BioShock

Downloaded the demo from FilePlanet – finally got to see some of the 7Mb I pay Road Runner for. Installed it and ran it up to be greeted by a brave attempt at an oceanic air crash. Brave of someone to actually expect someone else to sign off on that. It could really have been carried off well but they give the player control – chance to look around and see the flaws. It’s like someone taking the old ghost-train ride and turning it into a tour. I came perilously close to thinking “wtf, uninstall”.

I’m glad I didn’t.

Lets get the bad out of the way first, shall we? Issue #1, smack dab up top, and I hope you are paying attention to all this implies, is that the standard “sprint” key is designated to a UI page that doesn’t go away if you press the same key. The only one I could find. This did rather spoil the action scenes for me where it is instinct to try and sprint. There is no sprint function, just a weapon selection screen you have to hit esc to get rid of.

My second issue is the current vogue of playing with shadow and making large chunks of a gameworld dark. Please stop. The BioShock demo makes some good use of the effects – which is excellent – but it also tips a nod of the hat to flagrant experimentation and “if its too dark to see, it’ll be exciting” mindset.

And overall there is the inevitable “glass box” problem that such an ambitious setting would have to have. A large part of the game is set under water in what appear to be 1950s houses and you equipped with a wrench.

On to the good.

The graphics are quite excellent. If you resist the urge to ogle and let the storyline carry you, things move smoothly and immersively. Everything takes place in an sub-oceanic city called Rapture which appears to have become separated from the outside world in 1959 and your arrival accelerates aspects of its decay. Some of the effects are excellent, very cinematic.

Gameplay is “FPS with magic”; actually, I found it to be reminiscent of an RPG, the wizard or shaman class perhaps. The NPCs you kill can be searched for loot (bullets, cash, med kit items) and there are various items you can pick up scattered around. It’s a little disconcerting that there is no inventory screen but not a big deal.

The UI is simple and clean and – IMHO – the interface is fairly elegant. There is an odd little “hacking” game – which is essentially “Pipes” which feels kind of out of place, but happens to be one I enjoy :)

In the demo, you only get a brief glimpse of the gameworld., and you seem to move through an awfully large area of content very rapidly which gives it a hedonistic sense of luxury and extravagance. I decided not to pick at the decor and risk spoiling the illusion.

Early on you are introduced to “plasmids”, which are the medichlorians of BioShock, the theory is they change your DNA and give you various powers. You have a red bar for health and a blue bar for mana, erh, “EVE”. Using plasmids drains your blue bar, the first plasmid you get is an electric shock; you stun your enemies with it and then mash them up with your wrench.

Your second plasmid is a flame-thrower. These two are pretty standard FPS faire, and at first gave rise to a sense of deja-vu in fancy settings. But at the end of the demo (its VERY short) they show you a movie of some of the more advanced plasmids and I have to say it looks like good stuff.

Despite my comments on use of darkness, the demo makes some very nice use of shadow and lighting, the level of suspense is pretty good but its up to you to keep the pace.

This is going to hurt but – 2.5/5 for the demo – it deserves more but it was just the wrong content for a “demo” – but I suspect the game will warrant a 3 if not a 4. I’ll definitely be buying.

15 Comments

Downloading the full game from Direct2Drive overnight. Varying between 200kbps and 760kbps – which makes it either a 12 or 3 hour download.

I got it via Steam, and love it. Runs great on my system and has scared the ever-loving shit out of me at least three times already.

A couple of pointers:

Widescreen isn’t
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=182534

Don’t install it on a computer you don’t plan on using:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=182852

Cheers,
Chris

Just don’t try to install it 3 times.

Unless you get the Steam or 360 version.

Oh, there’s SecuROM on the Steam version too….

At least they’re planning on releasing a patch that fixes the 2 install problem and the lack of wide screen support.
http://snafu-blog.com/2007/08/24/2ks-response-to-widescreen-and-securom-complaints/
Anyways, the game is a blast, if you haven’t picked it up, you definitely should.
Great blog btw.

I wouldn’t agree with your review but, hey, it’s your opinion. I personally think the shadowing was good- seeing a doctor viciously “murder” a patient, having the lights shut off and then finding nothing but a grotesquely mutilated body and everything covered in blood is really creepy to me.

If you want another opinion, I have reviewed the full Steam version here-
http://seriousnerd.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/bioshock-first-impressions/

Did you guys get the Sony’s SecuRom rootkit installed (even with the demo version), which people are saying is happening:

http://www.gamingbob.com/2007/08/23/bioshock-installs-rootkit-including-demo/

Or something that looks like a rootkit, but technically isn’t or whatever.

Alek, I clearly differentiated between two things – one being the excellent use of shadows, the other being a very popular trend amongst shoebox designers to have copious dark areas.

There is a balance to be struck and, while BioShock excels above other games in its effective use of shadow and darkness, it still commits the sin of so many games by having too much darkness in general – too many places that are dark just to make you stop and check if its a secret area or because they couldn’t really think of anything to put there so they made it dark instead.

Excuse me for not making the distinction… I know see your point.

My god that widescreen thing is quite literally the most pointless thing ever complained about by anyone ever in the history of mankind and anyone complaining should be immediately sterilized for the benefit of mankind just on the extremely small chance they would ever actually reproduce. There’s no problem with widescreen support, the horizontal FOV is the same in both modes, so you see more of the top and bottom on the 4:3 display. That’s the FOV the developers wanted and designed for widescreen.

FYI- all of this rootkit stuff is only half true- Securom DOES install a rootkit, but it’s not the bad kind- all it does is track your IP- if you install it on another computer, it tracks that IP as well on your game’s CdKey/Serial to prevent pirating.

Did they ask you if they could install it? Did they inform you that they installed it? Do they provide a way for you to uninstall it if you do not want it? They do inform you of what the program will be doing and what kind of information it is tracking and sending back to the company?

Hmmmm……… That is a “NO” to all of these questions.

All root kits are bad. They open up security holes that you have no knowledge of, since they did not inform you of its existence. They do not provide a way for you to remove it either.

Ask Sony about their root kit problems and how hackers have started using it as a gateway into peoples machines. Do you think Sony should be held liable for their actions and the security hole it opened up on Windows machines? Windows has enough issues it really doesn’t needs Sony’s help in this area.

In my book this qualifies as spyware/greyware/malware.

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