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BioShock Review 439

Posted by Zonk
from the somewhere-across-the-sea-somewhere-waiting-for-me dept.
BioShock, the moody drama-driven FPS for the Xbox 360 and PC, was released last month to rave reviews from the major gaming news sites. Since then the internet has been ablaze with outcry about the game's high rating scores. It's hard to understand why. The work of Ken Levine and Irrational Games on the spiritual successor to System Shock 2 is sublime. It's incredibly atmospheric, the game's story is well written and compellingly told, and the first-person shooter gameplay is a respectable, tightly crafted experience. It's a really, really good game. I'll tell you now: it's a 5/5. So why all the angst? Why the backlash? Read on for my review of BioShock, and a few comments on the dangers of 'merely' being a good game.
  • Title: BioShock
  • Developer/Publisher: Irrational Games (2K Boston/2K Australia) / 2K
  • System:360 (PC)
  • Genre: RPG/ FPS Hybrid
  • Score: 5/5 - This game is a classic title. It transcends genre, is certain to be a part of many serious gamers' collections, and is definitely worth purchasing.
If you've been reading game sites at all in the last six months, you likely already know the gist of BioShock's unique twist on the old 'trapped in a scary place' storyline. As an unnamed protagonist you descend into the undersea realm of Andrew Ryan, a proponent of a belief system quite similar to Ayn Rand's objectivism with the serial numbers filed off. Proposing that man create his own future with the 'sweat of his brow', Ryan funds the construction of the undersea city of Rapture. Of course, things go horribly wrong. A genetics-altering substance called ADAM twists Rapture and her citizens into a madman's vision of perfection. The city's architecture and music are frozen in time by the deterioration of Ryan's society, and the result is one of the most cohesive, frightening settings I've experienced in a game. As the victim of a plane crash in the middle of the ocean, you have no choice but to brave the terrors of Rapture in hopes of - somehow - making it back to civilization.

The setting is gripping, but it's also the least of the player's worries. It can frighten, but the remaining citizens of Rapture - they can kill. And they'll kill cheerfully, too, all the while singing songs and muttering enthusiastically to themselves. These people are lumped together under the generic term 'Splicer', implying their extreme genetic modification. From low-powered thugs in masks through to fire-tossing, teleporting madmen, their strength when wielding a pipe is far outweighed by the impact they can leave on your nerves. Far more threatening than this group of variously-powered miscreants are the iconic monsters of the title: the Big Daddies. Acting as patrons for their ADAM-hording Little Sister companions, these creatures are just as tough as you've been lead to believe. While much of a given level involves stalking from room to room dealing with the slicer infestation, the most memorable moments you'll have probably come from one-on-one combat with the diving-suit clad behemoths. And they are completely memorable. Even taken out of context the Big Daddy is one of the creepiest enemies ever to grace a videogame. Everything, from their low groans, to their thudding footsteps, to their cries of rage when they attack, gets across to you that when you face down a Daddy it's 'for real.' Game on. I particularly like how, as they become more and more damaged, steam escapes the Daddy's suit. The implication seems to be that there's something deeply wrong under that helmet.

You're driven through the narrative by the whims of your mostly-unseen benefactor Atlas, who plays the part of the down-to-earth everyman paired with Ryan's soulless venture capitalist. He provides a great deal of information about Rapture's background ... but hints all throughout the game indicate Atlas may be more than he appears. The subtext of 'shades of grey' is laid on throughout the game. Though Ryan is clearly a madman you're given hints of his original intentions, which seem quite benign. Likewise (as has been highly publicized), the ghoulish Little Sisters can be either slain or saved as you desire. Nothing is as it initially appears in Rapture. This moral ambiguity never seems forced, but probably isn't everything the BioShock team hoped it could be. It's very enjoyable to have options, but you're not even making as dramatic a choice as the good and evil options in Knights of the Old Republic. Whether you're a sinner or a saint, you're going to end up at roughly the same place in the end. The great writing and characterization throughout the game stands up much better than any moral overtones.

That's extremely similar to System Shock 2, of course. In keeping with the spirit of that game, your ability to customize your avatar is expansive. There are actually four tracks of powerups to choose from: plasmids, physical tonics, engineering tonics, and combat tonics. While it might sound like you will be engineering a carefully constructed 'build', I found during the course of play that a particular style just emerged based on what I found most useful. Engineering tonics were the upgrades that most appealed to me, and so I made an effort to gain slots in that area. There are far more tonics than slots available, so even as you bump up your character's potential you'll never find yourself wanting for powers. Making use of these powers in the 'emergent gameplay' style is also equally effortless. While it sounds like work from the outside, when you're playing through the game encounters happen so quickly that you rarely have time to realize that you're doing cool stuff before it happens. That was another reason I particularly enjoyed engineering; emergent gameplay can even happen when you're not around. I regularly returned to an encampment I'd made out of hacked turrets to find that they'd been clearing the stage without me. All I had to do at that point was loot the corpses.

