Would You Kindly Read this Post? Bioshock (2007)

After years of gathering dust on my shelf, and becoming infected with a mysterious used band aid, I finally took up Bioshock to complete it. The ordeal yielded mixed results.

This game has received generally positive reviews from pretty much every critic across the industry. And, I frequently found myself wondering why. Sure, the graphics are decent, but everything is so linear that the stages are basically just painted sewer pipes. Many people have talked about the story, which I found to be alright, but nothing to write home about.

The story is really just another attempt from a group to try to capitalize on someone else’s ideas while fundamentally misunderstanding them. In this case, they create a dystopian world that is very loosely based on the works of Ayn Rand. Anyone that is even faintly familiar with the principles will release that Bioshock missed the mark. For example, in a objectivist society you wouldn’t have a black market, because the regular market goods would already be at the lowest prices.

Even though you could talk about the visuals, story, and atmosphere all day those aspects really just cover up the crux of the game, the game play. When you get down to the core mechanics of the game, you quickly release the game is average to mediocre.

The game essentially plays as a first person shooter. But, the sensitivity is slow, and all the weapons feel clumsy. However, the weapons don’t matter a whole lot since the ammo is so limited / ineffective that you will probably spend most of your time clubbing things with your wrench, because that is what I ended up doing.

There is a cheap “magic” system in the game called plasmoids. Unfortunately, you can only have a few equipped at a time, and you are constrained by “eve” which basically makes them an ineffective as the weapon as you will find yourself quickly running out. To a certain extent it balances out, because while there are multiple different plasmoids you could possibly use, you really only need one, electricity, for a majority of the game. And, there are two, telekinesis and fire, that you are forced to used early in the game. But, other than that you can pretty much ignore everything else.

“Hacking” is a “mini-game” that has been shoe horned into the system, and is far too over used. Essentially the way it works is that you have pipe tiles you need to use to guide a fluid from one end to the other. It isn’t really difficult, but it does get tedious when you find yourself having to do it a hundreds of times throughout the game. And, it is hilarious that you can be right in the middle of a firefight and then “hack” a machine in peace. Seriously, if I were in a battle with someone for my life and they stopped to play some DS I wouldn’t just stand there and watch.

Vitachambers I believe was the excuse of the developers to justify how unbalanced the game is. While I did play the game on hard, I died countless times, but it did not really matter because you are instantly resurrected in a vitachamber and can come back and beat some more ass. It is annoying that you die so often, but it is better than being faced with the prospect of having to load a saved game every time. Really, between the ammo scarcity and strange balancing this game would be absolutely brutal to play without vitachambers.

However, this all dwarfs in comparison to the end sequence of the game. You are forced to collect the pieces of a big daddy suit, which you are then forced to wear. I suppose it would not be such a big deal, but the bubble overlay they put on your screen is unforgivable. I actually had to enable FOV lock (treats the game as 4:3 and crops to 16:9) just to bring down the motion sickness enough to get through it.

Also, I am not a fan of how hard the game punishes you if you are trying to get some of the achievements. For example, if you kill Cohen in your first encounter it is impossible to upgrade all the weapons. But, that isn’t that big of a deal. The bigger travesty is the audio logs. There are two towards the very beginning of the game, and if you missing one you cannot get it, period. You have to start the game over. It is seriously wretched.

On that thought, I shall bring this rant to a close lest I let this post grow to insurmountable length. When I take into consideration the good things in this game, and the unforgivable, I have decided to give this game a 0 on my undecim scale. Thus, I neither recommend nor dissuade anyone from trying it.

Author: Jeff

Born a cantankerous old man, mellowed ever so slightly by age.

8 thoughts on “Would You Kindly Read this Post? Bioshock (2007)”

  1. I have a love/hate relationship with Bioshock. I love the attempt to truly make a videogame story that is aimed towards adults. It’s dark and violent and has a totally different feel even though the game play is very similar to typical hero vs all shooters like Halo/Gears/Ect.

    I had less enjoyment with the hacking singular mini game. Easily solved by having more then one game or having a different way to hack. I also was very disappointed in having a typical “big” ending boss. Halo 1 did it right bypassing any boss battles and Bioshock should have avoided the typical end “big bad”.

    The only thing i liked about the Vita Chambers was at least there is an explanation for them and they remove loading screens caused by death.

    Plasmids are just something different then grenades and I’m shocked you said nothing about the issue with the “choices” in the game.

    Also I saw on your “black market” comment I didn’t know there was any black market at all.

    http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/Businesses

    I figured most of them were owned by the powerful of Rapture (Ryan, Fontaine)

    Your scale I would give it a 3

    1. I know that some people talk about the element of “choice” but, really in that game you are just herded towards the end goal. I suppose the choices in the game seem revolutionary compared to something like Super Mario Bros., but in a world with games like GTA it just does not cut it.

