Saturday, August 15, 2015


Had I known how similar to System Shock 2 BioShock is, I probably would have never played the former. BioShock has almost all the exact same features, just wrapped into more modern graphics and game design. The main difference is probably the setting – instead of a spaceship, BioShock takes place in an underwater city in 1960. It is definitely worthy of being called a spiritual successor to SS2.

PC port bit shaky

Ironically enough for being a newer game, getting BioShock to work properly required a bit more effort. The first problem was having no sound, which was fixed by running the game in Windows XP compatibility mode. Then the game refused to save settings. That was fixed by forcing the game to use DirectX 9. (Probably related to trying use DX10 that is not supported by XP.) I also had to add -nointro parameter to the launch options as the game's intro movies could not be skipped.

BioShock runs on a modified Unreal Engine 2.5. It does not look particularly great – the textures are blurry and there are no impressive sceneries to behold. The game's animations and ragdolls are also capped at 30 frames per second which looks surprisingly off when rest of the game is running at a higher framerate.

Somewhat unwieldy controls

The gameplay felt dreadfully slow and clumsy coming from Dishonored. So dreadful that I turned the difficulty down to easy to be able tolerate it enough to finish the game. It got better, though, and I set it back to medium later.

The turning point, for when I decided the combat actually might have something to it, was the fight against Dr. Steinman. The machine gun seemed highly ineffective against him so I decided to improvise and threw a gas cylinder at him with Telekinesis. It did quite a lot of damage and also set him on fire, which in turn caused him to run into nearby water where I Electrobolted him to death like the game had thought me to. I thought that was pretty neat interaction.

I did not really use the plasmids that much or even all of them in the end. The passive tonics, on the other hand, were quite interesting. There is quite a lot of variation in them. I kept constantly upgrading the number of slots to get as many as possible. Like the bonecharms in Dishonored, I had hard time deciding which tonics I would like to use the most.

BioShock's hacking minigame is probably one of the most tedious ones I have encountered. And the large number of things you can hack adds to the dreariness. The minigame is obviously designed for a controller as it offers no challenge for a mouse, though it is quite possible to fuck it up by accident even with it. Sometimes the game is also mean with its randomness and makes it impossible to complete a hack.

Very unique setting

The thing I liked most in BioShock is its atmosphere. Right from the start I was intrigued and wanted to know what was going on in this mysterious Rapture. The place turned out to be quite creepy. It even threw couple jump scares at me. The setting carries the game's plot, which is basically you repetitively following someone's orders for their own goals. The story is tied to that, though, so I guess it works.

There are couple plot twists in the game, and Bioshock has an odd way of revealing them in a room with notes and audio diaries. Well, it does give you hints along the way, too, but there was always that one place where everything would be explained. Then you enter the next room where the villain gives you a speech like the room you just were in did not exist. I think the plot twists would work better if the bad guys were the first to reveal them.

One decision you repeatedly make in the game is whether to rescue or harvest the Little Sisters. Atlas's arguments to harvest them sounded hollow at the first occasion so I decided save the little girl. And continued to do so later on as well. It turned out to be a good decision as saving all the girls gets you the good ending. Harvesting the Little Sisters gives you more ADAM immediately but after every third saved girl you are rewarded with a present and get caught up with the harvest route. And thus the only reward killing the girls is an unhappy ending.

I watched the endings I missed – bad(sad) and and bad(angry) – on YouTube. The good and bad endings have quite a difference between them. You either save a bunch of little girls and live happily ever after. Or you get nukes.

Quite a lot of people on the comments were upset for not getting the good one because they had harvested only few Little Sisters and thought they deserved the happy ending. But really, even if you saved all but one, you still killed someone.

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