From a graphical and audio perspective, BioShock is a work of art. Rendered by the Xbox 360, the world of Rapture is awe-inspiring to behold. Everything looks so good, it's hard to point out any one thing in specific that stands above the rest. After playing the game, the best thing to do is try to pull out moments that stick with you: water as it slides over bare rock, the endless wood paneling of nicer spaces, disturbing altars lit only by an open flame, the obvious fury of a Big Daddy wreathed in flames. The sound design is the same way, with a combination of eerie vocal performances blending into a background of music that could really have come from the 40s. Every movement, every gesture in BioShock has an associated sound. From the 'clunk' of entering the hacking menu to the squeal of radio static when activating the Security Bullseye Plasmid, the sound experience in BioShock is equal to the task of rendering a world from the rich images on the screen.

All of these elements probably seem very familiar to veteran gamers, and they very well should. You've probably played a handful of games that had many elements similar to BioShock before. What sets this game apart and above other offerings, though, is the way the title brings it all together. There's almost nothing out of place here. There's no "but the story could have been better" or "the weapons didn't feel right", or "the enemies got boring" to mar the experience of playing this through for the first time. Is it the best game that will be released this year? Possibly. It's certainly the best FPS to be released since Valve's Episode One hit last year.

So where has all the hate come from? Why are there so many posts and protestations on message boards, all claiming that BioShock 'isn't all it was promised to be'? Even Zero Punctuation's analysis of the game (which you should really seriously check out because it's hilarious) takes some cheap shots at the game's purported low difficulty level. It's all for laughs, of course, but it shows up in the review because it's a common complaint among players. The issue is that the restoration capsules scattered throughout the game, which allow you to respawn right after your death, apparently remove the 'challenge' from the game. Others have said in response, "just don't play it that way, that's why there is a quicksave option." That also seems like a strange argument, because it's essentially telling someone they're 'playing wrong'. I don't really think anyone can play a game incorrectly.

Instead, look at it from the designer's point of view. What happens when you die in an FPS, normally? You reload from your last save. Why bother? Why not just respawn and get right back into the fight, ala the spirit world of Prey? Commenters then complain that it's easy because injured enemies on the level still have reduced health. By the same token, any resources you have expended in the fight up to that point (medkits, ammunition) are also still gone. To my mind, the vita-chambers are only there to make your play experience as seamless as possible, not to make it 'easy'. Ultimately, BioShock can be as hard as you want it to be. The variable difficulty rating along with several save options and the vita-chambers means that you can play through the game in a multitude of ways, with several 'steps' between simply easy, medium, and hard. BioShock is not a brief game, either, clocking in probably around 20-25 hours for most players. Anything that ensures you will move through the game as quickly as possible would (I think) be appreciated.

The real problem, I think, is that hype has made game players disappointed with games as they're actually delivered. When a game is unexpectedly good, we all marvel over the 'sleeper hit.' There comes a point in a game's marketing, though, when more hype is just too much. The result is that when the game is finally delivered, there's almost no way for the real product to match up with player expectations. After Halo 3 launches later this month, odds are there will be a lot of people in forums nitpicking the slightest flaw or perceived imperfection. The lesson, I think, is that as gamers we need to learn to manage our expectations. I'm really looking forward to Mass Effect, for example, but I don't think it's going to change my life. Really, what can we expect out of a game other than a few hours of enjoyment we might not otherwise have had? Just getting that much out of a game, I think, is a big win for the publisher, the developer, and (of course) the player.
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BioShock Review

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  • Why no mention? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:48PM (#20576041) Journal
    Why no mention of the copy protection or the limited number of times it can be installed?
    • Re:Why no mention? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Duffy13 (1135411) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:55PM (#20576173)
      Probably because it has no bearing on the quality of the actual gameplay. If it's a factor in whether or not you enjoy the actual game, that's what I like to call "a you problem".
      • Re:Why no mention? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sehlat (180760) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:35PM (#20576847)
        How do I put this delicately? Being treated as a "guest in Bubba's palace" by the invasive DRM is NOT a "you problem" if it spoils the gameplay. It's just as much a part of the game as the action, and a major reason why over the years, I've gone to games less and less for entertainment and fun.
      • No bearing? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:19PM (#20577523)
        When the installation will not even complete because it has to download a patch, that it refuses to install correctly thus making you go through the entire installation multiple times - then it has bearing. I was not able to play the first day I bought it because I spent the entire time debugging the installation issue and downloading DLL's (which it turned out in the end I did not need - the true problem was that doing a custom install where you choose you own section in the start menu to place the game).

        And of course general bugginess means the several crashes I've encountered lost an hour or two of play. That too has bearing.

        Gaming on Windows? Never again. This was the first time I had tried to return to that realm in years, and found I was not welcome there by the very software I bought for my own use.

        I loved the game, but it was only just marginally worthwhile to use it on Windows. I would not advise people to buy it unless it's on a console they already own.
      • Re:Why no mention? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @03:14PM (#20578423) Homepage Journal

        If it's a factor in whether or not you enjoy the actual game, that's what I like to call "a you problem".

