Review by lastfirstborn
"Is 2K Games not entitled to the sweat of it's brow?"
Hello! Welcome to yet another review. I like to try and write reviews for the average gamer, as well as the hardcore fan like myself. I hope that my reviews come off as unbiased, and written in the interest of play for your buck. Rest easy my friends, and read on to see if Bioshock is for you, and if it is, is it a rental, or deserving of better?
Keep in mind that while I have rated this title a nine, that may not mean you want to run out and buy it immediately. Please read the entirety of the review!
Graphics - 10 There is nothing wrong here. I have a launch 360 that (knock on wood) has never failed me. It has absolutely no troubles running this game. There is no slowdown, or hiccups to found here. That said, some people do tell me they have these problems. Some even go as far as to say the system is nearly overworking itself to run this title. I can't agree. Systems have far more power than we realize, and as developers learn to compress things we will continue to see higher quality. As far as the here and now goes, this is some of the best out there. It's in my top five best looking 360 games, probably at a solid number 3. What does that mean to you? For starters, even on a standard definition, 18 inch screen, this game looks great. The water looks real. The fire looks real. The ice looks real. Get the trend here? The humanoid character models are fantastic. The animations are mostly fluid and realistic, and your weapons also look good and realistic for the fiction. There are small graphical glitches here and there. They are very few and far between however. Like when a body dies and ragdolls out, it's limbs may twitch sometimes (not from death, from the ragdoll glitching a bit). You may find "invisible walls" in teeny, tiny spots around areas you can't go into yet, midway through the game. But again, that's nothing serious and it's very rare. Items are everywhere in this game, as are people, and you have tons of interactivity here. When you take this into account, you'll find the graphics are more than superb! You can tell alot of thought and painstaking detail has been put into this game. The architecture is a shining point of this title. It's got the classic "big 50s" look North America loved back then. Imagine if war hadn't hampered funds and creativity. Imagine if there was tons of money just to be used for huge buildings with grand design. That would be, Rapture. While you travel the underwater city of Rapture, you can always look outside to see fish, whales, octopi, etc. And gorgeous ocean graphics, of course. The level design in and of itself isn' t entirely new, but the face it shows us is. It's solid, and fun to play in. You will thrill at the objects you discover, smile at the 40s/50s sysle advertisments on the walls, and you may shudder at the sight of some of your foes.
Sound - 10 So how's the sound? The music is atmospheric, the guns sound fine, the voice overs are clear, and overall it's fantastic really. There isn't much else to say on the matter, but I'll elaborate a bit. You will enjoy the instrumental score creeping up on you as you approach a big fight, or it will slink in to creep you out during a section where you need to be wary of your environment. When you fire weapons, each and every shot registers. When a large being is nearby, clomping about, you will hear it (and feel it in the rumbles!). Yes, nothing to be found bad here. Your character even hiccups when drinking alcohol, or coughs a little when smoking. Again, like with the graphics, you can tell the people in charge of this part of the game really went for the little details. They handcrafted and signed each aspect here.
Gameplay - 9 Ah, he gave it a nine here eh? Unfortunately, I did. I love the story and subject matter, so for some the score may even drop as low as a seven, actually. Let's get the negativity out of the way first, shall we? Repetative. Some will find, using the same three or four guns (until three or so hours in, then you'll gain another, then a couple hours more, another, and so on), and the same three or four powers (rinse and repeat like with the guns, you'll gain powers but you have to play a bit to find them), boring and repetative. I do not, but you must search your own attention span here and decide. But please first realize this is an atmospheric game that starts with a fairly slow burn. You need to play for a bit to truly realize it's grandness. But there it is, and this may be why you'll want a rental instead of a purchase. First off, how long is it? If you take your time and look around, you may clock 12-15 hours, and that's on any playthrough really, if you appreciate the environment. Now, if you could care less and just want to blaze through to kill kill kill and gain some achievements, you will likely be done in eight hours, maybe less. Still a nice chunk of gameplay for a shooter, really. Of course, is this just a shooter? Let's look into this aspect next. As the back of the box touts, this is a "genetically enhanced shooter!". The guns are great. You feel like you have guns from the 1940s Americas for sure, but modified by the future. All the stock reliability of the golden age of industry is seen here, but with several economical and futuristic improvements. Even visually, you can see the blend I'm talking about. But when you get down to really using the guns, you'll feel it more than see it. And that takes immersive design! Of the seven or eight weapons you'll end up with, almost all of them have SEVERAL types of cool ammo. Electric buckshot, liquid nitrogen spray, heat seeking grenades, these are just a few of the awesome modified ammo types you can find and make yourself. That's right, you can make ammo out of odds and ends you pick up a bit into the story, around midway. Explosive shotgun rounds are a blast (pun intended)! What else can you do with the weapons, you might hungrily be thinking. How about modding each and every one of them (almost) for speed, larger ammo dumps, or just flat out more power? Yep, you can do that too! Plus it visually changes the gun and gives it this really cool sci fi look too. But, wait, you say you've had your fill of guns? Not to worry. This game has powers, modified abilities to use in combot, defense, and engineering aspects. You can throw fire, zap out electricity, freeze and shatter foes, take over robots to do your bidding, send out swarms of insects to confuse your prey, enrage foes to make them kill one another for you, and much, much more! The game delivers here, in spades. There are so many powers and so much customization to be found in them. You can make yourself fireproof and make your fire stronger, then upgrade to the highest fire power and become a flame man. Or you can give yourself a hard outer shell for less health loss. Or give yourself enhanced vision. Or make yourself a master scavenger and thief. What if you want to hack into all the security cameras, bots, and safes? Easy. The only thing limiting you here is imagination. You can do almost anything to your character by the end game. There's so much (over 70 powers/upgrades/tonics) to do here that I just can't spoil it all for you. You just simply have to get past the first few hours to reach this stuff. Now, if you don't care about the details, you may become bored, again I stress this. If you play on Easy (or even Normal) and don't do much but the basics to get through, the game will get old fast. You have to want to play with powers and inherent body mods. You have to like the subject matter. Otherwise you may find some areas claustrophobic and boring. But if this sounds like your thing, and you like the sound of the storyline, then buy it. The Achievements themselves are solely singleplayer, as is the game. To get all your points will definately take several weeks of play (if you can only play a few hours a day, that is). Most of them are fairly unique. And don't fret if you want quick points either, as just playing through and winning on Normal can net you nearly 700 points. So if that's your thing, there you go. You will face off with a variety of overpowered and underminded maniacs after your blood. Some have guns, some have gene powers, others just use tools like cavemen. I'm leaving out certain aspects here on purpose, as not to spoil it for you. I think you will always find something new as you move on, and most of you will enjoy every bit of it.
