Sometimes, games do more than just being a tool to entertain oneself for a few hours a day. Sometimes, games have such a superb presentation with excellent gameplay to back it up, as well as a compelling story to keep you on the edge of your seats. Sometimes, games are just so good, they become classics in their own right.
Bioshock is one of these games.
From the creators of System Shock
, one of the most horrific and acclaimed shooter games ever created, comes the "spiritual successor" to the series, and it in short, is nothing but a simple masterpiece in pixelated art.
The level of detail in the game oozes atmosphere. Underneath the Atlantic Ocean is the hidden "utopia" of Rapture
, a submerged and spooky city which is falling apart with fires, leaks, and frosted entrances each time you pass a dark and dismal corridor. The walls are rusting away, the enviorments are destroyed, and there is trash and blood all over the place.
What adds to this atmosphere is how interactive the enviorments are. You can open up desks, trashcans, even ventilation shafts, to find items ranging from syringes to potato chips
. Searching the areas with a fine tooth comb may be the key to surviving, so don't be afraid to destory the enviorments, it is necessary to get out of Rapture.
Final Score- A
The core gameplay of Bioshock is not unlike most first person shooters. You find a weapon and ammo, and you kill agressive enemies. But what set's it apart are three things. The special powerups, known as Plasmids, which grant you powers such as shooting lightning
from your fingertips to freezing enemies in their path. These powers are also utilized with the enviorments, and in innovative ways as well. For example, if there is oil on the floor and three enemies standing in it, you can ignite them all with a shot of fire. You can grab grenades in midair and hurl them back at foes with telekinesis. Even purchasing items from vending machines adds some more strategy to the game, should you buy the first aid kit over the armor piercing rounds? This type of interaction is somewhat unprecedented, never has the enviorments around you play such a role, and for that Take 2 should be commended.
The second item that set's it apart is the interactions with the enemies of the game. They are, in a sense, thinking zombies
. The inhabitants have been polluted with madness and an overdose of using the very stimulants you need to survive, becoming scarred, insaine and overly agressive. From hitting you with wrenches to throwing homemade bombs. Many even wear masks, hiding their faces which is even DISCUSSED in the game, as a possible theory to them hiding the remainder of their humanity, which just add to the horror of the game.
And this game is SCARY. Even scarier than Silent Hill. There are some moments where I even jumped out of my seat, when the screen goes pitch black or when an enemy drops from the celing out of nowhere, the game creates an impessive mood this way.
No enemies are as feared or prolific as the Big Daddies
and Little Sisters
. The Little Sisters are not an enemy you can kill, but rather an enemy you can either harvest or save for their energy, called ADAM. ADAM is important, because it grants you extra powers like more heatlh, plasmid, even abilities like sturdier skin for more armor or the ability to have enemies fight amongst themselves (which, they do a lot in the game.) The moral question however, is if you harvest them for maximum ADAM, you kill the girls, if you save them, you get less ADAM, but they thank you and run off. This adds a moral choice to help these little girls, or harm them for your own benefits.
Of course, to get to the girls, you need to face off against Big Daddy, their protectors and possibly the most fearsome enemies I have ever played against. They seem slow and lumbering, but if you hit them, they become super fast and overly agressive, and can easily kill the player character in moments. Fight with care, and use the enviorments to your advantage.
The last item is the games whole story arc, which is wisely not shown as the main part of the game, but rather always around you. In tapes you find showing the people's thoughts and feelings as Rapture falls apart. In the enemies movements and actions, and in their incoherent ramblings that echo in the darkened hallways. Even in the architechture, themes of freedom are what Rapture as a city supposed to be about. Not fearing the censors and doing what you want, but instead it seems to have succumbed to what they were trying to escape. THAT is powerful story.
Are there problems with the game? Of course. It is a bit too linear, although you can go back to areas you were in. The game also can be deemed to easy or too difficult by the shooter crowds, from the scarcity of ammuniton to the instant reviving chambers that are littered in the facilities. Also, the hacking minigame, which is a viable option to gather extra supplies, shut off drones or make purchasing items cheaper, but playing a mini-game version of pipe dream
each time becomes tedious. Overall though, these minor nitpicks do not affect the gameplay at all, the tight controls and the excellent game design make this a wonderful experience.
Final Score- A
The game has moody music, scary sound effects, and very good voice acting. From the scraping of a pipe on the floor to the crashing sound of glass, to the dripping water that cascades from the rotting celing, Rapture is alive with sound. And since the game is set in 1960, there is also a large number of vintage radio songs from the era, adding to the overall creepiness in another way; this is what was here before it decayed into chaos. The voice acting is also very good, and not annoying unlike other games. Instead, the enemies talk to themselves, or each other, in rambling, sometimes incoherent speech, reflecting their own madness. The sane survivors of Rapture are also done very well, and give some fleshed out character to the games otherwise moody atmosphere.
Final Score- A
is THE game the 360 was waiting for. Not Oblivion
, Not Gears of War
, I don't even think Halo
can match this game when it is finally released. If there was ever a reason to buy a system over one game, this is the reason. Superb graphics, an excellent, fleshed out story, strong controls and an overall claustraphobic and grimsly atmosphere, meshed with first person shooter and RPG elements, mesh into something that does not come around each year. This is easily a game to buy for all 360 owners. No questions asked.
Final Score- A
Overall Score- A