        A review should cover the entire experience, and that includes the DRM. To make up a tortured example, if a movie's distributor is so terrified of people making copies that theaters have to agree to strip search everyone who sees the movie, yeah, that should be noted in any good review in addition to the quality of the film itself. Or to be less contrived, it's fair game for a theater review to note that, say, the theater is in a very dangerous neighborhood, or that you'll end up spending as much on parking or cab fare as on the tickets themselves. Similarly, if a game's installer fails on a large number of systems, rendering the game effectively unplayable, that should be mentioned in a review as well. The publishers included the DRM in the box and as part of the game, so it should get reviewed along with the game.

        • Re:Why no mention? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @03:28PM (#20578599)
          A review should cover the entire experience

          A review is a subjective thing that covers the REVIEWER'S experience. In this case, he played it on the XBox 360, where there are no DRM issues. And if he had installed it on a PC, and did not have any installation or DRM issues, then how can that factor in his experience with the game, either?
    • by ArchAngelQ (35053)
      Because he played it on the XBox360, from his review. It doesn't have the same problems, for obvious reasons.
    • unimportant (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150)
      That's not about the game, is it, that's about the copy protection, which is a whole other subject.

      While it is annoying, it has to be said that copy protection only got so nasty because of the virtually unrestricted internet sharing of games. We've all done it at some point or other, so we're all to blame.

      The argument 'but I just want to see what the games like' doesn't cut it either. I still know people who say that, but when it comes to my saying 'hey lets play a game online', I get an all too familiar, '
      • by HiThere (15173)
        You've got a short timeline. This has happened before, and the common element isn't the internet, it's the game companies thinking that they could make the games copy-proof. The result last time was that the copy protection got worse and worse until people stopped buying. (Also the copying technology got better...but that didn't matter, since those weren't the customers.)

        That was the period in which I basically quit computer gaming. I still haven't picked it up again with the same fervor. (OTOH, I play
      • by afabbro (33948)
        While it is annoying, it has to be said that copy protection only got so nasty because of the virtually unrestricted internet sharing of games. We've all done it at some point or other, so we're all to blame.

        Son, it was annoying and nasty back in the Apple ][ days.

    • Re:Why no mention? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:07PM (#20576421) Journal
      For those interested in this information, here is a link to the relevant section [wikipedia.org] of the Wikipedia article on Bioshock.
  • by genner (694963)
    PC version is horribly unstable even after installing the NVidia drivers that where Hot Fixed for the game.
    • by mcpkaaos (449561)
      I followed the link to the NVidia drivers suggested during installation, and saw they were a beta version. I decided to stick with 162.18 (for an 8800, so ymmv) and am having no issues at all with stability or performance. If you went with the beta drivers, you might consider rolling back and trying again.

      I hope you get it squared away. This really is a fun game (I am playing hooky from work today to play it, actually). Good luck!
    • PC version is horribly unstable even after installing the NVidia drivers that where Hot Fixed for the game.

      I think the problem is your PC is horribly unstable, not the game. Your issues could be any combination of faulty hardware, bad drivers or overheating hardware. So far I've gotten alteast 30 hours of gameplay out of Bioshock and I've yet to have a single crash. Obviously each person has a different experience, but I really don't think you can lay all the blame on BioShock. From my experience, Nvidia dr

  • by nehumanuscrede (624750) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:53PM (#20576135)
    I believe the issues folks are having with Bio-Shock has nothing to do with the gameplay or it's
    environment at all. Rather, the SecuRom DRM, the online activation and restrictive number of times
    it can be loaded on a PC.

    The console variants do not suffer from any of this, thus those folks would not have been exposed to it.

    I've long been of the mindset that if the console folks would wake up and give me a keyboard and / or a
    mouse / trackball interface, I would switch to consoles for all my gaming needs tomorrow.

    Just absolutely hate the controllers the consoles come with today :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zymergy (803632)
      See previous SLASHDOT article: http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/24/213256 [slashdot.org] Also, Valve's Steam Bio-Shock version also installs SecuROM wich you cannot easily uninstall in EITHER version. Need more info? Go here: http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl=en&safe=off&q=Copy+protection+%2BBioShock&btnG=Search [google.com]
    • I've long been of the mindset that if the console folks would wake up and give me a keyboard and / or a mouse / trackball interface, I would switch to consoles for all my gaming needs tomorrow.

      Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3, will have mouse/kb support in order to keep its old hardcore fanbase happy and hopefully the trend will continue. For what its worth though, they took the copy protection right out of the last PC UT game so I doubt that the PC port is going to exactly redefine evil.

