Review: BioShock

Russ Pitts

The Boss of You
May 1, 2006
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Review: BioShock

Is there choice in this game? No. Not really. You're offered the opportunity to exercise your existential angst over whether or not to damage the Little Sisters in order to harvest their Adam, the life-giving substance responsible for genetic mutation and long life, but from the beginning forward you're essentially on a path to do whatever the designers of the game - and the puppet masters of Rapture - want you to do. It's an object lesson in the terrifying nature of fate and is all the more engaging for its lack of pretension. A carnival house of horrors in which you hold the gun, but feel nevertheless completely at the mercy of the man behind the curtain.

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Bongo Bill

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Jul 13, 2006
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I'd have to agree - though I haven't got to the ending yet and can't tell you what I think about that. Bioshock is not the most perfectly crafted game I've ever played, but it surpasses all of the more flawless ones on sheer artistic ambition alone.
 
Dec 5, 2006
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The game is amazing, and I fully recommend it to anyone. But most of the story comes during the game proper, don't expect much from the ending it's a bit of a tack on.
 

Alex Karls

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Aug 27, 2007
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I'm curious as to why you enjoyed the story to the degree you did? I liked it too, but it still seemed typical of the genre, if perhaps much better written. It still cast you in the shoes of nobody, gave you no way to create a sense of characterization, and pummeled you with tiny bits and pieces of story from a universe that should have been explained (and experienced) much more fully.

Ico is an example of a game that works with a minimalist story because it's a minimalist game. Every time I play a shooter like Bioshock, I'm reminded of what I'm not seeing, and that usually makes the story seem much more hollow.

And while I agree with you about the last two levels, I have a distinctly different point of view about the endings. The bad ending doesn't just leave me wanting, it's bad. It's bad from the stance of being cliche, it's bad for being trite and pointless. On the other hand, you have the good ending, which I found complete and sublime. When you complete the game as a heroic character, you're getting the sort of ending that would've been appropriate for a less 'story-promised, not-delivered' kind of game.

Really, Bioshock strikes me as good, and one of the first really good games for the console. I don't think it's going to be here next year though.
 

LxDarko

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Nov 11, 2006
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I must be weird. I don't feel this way about BioShock at all. This is first time I've ever felt dread from the mere thought about playing a game that isn't completely broken. The game's setting doesn't upset me at all and neither do the NPCs, but the combat is just so annoying for me that I really regret even playing it first place.

BioShock is a good game but I agree with you it isn't for everyone. Unfortunately it seems like I'm one of the few in this group. Personally I would rather see a movie about the city of Rapture that's set between the years of the discovery of Adam and the start of the game rather than see an actual sequel to BioShock be releasd.
 

David Miscavidge

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Dec 13, 2006
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I agree with the review, for the most part. All of the parts that make up the whole are things we've seen before, BioShock just happens to be a splendid combination of these ingredients.

At times I got lots of Deus Ex deja vu. Which is very good--This is really my favorite type of first person gameplay.

As for the end events, without spoiling anything, I'd have to agree. Said escort mission was utterly annoying, and the subsequent boss battle was actually far too easy for me.

The ending felt vestigal, though I played as Mr. Nice Guy and got the 'good' ending, which I found to be emotionally satisfying. (I watched the 'bad' ending on Youtube later.)

I was thinking about the ending. Maybe it's brevity is actually a healthy thing-- I think it's good that they tastefully *didn't* resort to certain expected Hollywood pyrotechnics.
 

Chinster

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Sep 5, 2007
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I would strongly disagree that the first 20 minutes are the best 20 minutes of gaming ever. While a clever intro and very atmospheric other games are also learning how to put in a great beginning (The Darkness).

Good review, I'm about 6-7 hours in I reckon and enjoying it very much. I'd play more except Blue Dragon seems to have grabbed my attention somewhat.
 

jlaakso

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Jul 14, 2006
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The game does rock a lot. I've been telling some good bits (yes, spoiling it, to a degree, but I've neer been anal about spoilers) to people who haven't played it yet, just to make them curious.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned in reviews is that the game is an almost direct copy of System Shock 2 - the mechanics are absolutely the same. Weapon degradation has been taken out, but that's really it. Not that this is a bad thing as SS2 is perhaps the best PC game of all time, but something I find curious the reviews aren't mentioning.
 

Geoffrey42

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Aug 22, 2006
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jlaakso said:
One thing that hasn't been mentioned in reviews is that the game is an almost direct copy of System Shock 2 - the mechanics are absolutely the same.
I think you must have missed <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/1394-Zero-Punctuation-BioShock>this one.
 

Virgil

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Nov 17, 2020
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You know, after seeing all the (fairly glowing) reviews, I think I'm going to have to put aside my general dislike of FPSs and give the game a try. If I can suffer through the bad parts of Psychonauts, I can at least try to look past the game genre.

Not until I'm done with Blue Dragon though :p
 

Arbre

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Jan 13, 2007
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Now, with all the appraisal going on, can someone tell me if this game offers anything new as a FPS, besides, eventually, immersive locations?

How is it better than, say, Doom 3?
 

LxDarko

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Nov 11, 2006
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Arbre said:
Now, with all the appraisal going on, can someone tell me if this game offers anything new as a FPS, besides, eventually, immersive locations?

How is it better than, say, Doom 3?
Storyline and it's shinier. BioShock is definitely an game that I believe many should experience, try out the demo if you like the demo you will like the game.
 

Arbre

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Jan 13, 2007
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I'll try to run the demo when I'll have a new PC.
Like always, buzz is a formidable marketing machine, and I'm wondering if people aren't going too far on Bioshock.
Does it have original game mechanics? Story wise, is it better than Deus Ex, DF2: Jedi Kinght, Half Life 2 or other such life eating games?
 

Buckydude

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Sep 10, 2007
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Everyone talks about this game as if it's some kind of messiah for the next-gen consoles, a beacon of light under which the new era is ushered after a two year false start. Coming away from it, i realize that it was probably the best game I've played all year and will undoubtedly stay that way well into 2008, but i can't help but feel a little empty after the experience. . The game is masterfully told and is the closest thing to a movie (or real life) a game has gotten since a Metal Gear game. My point is that if a game that does everything right is unable to really change anything on an evolutionary (which is admittedly yet to be seen) or even personal level, is there really anything more meaningful here then hardwire and pixels. I will say this though; the first time i killed a big daddy, i knew from the moment i saw the little sister crying by it's corpse that there was no way i could kill that kid.
 

Jacob.pederson

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Jul 25, 2006
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Good review; however, I can't help but completely disagree with you on the escort mission. I found it to be THE MOST compelling revelation in a whole series of compelling revelation. As you said, I can't give it away here of course, but lets just say it involves the motivations and experiences of the "big daddy" character. Also, I can't believe you went the whole review without mentioning the potato chip machine or the blues guitar.

More on those here
jakepcw.com/muyuubyou/?p=586
 

Attelia

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Dec 23, 2009
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This review has cemented my resolve to buy Bioshock. Brava, Mr. Pitts, as your fragmented review has left me in a state of almost-anxiety; waiting as I must try this evidently revolutionary experience.
Plus, I can buy Bioshock bundled with Elder Scrolls (IV?) Oblivion for only $40.
 

Cuppa Tetleys

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Mar 22, 2010
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I completely agree, Bioshock is now one of my favourite games, but like most story oriented games the worst part about it is that you can't have the same experience twice. Although I really enjoyed it my second time aswell, it didn't compare because I knew what was going to happen. That being said bioshock is still absolutely fantastic and I recommend it, though maybe not to those who have only ever played shooters like Halo.