Bioshock

"Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow?" - Andrew Ryan

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I'm sure you'll be positively shocked to know that I am about to pen yet another among many glowing Bioshock reviews that shamelessly heap mountains of praise on Irrational Games – I reject the new 2K Boston branding for the time being – but, that's exactly what I'm about to do.

Bioshock is good, maybe great, maybe eventually an all-time classic. It's far too soon to crown those latter qualities simply as a matter of principle, but the words dance at my fingertips aching to be let loose in a flood of feel-good hyperbole. Bioshock is worth its sixty dollar price tag within the first few levels, and the rest of the game is the icing on the cake if you eat cakes with nineteen layers of icing. Relax, I'm not going to spoil any plot points for you, but in the interest of objectivity I am going to offer a few points of criticism to be considered along with the carnival parade of deserved and endless praise being doled out apparently by the entire internet. But throughout the entire exercise it is important to keep in mind that this game is a sublimely fun work of seemingly unlimited creativity.

I have spent some unknown time so far with Bioshock, certainly more than fifteen hours and probably less than twenty. Truth be told, time had no meaning in Rapture, the crumbling underwater city in which the game takes place, and when creeping slowly through the tainted utopia with its denizens of excess and violence I've got better things to be doing than running a stopwatch. I have not quite completed the game, but have plumbed its twisting and deceptive depths enough to know that I'm playing something pretty remarkable. I suspected this was so within the first ten minutes as Rapture revealed itself against the murky depths, but I gave the game a few hours to really beat me over the head with its persistent excellence before concluding with some certainty that Bioshock was not going to be a game that started big and then pushed the player down a long slow slide of disappointment. I'm looking at you Doom III.

For fans of Irrational's previous critical success, System Shock 2, Bioshock will be filled with familiar mechanics and styles. Replace Psi with Plasmids, tone down the RPG elements and replace the icy-cool interiors of the Von Braun with an absolutely stunning environment of jaw-dropping art-deco detail and life, and you'll feel right at home. The parallels between the two games are many, but Bioshock offers a familiar framework both in narrative style and play elements without feeling repetitious. Remarkably, this is a more fun game to play than System Shock 2, which shouldn't be too terribly surprising considering the eight years Irrational stewed on the concept. Bioshock offers the same depth of world and uncomfortable tension but wraps it in the much tighter frame of a more traditional shooter without becoming trite.

The game does put a lot of strength into traditional firepower, and early plasmids, think of them as genetic magic, are best used in conjunction with the arsenal of weapons rather than as a primary offense. Plasmids offer some good tactical spice to the mix, but if you're expecting them to replace physical and chemical munitions, then prepare to be slightly disappointed. Fortunately the game puts a lot of alternatives at your disposal for dealing death, and something has to be said about hacking native turrets, security cameras and bots to your advantage and simply watching the relentless delivery of automated carnage. The hacking process is a straightforward mini-game that can be exciting at times but eventually becomes a little tedious considering how very very much you will be inclined to do it. The benefits of hacking are too good to resist, but the frequency with which you will be doing it might occasionally leave you wishing you were shooting at something instead.

Trust me, though, when you face-down an angry, well-armored Big Daddy protecting his Little Sister charge, you'll forget all about any hacking tedium. These battles are a centerpiece conflict of smoothly increasing difficulty available several times per level, and right into the later levels of the game when my comfort level has smoothed out against most other foes, my palms still get a little sweaty when I fire the first shot turning the behemoth's otherwise passive demeanor into that of a massive killing machine with a gun in one hand and a terrifying drill in the other. The Big Daddy may, in fact, be one of the more interesting foes offered in any shooter, most often found passively watching over the Little Sisters as they dispatch their macabre duties, their whale-like moans echoing hollowly. They are a sad character in many ways, and unlike the Splicers, which I take no shortage of pleasure in killing off, enacting violence on the Big Daddy is almost regretful. And, when you have dispatched the Little Sisters from the level, and the Big Daddys remain, mournfully searching the hallways for their tiny partners, banging on the walls and calling out for them in deep low tones, you may just feel something like sadness for them. When that happens, remind yourself that you're playing a video game and how often have you felt like that playing other games?