      My PS3 is the first console I've had since my childhood SNES, and being a PC gamer I've also had a little bit of trouble getting used to the Playstation's FPS controls. With Sony's dual analogue control schema (left

    • by 0111 1110 (518466)
      Also a large but high resolution (higher than 1080P) monitor (like a Dell 24"/30"), some possible stereo3D display options (including auto-stereoscopic LCDs and HMDs), and more complex/mature games targeted for older gamers would also be nice. Also being able to download demos or cracked games before buying them to make sure their worth buying. Oh and an Nvidia-like upgrade cycle of improved graphics every Nov/Dec.
  • It's OK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:53PM (#20576149) Homepage Journal
    I have it on the 360. Not a bad game but they should really have called it "System Shock 3: Underwater Metropolis". There's a terrible sense of "been there, done that" with this game. Yeah, it's a successor to SS2 but there's no shortage of ammo, things are easy to hack, it's not creepy like SS2 was... In short, I'll be replaying SS2 before replaying Bioshock.
    • Re:It's OK (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NFNNMIDATA (449069) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:03PM (#20576339) Journal
      SS2 was great and I would love to play it again, but this game is an order of magnitude creepier. I still haven't finished it because after a while I have to stop playing and reacquaint myself with reality.
      • Agreed. I often find myself peaking around corners (in game) because hear a splicer muttering. The maniacal laughter still give me the creeps.
      • by Fweeky (41046)
        I found SS2 a lot creepier. I made my way through BioShock without a single big jumpy moment or any sense of wanting to get through a section quickly because it was fucking scary being there. SS2 had oodles of those. Maybe I'm just older and harder to scare.

        That's not to say it's not a good game, it's just.. shallower than I would have liked.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fm6 (162816)

        I still haven't finished it because after a while I have to stop playing and reacquaint myself with reality.
        Huh? Do we live in the same reality? Mine is much more creepy than any game!
    • Re:It's OK (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bongo Bill (853669) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:49PM (#20577061) Homepage
      If the worst thing that can be said about a game is that it is too much like System Shock 2, then that means it is an excellent game. Complaining about that seems to be like saying, "Man, I wish this candy weren't so delicious."
    • I have issues with the game, creepiness isn't one of them. It does the job quite well in that regard and basically comes down to a matter of individual taste. Now, where the game does suffer is it's obscenely pathetic difficulty factor. Pretty much every aspect of the game is streamline and easified (yeah, it's not a word, so what). That makes it a nice 1 time play through, but ultimately hurts it in the replay factor.
    • In short, I'll be replaying SS2 before replaying Bioshock.

      And Deus Ex?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by geeknado (1117395)
      I absolutely loved SS2(and SS, for that matter), and I'd suggest that the difficulty has become easier with each new game. This actually probably correlates rather nicely with the volume sales of those games-- SS wasn't anything like the hardest game I've played, but it had some pretty baroque systems unless you like your hacking modelled in a Lawnmower Man-esque 3D environment. It was a great game, but the FPS genre wasn't exactly refined in 1994, nevermind the weird hybrid that is the Shock series.

      However

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Emetophobe (878584)
      You should check out this hilarious video review [escapistmagazine.com] of Bioshock. He starts off by showing how BioShock isn't like System Shock 2, it *IS* System Shock 2. He then proceeds to tear the game to shreds by pointing out the numerous flaws. He still said it's the probably the best game of the year, and I'd tend to agree. But that isn't saying much considering the (lack of) competition.

      I thought the theme, sound, story and art direction were fantastic. The only downside I noticed was how repetitive and how horribly ea
  • It takes some getting used to (and i've been an FPS'er since the very first one)

    Items can be hard to find sometimes... Set the difficulty to medium... I would have no idea how it would be possible to beat it on expert... the big guys that protect the little girls would be impossible.

    It is a bit overwhelming at first, as there is a lot at your command all at once, and there is a small lack of in game tutorial, which you will understand with experience playing, so no big loss there.

    With th
    • I found the best way to handle the big daddies is to pile up a bunch of explosive barrels and lure them towards you. Either use a target dummy or shock them when they're close. Shoot the barrels and you can drop them with a few shots of armor piercing rounds.
      • by DeionXxX (261398)
        My love for this game stems from this post... the fact that, the parent's post is an option, one of many to deal with these enemies, is awesome. I fight big daddies all the time just for fun, then reload of course because it take a billion rounds of ammo.

        My favorite so far was in the second level, I believe, when I snuck underneath these grates you could walk on. I proceeded to kill Splicers and a big daddy by shooting them through the grates. The AI was pretty smart though and would shoot back through t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Emetophobe (878584)

      the big guys that protect the little girls would be impossible.

      Are you serious? The Big Daddies were a joke. Sure they had lots of hit points, but their fighting technique was easy to figure out and exploit. Once you get the freezing plasmid, you can keep Big Daddies frozen indefinitely while you shoot at them or hack away at them with your wrench.

      Even though the game was easy, like walk in the park easy, it was still really fun and I'm glad I bought the PC version. The story is awesome and it's one of the

  • by SEAL (88488) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:59PM (#20576251)
    Bioshock was definitely overhyped in my opinion. The atmosphere and art direction were good, no doubt. But gameplay was nothing new from other first person shooters. In fact, I'd say it was even more limited than System Shock 2 or Thief. Stealth as an option? Not really. You pretty much had to fight your way through the game. There were no conversations with decisions to make (ala Fallout). Just recorded conversations you could pick up through the game much like the goofy notes found in No One Lives Forever. There was very little interaction in the game other than combat. No vehicles. Not much in the way of object interaction, either.

