Monday, October 20, 2008

Bioshock - Review

The music and sound is really the first thing that hit me while starting up Bioshock. Old record players scratch out vintage tunes, and every creak and groan of the underwater city of Rapture is heard, be they from the leaky pipes or unstable inhabitants. You could enjoy this game blindfolded, the whole game unravelling like a radio drama. The banter between the violent Splicers, the found dialog recordings, and the voices of Andrew Ryan and your guide, Atlas, leading you through this underwater aural paradise.

Exploring Rapture is like a sick dream come to life, and is thankfully kept from becominga nightmare to play.

The handy map and pointer system assures you that no matter how far you go off your path, it's always easy to get back on, so you're free to explore every nook and cranny to your hearts content. You'll never get frustrated in that regard, and you're usually rewarded for unearthing each little pocket of secrets, from audio diaries to disturbing scenes, bodies frozen in a meat locker. It's hard not to take a bit of interest, the way it all unfolds little by little. If someone were to ask you "what is this game about" early on, all you could say would be "I have no idea...but it looks like we missed one hell of a party". That feeling of action just past is ever prevalent throughout the game, you're exploring a world that up until very recently still had a thriving population. You still encounter a few of the lost souls deep within it all, but there is a certain sadness to it all, Andrew Ryans fantasy become reality become hell on earth, below the waves. And you buy into every second of it, so long as you awknowledge the games limits and play to it's stengths.

The basic shooter gameplay feels slightly repetitive at times, due to a lack of variation in enemy types. The various ammo types and plasmids help make up for this lack of variety by giving you plenty of options for enemy disposal. Using the Rapture security systems to your advantage is another option which I excercised often, and found gratifying. Having a horde of splicers chased down by sentry bots acting on your side can turn the tables for the better, while also just being alot of fun to see play out. The Big Daddy fights which make up a major portion of the plot and moral center of the game with their Litte Sister dynamic are tougher, but even then you have plenty of options. You can even turn these lumbering behemoths against your enemies as well, given the right power up options and depending on how you want to play the game. The interactions that happen as a room full of adversary all turn in your favor, or are all destroyed with your elemental wrath as you make your way to the narratively satisfying endgame make for an altogether interesting trip through Rapture.

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