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VINE VOICEon October 21, 2008
Pros:

+Enticing storyline full of philosophy and intrigue
+Fantastic voice acting brings the already fantastic story to life
+Lots of variety in the gameplay
+Great sound effects
+Great music score
+All around beautiful game
+The atmosphere of the game never settles

Cons:

-There's not much in terms of difficulty when you can always respawn
-There may not be enough new content to justify paying sixty dollars if you've already got the 360 version

In 2007 as I'm sure many know, Bioshock was released on the XBOX360. The game went on to become a huge classic and sell over a million copies. Earlier this year, it was announced the game would go to the Playstation 3. At first glance, it may not seem worthwhile to buy the game on the Playstation 3 if you played the 360 version, but some of the additions and enhancements just might change the minds of some gamers.

In the beginning of the game you are an unnamed man who happens to be on a plane that crashes seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, however, there is a lighthouse in sight. Once you step inside it is quite clear that this is no ordinary lighthouse and soon you descend in the undersea world of Rapture. Rapture is a totally free society in which no one is ruled by anyone, and it was built by a man named Andrew Ryan. Unfortunately, Rapture is anything but perfect. The once perfect world has now become imperfect and is overrun with splicers who thrive on Adam.

Bioshock has an incredible story that digs much deeper than simply being about a central antagonist and protagonist. In the end it'll make you think. It's a very absorbing game. Even is how it looks. It looked incredible on the XBOX360, but the visual experience is enhanced on the Playstation 3 and it looks even better than it did before. Much of it looks very real. Even better is the artistic design and attention to detail. The atmosphere itself is absorbing as well and really makes the world come alive.

Throughout the city you'll also find recorded radio diaries that give you a good idea of what happened to Rapture. The voice acting in these diaries, and throughout the games various cutscenes is incredible. It really helps anyone become absorbed into the world.

Playing Bioshock is an even better experience. At it's heart it is a first person shooter. You'll find weapons that you can use to take down the splicers. Throughout Rapture you'll also find plasmids which you can use to help you take down certain enemies. Some Plasmids can be used to electrocute splicers, or manipulate others. There's a lot to BioShock's gameplay that makes it interesting. In addition to the weapons and plasmids you can also hack the shopping arcades to lower prices, as well as hack security cameras and gun turrets to help you out against your enemies.

There's nothing incredibly difficult about it's gameplay. It's simple enough. Perhaps a little too simple. Bioshock is not a game where you ever really permanently die. If you happen to die you'll respawn from a Vita-Chamber where you'll be able to go right back up to the enemy that killed you. The enemy's health never changes. So essentially, if you're stuck you can keep respawning until you kill whatever it is giving your trouble. This essentially means BioShock is never too difficult. You may get tired of dying, but you can never die permanently.

What exactly is new in Bioshock on the PS3? Well, the graphics are smoother and you get a new difficulty setting. While the new difficulty is enticing, it doesn't really add too much. The enemies are stronger and you pick up less ammo etc., but it's not really enough to entice anyone who owns the 360 version to really pick this one up. So if you've played one of the previous versions of Bioshock, there isn't really too much here that makes it worth getting again. At least not for the price tag of the game itself.

Bioshock is still an amazing game even a year later. It may not be worth it to buy the PS3 version if you've played the XBOX360 version already, but if you have a PS3 and you haven't played Bioshock yet, it's worth checking out.
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VINE VOICEon October 24, 2008
How's this for a story? A man becomes annoyed with the current world, a world where the great are taken for granted and told that their toils are either for the people, for God or for the government. In response, he creates a fantastic environment, free from all of these turmoils. A place where all the great men and women of the world can create their own inventions without fear of consequence. In this place, men and women could do what they wanted.

