Review by High_Rizer

"Welcome to the next generation, Xbox 360."

Bioshock - perhaps one of the most talked about games to hit the Xbox 360 console this year. The early critic reviews hailed it as the second coming, and yet I was not so sold on it. So I went out and rented it. Five days later, when it came time to return the game, I went out and bought it. I'm happy to report that Bioshock meets and exceeds my expectations. Does it live up to the hype that all the media gave it? Well, let's read on and find out.

While not the best graphics on 360 to date, they are still pretty darn close. At any point during the game, you can look out of any window in the city of Rapture and see a beautiful oceanscape. The guns all have smooth animations, the Plasmids are exact and the particle effects are awesome. In fact, the only thing worth complaining about is that the graphics are too good. They cause slowdown - and in the event that you turn the "unlock framerate" option ON, it diminishes the graphics quality every so slightly, but speeds up the framerate. HOWEVER... the framerate shoots well over the limit, causing horizontal striping to occur when there is a lot of action on-screen.

CONTROLS - 10/10
The controls are intuitive enough. The left bumper/trigger operates all left hand/Plasmid functions, the right bumper/trigger operates all right hand/weapon functions. Y jumps, X reloads, A is the action button, and that's that. Nothing complicated. Which is nice to see in a shooter for once.

STORY - 9/10
Simply amazing storyline on the whole. But the only weakness is that the story is told mainly through various audio diaries - 122 total - that are scattered around the game. It's completely possible to make it through the game with only 2 or 3 audio diaries and not have a complete understanding of the story. However, the diligent seeker is rewarded with one of the most innovative stories in next-gen gaming. And the addition of having two different endings based on morality choices throughout the game is also great. The characters are memorable and the twist is jaw dropping and unexpected and surprisingly original. Another great quality of the story is the time period. Being set in 1960 adds a nice retro feel to a game that would otherwise fall to the stereotype of every other futuristic First Person Shooter.

Though Bioshock's gameplay was overhyped, it is still innovative. Setting the game in 1960 allows the creators to really explore a whole new realm of options. The classic 40's and 50's music sets an eerie backdrop for the various levels. The only above-average run-and-gun style of playing is refreshed with the use of Plasmids, the different "superhuman powers" you can obtain throughout the game. My personal favorite was "Telekinesis", a power that plays exactly like the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2. Other Plasmids include Electro Bolt, Incinerate, Enrage, Insect Swarm, and many others. Every Plasmid comes with a spoof-like "commercial" for each Plasmid. The basic gameplay revolves around remedial goals to be completed in each level while trying to either "rescue" or "harvest" the 'Little Sisters', which are little 6 year old girls who have more or less been possessed by "Adam", the basic source of all genetic power in Rapture (the city that you are trying to escape). Whether you choose to rescue the girls for little immediate reward or harvest the girls for great immediate reward affects what kind of ending you get. However, in order to even reach the Little Sisters, you have to take out their "Big Daddy"s, and these guys are tough. Every level in the game usually has a boss and then two or three Big Daddy's along with it. Each level introduces new characters and villains, including some of my favorite characters in recent games - President Andrew Ryan and Sander Cohen. All in all, the gameplay is fulfulling, but the length of the campaign docks it a point.

Not only does replaying the game give you new achievements, it also allows you to explore different ways to beat each level and tackle each situation. Maybe instead of throwing the desk at the group of Splicers using Telekinesis, this time you'll set the oil spill underneath their feet on fire using Incinerate. Every situation presents multiple paths to your goal.

OVERALL - 9/10
The game isn't perfect, but it's damn close. If it had a multiplayer option, it would definitely be the best game for the 360. But as far as shooters/action game campaigns go, it's the best game I've seen for the 360. It's relatively short, but I feel this game will be a classic and thus warrants being added to any collection. Even after three playthroughs, I am still finding new ways to enjoy this game - even if it's just using Telekinesis to play with corpses. I can't help but think Bioshock would have absolutely benefitted from a sort of Deathmatch mode - I can only foam at the mouth thinking of the possibilities of throwing desks at my good friends to stun them, then setting them on fire with Incinerate... oooooh... well there's always Bioshock 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/28/07

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