Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Review: BioShock

Say hello to Papa - Kooky is good. Kinky is nice too but when it comes to gaming, kooky is better. In fact if I ever made a game and someone said it was kooky, I would find that to be the highest of compliments. Some of my favorite games are kooky – GTA: Vice City, Prey, The Darkness. These are games that are unique, weird and just plain different with brilliant, off the wall gameplay that gives an I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that-in-a-videogame warm and fuzzy feeling in your gut. You can now add BioShock to the short, yet distinguished list of kooky games. Stop reading this right now and go buy it, I’m serious. You’re wasting your time reading this instead of playing the best game on the market right now.
Still there? A little leery? Been burned by games loved by reviewers before? Fine, allow me to elaborate.
Your name is Jack. Its 1960 and you’re flying over the North Atlantic when things go horribly wrong. Your plane crashes (no its not an Oceanic flight) and you are the only survivor. Flames from jet fuel light the darkness around as you watch the fuselage slowly sink. But what’s this? A lighthouse in the middle of nowhere? With no alternatives you head inside to find something else unusual, a submersible capsule. Eh, what the hell. You hop in and are transported to the underwater city of Rapture, it’s a strange place.
Originally meant to be an underwater, high-tech Shangri-La designed by certifiable nut job Andrew Ryan (think Dr. Frankenstein), Rapture eventually self destructed after genetic experiments created grotesque and strangely powerful people called Splicers. A civil war has broken out and your character has inconveniently landed right in the middle of it. Corpses lie everywhere, Splicers attack without warning and creepy girls with lights for eyes rob the dead. Weird! Then there are the Big Daddys. Monstrous, strong, ground shaking foes whose loud, bear-like roars that will make you crap your pants every time you see them. To quote Vince Lombardi, “What the hell is going on here!?!”
Right off the bat BioShock leaves you dazed and confused. You have no clue what’s going on, strange mutated people who like like extras from Thriller are trying to kill you, there seems to be no way to escape and the only person you can trust is some guy on a radio. The mystery of Rapture and the constant sense of danger keep will keep you on the edge of your seat. The further you go into the game, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more disturbing Rapture becomes. The more disturbing it is, the more you want answers and want to keep going and the more you get addicted to the game.
The well developed story for BioShock is so intense it could easily overwhelm you (I expect a BioShock movie to be out in about 2 years and yes, I'm available), but the superb gameplay keeps up with the story step for step, allowing gamers to feel right in the middle of the action.
The meat and potatoes of BioShock’s gameplay lies in its character customization. Just like every other weirdo in Rapture, you too will have your DNA reprogrammed…but with sexy results. Ever wanted to shoot lightning from your fingers? No problem. Fling flames like Johnny Storm? Check. Turn enemies against each other, move objects with your mind, have hornets come out of the veins in your arms (okay, maybe not that one), hit people with a large wrench? Check, check, check and check. These are just a few of the powers at your disposal. There are also a ton of weapons to use, skills to learn and plenty of hacking - safes, gun turrets, robots, vending machines (ooh, free chips) - to do.
The best thing about having all of these options, which you gradually acquire over the course of the game, is that its completely up to you how you use them. Gamers mix and match powers, weapons, skills and abilities in a way that fits their gaming style. The gameplay can occasionally lend itself to being a little too linear, but only if you’re trying to hurry through the game. An arrow usually guides your path, but BioShock seems to encourage exploring. Wandering around before hitting your objective leads to more backstory and more weirdness.
The game presentation perfectly adds to the kooky feel of the game. The voice acting feels honest and believable with the date appropriate music and haunting voices of the girls in the game providing a creepy vibe. The graphics are first rate as the underwater structures capture the time period, and the water effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a game.
BioShock is not your typical first person shooter, and that’s a great thing. It’s a true kooky original that grabs you by the collar that demands you take action. So what are you waiting for?

Cost: $49.99 - $59.99
Players: One
Formats: Xbox 360, PC
Category: First Person Shooter
Rating: Mature (17+)
You take the good: Engrossing story, great character customization, unique FPS take
You take the bad: No multiplayer, Save points take some of the challenge away
And then you have – The Grade: A+
Quick Aside - Congrats to Colorado Springs own Jeremy Mattsen. Yesterday J-Dog was announced as one of five finalists in the Unlock Xbox Challenge. The contest, sponsored by Doritos and Microsoft, invited gamers to come up with a concept for an Xbox Live Arcade game that "brings to life the bold spirit of the Doritos brand", whatever that means. Its cheesy as hell but the chance to come up with a game for XBLA that everyone will be able to download for free next summer is pretty cool. The five finalists game concepts (Jeremy's is called PB's Quest for Flavor) are posted at www.snackstrongproductions.com where gamers can throw in their two cents. A winner will be announced in November and will not only have his game made but pocket a $6000 prize package. Good luck Jeremy!


Eli the Mad (Beer) Man said...

Started playing BioShock (for the PC) last night... OMG! Fan-freakin-tastic game! Brings back the great creepiness from System Shock 2. Friggin' crazy eerie atmosphere! LOVE IT!

Ub3rn00b said...

I wish my system could handle this game at highest graphics settings and still have a decent FPS, but enh...I'll upgrade next year and hope that people are still playing this ;)
It's refreshing to finally have a game that is truly fantastic. IMO there have been games coming out in the last year and a half or so that were just so so. Some games had so much potential (*ahem* DiRT *ahem*) but were squandered by poor choices in online game play options. We'll have to see how this one does.