Storyline - 10 I give this one a ten. If you like Jules Verne stories, or just a good sci fi tale in general, you will too. Basically, a man decided something along the lines of "If I own a park, it's mine. If the government wants me to make it a national park, open to the public, I will burn it down rather than let the parasites in to galavant about.", this is the gist of the story basically. A visionary, a rich man, a lunatic, Andrew Ryan. He builds a sprawling, massive city. Under the waves of the ocean. Yes, it's all so deep no one can find it or even know of it. A lone, simple lighthouse marks it's entry, where a small, personal submersible unit carries people down, down, down into the deep blue and black. The cold, dark ocean floor is lit up with the life of his city, his vision, his tomb, Rapture. As you descend to see it for the first time, a whale is swimming past skyscrapers. The developers here really illustrate the story and populate it with such an atmosphere, such characters, that you will not be dissapointed. Ryan believes a man is entitled to the sweat of his own brow. His money, his genius, his property, is not for the government, nor religion, nor the unwashed masses to partake of. Rapture is a secluded biosphere city where the rich get richer, the beautiful can be as vain and debaucherous as they like, and the intelligent can run made with their ideas, free of morals and legal restrictions. To top it all off, they discovered and certain something that allowed them to engineer beings that can help with genetic alterations and surgery. Of course, what does man do with this power? What is the only course they can eventually take? War. Factions erupt. Genesplicers create weapons from this new science. Both guns, and other, more terrifying things. Everyday things like telekenisis used in studies and work, becomes horribly misused. The weather system in the dome goes berserk. The people kill one another. They hack into and take over most all the security systems and make the robot defenders of justice their own monsters to watch and kill and maim. On top of that, the Little Sisters and Big Daddies roam the hall, harvesting genes from the dead, and sometimes still living. Who are these strange little girls that crave blood? Who are their massive, masked protective giants? For that matter, who are YOU? You were on a plane, it crashed near this lighthouse, and you stumbled into a Rapture in ruin. Genesplicing addicts roam the now desolate, decaying halls, looking to take your blood for the genes. The little sisters roam as well, hand in hand with their big daddy protectors. Rapture has been around almost twenty years, and the year before you arrived, it seems everything went to ruin. You will traverse it's halls, finding audio logs that tell of the disasters that befell these people, too far ahead of their time and creation. You will have to scavenge weapons, parts, and genetic codes themselves to move on, and survive. Through it all, the madman in charge is gunning to take you and your few allies down. He thinks you're a spy, a dog sent by the CIA, or KGB. Again questions arise. Who is your character? What of the mysterious tattoos that adorn your wrists? What of the odd visions he experiences? Where was he going, what is his past? Unravel all this mystery and much more as you travel Rapture, now a tomb for the damned and the downtrodden.
In closing, what is this game like? Is it a buy or a rent? First, if you don't like comparison sections, skip the next sentences. This game blends the best elements of the Deus Ex series (item gathering and finding on bodies, in trash, in desks, etc, power mods for your body, upgrading weaponry), with a few atmospheric and melee elements seen in Condemned. It also has an Oblivion feel (though more realistic and less fantasy) when it comes to slinging powers out at foes. So hopefully you've made a choice by now. If you're easily bored and don't care much about exploration or story, you may want to rent this first and test the water. If, however, you want to play on each difficulty (three of them), gain all the powerful abilties and skills, or mod every gun out, buy it. I think you'll find plenty to do here, and this is one to go back to as time passes and enjoy again for the story telling alone. Overall, I find it fun, innovative, chock full of suspense and some horror, and an exellently flowing tale that leads to one of two endings (that I know of at the moment). Give Bioshock a try, and you'll be a splicer for life!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/07
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