Zero Punctuation: BioShock

aeryxz [deprecated]

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Sep 6, 2007
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I totally agree with this review. The game seemed way too easy, I played it the first time on Medium, and I died maybe 3 times. I started playing it on hard, got smashed about 40 times in the beginning, but once you hit the hump, you can play the game on cruise control.

Dumbing down an inventory system can be seen as a good thing for casual gamers, but for people who are in the niche market of real FPS/RPG, this game is a real let down. It's like the developers spent most of their resources making the feel of the game superb, the sound is amazing, graphics are astonishing and the introduction sequence puts you in the world of Rapture. But once you start pushing through, the gameplay begins to feel like every other FPS, and you feel robbed of the experience. The developers spent more time trying to work out a combat system and from the hype they were giving it, kept dumbing it down for easy consumption. You don't need to access which weapons you need to carry, because you can carry everyone of them. Ammo is not a problem in this game, which you know - as a "survivalism" style of game, just destroys how the game feels.

The combat system is also flawed. I remember reading somewhere that you could play the game how you wanted to play, a mix of magic, err plasmids and weapons, pure plasmids or pure weapons. But the weapons totally outweigh the plasmids. There's too many weapons, you can carry at once, as opposed to plasmids. Plasmids only have 9 "reloads", while with the weapons you can have a small arsenal for a country and never be worried to run out. Plasmids feel gimmicky, truly I feel that there are only 3 that are useful, and weapons wise, I feel it wasn't balanced, I played more than 90% with shotgun because it was so darn powerful. Because your gun doesn't degrade or break, and modifications are permanent and free, the experience of trying to survive and make decisions is robbed from you.

The storyline was quite meh, I'm not going to spoil anything here. I kinda saw the first twist and lost interest after that. It's a hard thing to write a story for a game, but I never honestly felt threatened by the antagonists at any point in time, everything felt too scripted, levels too linear, a really over-useful quest arrow and not enough puzzles you needed to figure out (except pipedream hacking).

BUT- Bioshock is a good, no, GREAT game. Worth buying. Especially if you have never played System Shock 2 or Deus Ex. But if you have experience in real FPS/RPG's then you may want to lower your bar just a little, and play it through on HARD the first time (it's still easy). Most likely it will get game of the year, and maybe we as gamers are getting older and more experienced, we're still waiting for the true successor of System Shock 2.
 

Junaid Alam

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People arguing over the review simply missed the point.

That was bloody hilarious and well done. Especially being a news reporter I should do this sort of thing just for the cathartic effect.
 

Eminate

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Absolutely love your reviews, yahtzee. I am glad I went into Bioshock with no previous experience from their other games and very little hype because I loved it right to the very frigging end and the first time I released a little sister I think I may have even shed a man tear from the beauty of the experience.
 

Tzomg

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"Leap ignorantly to the defense of wealthy game companies who don't know or care about you"
 

Bongo Bill

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Loved the review.

But I'm gonna have to stick up for easy games. When I have a game with even anything remotely approaching real-time, I usually play it on the easiest difficulty imaginable. I usually don't have the reflexes for it. I don't like being punished for playing poorly. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, developers have this strange idea that when the player wins, the game loses, so they make the game try to beat me in any way they can. And that's fine for some games, but it's utterly inappropriate when the game has a story to it (as most games do these days). I bought the game, now let me see the damn thing. Fuck your arbitrary hoops that I am not good at jumping through. Fuck your making me restart the level because there was a guy behind me. And if "hardcore" gamers don't like it? Fuck them, too. It's easy to make a game harder. It's hard to make a game easier. Don't like the auto-respawn feature? Don't use it. But if I don't like the wall of indestructible badguys trying to make me redo the last twenty minutes of your game, I'm shit out of luck?

I'm glad 2K finally figured out which side their bread was buttered on (mine).
 
Sep 7, 2007
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That was a terrible, terrible review. For starters, while the similarities to System Shock 2 are quite apparent, who's to say that similarities between games can be avoided. Yeah, it's clear that it is similar to System Shock 2 but IMO the gameplay system of Bioshock is more refined, and the method of storytelling implemented in the game is far superior to SS2.

Also, once this 'review' stated that the game was 'dumbed-down' for 'console-tards', that pretty much destroyed any credibility and apparent objectivity this review might have. It's this kind of 'elitist PC fanboy taint' that reduced my ability to even take the review seriously. The truth is, there are a LOT of people out there who play on game consoles. For as long as the PC platform is prohibited by its incredibly rapid upgrade cycle (requiring you to buy thousands of dollars worth in new parts every six months), the PC isn't going to gain the installed base enjoyed by consoles anytime soon. That's the way it is today, and that's the way it was way back when SS2 was released. It's simply a disservice to gamers to discourage them from playing Bioshock because it's too similar to a game that most of them have probably never heard of, or never even played in their entire lives.

And that's the curse of game criticism. While there should be room for some comparison between games, I believe that games should be reviewed on their own merits. Reviews shouldn't focus so much on a game's weaknesses; it should also look into a game's strong points.
 
