Thursday, August 30 2007

Bioshock: The Review

I've been incredibly stressed out at work for a while now, and last Tuesday was particularly bad.  My boss got upset with me, and I got upset with her and held it in because I knew letting it out would be a really really Bad Thing.  So, trying to find some outlet, I stopped at the game store on the way home, and there it was:  Bioshock.  From the legendary team that created System Shock.  Bought it, took it home, installed it, and some of the stress went away with each swing of the dreaded Wrench Of Dooooom!

Wednesday, fired up the computer and went to Shamus Young's excellent site.  And what awaited me there?  The game I had just gotten addicted to is loaded with more DRM than I can shake a stick at.  It has truly insane system requirements and doesn't even work on some systems that meet those requirements.  And server overload means that most people who purchased the game can't even play it.  <Sigh>

Well, it works on my system, it installed just fine, and I was stuck with the game and the damn DRM.  So I may as well play it.  And it is a fun game.  Not great enough to be legendary (but then again, I'm noticeably picky) but probably the best story-driven FPS I'd ever played.

What's not to like?
The DRM.  The DRM.  The DRM.  The System Requirements from Hell.  The DRM.  (You get the idea.)  It takes a long time to load each level, so it doesn't hurt to have some reading material.  The game itself is relatively short;  it's about 10-15 hours.  Most of the weapons seem astoundingly inaccurate at long range, so no real sniping here (as I love sniping in FPS games, this was a disappointment).  The plot had a fair amount of cliche FPS elements scattered about.  The 'moral choices' bit was overplayed, as there's basically one thing you do that offers you a moral choice, and it's not particularly expensive to take the right choice  (Dark Forces II offered a much more diverse moral choices in a FPS).  The moralizing is a bit heavy-handed at first.  The enemies got a bit repetitive after a while.  The DRM.  The DRM.  The... (just a reminder)

What's to like?
The world itself is beautiful, and Rapture is a fantastically realized landscape.  Each level had a completely different feel, with at least new "wow" moment looking around at the world, and most were not the usual FPS fare.  The plot has its share of twists and turns, and when the big twist hit, it had an effect.  The game designers used various messages left scattered around to tell the story and give sometimes tantalizing hints as to what the big story was, and they pulled it of perfectly.  The variety of powers available gave me many different approaches to combat, and I spent a lot of time wondering if I could have done things a better way.  The surprise factor was enough to keep things interesting but not enough to give me the shakes.  Amazingly enough, the game played without a noticeable bug or graphic hiccup;  I've seen a fair amount of games get good, only to have a show-stopping bug halfway through.

I'll post a more thorough, spoiler-filled analysis below the fold this weekend (hopefully).

Posted by: Civilis at 08: 54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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