Review by 9NineBreaker9
2K Can Make the Perfect Game, But That Doesn't Mean That it is Perfect
When I watched the trailer for Bioshock, some long time ago, I was fascinated. "Who is this little girl, what is this big armored thing, why are bugs coming out of this man's arm, OMG DRILL FTW!" were some of the things I had asked. Then, I watched 2K play a little demo of the game. And that was the moment. I HAD to buy this, for it was awesome. And boy, am I ever so glad that I did.
1960 - Mid-Atlantic. You are on an airplane flying across the ocean to some unknown destination. Looking at a picture of your parents, you recall what they told you. "Son...you're gunna do great things." With a puff of a cigarette, the man agrees, and the plane takes a plunge into the drink.
You live, somehow, and swim across towards a building. Once inside, the door closes behind you, and the room lights up. "There are no gods. Only man." Walking further down, you pull the level in a little dome/pod thing, and get a much more detailed introduction. "Hello, I am Andrew Ryan. And I ask you this. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?"
And with the world denying man of their own work, Andrew Ryan chose another way...he chose Rapture. He built a city under the sea, where the artist would not fear censorship, and the doctor not bound by pity morality. Neon signs glow, showing various advertisements and your pod docks after a brief little outside tour.
Inside, you pick up a radio and meet Atlas, a mysterious man who wants out as much as you, and agrees to lead you to your destination. Under the guidance of a strange man in an even stranger world, the story of Bioshock begins.
Wait, what? This opening is sort of...quick. It just kind of throws you into a city without much explanation. But that can be excused, for almost every other factor in this game is brilliant. And why dont' we take us a little tour of Rapture?
Story. That's all I have to say. Story. That there's so much story. Every little detail is crafted to create an expository wonder. Every conversation, every character, every little thing has had so much put into it.
Much of the back AND fore story is told via Audio Diaries, literal voice diaries left behind by the previous inhabitants of the city. Through these, you learn of Rapture's past, and it's present. You get to know every character: Cohen is an artistic nut job, Ryan is a grand, 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,' visionary. Even Random Person 1904 is their own person.
The city was made for scientists, so it's no small wonder that many amazing creations came to be. The two major inventions (rather, findings) are Adam and Eve, the source of all in the utopia. Adam, a magnificent biological resource that can do anything: make a woman beautiful, or a man stronger. Eve, a magical substance used in conjunction with Plasmids.
But, what are Plasmids? Plasmids are mixtures of energies that, when injected into the human user, re-write the person's genetic code. For what? For the ability to 'cast magic.' The first, Electro Bolt, a lightning shot from the person's hand. Incinerate!, a forest fire of flames in the quick snap of the fingers. Insect Swarm, summoning a cloud of bugs to destroy foes.
But, this comes with a price. Eve and Plasmids can cause nausea, dizziness...and the seeing of the dead. But that's nothing compared to the price of Adam.
Adam is generated from a strong slug. A scientist found that putting the slug inside a human made much, much more Adam, about 20 more times of Adam than the slug alone. So...who became the luck slug holder?
Little Sisters. Little girls, about 5, forced to hold the slug in their bodies to make Adam for all of Rapture. To get Adam, a choice must be made. Do you kill the harmless, little girl to get a lot of Adam? Do you save the girl, ridding her of her sin, receiving half of the Adam in the process? That...my fiends...is not something to be taken lightly. But, I'll leave the moral traumas to you.
After you have picked your poison, it's time to get the Little Sisters. That would be the case, if it werent for the Big Daddies. These are the armored behemoths from the trailer, the sworn protectors of the Little Sisters. These things fight tooth and nail to save these girls, and taking them down is not an easy task. But, the reward of death is made all the sweeter after the battle, and you must choose the crying Little Sister's fate...
How could any of this be bad (well, except for the Little Sisters, that just sucks)? Well, over the years, Adam and Eve changed the people. The people of Rapture began to rely on these substances, "splicing up" their bodies with more and newer powers. Soon, the people grew mad...and chaos ruled the entire city.
10 years later, the city is hell. Not a wonderful utopia, but hell. The inhabitants have become 'Splicers,' rooming the city in search for more Adam, more Eve, just more of everything. These people are violent, and attack on sight. They even fight amongst themselves. This once amazing place has turned into a hellhole, and that is reflected.
The entire city is falling apart. The Audio Dairies put forth another sense of doom. The Splicer's paranoia, another source. Blood soaked rooms, corpse lined halls...The "utopia gone hellhole" theme is portrayed wonderfully, as well as the entire story. This is a masterpiece, and anyone who can't even call it "good" is off their rocker.
Next, the looks. WOW. This game is BEE - E - A - UTIFUL. And that's putting it lightly. The water has a vivid feel, where you can almost feel it, taste it...people move with an astounding fluidity, and each environment is more inventive and gorgeous than the last. But look closer. Closer...yes, look at the floor. Then the walls, then the crate. Look at everything else, and this game shines even more.