If this sounds like Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, you'd be correct. However, in this particular case, it's also the background story behind Rapture, the under-water city that takes centerplace in Bioshock. Many words have been bandied about about video games and their ability (or inability) to become art; you have folks like Roger Ebert saying the medium as a whole can never attain that goal. My personal thought on this matter was that, as a medium, games haven't made enough strides toward that lofty goal. But Bioshock certainly takes a huge step forward.

Andrew Ryan is a visionary the likes of which his namesake Ayn Rand would possibly write about in Atlas Shrugged. He exemplifies the qualities of a Randian hero and showcases Rand's philosophy of objectivism. He created the city of Rapture and filled it, much like John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, with the visionaries of his land. Rapture soon was a thriving city that emphasized science and growth and the importance of the individual. They dabbled in creating plasmids that changed a person's DNA, enabling them to do feats the likes of which had never been seen before.

Then something happened.

Flying over the Atlantic sea, you are Jack, a person who was destined for greatness, if you ask his parents, and whose plane is now crashing into the sea. Jack is apparently the only survivor of the plane wreck and swims to a lone building, a light house it seems, that beckons him onward. Eventually, he goes into a blathysphere and enters into the world of Rapture. But this isn't the Rapture originally envisioned in the pre-recorded film he watches as he journeys into the city. It is a city comprised of deadly machines, once-human monstrosities named Splicers who are insane and, of course, the Big Daddies and Little Sisters.

Bioshock concerns itself with the gray area between right and wrong. This dichotomy between right and wrong is what fuels everything in Rapture. Roaming the landscape, the Little Sisters are twisted abominations of little girls who locate corpses (which they call "Angels") and harvest Adam from them with a long needle. More grotesque is that bottle at the other end of the needle that the Little Sisters drink from. Dutifully following them are the Big Daddies, giant brutes in ancient diving gear. These...things...are at the heart of the story and Jack's survival depends on them and whether he can harvest the Little Sisters or set them free.

The conscience of the gamer is represented in two mysterious figures, Atlas (another allusion to Rand) and Dr. Tenenbaum. Atlas seemingly wants Jack to save his family and explains that the Little Sisters are anything but the human girls they appear. He nudges Jack to put them out of their misery and take the Adam they harvest so he can survive and save Atlas and his family. On the other shoulder perches Tenenbaum, another mysterious individual who created the Little Sisters and seems to want to do anything possible to save them. They are the obvious angel and devil sitting on Jack's shoulder, but the question is...which one is the angel?

To go into further detail would be to spoil this amazing story. Along the route, twists and turns abound with moral, ethical and philosophical questions aplenty. What's interesting is the way Bioshock presents a stark opposition to Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Rand's heroes always contain the same qualities that Andrew Ryan exemplifies. But here, the artists behind Bioshock seem to be questioning these qualities by presenting a situation so familiar to Atlas Shrugged, and yet, so far removed.

It is literate, thoughtful, disturbing and moving. Even if the gameplay didn't live up to the story, Bioshock would be worthy just for this reason.

Luckily, that's not the case. For the gun hungry, sure, Rapture is filled with guns aplenty and even presents opportunities for you to craft your own upgrades. But that is just scratching the surface. Everything goes back to the story. Plasmids are located across the ruined debris of Rapture and contain the keys to recreating your DNA. Some early examples of Plasmids are the ability to shoot electricity from your hands to being able to set things on fire to telekinesis.

But these plasmids aren't only used for fighting. Minor puzzle-solving crops up, some of which require plasmids in the same way as gear in Legend of Zelda. The biggest puzzle is how to take down the game's variety of enemies. While you can definitely charge in, guns blazing and sometimes survive, cases will present themselves where such tactics will end with you on the bad end of the Big Daddies' drill. Instead, you can create your own traps and war zones. Using plasmids, the environment and, of course, your weapons, you can create elaborate traps that will bring a smile to your face.

