Review by T0by_the_great
"Mr Bubbles says: This is Next Gen!"
Well the day of Bioshock's release came upon us and 2K Games delivered a truly great interactive experience that lasted 2 consecutive trips through the beautiful, but deadly, Rapture. In my review of system Shock 2, I said that games this great are very rare but it looks like Irrational was able to pull it off once more.
From the very first introduction movie, Bioshock grabs a hold of your senses and doesn't let go. Everything is just immaculate looking; from the smallest candy bar to the largest room. Great detail went into designing every little object in Rapture's world and making sure it fits seamlessly. This leads to a very immersive game that rarely ever breaks the cohesiveness of the world. All this swooning sounds pretty vague so far but that's because everything in Bioshock looks great, from the caricature type monsters and people, down to the decorations found in each room. It's hard to break down and pinpoint a single thing when everything looks wonderful on the whole.
I can say that the textures in the game are, for the most part, amazing. Setting something or better yet, someone on fire leaves a charred texture on the object. Blood on the other hand is ok looking but nothing special. Drawing blood from an enemy just leaves a shiny crimson splatter on the person. By far the best effect in the game goes to water though. The water in this game has to be seen to believe and looks perfect 95% of the time. The only time it looks a little funny is when you melt icicles on the ceiling. The water tends to stick and evaporate on the ceiling instead of dripping down. Not a big deal but a little goofy looking. All the creatures in the game emit this uneasy feeling about them: whether they're climbing on ceilings, wearing masquerade masks, or it's the game's signature Little Sisters and Big Daddies. A great amount of work went into designing these foes making them seem human and something much more at the same time.
To make a long story short, everything visual in Bioshock is of top quality. Menus are easy to navigate and are fluid, particle effects and lighting are stunning and the game runs smoothly without a single drop in frame rate no matter how many splicers, plasmids and Big Daddies are running around.
The sound department is equally fantastic and goes right along with the visuals in maintaining the setting. Jukeboxes and record players found in rooms play period music that perfectly compliments the mood and setting. The conversations of the various splicers interacting with one another, the eerie voices of the Little Sisters beckoning the Big Daddies, or the roar of those hulking monstrosities themselves bring Rapture to life. The game just has tons of great background effect that are pretty much going on constantly. Another plus in the sound department is every texture, be it on the walls or floor, makes a different sound when walked on or struck. The voice acting is superb, period. There's not a bad actor or cheesy dialogue to be found throughout the story. Ever person, in life or on recordings is done in a believable way with no overacting or anything like that.
My first trip through Rapture took about 15 hours as I explored every nook and cranny looking for recordings, tonics and just any other item that would help me in my journey. While Bioshock might be a FPS, the plasmids and the way the AI reacts to them adds a whole other level to the combat experience. Pretty much if anything moves in the environment, it can be used to kill, and even stationary things like pools of water of fuel spills serve more sinister purposes when electrified or set ablaze.
What a typical trip through Rapture usually entails is a lot of thoughtful combat as you find weapons and various ammo for those weapons and figure out what combo does the most damage to what creature. You hunt down recorders and hear various radio broadcasts from key characters to reveal more and more of the story. You'll juggle various plasmids from the deadly elements of ice, fire and electricity to insect swarms and vortex traps while also picking the right tonics to supplement the way you want to play the game. You want to be a stealthy character, then beef up your wrench and hacking skills, you want to be a tank, you pick a bunch of combat tonics that help you manage and deal more damage with your plasmids.
All of these option will be available as you hack your way through the vending machines and security via a mini game. This pipe game might wear you down after a while as one can honestly hack about 200 things in a single play through. Thankfully Irrational left some options that you can use instead of playing along, a quick buy out option or an item that lets you quickly hack into a machine. These machines laying around will let you invent items from spare parts, purchase items or ammo, change what tonics and plasmids you have equipped and a few other things. Pretty much they are the backbone of survival.
Lastly there's the relationship of the Big Daddy and Little Sisters that pretty much everyone knows about. When ever you see a Little Sister around, there will be a Big Daddy close behind. The same can not be said of the other way around as often there are Big Daddies roaming around looking for a girl to escort. If anyone attacks either the Big Daddy himself, or the Little Sister he's guarding, the Big Daddy goes into a rage and begins to kick ass of whoever made that mistake. It's pretty awesome seeing splicers and Big Daddies go at it with each other but it was a bit of a let down.
You see, the splicers actually pose no threat to the Little Sisters as they can't be killed in a way that is visible on screen. So there's not any super splicer out there hopped up on Adam and no Little Sisters are actually harmed in the play though of the game. Just a little bit disappointing to all those that thought they were going to get a truly visceral treat in what looked to be a great game with a mature premise.
It's hard to talk about the story without giving too much away. This game just has an amazing story and even better twists and turns and you uncover what exactly went wrong in this undersea nirvana and who the person or people are that are responsible for this mess. Bioshock treads on some touchy and thoughtful subjects and does so very successfully. In the end, Bioshock is another one of those great games that is so very rare these days. Story, graphics, gameplay and sound come together in a complete package that was a joy to play the first time for the 15+ hour session and the second 9+ hour play through. Games like these only come out about every five years, so do yourself a favor and take a trip down to the wonderful world of Rapture. You probably won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/04/07
Game Release: BioShock (EU, 08/24/07)
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