    Also a much hyped feature was the ability to create your own items like ammo. Well... not really. It was just a collect-the-crap thing that allowed you to sort of unlock extra ammo. It wasn't on the level of, say, the spellbuilder in the Elder Scrolls series.

    Finally, there were a lot of plot discrepancies and things that pulled me out of the storyline. Like if I were a plane crash survivor, discovering this underwater city, why would I just inject myself with a syringe I found on a table? There are a lot of things like that which caused the game to simply fall back into the vanilla FPS genre. I find it comparable to Heretic / Hexen, with modern graphics.

    The work they did was definitely polished but it's disappointing because there is SO MUCH MORE they could've done with the storyline and gameplay.
    • by orclevegam (940336) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:22PM (#20576651) Journal

      Stealth as an option? Not really. You pretty much had to fight your way through the game.

      If you mean stealth as in sneaking through levels without killing anything, then yes, that's not really an option. If however you meant being able to sneak around a take people out without being seen, then that is most definitely an option, and the way I've found myself playing. Ever since I got the camo tonic and a couple of the wrench power ups, I use stealth kills and the wrench almost exclusively. Nothing quite like sneaking up on a splicer and one shotting them with a wrench, or even better, sneaking up on a security camera and hacking it.

      As for the ammo creation, yeah, that was kind of lame, but all in all, kind of understandable. If this had been an MMO, then conceivably they could have allowed you to randomly toss components together and see if it makes something useful (destroying the components in the process), but being a FPS with a somewhat limited playtime and therefore component count, it would have been just wasteful and frustrating to players to take that route. Players would just take the easy way ultimately and download a crafting guide telling them exactly what combinations made what which would potentially unbalance the game by allowing the crafting of very powerful items early in the game.

      What I think they did a brilliant job of was setting up the atmosphere and providing enough interesting interactions between items to allow players different styles of play. I was quite surprised recently to discover for instance that the trap bolts can be used to take out security bots. A friend of mine also shared his approach to taking down big daddies (apparently tossing a barrel at them can take about half their health in one shot), which was something I hadn't even thought of.

      There is a lot of depth to this game, but you need to know where to look. Enjoy it for what they did good on, and not necessarily what the hype lead you to believe it was going to deliver. Having not read any of the hype (well, I read some of what PA said about it) before I bought it, I'm thoroughly enjoying the game. I've also found the PC version to be fairly stable, even though I have had it lock up on me once (no blue screen, it just froze, think it may be a overall stability problem though as I had a problem in another game as well).

    • "I find it comparable to Heretic / Hexen, with modern graphics."

      This statement alone should negate anything before it. Heretic / Hexen had no story and the atmosphere was mediocre at best. BioShock has an intriguing story that leaves me anxious for each tape. I've found myself trying to figure out how each faction fits in this manufactured society. People are left to their own ends with the one rule; capitalism above all else. Just about anything is allowed as long as you do not interfere with commerce
      • No way Hexen ROCKED. When I was a mere youngen, My brother and I convinced our mom that the computer needed "HEXEN Drivers" to run faster. We told her it was a common tweak to boost colors on the monitor, and make the video work better. 8')

        Oh, the video worked after that!

    • by glindsey (73730)

      Like if I were a plane crash survivor, discovering this underwater city, why would I just inject myself with a syringe I found on a table?

      This is addressed later in the game. After all, why would you climb into a mysterious bathysphere in the first place? Wouldn't you hang out at the lighthouse, figuring somebody will eventually find you because, heck, it's a lighthouse?

      Nah, the reasons for those seemingly implausible actions make perfect sense once all the pieces fit together.

    • SPOILER DON'T READ IF NOT PLAYED TO THE END






      SPOILER DON'T READ IF NOT PLAYED TO THE END





      YOU WERE WARNED !!!!!!







      Finally, there were a lot of plot discrepancies and things that pulled me out of the storyline. Like if I were a plane crash survivor, discovering this underwater city, why would I just inject myself with a syringe I found on a table? There are a lot of things like that which caused the game to simply fall back into the vanilla FPS genre. I find it comparable to Heretic / Hexe
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SaxMan101 (412679)

      Like if I were a plane crash survivor, discovering this underwater city, why would I just inject myself with a syringe I found on a table?
      Would you kindly play the fucking game? This bit is explained in the story.
  • It is a good game, not sure it's a 5 out of 5 though. AI is pretty stupid. An upgraded shot gun + wrench = easy victory in most cases. Even when they where like 5 or 6 enemies at once they never did anything that surprised me.

    In a way I wish you were at Rapture right when things went wrong so you could talk to other people, build the story more in-depth [as in be more a part of itvs. just listening to tapes), etc.

