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Author Topic: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.  (Read 2067 times)

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Hoffy

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A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« on: April 25, 2008, 02:35:46 am »
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A Hoffy Review:
BioShock




Developer: 2K Boston/2K Australia
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: USA: August 21, 2007, AUST: August 24, 2007
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Rating: M (ESRB), MA (OFLC)
Platform: Xbox 360, Windows
Players: 1


Hoffy reviewed the Xbox 360 version of BioShock.

The Xbox 360 is the platform which most shooters call home. At the time of BioShock's release, Microsoft's hit-platform had already spawned the likes of Gears of War, Rainbow Six: Vegas, as well as two installments of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, among many others. However, not one of these shooters had even begun to touch on the surface of what 2K Boston and 2K Australia's BioShock was attempting to achieve. In fact, few games in history have explored the themes of morality and dystopian societies the way BioShock has. But do these awesome themes drown in the sea's bottom, and furthermore, do they bring the gameplay down with them?


Ah, sheesh you guys, I can't believe you started the witch hunt without me.

Story: 10.0
BioShock takes place on the sea floor of the Atlantic Ocean, in the metropolitan disaster that is Rapture. When you, or the character Jack, find you are the only known survivor of a deadly case of turbulence, you find yourself treading deep water when your plane crashes by a light house structure in the middle of the ocean. As it turns out, the structure is actually the entrance to a city where free enterprise is encouraged, art isn't censored, and science isn't held back. That's right, you've just stumbled upon the hidden world of Rapture. The founder of the city, Andrew Ryan, had Rapture built to house the great, where they will not be constrained by the small. But, much like George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, such an idea could never come to light, as there will always be sadism, there will always be egotism, and there will always be people scrubbing toilets.

"How you combine your plasmids and your guns is limited only to your creativity."

All of this is evident the moment you land in Rapture, as you can see that cold seawater has managed to seep through the cracks of Rapture's poor infrastructure, and the civilians have taken advantage of the leaps in science by "splicing" their genes to give them the typical superpowers, as well as greatly damaging their genetic structure, and sanity. Basically, this place is a hole, and - much like System Shock 2 - the background of how this over-capitalistic society came to be is revealed in the form of audio diaries left around the city, but more on those later. So you've got an alien-looking world at the bottom of the Atlantic, a whole lot of ghastly citizens high on genetic modification drugs, and a dictator trying to keep his ideals alive long after the city has blown itself out of the water - not a bad setup.


You gunna get raped.

What is obviously excellent about this setting is that it is deep, it's dynamic and it's formulated exquisitely. It's unlikely that you've ever seen a setting in a game to rival that of Atlas Shrugged and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and for that, it's great to see a developer who has done their homework. BioShock is not only a tribute to these pieces of 20th century literature, but it's also a title worthy of standing with them as the greatest in the genre. The idea behind the creation of Rapture contains elements of history, particularly World War II and the corruption of the once-great United States, and if you enjoy all of these allusions to world events, then you'll find yourself giving 2K a "pretend-pat-on-the-back". And then when you can actually go to Rapture and experience the destruction of the world yourself, you begin to feel even more appreciative of the astounding setting. If BioShock were a movie, it would be excellent. But it's a game, and that makes it even better.

"Seeing this diversity in enemies makes them all the more fun to kill, or rescue."

As for the characters in the game, if you're a fan of maniacal dictators, crazed doctors and !@#$% artists, then you're in for a treat with BioShock. Not only is the character development some of the best seen in this generation of consoles, but the personalities and plot twists involved with them are of the highest caliber in video games. The characters hugely affect how the player goes about the game, and this is all relevant in the character's audio diaries. One of the villains earlier on in the game, Doctor Steinmen, becomes so obsessed with his work of making people beautiful that the player almost feels overjoyed when the time comes to kick this guy in the pants. There's just so many in-depth characters who really make your time in Rapture really brilliant. On a side note, it does take a lot of time for some major character developments to occur and this sort of leaves the player hanging for longer than necessary, but compared to the rest of the phenomenal work 2K has done with the story, it's forgivable. A lot of the time you'll be running into splicers (crazed citizens of Rapture) and they'll be crying over a crib, a coffin or just exclaiming their physical beauty to nobody. Seeing this diversity in enemies makes them all the more fun to kill, or rescue. Speaking of rescuing, the developers have found a clever method of meddling with the player's moral decisions, as they are forced to either rescue or "harvest" certain helpless foes... but again, more on that later.

