touches to the overall game. In a move I absolutely love, almost all of the story is gathered via audio recordings, or what’s basically radio chatter (like MGS, but without the big screen). It’s hard to explain, but there’s just something fun about listening to a recording about how someone went crazy and killed/maimed/tortured/abandoned/mutated X amount of people in the room you’re in. The lights flicker, you hear strange sounds and quickly spin around on full alert… It’s just great.

Like I said, though, the combat and general gameplay really aren’t anything you’re going to go apeshit over. (Assuming you play a decent number of games, that is.) Most of the action is pretty basic stuff, and even the biggest enemies in the game require little strategic planning to beat, thanks to the fact that there’s absolutely no penalty at all for dying other than a short walk back to where you fell.

I must admit, though, "2K Boston" did do a great job at giving you freedom to play how you want by allowing plasmids and tonics (they give you nice abilities like hacking faster, emitting static if you get hit, etc.) and giving you the option to change what you have equipped at many points throughout the game. If you pay attention to what each can do, you can also come up with some nice 1-2 punches which are very effective throughout most of the game. Hopefully people take advantage of that and have fun with it.

You know what, though? The fact that BioShock doesn’t bring a lot of new gameplay elements to the table really doesn’t matter. When you’re fighting a Big Daddy or two with security cameras you hacked all around you, you won’t care that the weapon selection is pretty generic, or that you’ll likely end up using a few plasmids for most of the game except for when puzzles or areas require the use of another one. When you’re stuck in a dark room while Ryan tells you what he’s going to do to you as splicers bang on the walls and door, you won’t care that there’s no death penalty, and the game can be beaten without any fear of ultimately losing.

BioShock is all about placing yourself in a wonderful, heavily detailed environment filled with memorable characters, cool enemies, and creepy atmospheres reminiscent of an HP Lovecraft tale. If you’re looking for another run ‘n gun game to play while you chug down a few Cokes, you’ll probably be better off not picking BioShock up. If you want a good game you can play in the dark, immerse yourself in, and love well-crafted plots and great writing, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go get BioShock tomorrow morning. (Unless you don’t have the money – that’s a good reason). It’s exactly what we all said it would be, and that’s a very rare feat to accomplish.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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