    The one thing that I did like is when they had the chimes before a commercial/annou
    • by Surye (580125)
      I've read things about this game being Take Two's new hit franchise. Expect sequels and prequels to develop the world of Rapture more.
  • by kturner (1154521) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:04PM (#20576367) Homepage

    "The real problem, I think, is that hype has made game players disappointed with games as they're actually delivered. When a game is unexpectedly good, we all marvel over the 'sleeper hit.'"


    Hence the outstanding success and praise of games like Gears of War. Granted, GoW had its own following of hype before the release, but nothing like how Mass Effect and Halo 3 are at the moment.

    With GoW, gamers all around expected it to be a good game, but never quite had that "OMG! I'LL DIE IF I DON'T GET THIS!" feeling until after it was released and everyone realized how well made it was.

    Yet, with Halo 3, we have the popularity of the series plus the teaser of a multiplayer beta pumping steroids into every fanboy's wet dreams. You made a great point in predicting how critical people will be with the game, but that's to be expected. We're human, we live in our minds and hope for the absolute best.

    BioShock is an amazing game, even if it is considered easy to most gamers.
    Making the low difficulty level is purposely done to help entice new FPS users. Also, so you don't end up with a controller lodged in your television.
    • by nege (263655)
      "Making the low difficulty level is purposely done to help entice new FPS users."

      Yes I agree, and I am one of those. I haven't purchased an FPS in 3 years because I am generally terrible at them, but the opportunity to play one that had this level of polish and style meant I couldn't refuse. I still had to turn the default difficulty down a click though. Yea I know, I'm such an FPS noob. But I think its this quality that appeals to a large swath of xbox owners, and not just hardcore FPS-ers.
  • Hyped too far? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Allicorn (175921) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:04PM (#20576371) Homepage
    Your point about the hype is well made. This game was hyped to all hell with hyperbole like "revolutionise the genre" and such being bandied around. I suspect that rather a lot of slashdotters (myself included) tend to immediately raise the review bar when something is hyped as hard as BioShock was.

    In terms of answering your question of why some folks have complained about overly superlative reviews:

    There are invisible walls everywhere, many of them extremely obvious.

    There are a a multitude of doors that are locked but mysteriously unlock at precisely the moment that the current radio-message-from-an-NPC that you're listening to actually finishes.

    Regards much vaunted "moral choice" aspect - do I harvest or rescue the little sisters? I have to say that after being locked into a windowed box and forced to watch an exposition of exactly how extremely tough the "big daddies" are, right at the start of the game, then being told by some random radio voice whom I have no reason to trust that "you need to kill big daddy and this small child he's protecting in order to take her "Adam", (which appears to mean basically drinking her blood) my response was to just avoid them completely. This produces, just before you try to exit a level, a preposterous peice of fourth-wall-exploding nonsense - a dialog box pops up and tells you "you haven't either rescued or harvested any little sisters on this level - you should go back and do this otherwise the game will be very difficult later on". I mean - seriously - this is what counts for great writing these days? You give me a situation where I appear to have a free choice on how I react to the events you put infront of me and then when I come to what appears to me to be the completely reasonable conclusion that screwing with "big daddy" is a lot of trouble for no recognizable value you tell me "no, you're not playing it right!". Give me a break!

    Now, I'm not saying there aren't some worthy things about BioShock. Graphics are obviously fairly awesome, there's a good variety of equipment and environmental toys to play with, but on the whole I don't think it lives up to the hype.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      This produces, just before you try to exit a level, a preposterous peice of fourth-wall-exploding nonsense - a dialog box pops up and tells you "you haven't either rescued or harvested any little sisters on this level - you should go back and do this otherwise the game will be very difficult later on".

      That might make sense as a tutorial message -- does it really do this on every level? Yikes.

      I've only played the demo, but I'm having a hard time seeing a really hard moral decision about the little sisters.
    • Re:Hyped too far? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by glindsey (73730) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:40PM (#20576923)

      in order to take her "Adam", (which appears to mean basically drinking her blood)
      If you Harvest them, sure, it might mean that; we honestly don't know since they black out the screen for the sake of civility. But if you Rescue them, you essentially "lay hands on them" (not that way, you pervert) and release them from their hypnotic state.

      You give me a situation where I appear to have a free choice on how I react to the events you put infront of me and then when I come to what appears to me to be the completely reasonable conclusion that screwing with "big daddy" is a lot of trouble for no recognizable value you tell me "no, you're not playing it right!". Give me a break!
      I also like playing RPGs keeping all of my characters at experience level 1 and equipped with tattered rags and a wooden sword. Experience points have no recognizable value.

      Come on -- while it's true that the "you haven't rescued/harvested all the Little Sisters" dialog box is fourth-wall shattering and could've been done better, the game is essentially trying to remind you "hey, there's more XP to be earned on this level that you might have missed" (since the Big Daddy/Little Sister encounters are more or less random save for those first few). Now perhaps they could've done it with a radio announcement from Atlas, and perhaps they could've given you an option to shut off reminders, but I saw the popup as a helpful reminder when I hadn't hit START to check if I'd rescued all the Little Sisters.