Couple this with multiple endings, and you've got yourself a fine story indeed. 'Nuff said.


Doctor, I feel this burning sensation when I pee.

Gameplay: 9.5
BioShock is a first-person shooter on the Xbox 360, and naturally, it's going to play like any first-person shooter you've ever played. Considering it runs on the Unreal Engine 3, it's likely you won't have a lot of trouble getting used to the controls. While most of the time you'll be firing lead from your revolvers, machine guns, shotguns and many others, you'll also find the time to acquire certain genetic modifications for your dude, known in this game as plasmids. A lot of these plasmids are just your average superhero powers - the ability to cast lightning or fire fire for example. But then there are other plasmids which are invaluably handy, really creative and really fun. Eventually players will stumble on the awesome ability to summon a swarm of wasps for an unlucky opponent, or catch grenades telekinetically and fire them back at their foes. Basically, there's an enormous number of terrific abilities you can acquire, and you can focus on certain ones depending on your fighting styles. Of course, the combat system is what you make of it, and how you combine your plasmids and your guns is limited only to your creativity - in other words, if you stick with the same methods of attack, your experiences in combat could become repetitive and dreary. Pull out a little imagination, and you'll be having a grenade launcher of a time!

"How the game presents these situations to the player is a testament to the fact that no matter how skilled, all gamers will go through a game differently."

BioShock is also ingeniously designed in the way you acquire plasmids. Throughout the haunting city of Rapture, players will find Little Sisters; creepy, little girls being followed by Big Daddies; heart-poundingly frightening armor-clad guys with corkscrew-style drills, among other horrifying weapons. The Little Sisters are the carriers and producers of ADAM, stem cells used to modify organisms genetically. In gameplay terms, ADAM is the stuff you need to "buy" plasmids, gene tonics and other precious enhancements for your character. Now that's all well and good, but the problem lies in getting to the Little Sister - through the Big Daddy. Make no mistake, these guys are fast, tough and bloody scary. Being the hardest foes in the game, the Big Daddies will test you and the plasmids you use. That said however, these fights are also among the greatest and most enjoyable in the game. Assuming you've set your difficulty level to hard, you'll have an immense feeling of achievement when you bring down a Big Daddy. But it's not over at this point. The game forces you to make a difficult moral decision - harvest the Little Sister and take all the ADAM she's got, or rescue the girl and get half as much ADAM. Here it might sound like a silly deal, but when you've actually got the girl crying at your feet, you might just decide to take a look into your heart. Of course, you might not. But, how the game presents these situations to the player is a testament to the fact that no matter how skilled, all gamers will go through a game differently. The choices you make here will make a significant difference in the long run.


Hrm, I love what you've done with the floors.

At the end of the day, there's no denying that BioShock is a straightforward shooter. But that's not to say that the game is confined to trigger happiness - there are plenty of gameplay elements, including some role-playing aspects. Besides the ability to collect tonic enhancements (in the categories of combat, engineering and health) you can also power up your weapons Resident Evil 4 style, in the fields of damage dealt, rate of fire, clip size and a lot more, depending on the weapon. From there, you can find a U-Invent station and - using materials you find in corpses, crates and such - create your own types of ammo, including electric shot gun shells and armor-piercing machine gun rounds. BioShock even has its own puzzle mini-game, which commences whenever you decide to heck a vending machine for cheaper goods, or a security bot for allied defenses. If you're a puzzle freak, there's no doubt that you'll love your encounters with these mini-games, but for everyone else, you'll find the hecking mini-game pops up way too frequently, and while it is possible to complete it within seconds, some games will mess you right up and then you'll have to deal with the damage executed on you, or the security bots that come after you. Basically, the game occurs far to frequently, and there's not enough diversity in the mini-game, rendering it tedious.

"BioShock is really pretty."

