Sunday, 25 November 2007

Bioshock: The review

Released: August 2007
Platforms: Xbox 360 ,PC
Developer: 2k
Genre: First Person Horror shooter, with rpg elements

I am Andrew Ryan and I am here to ask you a question:

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow?

No, says the man in Washington. It belongs to the poor.
No, says the man in the Vatican. It belongs to God.
No, says the man in Moscow. It belongs to everyone.

I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose somethingdifferent. I chose the impossible. I chose…


The year is 1960, and whilst flying over the atlantic ocean your plane crashes. Whilst normally this would mean you would be stranded the protagonist, jack, has had the good luck to crash within feet of a metopolis styled lighthouse rising out of the middle of the atlantic ocean. With nowere else to go you head inside, and the door slams shut after you.
The lighthouse appears to be a surface dock for a bathysphere submersible. with nowere else to go you enter it and are taken to the bottom of the sea. you are taken to rapture.
Created by Andrew Ryan for scientists, athletes and artists to escape the growing political and religous authority over there works. Ryan created rapture to be an "Eden", this all changed with the discovery of a sea slug.
This sea slug was discovered to produce stem cells known as "ADAM" which could be used to rewrite the human genetic code. anything ,from curing baldness to instilling ablities like pyrokenesis or teleportation, was possible thanks to ADAM.
For a time rapture remained the utopia Ryan envisioned. but over time an elite class formed cuasing social boundaries and deep rooted hatreds to be created. the very things ryan created rapture to escape. A former mobster, Frank Fontaine, used this as an opportunity to start a coup for power in rapture, using ADAM to mutate his recruits beyond all recognition into "splicers" .creatures no longer considered human, with warped features and even more warped minds. the splicers , by the time you arrive ,are all thats left of the once 7000 strong population fo rapture. all need ADAM to survive and your a perfectly easy target.
At least till you get some ADAM for yourself that is.
The spiritual sucessor to 2k's pervious fps meets horror rpg "system shock". Bioshock is, first and formost, a first person shooter. but one with heart, not mindless blasting. adding to this is roleplaying elements such as collecting money from fallen enemies to buy more genetic upgrades from the "gatherers garden" machines. This blends in a very nice way and isnt as intrusive to the plot as games like oblivion, were you could trundle into an area at a low level and be killed instantly by high level creatures. here the difficulty of enemies and there number teadily increases at a fair rate that ,while making the game progessivly challenging, does not make it impossible.I use oblivion as an example as the basic controls are much alike, the left trigger is magic, or in this case, plasmid abilities. The right is weapons. Overall the controls are simple and very easy to use and dont hinder the experience any, its a shame there not very origional so they aslo dont add ot the experience either.

The enemy a.i is where this game shines. For the first time in an fps..or any game i believe enemies can know you are there, even right in front of you, and CHOOSE not to attack you. a key example is the symbiotic relationship of the big daddy's and the little sisters.
Young girls were taken and implanted with the slugs and became little walking adam factorys. of course they were an easy target for splicers. this lead to the creation fo the big daddy's.
, Lumbering golem creations of frankenstein design in eeiry diving suits that follow the little sisters around as there protectors. If you dont attack the little sister however they will not attack you. if you get to close it will ,in a bizaarely touching way, run in front of her and shove you away raising its weapon at you till you back off. other than that it will simply follow the little sister as she looks for splicer corpses to harvest ADAM from. There relashionship is touching and creepy at the same time. for example the girls will say "look, found another angel mr bubbles" and the big daddy responds in its whale call like moan. Then after you kill the immensly tough big daddys to claim ADAM from the little sister (this is the only way to get more) the girl will drop to its side weeping and screaming for it to get up. you have to remember these were all people once, and it cant help but invoke emotion in the player, and i commend 2k for doing so.
Killing the big daddy's leads to one of the moral dilemas of the game. You can save the little sister, changing her back into a normal human child. and in doing so recieve 80 ADAM. or extract the slug inside her, killing her in the process, but gaining 160 ADAM. so you get more of a reward for killing the children, the choice is up to you (i personally saved them, what can i say, im a nice guy) this is one example of the moral dilemas that arise that affect your ending and the outcome of jacks visit to rapture.
graphics wise this game is incredibly impressive all the character animation is flaweless. not a glitch can be found and the retro futuristic setting right out of metroplosis is aweinspiring. wandering the bloodstained halls whilst light throws shadows of two enemies argueing in the next room whilst "somewere beyond the sea" plays on a steriogram is fantastic. looking outside to see the eeiry ,green glowing, subterranium metropolis ,still, with a whale sailing between skyscrapers makes you appreciate the sheer effort that whent into this game.
Sound wise its in the same vien as stubbs the zombie, period songs that ,in the context of the location, can take on a much creepier atmosphere and its a sheer delight to listen to, another game like silent hill that i would recommend the soundtrack to.
So am i giving this 10/10 like so many magazines have?, well, no actually, im not.
why?, dont get me wrong i prefer bioshock to halo 3, and it is a must own 360 game. but like prey or dead rising ,towards the end its almost a different game ,and it loses the initial wonder of it .and whilst still fantastic ,its not really going to be something you can play again and again. So it suffers in replayability. even all but 1 or 2 of the achievments can be, well, achieved in one play through. its a fantastic game that i can say any horror fan HAS to try once but will it keep you coming back like silent hill 2 or resident evil 4?, maye not.
So just for the lack of replayability im going to have to lower it to 9.5 out of 10. cracking game thats easily in my top ten of horror gaming and one you will think of more as a fond memory like a favourite movie or story than simply a run and gun first person shooter. at times scary, others emotionally invoking.


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