Review: Bioshock

Bioshock CoverGame:
Developer: Irrational Games, Marin
Publisher: 2K Games

Bioshock is a set during an alternate history in 1960. Playing as Jack, the sole survivor of a plane crash, you must explore the underwater dystopia of whilst battling against mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate the city. Originally released on the Xbox 360 and PC at the end of 2007, the game took until October 2008 to be released on the PS3.

“So why haven’t you reviewed it yet?” I hear you ask. Well, with the sequel finally upon us, the staff at The Newb thought it was high time we gave you our thoughts on this intriguing title. Read on for the full from our very own tom01255…

The genre has been largely filled, and mostly dominated with war games, most notably the Call of Duty franchise. The sci-fi titles that do reach us certainly contain some absolute classics (see 2007s Half Life: Episode 2), but these are few and far between in comparison to the many open warfare based games. With the world-wide acclaim this title has achieved, I was fairly confident that I had an impressive and memorable gaming experience to look forward to, but I got so much more…

The opening of the game lets you get to grips with both the time setting (you begin with a lit cigarette on a cross-Atlantic flight) and the eerie location. From the ominous opening of surviving a plane crash, to stumbling upon the supposed intellectual haven on the sea bed, there is a feeling that real care has been taken to bring this world to life. The loading cards and 60s setting are somewhat reminiscent of the Fallout franchise; however this seems a lot darker and more surreal than Fallout would dare to be.

Welcome to the sprawling underwater metropolis of Rapture

Welcome to the sprawling underwater metropolis of Rapture

As an FPS, there are some problems with the gameplay. Whilst ammunition reservation for the few guns you find through your journey adds a delightful tactical element to gameplay and a real sense of survival, the ability to play this game as a pure FPS is somewhat hindered. Gunplay is solid enough, but creeping through in a crouched position, which is vital when sneaking up on enemies, causes the camera to lurch uneasily from side to side, and can even induce some motion sickness if played for prolonged periods.

Throughout the game, role playing elements are slowly brought in to enhance and increase your abilities. Primarily, these come in the form of Plasmids: the same genetic enhancements that have caused the populace to go insane. There are a set amount of slots. Whilst these can be increased throughout the game, the limited number of slots brings a tactical element to gameplay as you must decide which of your abilities will be of more use in upcoming battles.

Bioshock eve

Injections of allow you to use Plasmid abilities

Despite the impressive Plasmid abilities and solid-enough shooting mechanics, both are let down by the lack of capability to dual wield. Abilities are fired off using the left hand, and guns from the right, however you must fully put away your gun in order to use abilities and vice versa. Whilst this is clearly an oversight, it does begin to grate and you’ll find yourself under-using the abilities in favour of the various guns.

Graphically the game is superb. The various creatures you meet along the way are beautifully realised; even though they are, for the most part, horrific and mutated. The setting feels suitably desolate, with certain narrative twists causing parts of the city to collapse in epic fashion. The Playstation version does have a few minor lighting issues that should have been caught in testing, but these are far from game changing and don’t detract from the overall experience.

The cataract clinic aftercare was a little ruthless

Aftercare at the cataract clinic was a little bit ruthless

The sound enhances the graphics to a tee. The city groans and heaves in a surprisingly realistic manner and played in a suitably dark surrounding, the sound really heightens the tension of the narrative. There is a real feeling that death could be lurking around every corner. Voice acting is equally as robust. Everything from the non-playable characters you meet to the recorded logs you pick up along the way establish characters well and help paint a realistic picture of how this vibrant city went so wrong. Particular highlights include the dual voice of the Little Sisters; a trait that makes them unbelievably creepy.

The main narrative clocks in at around 10 hours, which may seem a little short. However, this is a title concerned with quality over quantity. Also, with the sequel having been launched already, you can pick this up at bargain prices. If you’re at all enticed by the advertising of the new game, I implore you to pick this up first and have a run through. This satisfying classic is not to be missed.

Review Round Up:

Graphics: 5/5 – From the very beginning you are thrown into a vibrant and dazzlingly desolate setting. The graphical quality doesn’t let up throughout the adventure.

Sound: 5/5 – The groaning of the city makes you really feel like you’re hundreds of feet underwater. Voice acting is superb and the fantastically creepy enemies really add to the overall aesthetic.

Gameplay: 3/5 – The FPS style is strong enough, but problems with aiming and moving whilst crouched really take away from the experience. Not having the ability to dual wield the abilities and a gun is cumbersome and a severe oversight.

Longevity: 3/5 – At around 10 – 15 hours this runs a little on the short side, but at bargain bin prices you can’t really complain. There is no and the morality choices add little incentive for multiple playthroughs; although three possible endings may persuade you, they are far from fundamental to the narrative.

Overall: 4/5 – A must have for any gamer. If you haven’t checked this out yet then you really must. Go on, go and get it now. You won’t be disappointed.

[starreview tpl=16]

ClacTom (124 Posts)

Tom has been an avid gamer since his parents invested in a Commodore 64 back in the early '90s. Classics such as Goblin 3, Soccer Kid and Lemmings created an addiction from which he will never recover. Tom has been given the opportunity to write for GAME and EA, sometimes even treading foreign shores to bring you gaming words... Oh, and he's an Aquarius.


  1. Tom, did you download the free bonus challenge maps on the PS3 version? I’ve been very curious about them, although not curious enough to buy for the PS3 (this isnt Arkham Asylum! :) )

  2. I love your expression Mightyles – “potential to be really wanky”. Great.

    I really want to play the first now. I’ve had a go on it but didn’t have an 360 when it first came out so missed out on it.

    If anyone’s got a copy they want to lend me… :)

  3. hey Newb, u forgot to talk about bosses desapointments, I don’t know about u guys, but I think the bosses in this game are realy easy, really, I could say that killing a Big Daddy is harder than the bosses in this game, of course unless u are in the end of the game and “trap” the big daddy with those Explosive Lines (that I forgot the name) and theses explosive lines is another thing like “you shouldn’t have”, and by the way, the final boss with the “right” weapon, is ridiculous and easy

  4. The story in Bioshock 2 is brilliant right up until the scene in Ryan’s office, and then it totally just drops off. It’s still an entralling experience. To any one that hasnt played it try downloading the Demo off of Xbox live. I’m not sure if there is one on PSN Steve, but it was the demo that swayed me in to preordering the original.

    I often describe it as a game that had a lot of potential to be really wanky, but actually playing it is an incredibly engrossing experience.

  5. do first person shooters need stories? there’s a bad guy. shoot bad guy in the head. etc

  6. Personally, I think it’s one of the best story driven FPSs since Half Life. Mabye even better…

  7. it is one that everyone tells me i should play but something about it just doesn’t appeal despite the critical acclaim.

  8. I’ve never played Bioshock or the sequel but i’m defo a little intrigued. It’s just for me the premise is lacking something for me and I can’t figure out exactly what that is. I dunno, maybe i’ll pick it up at some point probably not though.

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