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Bioshock BoxArt

A video game by Take 2 Interactive

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BioShock - Simply stunning

  • Jan 31, 2008
Pros: Amazing gameplay, scary, great story, fantastic graphics

Cons: nothing worth mentioning

The Bottom Line: The creativity and amazing gameplay set the bar a notch higher. This is next gen gaming, friends.

Bioshock was never supposed to be a huge hit. It was a modest title with a modest budget. But it became the sleeper hit of the year and was at the top of nearly all lists of best games of the year. Does it live up to the hype? Is it as great as they say?

•• Story ••
I can't give away too much of the story here because I don't want to spoil it. But you find yourself in a crashing airplane in the middle of the ocean. You swim to a nearby man-made island and find yourself submerging into the underground world of Rapture. You soon find out that Rapture is an undersea city created by the super-rich, reclusive Andrew Ryan as a means of escaping a society that celebrated laziness, poverty, and oppression of the rich. But something has gone wrong. Competing forces, ideals, and morals have rotted Rapture from the inside such that unchecked science has created the ability to manipulate one's own genetic makeup. This has resulted in all kinds of crazy people who really don't like you and want to kill you. Add to that, the Little Girls who are full of ADAM, the genetic lifeblood of Rapture, who you may either harvest and kill or save. The moral choice affects the story. As you may have guessed, the story is highly original and completely engrossing. Part of that comes from the way the story is told, mostly through previously recorded snippets from characters in Rapture. Throughout the game you'll find dozens and dozens of audio recordings which slowly unfold the story. This mechanic has been done before, but never so thoroughly or with such conviction.

•• Gameplay ••
At first glance, The game feels like a typical 1st person shooter. The controls are the same as every other shooter, so you'll feel right at home if you're familiar with the genre. As well, the weapons are fairly stock. You have pistols and rocket launchers. machine guns and shotguns. You also get some more unique weapons such as a crossbow and a chemical launcher. To add a dimension to it, each weapon has a different kind of ammo, controlled by the D-pad. Anti-personnel, exploding, electric, all kinds of different ammo can be equipped depending on the challenge. It can also be done on the fly, but with a delay penalty while you take time to load it.

But wait, there's more! On the left trigger, you can switch from using a regular weapon to using a plasmid, a kind of genetic power given to you by EVE syringes. Your EVE meter is right below your health meter and is recharged by stabbing yourself with these syringes you find laying around. The plasmids start out light, but grow stronger and more varied as the game progresses. You can shoot electrciity from your fingers, light people on fire, freeze them, shoot bees at them, all kinds of things. The plasmid design is very creative and there is no end to the fun. I did, however, find myself using the same few plasmids because they did what I needed.

And if you thought that was the extent of the game, you'd be wrong. You can also buy tonics which give power up bonuses for fighting, strength, engineering, etc. These tonics allow you to have increases in certain skills such as hacking, which is often used to turn pesky turrets into friendly turrets or to get into that elusive safe. They can also be used to give you special powers such as the ability to scrounge for extra loot. But choose them wisely, as you only have 5 slots per ability to store tonics. Thankfully, you can swap them out at various stations throughout the game.

And finally, the develoeprs took a page from Dead Rising and made you a photographer. By equipping yourself with a camera instead of a weapon, you can take pictures of bad guys and do research. Complete various segments of research and you get further bonuses. Unlike the tonics, though, once you earn a research upgrade you get to keep it without limits.

Everything is searchable in the game. Dead bodies, file cabinets, desks, crates, you name it. And inside will be bits of ammo or other odd things. It isn't until later that you find you can invent things in special kiosks to create special ammo. As well, you can collect money you loot and buy staples items from other kiosks.

So by now, you should be understanding that this game is not like most other shooters. It goes far deeper with more customization than I've seen in any 1st person shooter. This variation is incredible and adds a ton of fun to the game.