      If things that niggling jar you out of suspension of disbelief, I'd imagine you'd rather keep track of your remaining health in your head, or have to physically open your weapon to examine how much ammo is remaining, because having meters up there on the screen "break the fourth wall" too much.

    • Moral choice (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jabbrwokk (1015725)
      Good point about the moral choice thing. There are many other games that have offered morality choices with bigger consequences than "should I kill or rescue a little girl."

      I still can't forget the effort it took -- in game and in my own mind -- to willfully corrupt my party members in Knights of the Old Republic to the Dark Side. Or the things you can do in Planescape: Torment to change your alignment and the effect it has on your party members. Even Arcanum offered a wide variety of moral choices and t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sammy baby (14909)

      I have to say that after being locked into a windowed box and forced to watch an exposition of exactly how extremely tough the "big daddies" are, right at the start of the game, then being told by some random radio voice whom I have no reason to trust that "you need to kill big daddy and this small child he's protecting in order to take her "Adam", (which appears to mean basically drinking her blood) my response was to just avoid them completely. This produces, just before you try to exit a level, a prepost

  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:15PM (#20576535)
    ...but after one playthrough I shelved it and I really doubt I'll every try it again.

    As much as there are a few neat gimmicks (plasmids etc.) and one interesting plot twist, the experience was in my opinion ruined by a complete sense of claustrophobia in terms of player choices: I haven't played in so long a game where you are so railroaded in doing a, then b, then c with absolutely NO flexibility whatsoever (invisible walls and locked doors abound). That and the crappy AI of your opponents (honestly, the mobs were as intelligent as the ones in doom in my experience) makes for a very, very, very boring experience.

    I started playing on normal difficulty, but about 1/3rd of the way through I switched to easy so I could just get over with it, since it was boring me to tears to have yet another errand to do (listen to this, do that, go there, etc.) before being allowed to go to the next level. I really wish I could have my $49 back.

    Technically the game has run great for me (without upgrading the nvidia drivers, I have a 7900gto), no crashes, no bugs, just perfect, but it was not even 10% as good as the original system shock, which in my opinion was a masterpiece, and much more so than the blah-ish system shock 2 and, even worse, bioshock: the 95%+ review scores are way out of line, this game is maybe an 80%, heck, I had more fun playing Prey than bioshock, and pray had way worse reviews.
  • by Belgand (14099) <belgandNO@SPAMplanetfortress.com> on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @01:50PM (#20577073) Homepage
    Frankly it wasn't over-hyped to me. I mean, yeah, there was a lot of hype, but for me the game was sold as soon as it was announced. I was a huge fan of System Shock when it was first released and while I had issues with System Shock 2 initially it was a really great game as well. Deus Ex just continued the winning streak for this loose group of games. Bioshock, though, is where they dropped the ball.

    First off is the fact that it all feels dumbed down for a console audience looking for fast, simple gameplay with a few nods to complexity and story thrown in. There's no inventory so everything is just thrown up on your screen like any other shooter. No stats, because everything is handled through the plasmids. In fact, just about everything that would normally be mapped to a sub-screen is now handled in a very limited fashion by wall-mounted consoles (e.g. gun upgrades, plasmids, invention, etc.).

    The game is far more linear and yes, the Vita-Chambers do make it too easy. From a console/FPS point of view getting back in the action might be desired, but this isn't a deathmatch here. Dying should feel like it has some consequence. SS and SS2 both had regen machines, but they never felt cheap or easy because there was only one per level and you had to go out and find it and activate it first. As a result dying was a concern. Until you activated the regen there was real tension and once you did, it meant that you weren't totally out of it and back to your last save, but you'd still have to trek across the entire level through hordes of enemies and with very little ammunition. Not just pop out of the chamber and go back to shooting the same enemy.

    It's not a terrible game. The graphics are pretty (albeit, on a PC running at Maximum settings, not that much better than what we've gotten used to in recent years) and the setting and theme are novel and interesting even though the art direction seems to have stolen a page from Fallout more often than not. It's just that it was heavily hyped and arrived to glowing reviews when really it's more of a 7/10 sort of game. It's a low point for the series where they tried to transition into a simpler console audience and treated the PC version as the port rather than the other way around. I guess if this is the first game in the series you've ever played it might seem great, but if you've been along since the start then you'll know that it's just no match for it's deeper forebears.
  • A game can't have any combination of hype, good reviews, and positive buzz without the droves of internet hardcore gamers getting sand in their collective vaginas about it and going off about how it's "overhyped".

    Overhyped, underhyped - it's the same game when you're playing it.

    If a game like Bioshock - and its subsequent success - doesn't make you glad to be a gamer, then nothing will. Whether or not you even enjoy the game, it's easy to see how most would - and it's exactly the kind of original, thought-
  • by Charcharodon (611187) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:12PM (#20577381)
    I never understood why my Dad always hated the movies I liked as a kid, well now that I'm his age I understand completely. It is becoming rarer and rarer that I see a movie that is truly original or revolutionary and sadly, entertaining to me.

