BioShock (Xbox 360) review
"Iíll admit I wasnít too interested in the game when it was announced and I wasnít too impressed with the demo when I played it at my friendís house. Iím not much of an FPS fan which is why I didnít really care much for Bioshock, however I had a feeling that Bioshock would go on to be one of those games that wins like 20+ game of the year awards and Iíd be pissed at every award because I never played the game, in the same way Gears of War and Knights of the Old Republic were. But now I can actu..."
Iíll admit I wasnít too interested in the game when it was announced and I wasnít too impressed with the demo when I played it at my friendís house. Iím not much of an FPS fan which is why I didnít really care much for Bioshock, however I had a feeling that Bioshock would go on to be one of those games that wins like 20+ game of the year awards and Iíd be pissed at every award because I never played the game, in the same way Gears of War and Knights of the Old Republic were. But now I can actually believe the hype and give Bioshock my approval; possibly the hardest thing a non-RPG game can acquire.
Bioshock does so many things right to distinguish itself from the slew of other generic shooters that make up 90% of the market. The first thing that strikes me is the exposition. Rather than the typical military/WWII/alien invasion motif weíve been burdened with, the story is a pseudo-historical thriller set in the 1950s and you can tell from the architecture of the underwater city of Rapture, where the worldís greatest minds gathered to complete their work in isolation from government, morals, and other forms of censorship. Rapture is all under the control of Andrew Ryan who is allegedly corrupt with power and you must take him down after stumbling into this marvelous city.
What separates the denizens of Rapture from other people is not only are they the result of a series of plastic surgery operations gone wrong, but the genetically-enhanced powers they receive from chemicals known as Plasmids. Plasmids bestow powers such as electricity and telekinesis and are powered by injecting EVE into the body, similar to heroin. Passive abilities such as recovering EVE in addition to health from first aid kits and being more mechanically inclined with hacking machines and security systems can be acquired by equipping tonics. You can upgrade plasmids and tonics as well as purchase new ones at Gathererís Gardens by spending ADAM that is siphoned from creepy little girls known as Little Sisters. However, Little Sisters are protected by large diving suit creatures known as Big Daddies which are heavily armed and protected and take much more time and strategy to kill than normal baddies. Big Daddies often require the use of special ammunition like armor-piercing bullets and incendiary bullets, whereas weaker enemies can be defeated by simply shocking them with electricity and bashing them with your melee weapon of choice, the wrench; said weapon is also responsible for the death of Colonel Mustard in the Dining RoomÖ
Other strategies for defeating enemies include the use of objects in your surroundings. If your foes are standing in a puddle of water you can fry them with electricity, while using fire on nearby oil leaks can cause enemies to undergo an ďOhmygodIímonfireĒ state of being. There are also health stations that both you and your foes may use to restore health, however you can hack them so they offer discounted prices for restoration and shoot out crazy poison gas at any sucker who tries to mend their wounds. Hacking is accomplished by completing a tube/circuit linking mini-game. Probably my favorite method of attack is using telekinesis on the bombs that are hurled at you by your adversaries and throwing them back in an explosive fashion.
Oftentimes youíll be overwhelmed by hordes of enemies or a Big Daddy will flat out own you. Fortunately for FPS noobs like myself you wonít see a Game Over screen throughout the game, with the exception of the final boss but that doesnít count. Youíll die, but will be revived at the closest Vita Chamber. Of course this makes the game way easy because you can just run back and resume your battle with the foe or foes you were just tackling with a few seconds ago. If youíre not that great at the genre this makes the game much more accessible and gives another reason why Bioshock is unique to other FPSís.
One memorable moment in the game is when a swarm of enemies enter a dark room and in the background you can hear ballet music, the name of the song escapes my mind, but the combination of gunning down foes to ballet music is possibly the most entertaining thing ever. Additionally, youíll hear Raptureís radio stations play classic music from the 1950s, which to me feels disturbingly comforting in the hectic feeling you get from the rest of the game. Usually Iím not a fan of licensed music but this is probably one of the best instances where itís used. There are original tracks too but they seem to only appear in emotional/critical parts of the game, but theyíre pretty good too. Character voices are great too, and based off of the radio transmissions and recorded diaries that you pick up throughout Rapture, the characters donít sound script and it actually feels like youíre in the game and undergoing the turmoil thatís going on. Eavesdropping on enemies such as watching a woman cuddle her ďbabyĒ which turns out to be a shot gun are pretty funny whereas hearing a man give a creepy rendition of ďJesus, Loves MeĒ is in fact, creepy.
As noted before, the game takes place in an underwater city and the water looks fantastic. You can be wandering through a corridor and look through a window watch the wavy water for several minutes. Enemies also look great despite they seem like they belong in a horror game. Environments are also detailed and varied. Rapture feels like a planet from Metroid with a wide assortment of level types such as the typical forest and ice levels. In short, next gen water is awesome, even on my crappy standard TV.
After playing Bioshock I am slightly more open-minded towards the Xbox 360 and shooters in general. Everything about this game is fantastic and what every publication has said about this game is true. Fans of Metroid Prime should enjoy this game. If Bioshock manages to trump Halo 3 for game of the year, Iíll probably be happy towards it knowing I at least played through one of the best games of the year.
Community review by Ness (December 23, 2007)
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