BioShock; is it the Big Daddy? PS3 Attitude team review…
Itâ€™s the first day of the new PS3 Attitude. What better time to bring you the first ever â€˜team reviewâ€™. In this edition, Phreaky and DolphGB take BioShock to task. Is this really the big daddy of all games, or is it more like your little sister?
â€œOn Friday I bought Bioshock. Call me a victim of the hype machine. Call me the cat that was curious. Heck, you can stick a pair of heels on me and call me Nancy if you like, because the truth is this game is incredible.
Long story short; you (Average Joe on Flight XXX from City A to City B) survive a plane crash only to find yourself stranded on a tiny postage stamp of land upon which some clever spark has built a Scary Building.
Inside is a bathysphere to the underwater city of Rapture where everyone has gone batshit crazy apart from some Irish guy called Atlas (is that a typical Irish name?) who helps you get to grips with what is going on.
You figure out that all the creepy folks you are dispatching are souped up on gene altering injections that have sent them the way of the loon, oblivious to the possibility that it might not be such a good idea to plunge all of these weird genetically mutating serums into yourself.
Right from the now-legendary opening sequence of the game, this shooter reeks of some seriously strong Awesome-sauce. I’m going to curtail my enthusiasm for now and give you a balanced view, as there are some flaws preventing BioShock from getting into my all time favourites list. Not many, but several nonetheless.
First off, the presentation is really well done. From the font used in the instruction manual to the plinky-plonky piano music that plays when you change selections in the main menu, it is clear that 2K have thought carefully about how this game should feel.
Between these two great details lies the apparently pre-requisite disc load. With no progress bar to indicate how much loading remains, this is one frustrating load screen. Even my controller became bored and decided to turn itself off thanks to the new firmware 2.5 update.
Personally, I feel that any game that makes you wait longer than this ten-minute period is too long. Even with the interesting adverts going on in the background and some jazz playing along I still found myself tapping my fingers and getting antsy.
But this is a one-off; a single annoyance that will save loading times in the game… right?
Being the slightest bit weedy when it comes to shooters I opted for the easiest setting. This is very much a novice setting with arguably simple enemies so about ten minutes of gameplay later I started again on the next difficulty up.
This didn’t ramp up the toughness too much, but granted me enough of a challenge to keep the adrenaline flowing.
The graphics in the game are – for the most part – stunning. The lighting, water effects and character designs all stand out as exemplary in the genre. Smoke lingers in the air and enemies die with a satisfying heaviness to them.
It has to be said that the textures are often blocky and reflections in blood and oil are outright pixelated when you look closely. I tried to see the texture flaws that were apparently present on the Big Daddies but I couldn’t see any.
It is possible that they are flawed compared to the “other” version but having not played that I can only go on what I see here, which is a well-constructed and highly polished environment with some of the best water effects in recent times.
The gameplay is solid throughout with a huge wealth of options for character development. It feels like the FPS that Hellgate London on the PC wanted to be, just without all of the daft menus and level up systems. This is a far more organic and immersive experience.
On my first play-through however many of the Plasmids, tonics and even weapons available became surplus. I intend to go back to the game in the near future and attempt to play on the hardest setting in order to see if the increase in difficulty requires a more strategic use of each and every available plasmid and upgrade.
My only other major gripe is with the loading times between sections. We already loaded the game, right? So why do we need to sit through another load screen when we go to a new area? I found that it broke the suspension of disbelief rather harshly.
Having said that, it would be a great disservice to suggest that the game is let down by these flaws because – whilst it has several – none are unforgiveable.
To put it simply, 2K have stood on the shoulders of giants and elevated the FPS genre to lofty new heights.
And that, surely, is no bad thing?â€
â€œFirst Person Shooters. I mean, itâ€™s not like we donâ€™t have enough choice on the PS3, is it?
This year, as with the year before, we have a lot of titles clambering for the contents of our wallets. Resistance 2 is on the way, Dead Space is out this Friday in Europe (24th October), Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, Quantum of Solace and Call of Duty: World at War are just some of the titles coming out before Christmas.
And I havenâ€™t even started on 2009â€™s brace of shooters.
So why does BioShock deserve your hard-earned cash?
Few FPS titles offer you any real â€˜feelingâ€™ of what is going on around you. For the most part, running around and shooting either AI characters or multi-player opponents is pretty standard across the board. Call of Duty 4 changed that. One of the few shooters that actually made you feel the true horror of war, it stood out amongst the pack and actually made you think.
BioShock is a member of that breed of shooter. Itâ€™s not just about running around firing off rounds until your enemy (or you) cops it.
For starters, your â€˜weaponsâ€™ donâ€™t just extend to the firearms you carry in your right hand. No â€“ your left hand becomes a weapon of its own thanks to the genetic modifications offered by the plasmid syringe. This in itself offers a more strategic angle to your gaming.
You can â€“ for example â€“ set someone on fire. This makes them run to the nearest water source to put out the blaze. If the nearest water is a pool rather than a cascading shower, they will dive in. At which point you can unleash a blast of electricity into the pool and finish off the job.
Grilled and fried all at once…
But itâ€™s not the variety of weapons and strategies that make BioShock stand out. Itâ€™s not even the moral choices youâ€™ll have to make or the raft of additional â€˜non-weaponâ€™ elements youâ€™ll need to get to grips with.
What makes BioShock stand out from the crowd is the way it makes you feel. Scared. Alone. Desolate. Confused. And thatâ€™s just the first five minutes.
BioShock has done what few FPS titles have ever achieved. It makes you think about what youâ€™re doing.
And if that doesnâ€™t sell it to you, it has trophies too!â€
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