The detail of Bioshock cannot be underestimated. Every sign, every box, every doodad and doohickey is perfectly rendered. The surface gloss was good enough, but 2K went one step further, by making every nook and cranny beautiful. The more you explore, the better it becomes. Try stopping and whacking a window with your Wrench. Every little part of the window can be stricken, until you end up with a shattered masterpiece. Light something on fire, shoot a rocket: every little thing is beautiful in its own way.
Neon signs, kooky advertisement, ghostly apparitions, each one is perfectly designed. "Hey, Jenny, you look down!" "I sure am: I've been sick, had headaches, and even been seeing things that aren't there!" "That's just the Plasmid Blues!" Lol? The theme of the game is perfectly portrayed, and every little pixel helps to make that a reality.
The gameplay...ah, the gameplay. This is a true piece of work. Bioshock is about choices. And every choice leads to another experience. Do you hide in the shadows and shoot the foes in the head? Do you run in, guns a blazin'? Do you set up an elaborate trap? The gameplay is versatile enough to handle any form of combat, and it all comes together brilliantly.
Plasmids present interesting combat possibilities. Lighting someone on fire, then filling them with lead...shocking someone with lighting, then dealing extra damage with your Wrench...hypnotizing a Big Daddy to act as YOUR body guard, while you flank their ranks...the possibilities are endless! And that's not half of it.
If you light someone on fire, and a source of water is nearby, they won't just sit and die. No, they run into the water to douse themselves! If someone is standing in a pool of water, do you attack from the front? No, you shock the water under them and kill all who stand in it! The environment provides even more methods for death, and not using them will result in yours.
With all the machines in Rapture, it's no small wonder that someone figured out how to hack them. Hacking is a major part of gameplay: hacking vending machines for lower prices, hacking turrets to work for you, hacking healing stations to heal you cheaper and damage foes. You won't get far if you don't hack.
Hacking is done in an old fashion: Pipe Dream! Using various pipe shapes, you lead the electrical current from one end to another, avoiding alarms and backfires, and using coiling pieces to slow the flow down. My only complaint is that you have to hack SO MUCH. But, if you really wanted to, you could buy out the machines and bypass the game...and have no monies!
In the game, you'll find eight weapons, ranging from a Wrench to a Pistol, Crossbow to a Chemical Thrower, and a Shotgun to a Research Camera. The Camera can be used to Research foes, adding damage bonuses and such. Each weapon, other than the Wrench and Crossbow, can be upgraded at a "Power to the People" station, adding faster speeds or less recoil to weapons. With this, you can make your favorite form of pain even stronger. And the addition of 2 extra ammo types for these weapons adds even more fun.
All of this adds up to the fact that you can play in almost any fashion. You could be a melee master, and defeat all with your mighty Wrench. You could be a plasmid user, and destroy everything with your magical powers. You could be a weapon specialist, slaughtering foes with a sea of lead. Every form of combat leads to another story, another challenge, another ability...
...abilities that can be augmented with Gene Tonics (bad transition FTW)! Gene Tonics come in three flavors: Combat, Physical and Engineering. Each one allows for a new or upgraded power: stronger Wrench, more healing from food, shock waves sent out with each hit. With these, you can build yourself up to be whatever you desire...even stealth specialists can be made! Yay.
You know what? Even the enemies in the game are varied! Aside from the "this one uses a gun, this one a crow bar," they even have different personalities. From the crazed "I didn't mean to hurt you, I'm just lonely!" to the "Jesus loves me this I know: for the Bible tells me so!", every person is different. It's only a shame that you'll hear the same lines rather frequently.
Next, we have the music. HOLY COW. It's the sixties and - gasp - there's sixties jazz, easy listening, and much, much more! It's hilarious to enter a blood soaked room, only to hear "How much is that dog, In the windooooow?" And that's awesome! The theme and time is, again, perfectly portrayed. Eventually, you'll feel like you are in the city...and that's that biggest bonus of Bioshock.
So, after all of that text, why don't we wrap it all up in a Pros and Cons section?
+ Utterly amazing story, filled with great characters and vast personalities
+ Inventive 'spells'
+ Powerfully retro weapons
+ Choices, choices, choices!
+ Combat is dynamic: no fight is the same
+ Excellent music
- Confusing opening and a somewhat rushed ending
- Choices, choices, choices!
- Re-used sound bits from enemies
- Very little music made just for Bioshock
- Predicable scenarios (Picking up Shotgun = enemies barrage)
- Too much hacking
- Easy revive system (die, then revive in a Vita-Chamber, with all of your items intact)
- Kind of easy last boss
Like the review title says, 2K has made an excellent, really perfect game. But, that doesn't mean it's perfect. A few minor flaws and the fact that I can't call something 'perfect', equal this: A perfect game with a few very minor flaws. But that doesn't mean, not for a minute, that you shouldn't play Bioshock. It is every gamer's duty, no, DIVINE CALLING, to play this game for at least a few minutes...besides...you wouldn't want to make the Little Sisters cry...would you?
I mean, crying = Big Daddy. Big Daddy = Drill. Drill = Death.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: BioShock (US, 08/21/07)
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