      And, yes there is a black market in the game. That’s what the whole smugger’s den stuff is about.

  2. To turn our country around, we must permit individual interests and not community interests to dominate. Obama, Democrats, socialists, liberals and everyone on the left wants to share the booty from America saying community is most important. Save Pebble Droppers & Prosperity on Amazon and claysamerica.com, tells how America did so well in the first place, and shows us how to repeat the process of regaining our prosperity. America has drifted into meaningless self-sacrifice to the point we cannot earn our way back and focusing on individual interests as described so well by Ayn Rand. Claysamerica.com

    1. I thought the story was alright. Better than a lot of games, but I did not like the fundamental level of corruption of the writer’s understanding of objectivitsm.

  3. If you play through Bioshock on hard on your first playthrough, you’re bound to not like it as much, solely because the vita chambers are the worst invention for a video game revival system.

    The reason you were always so low on ammo is directly related to those goddamn chambers. Since the player can never die within the game, you are respawned in the nearest vita chamber with *whatever supplies you had when your life bar dwindled to zero.* So if you depleted all your ammo while taking on a big daddy, then “died,” you were brought back with the depleted inventory, not what you had when you first entered the fight. The standard “revert back to previous save” would be much better here, because on hard difficulty, ammo and health are already in limited supply. But when splicers don’t re-spawn, and all you have left to kill are big daddies, dying while in a firefight leaves you paralyzed with nothing to fall back on. It’d be much better if the developer just did auto saves, as per the industry FPS standard.

    That’s probably my only complaint about this game. Just the setting alone and the stories that are told within the game make up for that short-coming. Rapture is probably the most unique and richly-built environment in a video game. It really made me feel like some awful shit went down. I was almost kinda shocked you used the word “linear” to describe Bioshock. Maybe I was just a bigger fan of exploring the cool environment that it didn’t register to me that I was, in fact, on a linear path.

    The plasmids and weapons were all awesome, IMO. Almost all of them had 3 stages of upgrade…fully upgraded electro shock & fire combined with level 3 shotgun or machine gun was awesome. The different kinds of rockets, grenades, trip wires, telekinesis, whirlwind, hacking the turrets to float around as your ally…they were all variables to use in any combination to approach each and every encounter. I thought there was nearly an unlimited amount of freedom, not to mention the environmental traps you could set. Did you ever acquire new slots to make room for more plasmids? I think I had at least 5 different plasmids available to switch on the fly.

    Vanlandw’s comment on a dark, adult story/setting hits the nail on the head with his beautifully simple summary. This game and Shadow of the Colossus are two video game worlds that I truly felt like I was a part of, and each aspect is presented in a way that doesn’t make the gamer feel like an idiot.

    Rant over.

    vanbergs

    1. You are pretty much right about the vitachambers, and the ammo problem. However, almost all of the enemies in the game do respawn after a certain amount of time, it just is not fast enough to be useful.

      The main problem with Bioshock was that it was an underground city, and that ruined the suspension of disbelief for me. And, associated with that were the claustrophobic level designs, and a motion blur system that gave me motion sickness every time I played it. Additionally, I played it right after beating the first and second L4D games so I was a bit burnt out on fighting zombies.

      Good call on Shadow of the Colossus, that’s easily my favorite PS2 game.

  4. I don’t remember having any problems with the Big Daddy section other then really it didn’t make any sense recollecting other then to get past a check point. There arn’t really any game play benefits at all and I think your guy would look if you could see him kinda silly lol. Clearly this is going to be rectified in part 2 but that sucks the motion effect got to you.

    I didn’t rely really on the plasmids much at all either but it’s cool they hit a series of gameplay elements. Clearly you could use shock and fire for most situations but the grav gun telekinesis was one I should have used more.

    I came to Bioshock really late over a year after release so to a degree I knew the main choices. I also knew there was absolutely no benefits for a half way decent gamer to harvest the girls. If you save them you get an addtional plasmid and in the end you get more atom by saving them and you get a better ending. Going into the game I knew that. Maybe a more balanced reward for harvest/saving would have been interesting but I knew going in exactly what I was going to do. Maybe that is my fault but oh well.

    Regardless I’m still on the fence for 2. The multiplayer means nothing since I won’t knwo anybody who is going to play and I’m worried about playing as a big daddy and how they are going to connect 1 into 2. 1 for a most part worked very well as an isolated story so how they are going to intertwine them needs to be interesting. Also the Big Sisters seem kinda lame as much as I don’t have a problem blowing away women with heavy weaponry lol

    I did my play though on Hard and this was the game that started that trend for me and shooters. Really the mechanics in this game work well and minus one checkpoint and the final boss I didn’t have too many stopages so I didn’t find the difficulty to harness any foul will. Actually playing it a little harder was fun. For a strong gamer I would recommend this game to be played on Hard due to my experience. It’s nothing compared to COD4.

    JJA your homepage is just turning revolutionary.

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