Thursday, 7 August 2008

Extolling the Virtues of BioShock

Do you want to roam around a massive underwater neon-covered art deco city? Want to fight off its mutated and insane inhabitants? Ever wanted to stick power-giving hypodermic needles into your left arm on continual basis? How about wrestling with a superhuman in a diving suit?

If you answered "YES, FRIGGING YES!" to any of the above questions, then you need to calm down a little and play BioShock. If you haven't played it yet, or answered no to all of the above, then, sir or madam, you are a first class idiot. BioShock is one of the greatest games ever made. That's not even my opinion; it's certified, bona fide, scientific fact. The game takes one of the most overused gaming genres and wraps around it a completely unique setting. By doing this, it has already freed the game from some of the generic constraints that the genre lends itself to, especially wandering around a grey-scale corridor that looked just like the last corridor you walked down, which looked like any other corridor you've already walked down in a thousand other FPSs before.

It also gives you powers to use as and when you see fit, and the game doesn't make you choose the same thing over and over again. You can strategise if you want, or you can just shoot the shit out of everything that comes near you. You can play to your chosen style and the game doesn't really ever punish you for choosing the 'wrong' way in which to engage certain enemies, because, literally, there is no wrong way. Yes, some enemies fall easily to specific types of ammo (each gun has three different types), but whichever way you go about it, the enemy you set our sights on is going to go down. You never really feel overpowered, but the power you do get (especially towards the end of the game) really is rather satisfying, the game is incredibly well-balanced and the difficulty never shoots up to the max too quickly.

Dying isn't a complete chore, either. If truth be told, you never really die, you merely get sent back to a ‘Vita-Chamber’, and with everything you've done up to that point left how it was. It's seamless gaming, and it's all the more wonderful for it. No more hours wasted because you died before you remembered to save, none of that labourious 'trial and error' gameplay that plagues way too many games. Even if you like that shit, you can turn the Vita-Chambers off, but who the hell would ever want to do that?

The story is marvellous. It's not the be all and end all of this game, either. It's there if you want it, but you don't have to follow it too meticulously if you don't. If you think you'll be perfectly happy with just the gameplay (and believe me, you will) then you can let yourself loose on the city of Rapture. But, know this; the story may well drag you in. When you get there, the city is in chaos and the audio-diaries of the people who lived there prior to whatever disaster hit the city litter the game, pick them up and listen to them piece together exactly what happened bit by bit. There are even completely useless diaries, especially one where someone merely explains why they prefer a particular brand of cigarette over another. Brilliant!

All in all, the claustrophobic atmosphere of a city gone bad isn't exactly a new premise for media, but making the city such a unique place gave BioShock the freshness it needed to stand out.

1 comments:

Franklin said...

Nice review. I'm looking forward to the PS3 release so I can finally play it. The game looks frightening in the best way possible.

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