Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Now then … would you kindly please sit down, relax a bit and hear one of the most memorable phrases said in gaming history? 'A man chooses, a slave obeys,' I do not know about you, but these words actualy DO mean something to me. Not the usual monologues about courage, trust, friendship, evil I hear in other games. No … this one has a far deeper meaning. And you can only decipher the meaning if you will play the game named: Bioshock.
Bioshock is a mix betwen adventure, first person shooter and horror games. Although some people would already fear that mixing three genres would bestow us with a horrible, horrible mess of a game. Fortunately it does not. I believe I do not lie if I say that Bioshock is on the top of ALL of these genres now.
You play as Jack. A silent protagonist who is just casualy smoking his cigar in the first class room of a plane, that is flying over the Atlantic. You think to yourself: 'They told me..."Son, you're special. You were born to do great things." You know what? They were right,'. The lights then begin to flicker, the people start to scream, you hear a bang … the plane crashes. You wake in the cold harsh Atlantic ocean, grasping for air and in the next moment you're already almost sliced into half by the planes propeller. You look around and everything you can see is luggage, plane parts and fire. You think you will die due to hypothermia … but then. The fire illuminates a great, no, monstrous building – a lighthouse. Desperate to find shelter and warmth … you enter. And so your adventure begins … or is it your nightmare?
In the next paragraphs I'll grade the game via four meassures:
There is really nothing much to say here. Due to the fact they are so good. From the smallest of details to the greatest of monuments – yup, I think I would not lie to you if I'd say that they were the best the Xbox 360 had to offer for that time. Heck, I think I wouldn't even lie to you if I'd say they are still one of the best, even by today standards.
But you know, it is quite difficult to describe something which is good. Why you ask? Well, because there is nothing really to describe to begin with. They are good – the end, ende, basta, finnito. Sparkling water which I would even trade for my own as the one in the game looks prettier, character animations are slick and fluid, the effect due what they are supposed to and also add many things more … etc.
I tried my best to spot small things that would be worth of criticism, but in my mission I failed. And I'll be honest with, you I tried … I really did!
Overall my final grade would be: A. If in something I cannot spot a thing I could point my finger on it and say: 'Hey, that could have been done better,' it deserves an A. But to be honestly, I am still a newcomer ammong te reviewers, so I probably did overlook – miss something.
'A man chooses. A slave obeys,' this is probably a sentence I will remember to the end of my life – eventhough it comes from a game. But it is not just the sentence, it is also the tone in which the characters speaks it: dark, mysterious, ironical, satiric … the man behind this voice knows how to put the message through, as do the other people which lend their voices for this game. The voice acting is great, it is not monotone, boring and astonishing well synchronized.
The soundtrack was cleverly chosen too. They used songs that were popular for the 50's – 60's era. One of the better decisions they could make, as it does add to the ambient and spookines feel. Ever tried playing a FPS/horror game to the tune of Michael Bubbles: Beyond the sea?
The sound effects do what they are supposed to. Explosions sound realistic, so does the brittzling and spratzling of electricity and fire. The alarm noises are annoying like they are in real life, machines do cha – ching if you break them, you hear the beating of your heart if you fall low on life, the grunts, screams … heck everything is done well. But the cream to the cake is the symphony of the Little Sisters sighs and the Big Daddies grunts of pain and grunts of happines.
My overall grade would be: A. In this game you'll hear on of the best monologues in history of gaming, in this game you'll hear one of the most cleverly chosen soundtracks, in this game you will hear one of the better sound effects … this department deserves an A.
Surprisingly I was not frustrated while I was playing this game, like I am with many of its brethren. It's a FPS game afterall and they are not heavily praised on consoles, due to the fact it's quite hard to aim with a controller. But Bioshock even manages to deal with this problem (the people behind this game must be some sort of geniuses, there is no other explanation – or maybe people from the future that know the griefs of us gamers and their solutions beforehand – or maybe … just maybe … ALIENS?!) as it helps you aiming by adding just a little of auto aim to it. Don't worry you'll still have to relly on your shooting skills, but it does help because many of the enemies in the game run fast, leap, crawl, disappear and reappear at will and etc. Now imagine that you had to aim everything on your own? Frustration time, ahoy!
The movement of your character is silky smooth. You neither run to fast, neither to slow. Hell even when you turn around it does not feel that you've just taken about ten ecstasy and the worlds started spinning (nice colors though). In the jumping and crawling department they couldn't really screw up, as you just jump and duck (you do it good though!).
Accesing different weapons and abilites is also easy and you get hang of it very soon. The buttons chosen to do that job were good choices and you won't have to become a finger acrobat to reach them.
My overall grade would be: A. Silky smooth controls, no finger pain whilst trying to reach the necessary buttons and a FPS game which does not cause head aches due to aiming problems?! Rock solid A, right there!
This game is fun. I could already stop here. But I'll give insights on what you are letting yourself into. A solid 10h – 20h first time game run with lots of replayability. Replayability comes of the fact that you get more abilites you can actualy use and most of them are very fun and clever. So you'll wish to run a second game just to try them out and figure out new tactics.
The enemies in this game are quite smart, they will try to flank you, use cover, grenades if they have some to lure you out. Use teamwork, so you will never feel massively overskilled or bored. And there are the little big mini bosses called Big Daddies which always give an epic fight (imagine fighting a 300 kg gorilla with a drill instead of one hand).
I also particulary like the choice possibility in this game. Maybe it is just one, but it affects your whole game. Shall you kill or shall you save, do you crave for power or are you the wannabe' Jesus which forgives all? Your choice, but which one is correct?
My overall grade would be: A. Fun, fun, fun like in the funfair. The game also deserves an A because it never, at least for me, frustrates or causes head aches. Definite plus.
Final grade: A. Beautiful graphics, movie quality sound and voices, silky controls, carnival fun … ladies and gentlemen please prepare yourself for a fun ride! Or is it a fun nightmare? You choose, but funnies nightmares should definitely become a lot more common.
Authors notice: this has been written by a 16 year old Slovenian boy. So I apologize in advance for any grammar mistakes.