Bioshock is a first person shooter set during an alternate history in 1960. Playing as Jack, the sole survivor of a plane crash, you must explore the underwater dystopia of Rapture 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 Review thought it was high time we gave you our thoughts on this intriguing title. Read on for the full review from our very own tom01255…
The FPS genre has been largely filled, and mostly dominated with war games, most notably the Call of Duty franchise. The sci-fi FPS 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.
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 Plasmid 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.
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 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 multiplayer 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.