Sep 7, 2007
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I know the point of the Zero Punctuation video reviews is absurdist humor, so there's not a lot of point in taking them seriously as reviews. Yet I can't help but see the contradictions between this and his column on Psychonauts.

In the Psychonauts review, he complains that gamers gave Psychonauts the shaft by not buying it, and that in doing so they struck a blow against unusual games with great writing and creative backgrounds. Games as art, he even says. The review even starts with a bit where he instructs you to hurt yourself with a pencil in punishment for not buying Psychonauts.

Then along comes Bioshock, an unusual game with great writing and a creative background. A game that is arguable "art." And he complains about it being popular and too easy.

It's quite true that if you strip away all the writing and the background and the art direction and look at the bare gameplay elements, Bioshock isn't a first tier game. It's a somewhat easy shooter with a few novelty bits like telekinesis. Though "somewhat easy" is a relative term, I found it challenging enough on Normal that I was never bored, and I did the usual nervous creeping about thing that's common to any first time playing through a shooter.

Both games are memorable for all the things about the setting, and it would be nice they were wrapped around an extraordinary game as well, like Deus Ex was. Yet between the two, it's much better to wrap such a setting around an average-to-good game that's not too difficult to play, rather than a tedious below-average game that's hideously frustrating in parts. Croshaw complains that Bioshock kicks you in the crotch, but in fact that is exactly what Bioshock does not do. And for that I am grateful.

- Gus
 

Tarmanydyn

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Jun 15, 2007
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Dear Yahtzee,

I fucking love you, pretty much everything you've said, I've been saying to other people who are all 'Zomg! Bioshock!". Thank you for pointing out the game's deficiencies in a way that's simple, charming, and above all, hilarious. I myself am much too blunt.
 

Nanolathe

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It's simply a disservice to gamers to discourage them from playing Bioshock because it's too similar to a game that most of them have probably never heard of, or never even played in their entire lives.
It's not just that. I've never played SS2, and I could not care less that it is like that one game in anyway. What I don't like is that Bioshock is just a pretty standard game. It does nothing adventurous, it's just a very prettily wrapped up lump of mediocrity.
 

SaraPh

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Sep 6, 2007
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I'm still trying to find the part where in he discourages people from buying one of the best games of the year... In fact he says upfront and simply that it is one of the best games of the year. And he says that it being easier than SS2 is a good thing, simply that it may in fact be too easy. Seeing as how easy is relative to everyone and can only be a matter of pure opinion, it tends to be the kind of thing you take or leave, period.

As to the "dumbed down for consoles" "PC elitist" argument, I'm rather confused what exactly you are arguing. If you're arguing that Bioshock IS as complex as Stalker, Dues Ex, System Shock, et all, you're wrong, period, it's provable, and it seems to be generally admitted. It doesn't really matter how many hours a day console gamers spend playing, the AAA games made for them are less complex on average. Whether that is a good thing is certainly up for debate. It doesn't matter how hardcore of a gamer you are, the game is what it is and thats how the developers seem to be making them. Want that to change... tough, nobody in corporate gives a shit.

Back on difficulty, personally I think we would all rather have scaling difficulty but at the end of the day certain design choices make scaling fundamentally impossible. A game either is easy, or is hard. Either the gamers who enjoy a good challenge are left in the cold with an awesome storyline that forces them to wade through miles of lukewarm piss gameplay to experience it, or the gamers who enjoy easy entertainment are left with an awesome story that they can't ever experience in it's entirety without breaking their tv in frustration. Bioshock choose story first so that anyone can experience the entire thing, not all games have, or will make that choice.
 

UnaidedCoder

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Aug 29, 2007
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scytherage said:
It's this kind of 'elitist PC fanboy taint' that reduced my ability to even take the review seriously.
Serious? The review is menat to entertain, not just inform. You will very rarely find a funny, entertaining review that is unbiased. Why? Because opinions are funny things.

scytherage said:
Reviews shouldn't focus so much on a game's weaknesses; it should also look into a game's strong points.
He explains why he did that at the beginning of the review. In the Psychonaughts review he put more time into the strengths of the game, and it turns out people preferred him when he commented on the weaknesses. That's pretty much the case with 75% of all journalism. People like seeing the worse parts of things.
 

Geoffrey42

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SaraPh said:
As to the "dumbed down for consoles" "PC elitist" argument, I'm rather confused what exactly you are arguing. If you're arguing that Bioshock IS as complex as Stalker, Dues Ex, System Shock, et all, you're wrong, period, it's provable, and it seems to be generally admitted.
Personally, that is not what I was arguing. I was arguing against people using "console" and "casual" as interchangeable words, then using that interchangeability to claim that Bioshock was aimed at casual players, and concluding that Bioshock is the way it is to please the console kiddies.

