Review by Shadow9392

"Would you kindly enjoy this excellent game?"

Bioshock is a beautiful, if disappointingly short opus of excellence from start to breath-taking finish. It is a beautiful masterpiece of innovation and customization, all wrapped up in one of the prettiest packages since Gears of War. This game aims to give Halo 3 a run for its money.

Story: 10/10

Your plane crashes in the middle of the ocean, and you swim to a lighthouse. The door is open. As you step inside, the lights come on, revealing a massive bust of the city's creator, Andrew Ryan, and a banner that sports one phrase: No gods or kings. Only man. Bioshock by far as the best story ever in a shooter, beyond that of Halo, the Darkness, Gears, or any other shooting fare you may think of. Spread out through audio diaries scattered around the world, you learn the intimate personal stories of people as the city and its founders crumble apart around you in a story of trust, betrayal, power, and dominion. You can see it in the architecture. You can see it in the faces of your enemies. Something bad had befallen the utopia of Rapture; it's up to you to figure out just what happened - and why you are there. With plenty of twist, the story will keep you guessing.

Gameplay/controls: 9/10

To put it lightly, Bioshock is everything you could want from a shooter and more. If you though Halo's controls felt comfortable, wait until you try these. The only thing that can get irritating is switching between weapons in the middle of battle, but the game compensates by pausing time while you select your tool of destruction from the radial menu. Weapons have a true 'feel' to them. It doesn't fell like you're holding a flimsy, floaty toy of a pistol, it actually looks and feels like you're holding a real gun. The recoil motions are convincing, and aiming is easy due to a slight auto-lock feature that keeps you from firing into thin air unless the enemy is really far away. And in a smart decision, the developers let you restart at the nearest Vita-Chamber when you die, so you're always near your last position, and not necessarily your goal.

Level Design: 9/10

The game, like mostly all shooters, suffers from one non-fatal flaw: linearity. You are free to backtrack as you wish, but doing so is hard and time consuming depending on where you are in a particular level of the city. Unfortunately, it is necessary for character development, because if you leave the Protectors and Gatherers in an area unbothered, you will likely have to return later to deal with them for Adam and achievements. Sometimes (especially after the temporarily distracting pair of levels towards the end), you will just have to suck it up and leave an area and commit to returning to it later. Other than linearity though, the levels flow together nicely and are extremely beautiful, with hints of the plot scattered around through them.

Audio: 10/10

It's hilarious to be walking through a level and hear the circus tunes from the Circus of Values, or the Spanish dialog from the ammo vendor. That's just one of the many charming nuances of Bioshock. In the initial bathysphere, a version of Bobby Darren's "Somewhere, Beyond the Sea" chimes through a speaker, which sets the tone of the game. Throughout te levels, jukeboxes can be activated. They play tunes like the actual "Somewhere Beyond the Sea" and "How Much is that Doggy in the Window." Funny. Gun reports and wrench swings are more realistic than any other shooter. The sound is crystal clear and really sets the tone, whether it's hearing an old revolver go off or hitting an enemy Splicer with a wrench.

Graphics: 10/10

Bioshock is beautiful. I'm not gifted with enough dough to play it on an HDTV, but even on a 20" standard-def TV, it looks prettier than Gears of War. Water splashed lightly when hit with bullets, corpses char when hit with fire, blood splatters on the walls and floor when enemies get shot, and more. When you weaken one of the 21 Big Daddies in the game (the large, diving-suit-clad monstrosities that roam the halls with the Adam-gathering Little Sisters), their suits hiss and vent steam and blood through their cracked suits. The weapons are a sight too. They look real when you get them, but once you upgrade them, they look insane. Try it.

Overall: 10/10

In a true display of the Unreal Engine's true potential, Bioshock delivers a graphically amazing shooter that makes you feel as if you, not Jack, is trapped in the city of Rapture. It's you firing that gun. It's you laying trap for Big Daddies as they slam into your proximity mines. It's you beating that Splicer with a wrench. It's you who's changing their body with Plasmid powers, like lightning bolt and incinerate. Bioshock make you feel that you are there, fighting for your survival against all odds in this action packed, emotionally charged story of escapism. mutation, and betrayal.

Special section: Achievements (not counted towards review score)
Difficulty: 7/10 (10 being the hardest)
Enjoyability: 8/10 (10 being the most enjoyable)

The achievements are hard, but if you know what they are and play the game right, you can wind up with an easy 200 points as soon as the game ends. The research bonuses are difficult, but if you stick it out, they will happen. You'll get a handful for completing the story missions, and hacking and inventing will net you quite a few points, as will upgrading your weapons at certain nodes in the world. They're fun to get though, so backtracking through the enjoyable levels shouldn't be too much of a pain.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/23/07

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