A lot of games coming out right now that use the Unreal 3 engine don't look as spectacular as they could. In particular, character models tend to look shiny and/or completely ugly. This is not the case with Bioshock. Everything comes together, from the disturbing scenery, the art deco architecture to the the insane creatures and characters populating the world. Shadows and lighting also create a sense of atmosphere that drips heavily, much like the water pouring down the walls. It's stunning. The only complaint (and it is minor) is that the frozen portions you can melt don't look very convincing. When things melt, they don't leave anything behind. The only reason it sticks out is that the rest of the game is absolutely beautiful and amazingly crafted.

None of this would be as effective, though, without superior sound. And Bioshock has that (mostly) in spades. The voice work is stunning throughout and the actors provide a great sense of dread. The audio diaries do an exemplary job of providing the backstory, but also work the best in crafting dread and terror. Some of the most disturbing things occur listening to them. Unfortunately, sometimes the characters' lines are repeated too often, ruining the disturbing nature of their dialogue. Musically, the game is also amazing. It flits into the picture at key moments, increasing the tension before it will flow away. You might not even notice it's there, but that's why it's so good.

You know, the funny thing about hype is how people react to it. Game journalists can go blue in the face trying to get people interested in forgotten gems such as Psychonauts, Beyond Good & Evil and Stranger's Wrath, and since they weren't financially successful they become these gems. When a game sells incredibly well and is hyped to the max (both of which fit Bioshock), people say "over-rated."

Ignore the hype machine. I know you're tired of hearing about it. But give Bioshock a try, if you haven't yet. Download the demo for your PC or try it on the Playstation 3 Network. It is a game that's definitely worth everything that's been said about it and more.

It is art. And no words by ignorant movie critics will change that.
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on October 21, 2008
For awhile, Bioshock was the clincher when it came down to next-gen consoles. With only money and room for one, I had to choose which system to get so when it was announced the highly acclaimed game was being released to the Playstation 3, well I was sold. Not only being able to play multiplatform games but also some solid exclusives, the important thing was that I had to play this. A game that gets this much praise has got to end up disappointing considering the hype, not only from press and critics but my own anticipation, right? Well wrong as this is one of the most captivating games I've played recently and whether you got an Xbox 360 or a PS3 (keyword being "or"), Bioshock's a must-play.

Story: In the mid 1940's, an ambitious man named Andrew Ryan got fed up with the bureaucrats, politicians and religious leaders trying to see who can control the populace with the most restrictions from medical experiments to freedom of speech. So he secretly created the world of Rapture, a vast city found underwater. In 1960, an unnamed man travelling on a plane finds himself the sole survivor when the plane crashes in the middle of the ocean. Swimming to a nearby lighthouse, he accesses a bathysphere which takes him to Rapture only instead of finding a thriving city, it's in disarray and strange folk genetically modified roam the halls. You have to work your way through the city and discover why the idyllic city has failed.

Graphics: There's certain games that really make you feel a part of the world as opposed to just controlling someone on the screen and like games such as Dead Space, Resident Evil 4 or more serene landscapes such as Shadow of the Colossus, Bioshock is another game that, without fear of sounding cheesy, really transports you to another time and place. The art design, attention to detail and a genuine realism really get you thinking you're in this city under the sea. Fantastic water effects and a feel recreating the old 1940's complete with neon graphics, old-school advertisements not to mention the views outside the windows, this is definately one to HDTV.

Sound/Music: Another important part of the game's immersion is the sound design which has all the requisite noises of a place that's been decimated: groans, distant rumblins and things busting out of nowhere, the sound helps create an unnerving atmosphere. It's not necessarily scary but it certainly keeps you on your toes. Also welcome is the voice acting though the 2 main speakers seems to be Andrew Ryan (portrayed by Armin Shimerman, Quark from "Star Trek" and the first Principal on "Buffy") and Atlas, your CODEC so to speak. The Splicers, the genetically modified residents of Rapture, also have strange ramblings and makes them be set apart from just the screeching of other enemies.

