Stephen King has what is called “trunk novels” — subpar books he’s thrown in a trunk for years when he didn’t have anything else to publish. Bioshock is a trunk game. Why? It’s not bad enough for a negative review, not good enough for a “must buy.”
First person shooter
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
The player begins in a crashed plane, marooned at a lighthouse. Going through the bronze doors, the only thing to be found is a pathway into an underwater distopian nightmare, and a friendly voice on the radio leading the player through this hellish world. Set several years after a civil war, the city of Rapture is rampant with “splicers,” who have messed with their genetics so much they hardly look human. Behind all of it is Andrew Ryan, founded of this little world, and he seems to be the only thing between the player and freedom.
This is your standard shooter, with some superpowers thrown in. Each weapon has its own customization tree, and an interesting array of ammunition. There is a “gel thrower,” that fires everything from electric gel to napalm. There is a standard Thompson submachinegun, which is par for the course. The sniping weapon of choice is actually a crossbow, with everything from arrows that lay down electrified tripwire to arrows that explode. The up close and personal weapon is a wrench, which can come with its own freezing ability.
The “Plasmids,” superpowers, include conjuring swarms of bees, flames, electricity, and a handful of other goodies that can be modified at will.
There are also hacking minigames that all you to sabotage healing stations for your enemies, or get items for cheap at various dispensers throughout the world.
The graphics are okay, nothing groundbreaking. The music … honestly, thinking back, I don’t think I noticed a soundtrack.
I don’t think I would rate this an R, nor do I think that it should rate a Mature. It is a very amoral game.
The culture of Rapture is centered around Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, taken to psychotic extremes. You can collect audio logs from Rapture residents that are … creepy. For example, there is one scientist who recalled her time as a child in a concentration camp, and how she corrected the science of the local eugenicist. Adult? Perhaps, though I saw Schindler’s List before I was a teenager, and this doesn’t measure up. Also, I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, this game is tame in comparison to some of those dark moments.
However, between the dark environment, the enemies that attack you while screaming like banshees, that alone is probably going to keep you from buying this for anything less than a teenager.
Then it gets worse. Remember that part about Ayn Rand taken to extremes? This includes Andrew Ryan referring to the Bible as “The Book of Lies,” or having a missionary strung up in a makeshift crucifix with live wires. Charming, right? I don’t classify this as an automatic strike against the game because, well, the graphics make it look more like a statue than anything that was a living person, and I walked past it twice before I even noticed it.
I think that wraps it up, yes?
Eh. I can’t see it. By the time the player gets to the third act, the story has slowed to a crawl, and most of the momentum is shot. If anyone finishes it, it’s an accomplishment. Reputability is low, since there’s a “good” ending, and three bad endings, with little difference between them.
If you’re still reading, I can tell you that there are some interesting aspects to this game. It does incorporate super powers in a way that Crysis 2 failed to do, and has a successor in Elder Scrolls V. And the writing is interesting, with a deep world to be explored and examined, and several strong characters along the way.
It has also taken the usual format of first person shooters and twisted it. Instead of the nameless faceless hero who just does what he’s told, BioShock takes that and uses it to its advantage. It’s a plot point. How? If you don’t know already, I won’t spoil it for you.
ESRB Rating: M for Mature, 17+
My Rating: 7/10. An above average game, though probably average, if it were released today.
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Copyright 2014 John Konecsni