Review by wolverinefan

"This is what next gen gaming should be."

Bioshock just might be the most hyped game of 2007. What started as a mild interest for me turn into a major obsession. Just a week before release of the game the demo was released and I was blown away by a game that was barely on my radar and had actually been taken off my list after watching gameplay videos and thinking it wasn't for me. I quickly preordered the limited edition and picked it up yesterday. Well, less than 24 hours later I am writing this review after completing the game.

You're flying across the ocean when you plane suddenly crashes. You survive the crash and make your way to what seems to be a lighthouse. Instead it's an underwater utopia, but something has gone wrong. DNA splicing has lead to the humans going a bit crazy. You receive a message from a man on a radio that his family is trapped and they need to leave this city before it sinks (due to the crash). You decide to help find this mans family and rescue them. Along the way you are given the option to save or kill the Little Sisters. They are small children that are guarded by creatures known as Big Daddies. Do these children hold the key to something?

What Bioshock does with its story is create a world that is very much alive but not only that, it also gives you a choice. Like being able to choose between doing the right thing or doing something that may or may not be evil. Which is which? It creates a mystery and instead of being spoon feed story in a boring manner we get told bits and pieces of it all through diaries that were left behind by the people. You don't need to find these and even if you do, you're not forced to listen to them. How much information you take in is all up to you. The plot itself is rather enjoyable and I must admit that the good ending was very much worth the time it took to beat the game. This is something I haven't said in a long time.

The game uses Unreal Technology. Character models are highly detailed and almost life like at times. Some of the game is so life like that it's down right creepy. The environments in the game are jaw dropping with not only the detail but the colors. Everything isn't drab and lifeless. Instead it feels like this was actually a living world. The water effects alone in this game are just amazing. The way it rolls down a wall, the ripples as you walk. Just amazing what they did with the water.

I do enjoy a nice soundtrack but usually I don't turn my surround sound on. I did for this game and it's because of a couple different reasons. The sound effects are not only perfect but they really stuck to me. The sound of the alarm, the noise that the security bots make when coming for you, water splashing as you or an enemy walks in it, or even the groan of the Big Daddy. It all sounds amazing. For music the game went with it's time period. But not only is the music selection pleasing but it is used perfectly. One scene had me mesmerized with the way it was using the song for this giant gun battle. It's just amazing. The voice work is also nicely done. I find the Little Sisters to be rather creepy when they talk to Big Daddy. Rest of the voice work is very well done. The limited edition of the game comes with a 3 song cd featuring remixes by Moby.

The game offers a very simple and user friendly control set up. L trigger has you using your power ups. L bumper changes your power. R trigger is used for shooting your weapon. R bumper is used to switch weapons. A interacts with stuff. B is sued for using your health items. X is used for hacking, using a power up refill, and reloading your weapon. Y is jump. Press in the left analog to duck. The control is very tight and not once did I ever hit the wrong button in confusion.

Bioshock is all about choices. I went with going for the good ending so my review is going on that choice. The difference in the choice is that one path loads you up with Adam which allows you to be very strong and have most skills early on. While the other path has you receiving gifts which really aren't that important.

This may look like your typical FPS but it isn't. Sure you walk from location to location and fight a boss to move on but this is done with style. The areas are rather large and while they are ultimately linear, they never feel like it. Many rooms are wide open and there are many hidden paths and some paths never need to be taken.

I really found myself searching the world for items to interact with. As you advance in the game you collect little items that you can then use to make new items like ammo and power ups. It's very easy to get the hang of and it's actually helpful.

The weapons in the game are your general fair. A crossbow, a grenade launcher, and even a shotgun. You get the idea. Within the game are a number of upgrade stations. They each can be used once. There is exactly enough to upgrade all of the weapons all the way. You can pick and choose if you want but I found it was easier to go for damage on them all first and then work on the other stuff. The look of the weapons also changes which is a nice feature.

Not only is there 8 or sow weapons but each weapon has three types of ammo. See, each enemy type has their own weakness. It's up to you to utilize that aspect of the game as well so you not only need to pick the correct weapon but also the correct ammo.

Your power-ups in the game also come in hand. You start off with an electric skill. See an enemy in the water? Throw some electric into it and shock them. See some ice blocking a path? Use your fire to melt it. Have a blockade in your way? Use telekinesis to toss a grenade that has been thrown at you into the barricade. It's a great system and you'll be relying on it as much as your guns, if not more so. Some of the later power-ups get rather interesting.

You can also hack into objects in this game. These will open doors, safes, allow you to control a camera, control a bot, or even control a turret. It's an interesting idea but I must admit I grew tired of it about midway through the game. Hacking involves you making a pipe from start to finish before the liquid gets all the way through. Most blocks are conceals so you need to flip them and then create a pathway to the end. Later on there are blocks that cause you to fail instantly if the fluid goes through them.

What's another neat feature is that besides power-ups you can also attach other skills. Maybe make your wrench heal you when it does damage or make it so when you get hit with a melee attack the enemy gets shocked. Or you can improve your hacking skills. It's all up to you on how you want to set your character up.

The enemy variety is a bit limited with about 7 or so different types. It never really got boring though because the AI really thinks about how it's going to attack you and the enemies have no problem ganging up on you. There was a few times where I was on the edge of my seat because I had no idea how a situation was going to turn out.

The final feature the game ahs to offer is the ability to take pictures. By taking pictures of the enemies, cameras, ECT. You get research on them. I believe each one has 3 or 4 levels and you can only take a picture of a specific character 3 times before it tells you that specimen isn't worth anything else. As you do research you become able to do more damage and a few other things. You don't need to do this but you can. Just another one of those choices the game has to offer the gamer.

The game took me about 11 hours to beat. That's pretty good for a FPS. There's no multiplayer so that's a downside. The good news is that you can't get all achievements in one play through. There are also 3 endings and 2 require you to play in a completely different way. So there is a reason to replay the game. Hell, I want to restart it already and I just beat it.

I can't think of the last time I sat down and just got immersed in a game. Bioshock is a one of a kind experience and everyone needs to play this game. Rent it if you don't want to buy it but make sure you give it a try because nothing has come out in a very long time that has been this excellent.

Story - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Control - 10/10
Game Play - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10

Final Score - 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/24/07, Updated 08/30/07

Game Release: BioShock (US, 08/21/07)

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