Gameplay: Essentially this is a FPS though don't think that's all it is. The key with Bioshock is variety and it's surprising how much combat strategies you can develop on the fly. Basically, your fighting is separated into 2 methods: typical gun stuff like pistols, shotguns, grenade launchers etc while the other is the "Plasmids", a medical breakthrough involving genetic experimentation, which allows you different abilities. Use Incinerate to light your foes on fire or find an oil spot on the floor and burn that when they're standing on it for even more burnage. Also, say you light him/her on fire and you think they're going to want to find a water source right? Well thanks to Rapture getting the occasional leak, they're not too far so if they've gone for a bit of a swim, just use your electricity and shock the water. There's others as well such as using your telekinesis to grab grenades and bombs in mid-air and toss em back or reposition traps to your advantage. There's more to be found and approaching combat as never been so...fun.

Don't think that's the end of it though as occasionally you'll be seen by a camera, sending in flying armed drones. Sure it's easy to just blow them up but why not hack them using a pipe-based minigame (tedious but works well enough) to make your own personal bodyguards? Or hack a turret and you can even hack health stations in case enemies want to cure themselves only to find because you've hacked it that it makes things worse for them. Hacking ammo, item and inventing "jukeboxes" will also decrease the amount of money you have to pay which is a definate plus. Only thing is the pipe minigame where you have to make water flow from one part to the other using different panel forms grows kind of tiresome and there's even some where I ran out of pieces or room to move thanks to dead-ends.

All of this will come into use when you hear a roar nearby and you know one thing: a Big Daddy is near. Walking around the hallways is a big dude in diving gear (dude on the cover) protecting a girl called the Little Sister who has in her body ADAM, the genetic material vital to Rapture. In order to get it you have to kill the protector and this bugger is as tough as he sounds. Thankfully with the turrets and bodyguard drones (which admittedly don't last long) to using Enrage on nearby enemies which will actually attack him instead of you, eventually you'll defeat him. Only thing is that you have to do it in stages since you'll frequently die though thankfully nearby Vita-Chambers spawn you back in with his health where you last left off thereby not negating all that hard work. Makes the game easy sure but on the other hand, it never becomes frustrating and you can just play and play and not worrying about hitting dead ends.

That's one thing to be aware of with this game as well: it's rather addicting and it's one of those games where you might look at the clock and go "well I can afford to play a bit more, it's only a simple objective anyway" only to find out it's 4 AM and needing to get to bed. I was that hooked and despite its hefty 5 Gig install - which is strangely shorter than Devil May Cry 4's 20 minute one - which lasts 10 minutes or so, Bioshock is definately a game to get for your Playstation 3. As for people who already have the 360 version, well unless you're that into the game, you don't really have to bother but for non-360 owners like myself or people who never played it than definately go for it.
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VINE VOICEon October 22, 2008
I don't think that I can possibly say how much fun this game is so far. I'm well into the 10 hour plus mark of Bioshock and time is flying by.

The story is that your plane crashes in the middle of the Atlantic and you discover a secret society where something has gone horribly wrong. That's the fun part. You get to explore this entire underwater utopia where lots of things want to kill you. And it's set in 1960 so the art and technology pays homage to the 50's.

This is the PS3 version. I know that there are 2 other versions for the Xbox 360 and the PC. However this is the only one that I have played. So I can't compare this to either of the other two versions. Regardless, I'm blown away by the graphical detail and the sound. There's always some noise in the background where you know there's some creepy enemy doing something but you haven't found them yet. Or they haven't found you yet.... It's a fun FPS but with a lot more story than most and a bit more thinking.

