One of this year’s biggest game releases is finally out in the wild, and while the game has been with us a few weeks now, it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally sit down and enjoy it, but with so much hype and anticipation prior to the games release, has it lived up to the expectations of the games hardcore fans, not to mention the desires of a new generation of gamers who may never have played the first two games in the series?
While this is the third title released in the BioShock series its set some time before the events of the first two games, a prequel if you will. Yet it’s not directly tied to the plot lines of either of the previous games either, although there are still some connecting themes as it is still set in the same universe and timeline. New comers to the series can easily pick up and play this new title without a worry about story lines and knowing what is going on.
BioShock, in its simplest explanation, is a first person shooter. The first two saw you tackling foes with an array of weapons just like any other FPS, but with a more dynamic, deep and downright passionate story to tell along the way, as well as some difficult and unique moral choices that set the games aside from typical FPS games, even going as far as re-inventing large sections of the gaming industry and setting gaming trends that can be seen in many other games since their release.
The original games were also quite controversial, with the presence of children in the game that could be harvested for their powers, or saved, that choice was yours and its one that raised some moral eyebrows both inside and outside of the gaming community. So how does the new entry to the Bioshock series fit in, is it still the engrossing, story rich, moral choice filled, dark and twisted FPS that it always way? Of course it is!
The story is easily the best in the series and while it took me a little time to get into the depth of it, the free-flowing pace and narrative does take a hold of you and leads you through the game with gentle pace. The NPC’s of the game world comment as you pass, while enemies taunt, your friendlier counterparts baffle and amaze with regular pace and it all helps build the story of the world around you as you work your way through the rather strange and dark plot.
Set in one of the most, if not THE most stunning looking gaming environment ever created, BioShock is a tour-de-force for both your eyes and your graphics card, with a floating world of sky ships, floating buildings, majestic clouds and fog, warm beams of sun shine, the twinkle of water and the lights of a carnival all seem to blend together to create a world that moves like it truly does have a life of its own, there really is nothing else quite like it. I personally couldn’t help but walk slowly through some of the early sections of the game just to admire what was going on around me.
After 12 hours of playing through the game on Hard, I was left wanting more of the majestic world of BioShock but I didn’t want any more of what the game had to offer in terms of gameplay mechanics. While I really enjoyed the story, truly and deeply, I got a little bored of the shooting sections at times and it’s something that has become true of many shooting games for me in recent years. I find it wears me down when you get enemy after enemy pouring into a courtyard as you fend them off, then when they die you go to the next hall, room, courtyard and do the same, its less skill and more repetition half the time. There are also far too many health packs and ammo pick ups that make the game much less of a challenge, even on hard more, so I would suggest looking in to upping the difficulty further to the games hardcore “1999 mode” if your a well versed FPS player looking for a challenge.
This isn’t the fault of the game of course, as I just think I enjoyed the games ambience and narrative more than I did the actual shooting, fortunately though the FPS mechanics are some of the finest in the industry. The guns feel snappy and fun, plus a full range of powers are unlocked through the game that allow you to throw fire, electricity and even crows from your fingertips, not to mention taking over enemy turrets, throw enemies into the air and many other crazy things that do keep things entertaining.
The biggest factor of this game however isn’t the guns, the magic, the game’s world or anything of that other stuff, it really boils down to Elizabeth, the side kick and escort mission that gamers have been wanting since games began! She never gets in your way, she never slows you down, she’s highly entertaining and she’s incredibly powerful.
Elizabeth has the ability to open up “tears” in the fabric of the game world, these act like portals to what are essentially other dimensions, you can even use these “tears” to grab cover while in combat, you can explore inside them, find ammo there and all sorts of other madness, it’s an interesting dynamic and one that really sets this game apart from…well…anything else.
As bright and colourful as the game is, no matter how many parades you see, carnivals, candy floss and balloons that adorn the gaming world, there is one thing that you can miss, the dark tones that quietly echo the streets that something is awfully wrong about this paradise. Torture, violence, sex and extreme racism are abounding in this city and it doesn’t take long to realise that there is plenty of evil behind the smiles of its inhabitants.
It’s a difficult mix to put in to words, but the game is like a big fun house and a house of horrors all at the same time. You’ll often find yourself enjoying the graphics and the view of the game world, before putting your melee weapon in someone’s scull and being attacked by a bunch of racist nut jobs, it’s certainly an eye opener.
This is easily on the best shooters of this generation and while yet, I did find the shooting to get a little tiresome at times, it’s because it’s the one bit of the game that isn’t new, FPS has been well covered in the games industry. Yet this game offers you so much more, it’s not just about guns and killing, it’s about escaping and surviving in a world gone mad and it’s a gaming experience that you simply don’t want to miss out on.
- Superb sound & graphics
- Original and exciting game world
- Well realised characters and story
- Gun scenes can drag a little at times
- Too many health packs and items in the game world