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BioShock Review

27 October 2008

Game of the Year. Immersive storyline. Incredible art direction. Stunning visuals. Unique gameplay. These are just many ways in which one may extol the qualities of 2K’s universally praised aquatic FPS, BioShock. Following months of speculation, 2K Games has finally brought their award winning title to Sony’s PlayStation 3 console, inviting you into the infamous failed underwater utopia known as Rapture. Despite initial grumbles regarding the $60 price tag, it’s important to note that 2K Games has not just simply ported BioShock over from the 360/PC. Instead, they’ve created an exclusive difficulty level and downloadable content for Sony’s black behemoth, which should appeal to even those who have already played the original.

For those unaware, BioShock takes place during the 1960s and follows the story of a young man that has just survived an oceanic plane crash. In order to stay alive, you find yourself swimming to a lighthouse, which eventually leads you to the underwater city of Rapture. This failed utopia was created by Andrew Ryan for scientists and artists to break free from the constraints of governments, communism, religion and other organizations that seek to restrict one’s full potential. Instead of a glorious society, the genetic manipulations and inventions created within this “world,” have sent the population into a downward spiral of despair, death and hopelessness. Your entry into this dark world has resulted in you having to fight your way through the city in order to survive and find out exactly what happened.

Welcome to Rapture.

BioShock’s gameplay is inarguably some of the most unique you’ll find of any modern release, and with good reason.  Unlike other shooters on the market, 2K’s effort offers gamers a different experience each time through by giving the user many different ways in which to progress through Rapture. Whether you want to utilize a wrench, automatic weapons, plasmids or a simple combo of them all, you’re able to create your own style to progress through the story. Personally, I prefer to blast those deadly splicers with a jolt of Electrobolt and then finish them off with a nice wrench shot to the cranium. This may sound like an inhumane way to solve a problem, but when you have a genetic abomination running towards you with some cleavers, you’ll be quick to pull the trigger.

Plasmids aren’t just limited to electricity (Electrobolt). Rapture is home to a variety of plasmids that can fill up your arsenal. They include abilities such as telekinesis, incineration, sonic blasts, winter blasts, insect swarms and more. Finding a comfortable combination of these abilities will aid you in getting around the underwater city much quicker and efficiently. One other thing you should remember is that these plasmids also interact with the environment. Never hesitate to send a bolt of electricity into a pool of water containing a couple of splicers, a particularly satisfying manoeuvre that’ll fry them to a crisp in an instant.

Outside of Plasmids, there are also other forms of weapons made available to your character. Sometimes just a simple wrench can do the trick, but for those who don’t like to get too personal, you’ll also have a variety of firearms at your disposal in the form of pistols, tommy guns, revolvers and shotguns. In addition to rudimentary ammunition, you can also enhance each weapon with different elemental properties. An example of this is electric buck shot for your shotgun. If you want to take your offense even further, the ability to hack turrets and craft unique items are also viable options. This definitely adds a nice added effect to your repertoire of weapons.

The newest addition to BioShock, which is exclusive to the PlayStation 3, is Survivor Mode. This new difficulty level goes by the slogan “Every bullet counts,” and believe us, they’re talking in literal terms here – failure to abide by this warning will result in many, many deaths. What makes this mode so difficult is that the coding restricts the amount of bullets and cash you can pick up throughout the game. Unlike the other difficulty settings, this can certainly lead to some trouble as wasting a couple of extra bullets here or there can leave you in a fit of rage later on in Rapture. However, those of you who take advantage of the plasmid system will find that this helps balance things out a little, saving you both money and ammunition in the process.

Another exclusive element to the PlayStation that is not yet available is the Challenge Rooms. These rooms, which will be available through downloadable content next month, place you in new sections of Rapture where your goal is to rescue a Little Sister. One of the most impressive things about these Rooms is how interactive the environment is overall. A prime example of this is the carnival room where you can actually take part in certain mini-games to score more EVE (plasmid juice) or life vials.

Sadly, on the technical front, a number of glaring issues from the Xbox 360 version still remain very much in tact. Why these haven’t been corrected in a year old port escapes me, but it’s definitely not excusable. The occasional poor collision detection is still evident, and proves especially troublesome when you find an item on the ground that you can’t acquire. Another prominent issue from the 360 version is the slowdown in framerate. This is at its worst when the screen is occupied by a large number of enemies and numerous effects (such as explosions) are taking place, and can take a few seconds to repair, nullifying the immersion factor somewhat.

As mentioned previously, the art direction in particular is exquisite and provides the backdrop for Rapture’s unrivalled atmosphere, with subtle details such as rushing water and neo lights only adding to the overall immersive qualities of the game. Whether it’s the brooding, darker areas of the forgotten city or the bright lights that surround them, Rapture is quite simply a world you have to experience.

Rapture is a breathtaking world that should be shared and enjoyed by every self-respecting gamer out there. From the stunning visuals to the unique gameplay on offer, BioShock delivers something that not many other games can – an unforgettable experience. Hiccups aside, this is an absolute must have title for every PS3 owner out there.

-The Final Word-

Despite being over a year old, Rapture shines through the dark sea like a lighthouse on a foggy night. 2K Games has delivered on its promise in providing PS3 owners with an equally impressive port as the original.
  • Visually mesmerizing
  • Unique gameplay experience
  • A story worth living
  • Framerate hitches
  • Collision detection can prove frustrating
9.5
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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