Review

BioShock Review (Xbox360)

The second most anticipated Xbox 360 title of 2007, Bioshock hits the funny bone of nearly everyone that touches it. This gold bar is everything that we expected and more. And less.


A perfect situation to get two enemies at once. Use the Enrage plasmid to make the Big Daddy attack the Splicers
There will be the occasional boss, but nothing to fret about. They too can fall for traps

Jack, the protagonist whose name we know only from a name written on a cutscene birthday present, begins the tale plane-wrecked in the middle of the ocean, saved only by a very well placed underwater city. Rapture is “where the artist would not fear the censor, where the great will not be constrained by the small, where the scientist will not be bound by petty morality.”

As an underwater abyss, the style of gameplay as an FPS remains surprisingly in large environments with many elements in it. Whether they be poorly lit with small ponds of water, or different types of enemies each vying for your head, each experience is a challenge unto itself.

One of the biggest ideals relayed about Bioshock was that no two situations will play out the same. So far, that has been flawlessly true. Replay a section and characters won’t be in exactly the same spot doing exactly the same thing. Anything can change what would have been an identical battle to a completely random situation.

But the idea isn’t to replay it and try again; it’s to do it better. Trying again is the issue. Vita chambers, Bioshock’s respawning system, allows players to come back to life without penalty a few seconds after death in a designated vita chamber, no questions asked. This may sound appealing, but it makes wanting to redo a situation a cumbersome task. Why bother when if mistakes are made, you can just pop up a ways back and be able to take on weakened enemies?

One could also ask why spend any less time in the game when it looks so gorgeous. Questions like ‘does it look better than Gears of War” should be tossed out immediately. Not a pixel is wasted, not an item untouched, not a character either gruesome or asking for additional bullet wounds.

The water effects are also amazing, though they tended to have some issues. Certain types of water don’t wash over the HUD, which makes you wonder whether it’s water at all. Depending on the type and the amount of water pouring out from whatever crevice it emerges from, it may or may not affect Jack.

Water, as if it weren’t obvious, plays a huge role in Bioshock’s gameplay as well as the plot. The first plasmid gained is the ability to fire electric bolts from your left hand. This comes in very handy to stun the baddies or, if they are grouped together in a flooded area, electrocute the water to enhance its potency and wreck anything in it.

Plasmids are a list of physical enhancements given based on several criteria. There are four types of plasmids, and seventy to choose from in all. However, there are only 24 (at the most) available slots and only so much Adam, the currency to buy plasmids, available to use.


Good use of hacked security bots can make gameplay plenty of fun
Using different types of ammunition will be more potent against certain enemies

This brings into effect one of the games biggest moral dilemma’s, to either save or harvest the only things that carry the much needed Adam. Known as Little Sisters, these children walk around Rapture taking Adam from the dead. Because Adam is the most essential commodity in the game, that choice becomes very difficult because of the differences in rewards.

Saving Little Sisters will yield half the amount of Adam as harvesting, but Dr. Tannenbaum, a prolific character who made the Little Sisters, will supply you with money, items, and even plasmids for saving them. The game also has two endings, so it isn’t too hard to guess which option will give which ending.

Getting a hold of these Little Sisters is no easy task, however, as each is protected by the ultimate enemy simply known as a Big Daddy. These guardians are armored from head to toe and are more powerful than anything else around. Taking one down is a difficult and time consuming process, but there’s no way around it if you want to progress through the game.

Other than Big Daddy’s are Splicers, genetically mutated people who have lost their minds, and security bots, which provide security for the lovely citizens of Rapture. While Splicers never get boring, possibly due to their continual obsession with ending your life, the security bots are always ready for new leadership. Sneak up on one or stun it and push the X button, then hack it for massive damage.

Once hacked, the security bot will in effect work for you. If it’s a stationary machine gun, any Splicers walking by will be shot on sight. Hovering bots will follow you, and security cameras will keep watch. Hacking can also be performed on vending machines (which sell the normal goodies, like ammunition, plasmids, weapons and health packs) and safes.

The downside to hacking is how much work it actually involves. While fun at first, it becomes a tedious chore to perform over and over again. It’s possible to buy the hack (which makes perfect sense) or to use an auto hack tool, but that and money are not exactly as abundant as human will for perfection. Still, playing Pipe Dream ten times every half hour is not something to look forward to.

Post World War Two weapons start off alright, but once you upgrade them, the real fun begins. At first, upgrading weapons seems like an afterthought. Previous games with such a function made each upgrade only a little better than the last version. Not so here. Upgrade a pistol’s number of rounds per reload and it jumps up from 6 to 24.

Something not spoken of much but that must be mentioned is that the storytelling is on par with independent films (as everyone knows, regular movies don’t have stories). Players who pride themselves on being able to decipher the story’s plot before the game’s end will get a rude awakening. Bioshock is simply levels above most other games in this respect. Using character tape memos and brief messages was an ingenious method to relay that story. Even though there are some loose strings, what game doesn’t have them?

Sadly, the difficulty settings are misplaced. Both the easy and medium settings are amazingly easy until the very end of the game, and even then the vita chambers make it almost not fun to play. On hard, however, intellect is required, and that means going head on against anything is out of the question. When taking out a Big Daddy is possible on medium with one shotgun and just strafing left and right is possible without taking damage, there’s a problem.

Audio was also a bit of an issue. While the music and sounds were magnificent, it was almost impossible to determine which direction footsteps or gunfire was coming from, even with full digital surround sound. Blasting it loud enough to overcome the jet engine that is the 360 didn’t help, and neither did having the neighbors call the police.


Everything in the level can be broken. Just don’t spend to much time burning all the books
Big Daddy’s are neutral until someone picks a bone with them. Don’t be surprised if they forgo entire firefights

As a single player only game, Bioshock is the first title to be fully worth the $60 it cost, and what an adventure it was. With an immersion factor of 11, only the list of minor bugs and annoyances kept it from a perfect score. Stay tuned for political arguments about killing little girls and fan boy arguments about whether it’s better than Half-Life or not.

Top Game Moment:
Beating an incredibly difficult boss with the unsuspecting help of an uninformed Big Daddy, and not having anything to do with it except for finishing them both off.

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Comments

By ANB (SI Newbie) on Dec 03, 2008
ANB
A Brilliant concept, shooting, thrill, scary and mind blowing graphics!!
still has to end this game......