Review by Chronic_Apathy

"The Big Daddy of Next-Gen Gaming"

Bioshock is the best-selling RPG/FPS from 2K Games. It features some of the best gameplay, graphics, and sound of any game for the Xbox 360; and yes for any system period. But what is it that makes Bioshock such a fun game to play? When asked to describe it, the words that came to mind were "demented," "insane," "twisted," and "scary." Frankly, if it wasn't for these qualities it'd be a dull, dull game.

The gameplay is some of the best I have ever seen in a game, period. Other than advancing the actual plot, the game revolves around ADAM and EVE. What ADAM does is allows you to purchase different Plasmids and Tonics to power up your character. Eve fuels your Plasmids, allowing you to use them. EVE can be obtained around the game-world fairly easily, but ADAM is a bit more complicated (more on this later).

One of the first things you'll be introduced to in the game is Plasmids. These magic-esque powers are delivered in the form of injections and will aid you in defeating enemies and making your way throughout the game-world. They range from "Incinerate" which lights your opponents on fire or just an oil slick or desk on fire to Telekinesis, which allows you to pick up and hurl small to medium sized objects. Each serves some sort of purpose, though some are certainly more useful than others.

Tonics give you special abilities and boost the other abilities you have. These range from upgrading your wrench damage to making hacks easier. Unlike Plasmids, you don't activate them. Instead, they're always active. Tonics and Plasmids each have a limited amount of slots you can have active at one point. The Tonics are divided into three groups and each can have a maximum 6 active at a time (you start with 2 slots-per-group but can buy new ones). You can have a maximum 6 Plasmids as well.

One of the few faults of Bioshock is the lack of enemy types. There are exactly 9 unique types of enemies, and four of them are basically the same with different powers, three are different automated defenses, and the other two are basically the same. However, it isn't to much of a bother. Some variability would be nice, but it still takes quite a while to get old, and it's still better than several other games.

One of the things that will make this game remembered 10 years from now are the Little Sisters and Big Daddies. To upgrade your Tonics and Plasmids, or buy new ones, you need ADAM, which can only be obtained from Little Sisters. Mutated little girls, it should be easy to get their ADAM, but there's just one problem - the Big Daddies. Their sole job is to protect the Little Sisters, so if you want the ADAM, you'll need to kill the Daddies first.

After you kill them, you have the choice between Harvesting or Rescuing the Little Sisters. This is the only moral dilemma in the game, and what decides the ending you'll get at the end (which I shant spoil here). If you harvest them, you get 160 ADAM, but the Sister dies. If you save them, you only get 80 ADAM, but the Sister lives. The choice is yours, but clearly rescuing them was meant to be the good option, and harvesting the bad.

The game takes place in early 1960, so the weapons are more akin to a WWII shooter than say, Gears of War or Halo. I can't imagine playing any other way, and they did an amazing job with it. When you fire, it doesn't feel like you're firing a cheap toy gun, the rumble makes it feel like you're actually spraying the area with an automatic machine-gun. The weapons range from a wrench (surprisingly useful throughout the entire game) to a Machine Gun to a Chemical Thrower, and each weapon (minus the wrench) has three different kinds of ammo and each kind is useful in different situations.

The last thing I want to tap into for gameplay is hacking. Throughout the game you'll come across different machines you'll be able to hack. These range from vending machines to get items cheaper to turrets to help fight your enemies. There's a mini-game you must play each time and although it does get boring after a while, it could've been much, much more tedious.

I have never given a story a score before, but I feel this one deserves it. Your name is Jack, and your plane crashed mysteriously in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, next to a lighthouse. You swim to the lighthouse and find a submarine, called a "Bathysphere." You pull a lever that starts the Bathysphere, and it heads down into the sea. On the way down, a video plays, explaining where you're headed.

A man named Andrew Ryan had a dream. To build a city where government and religion would mean nothing, where the greatest of the greats could live in harmony, invent and create without the lesser beings in the way. This dream was realized in the form of Rapture, a city below the Sea. However, within the first 5 minutes of entering Rapture, it's clear something went horribly, horribly wrong. You must find out what happened by fighting and listening the audio diaries scattered through out the city.

The graphics are truly the pinnacle of video games up to this point. Bodies, blood, humans, and weapons all fall together looking absolutely gorgeous, even if in some cases you wish it weren't so. The fire also looks spectacular, and although it is by far above average, it has been seen before. Although the game does at times fall into the trap of making levels and areas look alike, 2K did an amazing job of keeping you from thinking "haven't I been in this room before?"

No review on Bioshock would be complete without mentioning the water as well. It's just absolutely stunning from the surface glimmering in the firelight at the beginning of the game, to seeing the water rush in from broken pipes, to just watching the animation of fish and plants through a glass window looking out into the sea. I sincerely doubt the video game industry will see water like this in the next 5 years.

The audio in this game is yet another facet that makes this game near-perfect. One thing you must do to complete the experience is find a quiet moment that you won't be interrupted and just stop for a few minutes. Listen to the creaks and groans of a city under millions of tons of water. Hear the argument of two Splicers as they fight over a corpse, and maybe hear a Big Daddy's heavy footfalls several rooms away. Combined with the graphics, this game has the best atmosphere of any game I personally have ever played.

The voice acting in this game is also the best I've ever seen/heard. The actors really get into it as you listen to the different accounts of people as the story of Rapture's demise slowly unfolds. The only real problem with Bioshock's audio is the music, or lack thereof. Although it's certainly there, you'll find more moments than you should where there's no background music at all. Throughout the game you'll find jukeboxes and record players playing hit songs (remember this is 1960) such as "How Much is that Doggy in the Window" and Bioshock's ironic theme-song "Somewhere, beyond the Sea."

Considering how complex some of the gameplay is, the controls are done quite well. Use the A button to interact with objects, the X button to reload weapons or inject EVE, hit the Y button to jump. Use the RT to switch to weapons and fire them, and use the RB to switch to weapons and cycle through them. Hit the LT to switch to Plasmids and fire them, and the LB to switch to Plasmids and cycle through them.

Replayibility is the one place the game truly suffers. It's completely possible to get all the achievements in one game (including beating the game on hard) and to get them all in one run (after one play-through already) takes about 30 hours. Assume then that someone beat the game before that once on medium not really trying to get achievements, it'd take about 45 hours. So then, figure about 45 hours to get the full experience of the game. Not bad of course for single player, but with no multiplayer it suffers.

I didn't really get to this subject during the rest of my review, but it does need to be said. This is NOT a game for children/younger teens. There is writing made from blood on the walls, there is a mad doctor or literally splits open his "patients" with horrific, gory results, and there are hanging and burning corpses throughout the game. There is a lot of language and an area with a strip club (nothing is seen). This is my official warning for parents: IT IS GRAPHIC.

All in all this really is a great game. The gameplay is spectacular and will no-doubt be copied for years to come. The graphics and audio come together perfectly for the perfect atmospheric effect, really letting you feel like you're actually Jack, fighting your way through the hoards of Splicers. This is clearly the pinnacle of gaming so far, and we can only hope that more games like this one are on the way.

Gameplay - 10/10
Storyline - 9/10
Graphics - 10/10
Audio - 9.5/10
Controls - 9/10
Replayibility - 7/10
Overall - 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/11/07

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

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