Victory over Big Daddy offers the central choice of the game, what to do with the Little Sister he had been protecting. Unfortunately the choice is the same every time, and tragically there aren't more moral decisions to be made with the rest of the game which generally forces you through its strict narrative. In fact, while the game does offer you the freedom to move through levels at your own pace, the story points are traditionally linear and until you hit plot point location X you won't move forward. The player has very little influence over how the story plays out, and only the repeated choice of what to do with the Little Sisters is offered to add moral free-will to the equation. Though, the game does offer an eventual concession on this point of linearity, which one can think of as the water with which to swallow down the somewhat bitter pill.

Though the first few decisions over the Little Sisters are poignant and even moving, eventually it becomes mechanical. You know what you're going to do when you get there, and you've done it enough times that you've become accustomed to the result. I find myself a little at conflict here with my expectations, a common problem for our own particular breed of hobby, having hoped for a little more of this kind of moral conflict, or at least some variety to the single repeated choice, but I'm on record as having said that increasing complexity of moral choice builds to seeming infinite complexity on the design end, so I grudgingly understand.

Besides, it's really not a point I'm terribly interested in belaboring, considering how well crafted the rest of the story is. Again, in a nod back to System Shock 2, much of the tale of Rapture's rise and fall is told through audio diaries found littered throughout the city, and characters become defined by the way others perceived them. Those still alive and sane enough to interact directly with you, moving the story forward in its present tense, become more complex as you measure their words and deeds against what others have left behind.

It's difficult to talk in detail about the story without risking giving too much away. Not surprisingly the game echoes a number of themes, building on questions of the conflict between moral absolution and the authority of man to act on his own desires. Rapture is a city in conflict not just between warring factions who seek to hold the city for their own ends, but in conflict over the question of how free is a person to act out his desires if he crafts those desires in the name of progress or art. Bioshock offers us a glimpse at paradise lost through the actions of the artist who paints in death, the surgeon who reconceives the beauty of man, the geneticist unchecked by the laws of man or nature and the entrepreneur who prizes industry and invention over empathy and charity. But, you don't have to look that deep to enjoy Bioshock. It doesn't require you to look past more than the surface story, to consider the subtleties of the story. If you turned the story off entirely, it would still be an engaging action shooter with a rich, often creepy setting.

The real hallmark of Bioshock, as with many great narrative games of the past, is its unpredictability. Let others speak endlessly on the voice acting, the mechanics of gameplay, the stunning Unreal powered engine and the technical minutia which must be atteneded, and yes this game is AAA in each of those important points, but that's not what drives me forward. For me, the unpredictable nature of enemy AI, narrative, level design and opportunity urged me on throughout. I never knew what to expect in the next room, never cynically predicted what the theme for the next level would be, never found the perfect tactic for dealing with my enemies and most important never knew precisely what secrets Rapture hid until I uncovered the last clue. It is a remarkable thing, playing a game that does not fall into the natural track of stereotype and cliché; a remarkable thing to feel like I'm enjoying a unique gaming experience and one that would not be precisely duplicated were I to play it again.

In the end, what can be said about Bioshock that hasn't already been said? Not much, and I realize that my comments serve less to inform as to reinforce. This game is outstanding, and if we're still talking about it in eight years, then color me unsurprised. If you own an Xbox 360 or a PC, then there's simply no viable excuse for not rushing out to pick up the game. It is a must-own, a system-seller, an automatic game-of-the-year candidate, and other such bite-sized, box-worthy, quotes. It's an uncommon pleasure when a company meets or exceeds the lofty expectations of a demanding fan base, so I'm happy to offer credit where credit is due. Bioshock is simply the best single player game I've played in years.

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Comments

MoonDragon wrote:

because the game cannot get over the the jack-in-the-box attempts at scaring me. That was cute and got a rise out of me when I was 3. Today, I find the games that do that to be comparable to a friend that walks down the street with you and then runs off until you can't see him, only to jump out of a bush or from around the corner yelling "BOO!" The first few times it would be entertaining, but after 20th time it would start getting on my nerves.

This game is full of zombies and cheap scares. Monster closets are meat and potatoes of its level design. Zombies appear at places you previously cleaned up after you trigger an event.

People's vision is just clouded right now by what I call "fog of freshness". The game is very polished visually and aurally, but it is very linear. If there's a puzzle it can only be solved in one way. I.E. if, say, there's ice that needs to be melted, you can't eventually melt it by lobbing a dozen grenades into it, or shattering it with a machinegun.