    I think gaming is finally starting to suffer from the same thing. To the typical new gamer Bioshock may seem like a wonderful, revolutionary game, but to be honest other than the graphics there is nothing in the game that I haven't in a dozen games over the last 15 years I've been playing then on the PC. It's not a bad game, but it's no 10 out of 10, at least not from where I'm sitting.

    P

  • We've all seen a million reviews like this, and those of us that don't trust them, because of the buzz on the Internet and Usenet, some of which is nonsense, but most of which is based on facts about the game, are not going to suddenly trust yours, because you're Zonk.

    Just what are you trying to add to the debate? A testimonial? Are you giving free testimonials for 2k now?

    Because that's what your review really adds up to. You should ask for compensation from their advertising department.

    --
    Toro
  • My small beefs 4/5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Foo2rama (755806) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @02:40PM (#20577875) Homepage Journal
    I see the game as a 4/5 it is not perfect or particularly pushing any boundaries.

    AI
    Non existent the see you they chase you, you are behind them or over a certain distance they have no idea you are there.

    Plasmids
    At this time there is no reason to really ever use anything other then the electrical plasmid and sometimes the telekinesis plasmid. This system should have been genre changing see level and monster design for more info. The telekinesis plasmid should be as great and as effective as the physics gun in HL II but ends up being a poor imitation. If I pick up a table or a metal object why is it not an effective bullet shield?

    Level Design
    You would think that the level design would force and encourage the use of other plasmids some levels the ice or fire would be more effective, then just using the electrical one. This would have been a great way to encourage the use of other plasmids. Physics puzzles for bonuses anyone? HLII used physics puzzles effectively, and so far no one has done it. Bioshock has the mechanic to do it but strangely did not.

    Monster Design
    For the most part there are 5 monster types in the game that just gain more power or a few abilities to make them more difficult. This would have been the easiest way to make the plasmid system way more effective some monsters have different resists. Why are there only 2 variants of Big Daddies? There is no technique or skill needed to kill them they are just damage tanks, put enough damage into them and they die. Why do they not have different weaknesses on different levels? Why does level design not encourage anything more then a run and gun to kill them?

    What was done right
    Great looking game, with a great story arch. The game feels very non-linear (while it is.) Sound and VO is excellent. The over all art direction is unparalleled in FPS's. Oh and a blast to play! Which is the most important. Do not get me wrong Bioshock is a great game, but they set out to change the way FPS's are done with the plasmid system and just did not fully realize the implications of this feature set.
  • I've been playing it for a couple of hours, and it seems ok, even though the linearity pissed me off at the beginning. Only gripe I have is that it seems very similar to SS2, from all the ghosts banging doors, vendor machines, self modifying, hacking and down to even the recordings left around by the denizens. It seems so SS2:ish, that I wouldn't even be surprised if the guy sending me messages and helping me along turns out to be Andrew Ryan (which was the plot in SS2)!

    Sure, it's supposed to be the spirit
  • by All Names Have Been (629775) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @03:01PM (#20578231)
    This thing is WAY over-hyped. The best thing it has going for it is the scenery and overall atmosphere, which are simply awesome. Beyond that, it's just a first person slog-fest. Despite claims to the contrary, there is no choice in the game. There is a fixed path you have to follow, invisible walls, locked doors, the whole cliched bit. You can't even choose to not interact with the little sisters - you're FORCED to make a choice between letting them go and harvesting them. Creating your own ammo and gadgets from parts found in the game? - boring and only semi-useful. Hacking? - Let's just say I'll never do this again if I ever replay it. Way, way repetitive. Auto-hack tool FTW. Hell, you only need aiming skill until you get telekinesis - then you're pretty much set. You hardly even need ammo after this point - just toss bodies around (which is admittedly, fun to do.) There is little replay value, the big boss fight is laughably easy, the "ending" painful to watch, and everything from beginning to end so damn predictable and trivial to master it .... well, it's fucking pathetic, let's leave it at that.
  • by diseasesofseamen (816416) on Thursday September 13, 2007 @12:40AM (#20584029) Homepage
    ...and I'm here to ask you a question.

    Is a man not deserving of enjoying a good PC game without being thought a shallow tool?

    No, says the gaming industry. Only the crap sells.

    No, says Roger Ebert, no game can be art.

    No, says half the posters in this thread, you're a lackey of SecuROM.

    I rejected these answers. Instead, I came up with something different. I chose... HAPPINESS.

    HAPPINESS. A state where we enjoy good games when they come along, which is rare. Where the gamer is not bound by an understandable but crippling nostalgia for old LGS games. Where great design is not belittled to death.

    And with the sweat of your brow, HAPPINESS can become your state as well.

    So for those still seeking out the gaming utopia you seem so fondly to desire, would you kindly go jump in the ocean, or better yet, make a better game.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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