Review by Link165
"Games like Bioshock are the reason why I play video games."
Prior to launch, I had barely heard of BioShock. All I knew really were the name and the fact that it supposedly took place underwater. But eventually, as launch got closer, I grew more interested in the game. When I played the immensely popular demo, I knew it was a game I had to have(I didn't feel this way at first, I was getting killed a lot and had no clue what I was doing wrong). I've played through BioShock twice(and plan on going through a third time) and I have found it is one of the best games I have ever played in my life, and is a truly stunning achievement in very many ways.
BioShock takes place in an alternate universe 1960. Andrew Ryan, a business tycoon, had grown fed up with the world, and 14 years prior to BioShock, built an underwater, self sufficient city called Rapture. It is here where BioShock takes place. Rapture was thought to be a perfect society but something has gone wrong. You play as a character named Jack, and you're flying in a plane over the ocean when it crashes. You swim to a lighthouse, and find a bathysphere, which takes you to Rapture. But Rapture, as stated above, is far from perfect, it now lies in ruin with crazy citizens, called splicers, running around. A man named Atlas promises to help you get out of the city, and from then on you fight you're way through the underwater city. The story, which I will not reveal any details of besides the ones above, has numerous unexpected plot twists, and with the addition of collectible audio diaries in the game(which give more of a history lesson of Rapture), presents one of the greatest stories I've experienced in a video game.
As stated above, BioShock takes place in the underwater city of Rapture. BioShock is an FPS, but there are several twists. There are a few different weapons in the game, a shotgun, pistol, grenade launcher, and sub machine gun among a few others, and you unlock more as you progress through the game. Each weapon has special ammo types. The pistol, for example, can either shoot normal, anti-armor, or anti-personnel bullets. There are also special machines found over the course which can upgrade your weapons.
But the big addition is the one of Plasmids and Tonics. With Plasmids and Tonics, BioShock adds a pseudo-RPG element to the game. Before Rapture destroyed itself, the Plasmid industry in Rapture was booming. Plasmids are human-created superpowers that you inject yourself with in BioShock, and you can find them all over the game environment. Electro-Bolt shoots electricity out of your hand, which can override short circuiting locks, stun enemy splicers, etc. Incinerate can shoot fire. Telekenisis grabs a loose object(such as a soda can) and allows you to use it against the enemy. There are others in the game. You can only carry a maximum of 5 plasmids at a time and there are more than 5, so you have to make choices depending on your play style. Eventually Plasmids will grow outdated and you'll have to find upgraded versions of them. OF course, plasmids can not be used infinitely. Just as guns have ammunition, plasmids have EVE. Eve is something you'll need a lot of in BioShock. It's basically energy that allows you to use plasmids, and you find EVE in syringes that can be found throughout the world or at vending machines.
Tonics are another element found in BioShock. Like Plasmids, they're found throughout Rapture. However, Tonics aren't used directly in combat. Tonics instead make your character stronger or gives him advantage. For example, one tonic found late in the game will make you invisible when standing still. Another will have Jack emit a static shock whenever he is hit by an enemy(hit physically, not shot).
Just a side note - another interesting part of BioShock is the research element. Early in the game, you receive a camera that you can use to take pictures of enemies. As you take more pictures of a certain enemy, more "info" about them becomes available. They'll do less damage to you, you'll do more damage to them, and you can even get tonics.
One of BioShock's most important gameplay features involves Little Sisters. Little Sisters are these little....girls, that contain a substance called ADAM. ADAM is one of the most important things in BioShock. It's sort of like a currency for plasmids; when you have enough of it, you can buy new plasmids and tonics from special vending machines that are located all over Rapture.
Of course, you can't expect to just get ADAM. Little Sisters are guarded closely by Big Daddies, probably the toughest enemies in the game. There are two types of Big Daddies, and both are tough to defeat. However, once you do, you're given a choice what to do with the Little Sister. You can harvest it, which will give you the most ADAM possible, but you'll kill the Little Sister. Or, you can rescue her, which will only give you half the normal amount of ADAM, but a woman character in the game promises to reward you if you save them.