The Little Sister "moral choice" is rather laughable. I can't not laugh at a moral choice which is so hardcoded as to present itself as two keypresses, and is so politically correct as to avoid depicting the worst of it on-screen.
The variety of choices in the game really only applies to multiple ways in which you upgrade your equipment and dispatch the zombies.

What's good about the game is the narrative. Because it is so linear, there's always something dramatic that happens "next". This would be very difficult to do in an FPS that is more free-form in its exploration.

MoonDragon wrote:
Trashie wrote:

Scarier (with the possible exception of Ravenholm). But it's not Silent Hill gamplay. Most often, you have a way to deal with whatever jumps out at you. It has tense set pieces but you go into them well armed.

I actually don't find Ravenholm scary. Just very, very annoying. Every time I play through HL2 I wish I could just skip it. For some strange reason I do not share everybody else's fascination with zombies. And the blatant attempts at trying to scare me causes nothing but frustration with the game. Kind of reminds me of the first Thief game I played. I absolutely adored the game, until I walked into a mine shaft and found... zombies. At that point the game was uninstalled and never touched again.

I played System Shock 2. I found it interesting, but the zombies and such just got too annoying and I never finished the game. From what I read on Bioshock, I'd actually be interested in the story it has to tell, but I don't want to pick it up if I'm going to drop it 30 mins into the game because the game cannot get over the the jack-in-the-box attempts at scaring me. That was cute and got a rise out of me when I was 3. Today, I find the games that do that to be comparable to a friend that walks down the street with you and then runs off until you can't see him, only to jump out of a bush or from around the corner yelling "BOO!" The first few times it would be entertaining, but after 20th time it would start getting on my nerves.

Are you sure you don't have some deep seeded fear of zombies? Or do you have dreams about Tornados, which is often associated with the fear of loss of control?

In Thief, the graphics being par at the time and the use of EAX and positional audio being way ahead of its time, I loved the game and found myself immersed in it(same goes for SS2). But it wasn't until the "The Haunted Cathedral" that I found that being so drawn into the game could scare the bejesus out of me. The zombies in it gave me a feeling of powerlessness, but in a good way in a game like that. Sure a guard can beat me in a sword fight, but I had so many ways that I could dispose of one. But the zombies... The only way to kill them was to use expensive and rare weapons, and using those would often alert the entire level of your presence. I still just run through the haunted cathedral, just as I do the haunted ship and the Shalebridge Cradle in Deadly Shadows.

I've never explored every area in any of those levels because I just can't bring myself to do it. In my book, it felt like a change of pace from the shooters of the day, which may have had some creepy stuff, but you just felt like it was no big deal to break out your finest firearm and mow down your opponents. The audio associated with undead(especially Hammer Haunts) helped make all of that happen.

As Bioshock goes, so far I see a lot of greatness and throwbacks to SS2, however, I've yet to feel like I did back in the day of just being freaked out by the pure creepiness of SHODAN and The Many. Again, I think a lot of that may have been the fact that I had surround sound at the time and the use of EAX combined with just absolutely genius audio engineering really set the mood. I mean, really? If you think about it, it seems almost silly that your enemy is an angry, supremist AI. But could the voice of a rogue computer program possibly get any creepier?

Thank you, Shio. You provided me with everything I needed to know.

This game is full of zombies and cheap scares. Monster closets are meat and potatoes of its level design. Zombies appear at places you previously cleaned up after you trigger an event.

I really don't know where you get that impression. I had been impressed how few cheap scares there were. I realize a game can't appeal to everyone, and I won't fault you for not enjoying the game to the same degree as everyone else, but this just isn't an accurate description of the game.

Thank you, Shio. You provided me with everything I needed to know.

I'd find a few more sources backing up Shio before making a judgement. It's certainly worth a rent.

Elysium wrote:

I really don't know where you get that impression. I had been impressed how few cheap scares there were. I realize a game can't appeal to everyone, and I won't fault you for not enjoying the game to the same degree as everyone else, but this just isn't an accurate description of the game.

Well, the only way for me to counter that would be to start the game from the beginning and document every cheap scare that I've been subjected to so far. That would be quite a time-consuming task for an Internet forum debate, so I'll just leave it to MoonDragon to rent the game and draw his own conclusions about the relative accuracy of our assessments.

