Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BioShock Review

Game:  BioShock
Year:  2007
Company:  dev.  Irrational Games et al.
            pub.  2K Games
Engine:  Unreal Engine 2.5 and 3 (modified)
Type:  First Person Shooter (some horror and  RPG elements)
What I Paid:  $20 the first time (Best Buy)
            $5 the second time (Halloween sale on Steam)
Game Time: about 20 hours


The game starts in 1960 with your plane crashing in the middle of the ocean.  Luckily, there is a building there, with an elevator of sorts.  You are transported to a city under the sea, Rapture, seperate from any government or religious influence.  A place where a man is entitled the sweat of his brow.  You arrive in the middle of a genetically-enhanced rebellion, and you become a pawn in the uprising..  A mid-game twist explains the main character better than a Shyamalan flick.  There are two endings, depending on how you treat little girls.

General Comments

This game is visual beauty.  REAL-TIME WATER REFLECTION EFFECTS.  And a whale!   
The good ending incorporates game-generated material with real video footage.
Why does this have survival-horror elements?  Well, for much of the game, ammo is a bit scarce.  There are creepy little girls with glowing eyes, and people with hooks that crawl on the ceiling, also, occassionally ghosts. 
Why does this have RPG elements?  There is a (limited) inventory system, some flexibility in weapon upgrades, and different avenues of genetic splicing upgrades..


There is a score that helps at key points in the plot.  There are also jukeboxes that play music to enhance the atmosphere/era.  Audiotape journals found throughout tell the story.

What is Unique?

Players can attempt to hack anything electric, which starts a non-shooter mini-game.  Sucess opens locks, accesses uncommon vending machine items, or will turn turrets/cameras in to allies.  Failure makes hurt go, "Ow!"
The most unique things are the complex story and the amazing water graphics.


Every non-wrench weapon has three ammo types.  For example, the machine gun has standard rounds, anti-personnel rounds (better against people) and anti-armor rounds (better against machines).  Scattered "Power To The People" upgrade stations can each be used once to increase a chosen weapon effectiveness.

Genetic splicing gives the player a range of super powers that don't use ammo, but something called Eve.  You can shoot ice, fire, lightning, toss objects around,summon bees... there's some variety here.  Like ammo types, different enemies are weak or strong against different attacks.

Many plasmids are not "attack spells", but help with hacking, nutrition, damage reduction, etc.  So, some are always on, and other happen per click and use Eve.  Capeesch? 

Final Thoughts

I gave this game away after I played it the first time, because I discovered that only using the wrench, with power-ups, makes everything cake.  Also, I could not see well enough to fully appreciate the phenomenal water effects.  So, if you're going to play this, try to NOT use only the wrench, and it will be more challenging and fun.  It really is a very attractive game from 2007.  If you're still reading and at all interested watch the first six minutes or so of the game in this video (the last four minutes in this are not necessary)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgDEh3UN404  

A sequel came out in the last few months, returning to the underwater city.  BioShock 2 contains DLC, mostly for the platforms.  PC players currently cannot play some of the DLC, but programmers, we are told, are working on it.  Reviewers give it good scores, and it's only thirty bucks for the base game.  I have heard (not read, because I haven't looked in to it yet) that the sequel is not beatable if the player has any color blindness.  If so, that counts me out.

Anyway, the original is a decent game.  It won some game of the year awards, and I'm not sure it's THAT good, but it's not bad.  You want something to do for a week or so, give it a shot.