Unfortunately, the enemies in BioShock have very little variety outside of Big Daddies. Splicers are more or less the same, except each has a different weapon and one can teleport. Rapture also has an elaborate security system which you will have to dodge throughout the game. Cameras, if they see and identify you, will send armed(with machine guns) helicopters after you. There are also turrets with will either shoot bullets or grenades at you. And of course, the Big Daddies. An interesting note with the security is that they can be stunned with electricity, and then hacked to turn them to your side, meaning they'll fire at enemies on sight. The hacking game in BioShock is a pretty decent one, you have to construct a 2D path with pipes from one point to another, with the path filling with fluid as time goes by. Certain tiles in the build area will hurt you or sound a security alarm if the fluid runs into them.
Many things in BioShock can be hacked. Security systems join you, vending/ammo machines and health stations reduce prices, and invent machines(in BioShock, you can actually create supplies from trash you collect in the world) reduces the amount of parts needed to make something.
After all that, BioShock is just like any other FPS, fighting your way through Rapture with guns, but also with other elements that make it different from every other FPS on the market. Rapture is also kind of like a free roam environment, you can always go back to previous completed areas to either get a Little Sister that you missed or to try and get a missed audio diary.
Just another con: There is barely a death penalty. When you die, you are simply revived at a "Vita-Chamber". It doesn't reload, and you still have your full inventory of stuff. Enemies don't regenerate health, so it is possible to keep dying and coming out of a Vita-Chamber, killing things, dying, coming out, etc until you are done fighting.
When all is said and done, BioShock's gameplay is fantastic.
To be quite clear, BioShock has probably the best graphics I've ever seen in a video game. BioShock looks good in terms of technical power, but the art style is what really makes the game shine. As the game is set in 1960, Rapture was constructed entirely in an Art-Deco style. This art style not only suits the game very well, but it helps create a game environment you'll want to thoroughly explore. The numerous cracks in the glass allowing water to seep into the city through the ocean, knocked over trash cans, fires, and blown out walls help create a very creepy environment.
BioShock looks great in terms of style, but it is just as good in terms of technical power. The water especially looks very good. The environments themselves all look very realistic and lifelike. The enemies in the game look very diverse (although they unfortunately aren't in terms of gameplay). The frame rate is consistent, but the game begins to freeze up for brief moments after extended periods of time. Despite this setback, BioShock's graphics are unrivaled and the positives far outweigh the negatives.
BioShock's sound is also great. The voice acting in the game is fantastic. Jack is a silent protagonist, he doesn't speak at all during the game, which is good. Andrew Ryan's and Atlas's voices are perfect for how they're depicted in the story. The splicers in the game also have good voices.
Like the visuals, the sound helps give BioShock an atmosphere that is practically unrivaled. Sometimes, if you sneak up on a splicer, you can hear it singing. The Little Sisters' lines with the Big Daddies(who just grunt) are also kind of creepy. Also, there are times during the game where you'll hear things such as a Rapture PA broadcast giving citizens general information, as if Rapture is still a perfect city, nothing bad has happened, and life is still going on. Also, there are some points in the game where music from this time period will play in the background which really adds to the eerie effect the game has.
The sound effects are also good. The weapons all sound very realistic. The static that you hear from audio diaries and radio transmissions is a nice effect. The plasmids all have subtle and unique sound effects, such as Electro-Bolt's electric current and Incinerate's sizzling flame.
Unfortunately, no video game is perfect, and replay value is where BioShock falls flat on its face. As mentioned before, there is no multiplayer mode in the game. Some say that multiplayer wouldn't have worked, but I believe it is possible to implement a plasmid/tonic-like multiplayer system, sort of like what Call of Duty 4 did with Create a Class. Like all Xbox 360 games, there are Achievements in the game(51 for a total possible gamerscore of 1100), but if you play on the Hard difficulty, it is actually possible to get every achievement on the first playthrough.
In conclusion, BioShock is not only one of the best first person shooters I have ever played, it is also one of the best games I have ever played. There is no multiplayer but the single player is one of the best I have ever played and the atmosphere the game has is unbelievable. A lot of games with unbelievable graphics have turned out to be sub par but BioShock fortunately is not the case. I am now highly anticipating the release of BioShock 2 and I would highly recommend the first to anyone.
-unbelievable music and effects
-one of the best single player campaigns I've ever played
-no replay value
-enemies lack variety
-final boss fight is disappointing
Final score: 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/08
Game Release: BioShock (US, 08/21/07)
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