Review by prophet_of_cool
"One ticket to Rapture please!"
To be honest, when I first played the demo for Bioshock, I really wasn't very impressed with what I was seeing; extremely run of the mill FPS gameplay with unfulfilling combat and dull enemy design. However, several months later I got the full game, and believe me when I tell you to not judge this game by the demo. Bioshock isn't a game in the typical sense, at first glance it comes across as a very pretty FPS, but that doesn't seem like the point. Bioshock delivers a world that just seems so real that if explored the sea long enough, you would find Rapture down there somewhere. Even though the world is fiction, it somehow manages to suck you in from start to finish and keeps you hooked with every step.
I'm going to keep this brief, as it is one the best things about the game. Basic outline is you are on a plane when it crashes into the sea and you come across the entrance to Rapture an underwater metropolis free from the constraints of government laws, organised religion and above all morals. In this city, science is god, and nothing is what it seems.
Now, for the most part, Bioshock is a very standard FPS, if you want something dead, shoot it with a gun a few times. However, very early on in the game you'll be introduced to what the game calls plasmids these are genetic modifications that tie in with the story. Plasmids are the original spin on what would otherwise be, a very generic FPS. Your plasmids give you a wide range of abilities, what they actually do is re-write your genetic code to give you supernatural abilities, when you're a good way through the game you'll be able to stun entire groups of enemies with electricity, burn them to a crisp with fire blasts and send swarms of killer bees at them (seriously, I'm not kidding). However, all this plasmid action is cool, but the gunplay is very weak, the weapons have almost no power to them when you use them, shooting a dude in the face with a pistol will feel pretty much the same as doing so with a grenade launcher. This is a significant drawback for the game seeing as everything else is so well constructed and designed.
The structure of Bioshock seems very straight forward; go here, do this, kill that and open something to move on however it's in the detail where Bioshock catches you off guard. This game gives you one of the most original and interesting game worlds ever made to explore and the game itself seems intent on rushing you through it. All your objectives are clearly mapped out, more often than not you'll have a little arrow telling where to go and you can even get hints too. However you'll no doubt find yourself wanting to explore this world, the level of depth to this game is truly amazing. There are audio diaries scattered around documenting the downfall of this once thriving city, notebooks of ordinary civilians, experiments done on splicers (heavy plasmid users) the list goes on. There is just so much to do in Rapture, the only thing that feels out of place is the fact that the game seems to not want you to explore it, but I almost guarantee you you'll spend more time doing stuff the game doesn't encourage you to than what it does.
The main reason I found this game so enjoyable, it that it doesn't play like a game. I never once felt like I was doing something for the sake of it, everything seems to have meaning and purpose and therefore immerses you completely in the world. Now, the only thing that seems out of place here (depending on what kind of gamer you are) is the complete lack of a personality your character has. Personally I found this complemented the game extremely well, because the character has no real personality, you don't feel like you're piloting a dude around a cool city. You can definitely immerse yourself to the point where you feel like the character, I don't think this game can be categorised, it's whatever game you make it to be.
Let's start with graphics shall we, Bioshock is a very good looking game in all aspects. However, it just doesn't feel very polished, the environments and enemies all look extremely well designed, but you can't help but get the feeling they could've done a lot more. While impressive, they seem bland and uninspired, but their style goes very well with the feel of the game and in that respect they're pretty much perfect.
The sound is definitely what steals the show here. The music is extremely atmospheric and even though this game is set in the past historically, the music playing throughout Rapture feels somehow modern and never out of place. The voice acting is top quality stuff, everyone you encounter seems to have real emotion to their dialogue, even the manic splicers spouting their nonsense all seem to have meaning to them and create a very unsettling feeling as you progress, the sound and graphics compliment each other brilliantly and it's only when you look at them separately, you see the cracks.
Now I have tried not to give anything away here, because basically Bioshock is very unique and I don't want to spoil it for you. This game is truly one of a kind and should not be missed by anyone, Rapture offers enough to cater to anyone's needs as far as gaming goes, but it's very likely you'll get much more than you bargained for on your visit. This game doesn't reinvent the wheel as far as FPS's go, but it does deliver one of the most entertaining and immersive game worlds in recent years and while some may criticise it for what others deem to be its flaws, this is one title where you're definitely going to have make up your own mind.
Overall Score: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/20/09
Game Release: BioShock (EU, 08/24/07)
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