Review by Soldier_0_Cross
"Leaks, lunatics, rebellion and now...Bleeding ghosts. Life in rapture IS grand!"
Every so often, a game comes along that isn't so much a game as it is a genre defining piece of artwork. A game that will go down forever remembered as a masterpiece, a few games of my generation come to mind; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy 7, Resident Evil 4, Half Life 2, The Metal Gear Solid series, Super Smash Bros. Melee to name just several. It is, in my humble opinion that Bioshock is without a doubt a masterpiece of a game in terms of game play, theme & setting and storytelling.
Trying to explain why this story nets a 10/10 without spoiling anything is a nigh impossible task as would be any explanation of a 10/10 story review. I'll give you the gist, your plane crash lands in the middle of the ocean over the underwater city of rapture, a secret city founded by Andrew Ryan upon the ideals of Objectivism and the political philosophy that no man holds obligation to any other and one should work entirely for themselves. Furthermore his society's scientists were not to be bound by morality (playing God and ect.) and thus had free reign to explore all the facets of science resulting in the discovery of ADAM, which allowed for the creations of plasmids, a sort of genetic drug that could give the user powerful abilities. For awhile everything in rapture was an excellent utopia, however things fell apart as social rifts happened, the builders who constructed and other labourers were forced into poor housing and cramped lifestyle which lead to revolt. People also grew dependent upon ADAM and it began to warp their bodies and minds (rewriting your genetic code is never a great thing to do often).
Your entry into rapture to Rapture takes after all of this happens and you hear the story unfold through Audio Diaries found along your way. As the story progresses you simply just want to help a man named Atlas escape with his wife and kids and yourself, but the story quickly unfolds into some much darker and much deeper. With rich back-story, high attention to detail, very memorable characters and a unique idea for storytelling, Bioshock earns having a 10/10 in story.
The graphics in Bioshock are very nicely done well textured and make HEAVY use of lighting and shadowing effects which helps to build the atmosphere of the game. Some of the best graphics for the games time for sure.
Atmosphere and Setting 10/10
Not a usual area I review but in certain games it comes up. Bioshock is as much about its story and characters as it is about its atmosphere and mood. Many people will tell you that their first step out of the Bathysphere in the beginning of the game is a deeply frightening and odd experience as you begin to explore the dimly lit and falling apart Rapture. The odd characters and NPCs you meet along the way help to build this as much as the deranged enemies you face who talk to themselves and each other and yell when they attack you, this dialogue builds the anxiety of going through the halls of Rapture and set Bioshock apart as a game you won't forget.
Sound and Music 10/10
The music in the game works very well to set the mood. One moment you'll be battling a group of splicers and you walk into a room to hear a radio playing How much is that Doggie in the window it reminds you that you are in a place that was once inhabited by normal people and was actually a pretty nice place to live until all hell broke loose. All of the Old timey jazz and Big band style music sets a great feel for the game that's impossible to ignore.
Now if we're talking about sound, like I said in my last point on atmosphere and setting. The splicers talking, rambling and general craziness is astoundingly done. And you will never ever forget the first time a Big Daddy roared at you for venturing near a little sister (Big Daddies are the mascots of the game and a fearsome enemy if chosen to fight) and hearing the little sister sing and speak to the Big Daddy as she goes to harvest the ADAM is a oddly heart-warming moment. All of these things show the developer's attention to detail in this category.
Game play 8.5/10
A very unique game play style with a couple drawbacks that keeps it from a 10/10. Like I mentioned briefly earlier, in Bioshock you get powers referred to as Plasmids. These plasmids allow you to do things such as shoot lightning or fire, create decoys to distract your enemies or even launch hornets from your veins (a personal favourite of mine), they add a dimension of choice and customization to the game play, allowing you to fight enemies using these and according to your like and play style. You can even work with the environment around you with them. Electricity not only stuns and damages enemies, you can instantly kill basic enemies who happen to enter water with it. With Incinerate you can deal massive amounts of damage to enemies by torching up an oil slick or you can use incinerate to send an enemy running into water and then give them the lightning. Want to use the environment as your weapon more literally? Use telekinesis and pick up chairs, gas canisters and even dead bodies to fling at your foes. All of these are very fun to use and add a very unique feel to the game play.
You can also hack security systems to control the battlefield more. If that turret is bugging you, why not hack it and make it work for you instead of destroying it? Sure it might take a bit longer, but now you have more firepower against those enemies giving you such a hassle. Same goes for those pesky security cameras. Hack them and send the security bots at your foes instead. While I'm on the topic of hacking, I'll explain one of the games minor nuances. The hacking minigame has you playing a game very reminiscent of pipe dream (you rearrange tiles to go to the exit point before the fluid hits an empty tile). It's fun for awhile but quickly grows tiring, especially for a hacking nut like myself who hacks anything he sees. However it's a small problem and not so much as to make the game unplayable, it is however a slightly annoying break in the action.
The best parts of the game are easily the Big Daddy fights, without a doubt the most difficult (especially in the early stages). You're going to need to pull out all the stops, setting traps, using your environment, blasting them full of lead and all for the gain of the little sister, which brings me to one of the big things about Bioshock. You need ADAM, that's just how it is in Rapture. If you want to survive and upgrade your plasmids, you need it. The little sisters have it. Now you need to decide her fate, do you harvest her and sacrifice her life to get the most ADAM immediately or do you save her life and earn far less ADAM with the promise of a later reward and a clear conscience? The choice is yours, but the rewards for saving the sisters are among some of the most powerful plasmids and gene tonics (tools that allow you to boost stats and abilities I.E easier hacking, more wrench damage, turn invisible when standing still).
So given all these pros and the very minor cons, why is Bioshock earning only an 8/10? For 2 reasons, first off, the aiming system is this game is a bit clunky and a tad annoying, however it's not a huge problem, but it could easily be more polished. The other is that most first time players may not be used to the options in front of them and may simply opt for a more linear style of game play. Basically shooting all the time with minimal plasmid use. Also there are certain plasmids that are just entirely not useful, which is a bit of a downer. But the ones that are good, are great fun to use and typically quite useful depending on play style.
Replay ability 9/10
This all depends on you, some may get tired of the game play and others may love finding different ways to play it (especially late game when you have more options to choose from). But the real replay ability in Bioshock comes from the atmosphere and world around you. I always enjoy coming back to Rapture and seeing the world again, it's hauntingly eerie and subtly beautiful and I'm always enjoying that aspect of the game, as well as continually watching the story unfold.
So why 10/10 even if not every area gets it? Because this game is a true classic, it tells an amazing story and brings you to a truly unique world and gives you some of the coolest and innovative game play concepts for today. It is truly a piece of art. There is so much to be seen, to be heard and enjoyed in this game that it's just impossible to ignore. A must play game for anyone.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/02/10, Updated 04/06/10
Game Release: BioShock (US, 08/21/07)
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