I’ve recently purchased a game called Bioshock for my Xbox 360. Bioshock is FPS (First person shooter; meaning the view point the game is played in) game developed and published by 2K Games. Bioshock is the spiritual successor of System Shock 2, a game developed by the same people under the different company Looking Through Glass Studios. Much like its predecessor, Bioshock is a horror survival game, and its story unfolds through in-game recordings and prompts from characters, instead of the typical cut scene (Movie played during the game that develops the story further.) The key difference between System Shock 2 and Bioshock is their settings. System Shock takes place in a dystopian future aboard an intergalactic space ship, where as Bioshock takes place in an underwater city during the early 50’s that mimics an Ayn Rand novel.
When I first heard that the same development team was working on a new game, I felt my heart skip a beat. It has been over seven years since I played System Shock 2, a game which took a huge portion of my time as a child. After seeing screen shots and videos of the game play, I was sold on buying Bioshock. It wasn’t until I played the demo -trial version of the game- that my opinion on the game started to sway.
After the demo’s release, the first difference I noticed between Bioshock and System Shock 2 was the removal of the “Player Doll” (The menu where you can customize your inventory and player’s appearance.) The abundance of “dumbing down” the game play mechanics to make it “easier” to use for people who have never played a FPS game. For instance, the weapon upgrade system in Bioshock is done at “Weapon Upgrade Stations” in which you can upgrade only one of your guns once, until you find another station located in the game. This was a far cry compared to the complex system used in System Shock 2, were the player could customize any of his weapons at any time with use of currency. These two major changes made me dislike the game. The developers favored an easy to use interface, at the cost of game play.
With this major flaw out of the way, the next big thing was the scenery. Bioshock has by far the most beautiful graphics I’ve seen this year. The first part of the game takes place as you’re sitting in an airplane. You can barely see the passengers around in the dimly lit cabin. Your character holds up a grainy black and white photo of his parents as he says. “They told me: ‘Son some day you’re going to be special.’ They were right.” At this point you hear a loud crashing sound as the plane hits the water. You quickly escape out of the plane before it floods with water. When you reach the top of the water, gasping for air, you’re greeted with this beautifully violent scene of fire dancing on top of water. I was completely mesmerized by the almost realistic looking water. Bioshock scores big points for its feeling of immersion.
The last point I’m going to talk about here is Bioshocks story. Taking place in the 1950’s, Ryan Andrew “central antagonist”, to escape religious and government persecution, builds a city underwater called Rapture. Along the way Ryan brings the top scientific minds to his utopia. His scientists eventually discover a substance known as ADAM that can significantly alter humankinds DNA. ADAM comes at a high price; the use of it causes mental delusions and schizophrenia. The player comes to find Rapture in state of destruction, ruled only by homicidal maniacs. Bioshock is filled with twists and turns, and its way of story telling leaves the player in a constant state of suspense.
Bioshock had moments of fun for me, but these were over shadowed by its lack of depth compared to System Shock 2. Bioshock isn’t a bad game, it’s a bad a successor of a good game. That’s why I have to give Bioshock a B+.