P.S. A part of this discrepancy may be our differing interpretation of what qualifies as a "cheap scare".

I'm not trying to do an internet debate, I'm just putting a different vibe out there. Honestly, I can really only think of one instance where it pulled a cheap scare on me, but that may be a perception thing. What counts for you might not count for me. I will say that I played the game very slowly, and took a lot of time creeping up on my enemies, so the fact that they were in a given position was less likely to startle me.

I don't think the shine on this game is likely to pale in the long run, however. I'm familiar with the shiny-newness factor and its play in how games are perceived, but I don't think that's what's going on here. We'll just have to see, I suppose.

Haus wrote:

Are you sure you don't have some deep seeded fear of zombies? Or do you have dreams about Tornados, which is often associated with the fear of loss of control?

Quite. I find them annoying at about the same level as Tolkienesque elves (especially in WoW). I attribute that to being a realist and a rationalist. I prefer science fiction to fantasy. I find vampires, zombies and warewolves comparable to Santa Claus. It's something that's beliavable when you're 8, but not much past that.

As far as the cultural fascination with them goes, I clearly do not understand it. Just as I do not understand fascination with pirates, ninjas or monkeys. Admittedly, some fads just go over my head.

Haus wrote:

I still just run through the haunted cathedral, just as I do the haunted ship and the Shalebridge Cradle in Deadly Shadows.

I picked up Thief 3 thinking that perhaps I was unjustified in condemning the first one so early on. I don't think I finished T3 either. I forget. But I did play through Shalebridge Cradle. I remember people raving about it and how "atmospheric" it was. By the end of it, I was again just annoyed. All the creaking, footeps, breathing, moaning and other sounds that were coming from no apparent source just made me irked. Sort of like a fortune teller trying to sell me winning lottery numbers based on my palm wrinkles.

I suppose a part of my aversion to the majority of the horror genre comes from knowing my brain too well. I can feel when someone/something is trying to mess with my perceptions to elicit emotional responses. Whether it is someone trying to subtly guilt trip me into something, or film-makers trying to make me physically ill by shaking the camera. When my "mind control" radar goes off, I shut down all empathic response and impose an iron courtain. This usually means that my suspension of disbelief gets shot to hell.

When my "mind control" radar goes off, I shut down all empathic response and impose an iron courtain. This usually means that my suspension of disbelief gets shot to hell.

Video games may not be for you.

(I am very much joking and trying to turn the tide of this thread away from argumentsville)

Doom 3 had literal monster closets. No warning, a wall opens, monsters run out.

I'm several levels in. In Bioshock so far, if the game respawns a monster, you can hear it and find it wandering the level before it finds you. There have been a few special encounters, but they are handled differently than a closet opening right behind you. I cant really speak to the different techniques used without ruining some of the fun, but they are varied and interesting. PC Doom 3 scares and spawns were cheap to the degree that I couldnt stand them. XBOX Doom 3 seemed a better game cause they removed some of that. I've been entertained so far in the varied ways Bioshock handles a truly special encounter. When clearing levels though, you come across enemies actually doing things for the most part before you initiate the encounter.

Not sure if this is a spoiler:

[color=white]I can think of one spot where a mob literally jumped out of a closet, but it leaps out in front of you, announcing its presence by opening a door. If you were aggressive / quick enough in exploring that particular sub-area, you can also catch a glimpse of them going into the closet to hide also. The developers made it more 'believable'.
[/color]
Elysium wrote:

I'd find a few more sources backing up Shio before making a judgement. It's certainly worth a rent.

Unfortunately, I am a PC exclusive gamer. So renting is not an option for me. Perhaps in 4 years when the price of this thing goes down to $40 I may try it (I have a bad feeling that this game is not going to the bargain bin any time soon).

hidannik wrote:
Trashie wrote:

Most often, you have a way to deal with whatever jumps out at you. It has tense set pieces but you go into them well armed.