As far as level design goes, 2K have exceeded expectations in their design of Rapture. You feel as if you're actually wandering the city, rummaging through the apartments and scavenging through the shopping centers. The city is exceptionally designed, and it's believable that such a city would be planned in such a way if it were under the sea. Even though the city rivals that of a city on the surface, the hallways that pass through the ocean deep remind you where you are, and thus the individuality of Rapture's culture is further imposed. The quest stands at about 20 hours if you don't take your time, and between 30 and 40 if you do. There's always an interesting task at hand, and even then you can always backtrack to past areas to search out the Little Sisters, or to explore a room you may have missed. The only flaws in the gameplay come from where 2K didn't pay attention. For example, there's an option to turn on subtitles for radio messages and audio diaries - but they don't keep up with the voice acting. But you're not forced to play with them, and if you're happy to play without them, it's forgivable... especially when you consider the remarkably responsive AI associated with your enemies.


And woman.

Graphics: 9.5
BioShock is really pretty. Great lighting effects, real-time shadows, high-resolution textures, realistic model design, realistic animation, reflection, refraction, great particle effects, a tonne of transparencies, second-to-none water effects, and a whole lot more. But with all that technical stuff aside, 2K have worked above and beyond - yep, that's right, they've actually worked with the art side of the visuals. Where it can be criticized that too many games today choose realistic graphics over artistic and creative ones, BioShock incorporates both parties into blissful harmony. The city of Rapture is made beautiful by the intensive use of bloody walls and creepy hallways; but it's all balanced by an otherworldly ocean blue towering over you, with a myriad of marine life rushing by the gloomy infrastructure, and the light of the sun barely touching your skin. And then you've got the bright lights of show biz and the 1950-styled advertisements pasted on the walls, and you realise that the gorgeous setting you inhabit has been just as affected by commercialism as the surface you know all to well. Dirty corpses look great, and blood puddles too, look just a little too fantastic. Again, BioShock is really pretty. Where the game ruins this awesome painting is with the common texture pop-up and the horrible decrease in framerate when the Big Daddy wanders by. But otherwise - Rapture is a zingy place to be.

"If BioShock were a movie, it would be excellent. But it's a game, and that makes it even better."

Sound: 10.0
"Welcome to Rapture, the world's fastest growin' pile o' joonk," said the Irishman. "Leaks. Lunatics. Rebellion. And now bleedin' ghosts. Ain't life in Rapture gran'?" said the Englishman. "Ryan say Big Daddy too expensive. Ryan can go suck egg," said the Chinese guy. Besides this being a great script, the voice acting in BioShock is in a league of its own. There's emotion in Tennenbaum's remorseful cries, there's strength in Andrew Ryan's empowering speeches, and there's quirkiness in Kyurbz' Australian accent. And while some of the speech is difficult to understand due to the quality of the radio and the thick '50s accents, it all adds to the experience as the information is unfolded. Garry Schyman has excelled in his work of composing the orchestrated tracks in the game, and the way these pieces implement themselves into real-time gameplay is nothing short of amazing. You'll also find many licensed songs from the time playing on jukeboxes and radios, including Papa Loves Mambo, The Best Things in Life Are Free, Danny Boy, How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? and dozens more. There's also an incomparable piano piece used as the theme for one of the game's characters, Sander Cohen, which pretty much complements the high level of mysticism associated with BioShock. Add to this the jingles from slot machines, the drunken singing of splicers, and the very satisfying noise of smashing a corpse with a wrench, and you've got a perfect ten in this category, hands down.


With BioShock, it's still fun when someone gets hurt!

Overall: 9.7
Great voice acting, amazing soundtrack, terrific art style, creative combat system, wonderfully deep storyline, awesome plot twists, great characters, lengthy quest, brilliant level design, Telekinesis, Insect Swarm and Incinerate plasmids, everything about the Splicers.
Texture pop-ups, framerate drops, tedious hecking games, somewhat slow character developments, Crossbow, silly subtitles.
BioShock is one of those games that come along once in a blue moon. It's obvious that the game was developed by people passionate to their task, and that their ideas were executed perfectly on the hardware that could handle it. The developers of BioShock had the idea of creating this alternate 1960, and their research of the past is clear within the game design. Yeah, there's no multiplayer - but it's not disappointing. A game like this would be plagued by extra gameplay modes. You don't play BioShock to rack up your GamerScore or prove your worth at another first-person shooter. You play BioShock to enter a world of trust and betrayal, love and death. You owe yourself as a gamer to play BioShock. Now buy this game, would you kindly?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2008, 04:50:42 am by 4Sword »
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Hoffy.
Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2008, 03:07:43 am »
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Wow, great job, yet again. Why can't Australia get these games sooner so you can give reviews closer to when they get released?
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Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2008, 03:38:38 am »
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Wow, great job, yet again. Why can't Australia get these games sooner so you can give reviews closer to when they get released?
It has been out for ages, he just didn't get it straight away.

