Monday, August 27, 2007

Bioshock: Final Review

Earlier, I posted a pre-review of Bioshock. Well, I finished it, so here is my final review.

The game's last level (and the cutscene before the last level) are the best parts of the game. The imagery is very good, and this is the first game - ever - that I suspect may have played over the player's heads. I especially liked that they didn't shy away from images that a committee would have usually voted out. Even had the rest of the game sucked, it would have been worth playing simply for the imagery.

It was nice to see a classic "failing utopia": felt like I was watching old sci-fi movies like Logan's Run or Lost Planet (I know, I know...). Except, you know, upgraded with fifteen million dollars of technology.

Apparently I got the good ending, although it felt... rushed. What is it with games these days? Is a dénouement too expensive? It makes me cry. Still, I guess I can't hold it against Bioshock, as no game does dénouements.

The game's central theme - whether they wanted it to be or not - was "betrayal". I can't remember a single plot event - not ONE - that didn't revolve around someone betraying someone or something (their values). It got to the point that the only plot twists I didn't expect were when someone died before they could betray more.

Still, all my complaints remain. Especially gameplay: the gameplay turned to complete crap once I realized that it was more effective to bludgeon big daddies to death with a wrench than to shoot them with explosives or AP rounds. After that, I simply killed everything with my wrench.

Gunmen? Wrench. Grenadiers? Wrench. Rocket-launching turrets? Wrench. Boss fights? Wrench.

It wasn't even "die and wrench again". After I started using the wrench, I never died again. So it wasn't simply Vita-chambers screwing the gameplay. There were a lot of gameplay flaws.

Man, the gameplay made me cry.

Still, gameplay isn't everything, and I rate Bioshock very highly.


Jim said...

I'm not clear on what your issue is with the lack of a death penalty when System Shock 2 has the exact same mechanic in it. Think of it this way: when you have to restore after dying, you get back all the ammo you spent in a fight, and the enemies get their health back. With a vita-chamber spawn, you don't get your ammo back, and the enemies don't get their health back. Fair trade?

That said, I tend to agree that Bioshock doesn't have good gameplay. It does provide is a great sandbox for interesting first person combat, but the overall design is such that if you're trying to "win," you probably won't see it. It also has lots and lots of bugs. Goddamn, there were a lot of bugs.

I loved the writing and the presentation, though, every bit of it.

Craig Perko said...

Ah, it's the way it's balanced. I'll do a post on it, but it basically boils down to attrition. In SS2, you would spend ammunition and so forth, get injured, etc. It wasn't likely at any given moment that you would die. The quantum entanglement system was just there in case you wandered into something really nasty without expecting to, like a radiation-filled chamber or a psychic projection.

But in Bioshock, that wasn't the case. The gameplay is run-n-gun, the your character tends to run out of health at the most awkward times (and there is no warning sound that I could notice), and then you die. It's basically the "Quake" version of System Shock.

I liked the presentation. The writing... between the really good spots, it was barren and repetitive. They even re-used the same audio dairies sometimes! :P