Not that you have to, thanks to Vita-Chambers. Who here has spent five minutes taking down a Bouncer with nothing but a wrench, no plasmids or health packs used? (Looks around nervously, hesitantly raises hand)

Hans

I really think that the Vita-Chambers were the biggest mistake they made in designing this game. In the beginning of the game, I was walking through the halls of Rapture terrified. I was playing with my lights off, and the game kept building the tension higher and higher. I was scared and loving it. I fought my first splicers and my heart was racing, I just barely made it alive. I fought some more and eventually one managed to kill me. Suddenly I was teleported into a pod ten feet down the hall. I step out and walk back down the hall to find the splicer that killed me with a fraction of his health left. I shoot him once and he dies. I stood there in confusion, and went to look through the help menus to find out what respawning had cost me, or how many times I was able to to do it. I couldn't believe there was no penalty whatsoever to death, absolutely no failure condition in the game at all. The tension that had been built up to that point died. I felt like I was playing with a cheat code I can't turn off.

When I got to my first Big Daddy, I killed him by standing in the middle of the room, spraying bullets at him with my machine gun. When he killed me, I just walked back to the room and repeated that until he was dead. When he died, I felt that same sadness Elysium describes in the review, but with an edge of pointlessness. I'm supposed to be killing them to obtain Adam and become more powerful, but why bother when I'm already utterly invincible?

It frustrates me because the game I was anticipating so much is actually in there, everything else was done so perfectly, and this one gameplay contrivance just diminishes it all.

Eric

Do what I did. Load.

MoonDragon wrote:

I picked up Thief 3 thinking that perhaps I was unjustified in condemning the first one so early on. I don't think I finished T3 either. I forget. But I did play through Shalebridge Cradle. I remember people raving about it and how "atmospheric" it was. By the end of it, I was again just annoyed. All the creaking, footeps, breathing, moaning and other sounds that were coming from no apparent source just made me irked. Sort of like a fortune teller trying to sell me winning lottery numbers based on my palm wrinkles.

I hate unsubstantiated ambience as well. If something is making a noise, it better be present in the environment. Oh, and now that you mention it, I find LOTR/WoW elves annoying as well. I also dislike movies which use magic/technology without establishing any rules by which it functions.

I suppose a part of my aversion to the majority of the horror genre comes from knowing my brain too well. I can feel when someone/something is trying to mess with my perceptions to elicit emotional responses. Whether it is someone trying to subtly guilt trip me into something, or film-makers trying to make me physically ill by shaking the camera. When my "mind control" radar goes off, I shut down all empathic response and impose an iron courtain. This usually means that my suspension of disbelief gets shot to hell.

The older I get the less tolerance I have for the above-described ham-handed manipulation. As video gamers we get used to being force-fed a lot of crap (much of it unskippable ;)), but eventually it just becomes grating.

Perhaps in 4 years when the price of this thing goes down to $40 I may try it (I have a bad feeling that this game is not going to the bargain bin any time soon).

If you'd been paying attention, you could've gotten it earlier in the week for exactly that amount. This doesn't sound like a game that's going to win you over, though, considering your initial stance toward it and the history with similar gaming situations that you've given. No worries. Different strokes and all that.

I hate unsubstantiated ambience as well. If something is making a noise, it better be present in the environment. Oh, and now that you mention it, I find LOTR/WoW elves annoying as well. I also dislike movies which use magic/technology without establishing any rules by which it functions.

And babies. Newborn f*cking babies piss me off. Why won't they walk already? And what's with the crying? It's just frustrating. And then there's books that expect you to know the language before you open them. God, that's such a drag!

MoonDragon wrote:
Elysium wrote:

I'd find a few more sources backing up Shio before making a judgement. It's certainly worth a rent.

Unfortunately, I am a PC exclusive gamer. So renting is not an option for me. Perhaps in 4 years when the price of this thing goes down to $40 I may try it (I have a bad feeling that this game is not going to the bargain bin any time soon).

Try the demo?

I love BioShock. I've been a fan of Looking Glass since Ultima Underworld II, and in my mind BioShock truly fits among their lineup of classic games.

shihonage wrote:

This game is full of zombies and cheap scares. Monster closets are meat and potatoes of its level design. Zombies appear at places you previously cleaned up after you trigger an event.

I see what Shihonage is talking about in the half of the game I've played so far.

Update: I initially went into more detail, but I thought maybe I'd be treading into spoilerage territory. It's maybe something that could be brought up in the spoiler-allowed threads.

Got the quote wrong, Elysium.

Funny. Bioshock doesn't scare me, so much as intrigue me.

Yes, I try to weigh whether I have enough ammo or health to take on a Spider Splicer or Big Daddy...but that isn't fear, so much as being prudent. There is a scarcity of Eve, Health, ADAM, bullets, and especially grenades...all of which means you need to think about your attacks. Blindly rushing in gets you..well, me, anyway, killed.