Glad you liked it Hoffy. I'd agree with everything you said, especially the final score.
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Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2008, 03:41:38 am »
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Oh. My. God.


Hoffy, is this the first non-nintendo game you've reviewed?  HALLELUYAH! (sp?)  I read the whole thing, it was very nice, and very similar to the way I felt about the game.  Specifically, I love the way the story itself is told-- through audio journals, instead of the traditional cutscenes, flashbacks, etc.
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Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2008, 03:43:56 am »
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There should be a board specifically for your reviews.  :D
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Hoffy

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Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2008, 04:35:35 am »
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Wow, great job, yet again. Why can't Australia get these games sooner so you can give reviews closer to when they get released?
It has been out for ages, he just didn't get it straight away.
Yeah, I did include both American and Australian release dates at the top, there XD. Plus, I take my time when playing games >_>...

I mean hey, it's not like I'm getting paid for writing these reviews :P. Why rush?

Oh. My. God.


Hoffy, is this the first non-nintendo game you've reviewed?  HALLELUYAH! (sp?)  I read the whole thing, it was very nice, and very similar to the way I felt about the game.  Specifically, I love the way the story itself is told-- through audio journals, instead of the traditional cutscenes, flashbacks, etc.
Yep, this non-Nintendo game no.1. And yeah, I loved how the game included few cutscenes. They break up the immersion way too much >_>;
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Hoffy.
Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2008, 04:40:52 am »
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You did a BT review, didn't you? Banjo-Tooie isn't Nintendo, although it was on a Nintendo system...
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Hoffy

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Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2008, 11:47:50 pm »
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You did a BT review, didn't you? Banjo-Tooie isn't Nintendo, although it was on a Nintendo system...
Yeah, but at the time Rare and Nintendo went together like squirrels and Italian guys. In fact, that's exactly how they went together.

So, really, I think Limey was just pointing out me reviewing a 360 game, particularly one he liked :P
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Hoffy.
Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2008, 10:35:19 pm »
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pretty accurate review, though I'dve liked to see more emphasis on one or two things.  First of all would be the vita-chambers.  They make the game too easy, in a way >< instead of a checkpoint or the like it just turns into "back at the vita-chamber, run back".  The second was, while you brought up the custom ammo, it seems secondary to the plasmids, but in reality if you use it right it becomes just as useful.  As far as the plasmids go, extra abilities are a plus to mention, like shooting water w/ the lightning plasmid and shocking everyone in the vicinity. 

Anywho, glad you enjoyed the game.  I have the PC version and still play it alot.  There's nothing like when you're bored and go hunting big daddies or nitro/houdini splicers.
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Hoffy

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Re: A Hoffy Review: BioShock.
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2008, 12:28:27 am »
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pretty accurate review, though I'dve liked to see more emphasis on one or two things.  First of all would be the vita-chambers.  They make the game too easy, in a way >< instead of a checkpoint or the like it just turns into "back at the vita-chamber, run back".  The second was, while you brought up the custom ammo, it seems secondary to the plasmids, but in reality if you use it right it becomes just as useful.  As far as the plasmids go, extra abilities are a plus to mention, like shooting water w/ the lightning plasmid and shocking everyone in the vicinity. 

Anywho, glad you enjoyed the game.  I have the PC version and still play it alot.  There's nothing like when you're bored and go hunting big daddies or nitro/houdini splicers.
I actually didn't use the Vita-Chambers. I loaded my game when I died so I could conserve ammo @_@. My way worked too, I guess.

Just a little nitpick.

Quote
The Xbox 360 is the platform which most shooters call home.
...on consoles. The PC is basically THE platform for first-person shooters. Nobody can deny it, really. A mouse and keyboard are better for the job.

Other than that, the review was great. Why doesn't Gamespot hire more people like you? I could be a Gamespot reviewer, all I need to do is not play the games!
Ah yeah, good point. S'pose I was just talking about consoles.

And thanks :).
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Hoffy.
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