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Bioshock 

Review - Page 1


- Alan Ham, " mastacheef ", Staff Writer
Friday, August 24, 2007 


Title:
Bioshock

..............................................
System:
PC
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Genre:
First Person RPG
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Publisher:
2k Games
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Developer:
Irrational Games
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Release:
2007
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Online:
No
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ESRB:
Rating Pending (RP)
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VGcore Gold Medal
Bioshock Screenshot Gallery

Bioshock Screenshot Gallery

Bioshock Screenshot Gallery

In a recent review I touched upon the ongoing debate about whether or not games can be considered an art form. If you didn’t know, I agree wholeheartedly to the notion that games can reach that level of creativity and technical excellence that can not only entertain, like what most art does, but enlighten those who experience the work. Visual art can do it. Music can do it. Dramatic art can do it. Why can't games? I mean, they essentially mix all those aforementioned elements together and immerse a player into them. At the same time, however, one would be hard pressed to find a game that could prove to a heavy film-goer or music aficionado that playing a game could have the same impact as a Hitchcock film or a Mozart piece. However, as the gamer generation gets older, games will force their way onto the scene, and BioShock does nothing but make the change faster.

The game begins in a very typical way, in a different time, somewhere in the 1960’s. You play as a man named Jack who is onboard an airplane that suddenly crashes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Surviving the crash, you swim for a lighthouse, or at least what you think is a lighthouse. Unbeknownst to poor Jack, it’s actually an entrance – and not to a lighthouse. As the bathysphere elevator descends, you are graced with the visual wonder that is the underwater city of Rapture. Rapture contains within its walls marvelous art deco architecture, neon lights, and a complete feel of a living and breathing city - underwater. Of course, this “Atlantis” is just too good to be true, and it is. Once you reach the entrance to the city, you are greeted with a welcome room of walls leaking, fires burning, and blood-spattered walls everywhere. Obviously, there has been trouble in paradise. While getting oriented, a man by the name of Atlas contacts you on short-wave radio and remains on the air to ask for help finding his wife and kid. In exchange for your support, he helps you through your time in Rapture. As the game continues, you find yourself immersed in a city, once so proud and burgeoning, now decayed beyond repair. How and why the city has collapsed unfolds slowly, in a narrative creatively told through old tape recordings you find, black-and-white TV broadcasts, and ghostly images of the past.

Part of what makes BioShock such a unique experience is just how far the developers have deviated from the generic first-person shooter mold. Indeed, most of the action happens with weapon in hand, and getting creative with the dispatching of enemies can be a big part of being successful. But that’s where the comparison to FPS’s stop. While, Jack’s right hand contains the trigger finger, the left is where the magic happens, literally. Adding a different look for a FPS, you also gain special powers, called plasmids, to use against the enemies. Scattered throughout the levels, the powers include telekinesis, fireballs and freezing. These powers can be used as long as you have EVE (think mana from RPGs) which can be found in syringes. Syringes? Ah…things definitely aren’t what they seem.

Using your powers in conjunction with your weapons is, more often than not, the way to go. Being creative and using the environment to your advantage can come to play if you can think quickly enough. However, in exception to a few points where the plasmids are required to fulfill a task, the game could be played using only a gun, for which there are a few. At your disposal is a pistol, a machine gun, a shotgun and a grenade launcher. There are a few other… weirder weapons, but the variety really lies in the different types of ammo you can find. Armor-piercing bullets and exploding shotgun shells are among those hidden about, and are just the thing for those tougher enemies.

Going back to an earlier statement, the game can be finished without the use of the plasmids. In fact, the whole game can be completed with the big wrench, your only melee weapon. This is because of the penalty for dying, or lack thereof. In fact, when you die you are sent right to one of the many Vita Chambers that are strewn across each level. Everything else, such as the health of an enemy and their location remain the same. This may draw ire from some, but overall, the system works. As easy as it seems, it keeps you from putting the controller down so the game unfolds as it should – not ending up in your unfinished game pile.

Character building is another element of the game, not seen much in the genre. Every so often, you will gain ADAM, which can be redeemed at “kiosks” in return for plasmids and tonics. Tonics are added power bonuses, but unlike the special powers, are passive and only boost certain abilities such as increased melee power or hacking skills. You only receive a few slots per skill tree (such as engineering and weaponry) so whichever abilities you want to have are limited to the number of slots. Thankfully, you can save the extra plasmids or switch them out at one of the gene banks that are located all over each level. The auto-hack ability will come in handy and is arguably the best skill to possess. Playing the puzzle mini-games that are required to open certain doors gets old after a while. Not only progressing, but finding certain items and turning some of the robots into useful compatriots will require the hack ability. You can see why it behooves you to acquire that skill.


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