Mostly, I feel pity for the denizens of Rapture. Here you are, listening to their half lucid ramblings, like hearing snatches of past conversations replayed...they are all but ghosts, shadows of what they once were. And as they are attacking, they express human feelings, although somehow garbled in their mind ("I only wanted to TALK!", "Don't you like me anymore?"). Even the repetition of these phrases only seems to cement how much they have lost in the monsters they have become.

And the Big Daddy/Little Sister dynamic is as sad as it is chilling. I have spent a couple of hours in the fisheries, trying to get the combat with the Big Daddies down....each seem to have their own style of attack (compare Mr. Bubbles with Rosie, for example), but they are incomplete without the Little Sister in tow...they wander the halls, banging on walls, looking for one of the Little Sisters to accompany.

I can't say that I ever felt that sort of empathy in any other game that I have played. Bioshock is worth every penny, and every hour played.

I love Bioshock so far, but I would be the first to agree there are a few "cheap scares". Though, what makes the game so good, in my view, is that the cheap scares aren't nearly as frightening as the everything else. Yeah, when I go into a corner to search a desk or something, try to back out, and can't, then turn around to see a mob staring right into my eyes, I go "WHOA!" like anyone. But then I blast his face off. That's the exact reason I always have the shotgun equipped by default. I think that's what shotguns are for in shooters; default panic fire weapon. That's a scare, but it's not scary.

Scary is the first time a Big Daddy's eyes go red and he starts revving his drill, and your brain goes "No drill for me thanks! I have to go check if I left the oven on!" Scary is the mobs of various origins chanting, or talking to each other, or mourning the dead that, for all you know, they might have killed and eaten themselves. Scary is being trapped in a corridor filling with water and running up to the door shouting "Open open open!" then watching water start to spray out the cracks of that door and running away shouting "Don't open don't open!"

I will grant you, though, that I am only about halfway through (from what I gather, as I am mostly trying to avoid spoilers in favor of piecing the story together from diaries and overheard conversations).

Got the quote wrong, Elysium.

You sure about that? That's what it says in my instruction booklet.

0kelvin wrote:

I really think that the Vita-Chambers were the biggest mistake they made in designing this game.

I disagree. It does take some getting used to, as did the infinite lives in Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, the recharging shield in Halo, and the way Gears of War (among others) dropped the life meter entirely. "What," said the gamer, "All I have to do is find cover and I get all my life back?"

I think it's just another step along the path that started with three balls in the pinball game to make you pump in another quarter. Elements of games that punish you for poor performance are a holdover from that mentality.

The question you've got to ask yourself is this: "Do I see games as sport, or entertainment?" That is, are you playing as a challenge, a competition against the machine, or are you playing to experience the story and see it unfold? Clearly, single-player games are beginning to lean towards the latter.

I predict that we'll eventually see games in which it's impossible to die at all, and taking damage will simply slow the player down. So lack of skill won't be punished by being forced to replay chunks of the game, but only by making it take longer to get to the next bit.

Not only that but it also fits into the Bioshock universe following the rules.

It is also a good thing considering how crazy System Shock 2 was with the respawning enemies and just high difficulty altogether.

Ok I thought i'd weigh in on this. I just beat the game playing middle of the road on the havesting and not harvesting deal on Medium and I thought the game was fantastic. I was frustrated in one spot but i chalk that up to me being a crap gamer.

I think Elysium nailed everything in his review. BTW great review mate!!!

Bioshock simply blew me away in story, art direction (i'm an artist so this struck and chord with me), and sound design. Was the game perfect...no but then no game is...not yet.
As I played it I couldn't help but think that this was the Irrational I knew and loved..old Looking Glass Irrational. I think Ken and company should be congratulated to raising the bar so bloody high in a world where gaming has become a twitch fest.

I can't even tell you how may times I just stood in a room or one of the connecting tunnels and just stood slack jawed out how stunning it all looked. I really wanted to figure out a way to take super high rez screen shots and make poster of the environments and hang them on my walls.

I for one hate Multiplayer games..mostly because of the brats out there that ruin it for everyone. So when i drop 45-50 bucks on a game it better be bloody good and I can proudly say this game will stand in my memory as a classic and worth ever penny.