Back on difficulty, personally I think we would all rather have scaling difficulty but at the end of the day certain design choices make scaling fundamentally impossible. A game either is easy, or is hard. Either the gamers who enjoy a good challenge are left in the cold with an awesome storyline that forces them to wade through miles of lukewarm piss gameplay to experience it, or the gamers who enjoy easy entertainment are left with an awesome story that they can't ever experience in it's entirety without breaking their tv in frustration. Bioshock choose story first so that anyone can experience the entire thing, not all games have, or will make that choice.
Exactly. A design choice, that was not necessarily forced by the platform for which it was developed, or the 'supposed' audience that exists on one versus the other.
 

Tarmanydyn

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scytherage said:
Reviews shouldn't focus so much on a game's weaknesses; it should also look into a game's strong points.
I'm glad a video game publication finally had the balls to point out the game's deficiencies (albeit in a fairly tongue-in-cheek manner). If you want a summation of the games strong points, look up any other game website, because they're all busy drooling over the game, claiming it as the best thing since sliced bread.
 

Virgil

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Tarmanydyn said:
I'm glad a video game publication finally had the balls to point out the game's deficiencies (albeit in a fairly tongue-in-cheek manner). If you want a summation of the games strong points, look up any other game website, because they're all busy drooling over the game, claiming it as the best thing since sliced bread.
Or, just check out Russ's Bioshock Review [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/reviews/1393-BioShock-Review], which is considerably more positive in tone, though if you look carefully they both say similar things about the actual game.
 

ZippyDSMlee

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Geoffrey42 said:
SaraPh said:
As to the "dumbed down for consoles" "PC elitist" argument, I'm rather confused what exactly you are arguing. If you're arguing that Bioshock IS as complex as Stalker, Dues Ex, System Shock, et all, you're wrong, period, it's provable, and it seems to be generally admitted.
Personally, that is not what I was arguing. I was arguing against people using "console" and "casual" as interchangeable words, then using that interchangeability to claim that Bioshock was aimed at casual players, and concluding that Bioshock is the way it is to please the console kiddies.

Back on difficulty, personally I think we would all rather have scaling difficulty but at the end of the day certain design choices make scaling fundamentally impossible. A game either is easy, or is hard. Either the gamers who enjoy a good challenge are left in the cold with an awesome storyline that forces them to wade through miles of lukewarm piss gameplay to experience it, or the gamers who enjoy easy entertainment are left with an awesome story that they can't ever experience in it's entirety without breaking their tv in frustration. Bioshock choose story first so that anyone can experience the entire thing, not all games have, or will make that choice.
Exactly. A design choice, that was not necessarily forced by the platform for which it was developed, or the 'supposed' audience that exists on one versus the other.
Would you stipulate that there are more "casual" gamers on the consoles?
And because of the number of consoles V PC out there they have to "market down" to them in order to sale their products better?
 

strandiam

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Sep 7, 2007
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In defense of bioshock about a point that you and every other reviewer complains about....

The vita chambers only make the game too easy if you CHOOSE to play the game like that. In Bioshock, we are given two options to deal with death; We can accept the free rez if the fight is too challenging OR you can play it just like a standard fps and reload and try again. If you want a challenge, start saving and reloading as you die. You will soon realize this game can be very challenging.

We should be praising the game for giving us these two great options to allow us to play the game how we feel it needs to be rather than ignoring one and bashing the option we don't like.

Aside from that, thanks for the great videos. Keep it up!
 

Alex Karls

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Aug 27, 2007
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But that's the thing, this game isn't very challenging. On normal, you'll die a handful of times, if that, because the only thing that's really dangerous is you and a Big Daddy, and a handful of electric buckshot will bring down a Big Daddy like no one's business. I topped off every chance I could and never had less than 10 shells.

I think the biggest problem is that the Vita Chambers attempt to answer an out of game mechanic question (what happens if I die without having saved recently?) in an in-game way. The way they chose to implement it is really jarring. We're already asked to believe in Rapture, which, and let's get this straight, is hard to swallow on a good day. A city that looks like Manhattan, on the bottom of the ocean? Yes, it isn't quite that big. But it's got skyscrapers at several fathoms down. I'm wondering exactly how many marine engineers looked at it and said "Ooh, pretty. But no way, not at that pressure."

To me, the Vita Chamber is just another element of that. It's an obstacle to creating suspension of disbelief that also reduces the difficulty curve to a flat line. You can have some of those in a game, and testament to that fact is Bioshock quality itself, but it's still a strain.

Difficult is not what I think of with this game.
 

Geoffrey42

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ZippyDSMlee said:
Would you stipulate that there are more "casual" gamers on the consoles?
And because of the number of consoles V PC out there they have to "market down" to them in order to sale their products better?
Actually, I would not stipulate that. Unless you have some surveys/studies to point towards, my understanding/assumption is that the mix of casual/hardcore and in between on any platform is essentially the same, with mild variation. In my experience, the idea that console users are "kiddies", or majority "casual", is a self-important belief held by PC evangelists.

I think all of the platforms have strengths and weaknesses, and fulfill a niche, I just dislike this sort of scapegoating on "the other".