Unfortunately this variation does not cross over to the enemy selection. You'll be fighting the same few enemies over and over again and they aren't too smart. They will bum rush you with very little strategy. But if you think they're easy, you'll be surprised. They are quite tough and will certainly kick your butt a number of times. But never fear, you can't die. Instead you are rejuvenated in a cryo chamber to continue where you left off. Many critics have complained that this causes no penalty for dying. But the idea of having to replay a section is antiquated. That stems from the days of arcades where the goal was ot get you to plunk quarter after quarter into the machines. That's a game mechanic that does not need to be employed today and Bioshock is proof of that. There is a penalty for dying as the cry chamber may not be near where you were when you died. This had the same effect as the so-called death penalty. As well, this made bosses far less frustrating to fight as I could keep going back without the frustration of having to start over. Note, the final boss does not have this. It is a typical boss fight where if you lose, you'll start the fight over.

•• Graphics ••
Bioshock uses the Unreal engine so while it looks amazing it also exhbits some of the same problems as other Unreal based games. But let me stress the sheer beauty of the game. Based on art deco of the 1940s, Rapture has a worn beauty teaming with life and dread. Dark places, dynamic shadows, highly detailed textures are all strong parts of the game. Everything has a sheen about it that makes it look wet and rusty and rundown. And at the same time, there's a certain energy pervading just under the hood. Truly wonderufl graphics, but hampered only slightly by Unreal problems such as texture popping and framerate hitching when certain sounds need to load. These are minor quibbles which any gamers should overlook simply because they nailed the core aspects of the game so stinking well.

•• Sound ••
Another winner, kids. A truly fantastic aural landscape. The sounds are so subtle and yet so pervasive that it's hard not to be completely immersed in the world. From the slight humming of a far off machine to the in-your-face screeches of a crazed lunatic. And don't forget the far off stomping of a big daddy coming to get you. Add to that the eerily happy dischords of music from records that don't quite play right anymore and the oddly out of place use of classic big band music. Amazing how appropriateness of sound changes depending on the visuals of the situation. And the sound designers knew this, milked it, and came out with a sonic winner.

•• Multiplayer ••
There is no multiplayer in Bioshock and I don't care. Running aorund the environments shooting people over Live would detract from the eery world of Rapture that was created.

•• Parents Should Know ••
This game is rated M for Mature is just that: a game for mature audiences. Lots of blood, lots of corpses, possible moral choices that mean killing children, and very scary imagery and sound. This is an adult game, please keep it that way.

•• Conclusion ••
The creativity and amazing gameplay set the bar a notch higher. This is next gen gaming, friends.


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More BioShock (Xbox 360) reviews
review by . April 01, 2008
posted in The Gaming Hub
Big Daddy
Bioshock is a first-person shooter that takes place in an underwater "Utopia" where things have gone very wrong.  In addition to the typical arsenal of weapons (guns, wrenches, grenades), you are also able to modify your character to take on special attributes such as shooting electrical bolts, fire, telekinesis powers, etc.  The idea is this allows you to use the environment more effectively (such as zapping bad guys standing in water with your electrical bolts or freezing them and then …
Quick Tip by . August 23, 2010
I popped Bioshock in again this weekend, and even though I knew what was coming, it still gave me goosebumps. Excellent use of sound and great graphics.
review by . October 27, 2007
I liked this game a lot. It has atmosphere, a good interface, and a story line that keeps you going. It can be addictive. As a dad of two teens, I usually don't play much. More often I tell my sons to get off the computer and do their homework. Number one son, who is a gamer, insisted that I try this one, and he was right. Although I am not good at first person shooters, with his advice I was able to stay alive. It is a very well done game. My son finished the game in a few days, but still rated …
About the reviewer
Jeffrey Kafer ()
Ranked #734
Voice over artist specializing in audiobook narration. Hear more at http://audiobook-voice-over.com/ and http://JeffreyKafer.com
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About this video game


BioShock is an innovative shooter in development at Irrational Games, a wholly owned 2K studio. Set in a rich underwater utopia gone horribly wrong, BioShock features emergent gameplay driven by player choice which seamlessly integrates RPG, adventure, and shooter elements.

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Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Boston/2K Australia, 2K Marin (PlayStation 3)
Console: Xbox 360 Games
Release Date: August 21, 2007 (NA - 360);

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