Now for the cheap scares bit. I can only think of one place they used it and I gotta say It didn't scare me but it startled me and I though "man I never saw that coming" I actually replayed that one spot about 4 different ways just to see how the AI would react..was fun(I'd love to give details but I'm staying spoiler free here.) As opposed to Doom3 which after the second level and about the 900th monster in a closet moment and I just shut the game off and uninstalled it and realized that a big name does not a good game make. Yeah I'm looking at you Carmack. Doom3 was MitC-fest for sure. Bioshock isn't.

The atmosphere even with the vital chambers (didn't bother me because SS2 had the same mechanic and I loved that game) was incredible always had me feeling that something wanted me dead. This was chunky atmosphere....you could cut it with a knife and serve it up as your next meal..This was a heaping platefull of atmosphere with a side order dread and a big steaming cup of dispair. Even if it was an empty area and I could here Rapture creaking and groaning and water spewing in..I though "man this city wants to kill me"

If some crappy twitch shooter get GOTY of Bioshock i'll be bloody annoyed

Anyway enough rambling

I've just hit the Metro, and I'd also like to chime in on the closet-monster debate. Yes, there have been two instances I can think of that were pretty blatant, but all I can think of in defence of the designers is that both times it was the introduction of an entirely new game concept. And I think they worked too, because where Doom-style scares are finished with a couple of shotgun blasts, these ones were much more prolonged and went from a slight shock to the sinking realisation that I've only got one med-kit left and I'm all out of eve hypos. They went from cheap thrills to a white-knuckle fight for survival.

I definitely think if you walk in with a 'the mainstream likes it so I'm determined not too' mentality then you've spoiled the game for yourself then and there. If you boot it up with the intention of finding the atmosphere boring, the storyline trite, or the scares cheap that's exactly what you will find.

It's like anything really. If you go into it knowing before you start that it's not your cup of tea, what do you expect to find? I guess I get a little ticked off at people who come on and critique (no problem with that), but then follow it up with a comment like 'I've never enjoyed any game in this genre before.' And to say it's 'impossible for me to get immersed in a computer game' and then trash a bunch of games built around the immersion factor just seems a little arbitrary to me.

TheGameguru wrote:

Still an awesome game though.. I'm trying to go slowly so I can enjoy it as much as possible before its all over.

I'm checking out every room and have about 30 hours in. I think I'm getting close to the last level and every section feels so different that time seems to just fly by. I know I'll play through atleast one more time and that never happens anymore with new games that come out. This looks like my game of the year over Halo 3 and I love Halo.

I don't want to get too far into my spoilery opinions, but I do want to say that the Little Sister "moral choice" isn't varied or painted with many shades of grey, true. What I loved about it was that I found it compelling, every time. I did not get bored of trying to rescue little sisters. Every time you had to hold their tiny body in your hand as it struggled to free itself was probably the most squeamish a game has ever made me. And I did the good thing! I still felt horrified at what was happening.

The game is awesome all the way through, I have a few niggling comments but it'll have to go in the spoiler thread.

A game that gives you complete free will within it will exceed any space storage and programing ability of any current game developer. When 32 core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, the 108800 GTX with 2GB of memory, 2 Terabytes of HDD space and fiber optic connections is normal for the end user maybe by then there will be something that comes close to approaching free will in a game. Until then we will always have the linear model with the illusions of free will. Make a choice, make another choice and the last choice miraculously forces you back to the linear main path or some other preordained branch. This is the way it is in storytelling in games and really is nothing more than a graphical "Choose your Own Adventure" novel. What changes with time is the length of the novel and how pretty the story is implemented. Which doesn't mean they are not fun! Some are extremely fun. But if you are expecting some holodeck experience don't hold your breath unless you like unconsciousness. Sometimes you have to just enjoy the experience for the experience like you enjoy reading a book for the experience. Is it a good story and is there half decent gameplay? If so then perhaps it's worth it for the experience.

Elysium wrote:
Got the quote wrong, Elysium.

You sure about that? That's what it says in my instruction booklet.

You're right. That's what it says in the booklet, but not in the game. Damn ideal-industrialists can't keep their own idiosynchratic ramblings straight.

i look back at all the games i've played in the past. untold hours. the number of which are too many to count. I can't for the life of me think of one of them that totally entertained me the way Bioshock did. Is it perfect? No. But so far it's the best i've seen.