Buy this! Much much fun.
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on July 25, 2013
Bioshock-this was one of the earlier games of this generation, and having just recently played through it a second time, I can say that it's still one of the best games out there. Here's my review (SPOILER-FREE!):

Story: 5/5
Your plane crashes into the ocean, resulting in your discovery of the underwater city of Rapture. What first is an attempt at escape from this utopia gone awry soon becomes quite a different tale. Be ready for a wild plot twist (somewhat overrated, in my opinion). This is the plot you play through, but the magic of Bioshock is that there are audio diaries you can collect that give you further insight to this city. These are actually very interesting to listen to, so they're worth your while to find. The characters are also fascinating, featuring highly unique personalities and top-notch voice acting.

Combat: 5/5
This is some of the best gameplay you'll find. There are a vast number of options you can utilize in combat. Hacking healing stations, turrets, and security cameras makes your fights easier in different ways, saving you ammo and reducing the number of resources you consume. Your 7 weapons all have their uses, and each has 3 ammo types for specific opponents and situations. Also at your disposal are Plasmids, powers you equip that can significantly aid in combat. For example, you might find yourself overwhelmed by enemies and blow everyone away with Sonic Boom, or use Enrage to turn one enemy against another. Tonics are passive enhancements that provide various effects, including making your wrench attacks stronger, or making Hacking easier. Lastly, there are usually environmental hazards you can use to your advantage. Oil slicks can be lit up, water can be electrocuted, and explosive tanks/barrels are quick ways to dole out damage. What this all amounts to is a lot of player choice. Assigning the right Tonics and Plasmids, choosing the appropriate weapons and ammo types, and utilizing what's in the environment are what smart players will do, and the game rewards you for it since you end up saving resources.

Objectives: 4.5/5
This is how games should handle their main objectives. In Bioshock, you'll enter open levels that have multiple paths that you'll explore in order to complete your mission. In one level, you'll assemble a bomb, whose components are scattered in each of the paths. In another level, you'll help an artist complete his masterpiece by taking photos in different places. It never feels like the game's giving you a lame reason to explore the levels because it's all so natural. But the truly explorative player will search every nook and cranny of every place they visit. Doing so will yield more resources, making surviving easier. BUT, what I found was that playing this game the "right" way (being smart in combat and searching thoroughly) makes the game almost TOO easy. Playing on the hardest difficulty, my wallet was always full, my ammo was always maxed out, and I always had the maximum number of first aid kits and hypos. Nothing's more frustrating than being rewarded for exploration...but not being rewarded because I couldn't pick up any more resources. This invincible feeling really detracts from the survival aspect of the game (this is coming from a casual FPS player, not a prodigy). One more thing: most levels feature Big Daddies and Little Sisters. Encounters with these enemies are huge undertakings. Defeating the Big Daddy (no small feat) will allow you to obtain Adam from his Little Sister, which you can use to purchase monumental upgrades. The problem is, there are only 3 Little Sisters at most per level, and once you've dealt with them all, Big Daddies roam around by themselves, harmless unless provoked. The game throws Little Sisters at you too closely together, so you might quickly deal with them all and just be left with Big Daddies you'll surely avoid.

Setting: 5/5
The city of Rapture is amazing. This is one of the most immersive game worlds you'll ever find. Don't assume that everything will be underwater-themed. You'll visit a Medical Pavilion, a power core, apartment suites, and a performance venue, just to name a few. Small details are abundant, and you'll never shake the feeling that you're in a place full of citizens gone insane. Congratulations to the developers for crafting a setting this magnificent.

Overall: 4.9/5
Aside from the gripes I had about poorly regulated Little Sister encounters and the game potentially being too easy, there are also small bugs like objects disappearing into one another, textures looking ugly for a few seconds after loading, and the Telekineses Plasmid not picking up what you want it to sometimes. But in the grand scheme of things, these are very minor complaints. Bioshock is one of the best games of this generation. The storytelling is unique and incredible, the world is as immersive as it gets, the combat is full of choices, and the level and objective designing should be the template for many future games. Simply put, this is one deep, unforgettable experience.
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on October 21, 2008
I will put it simply: If you only get one game for the rest of your life, Bioshock should be it. This game simply Amazes you: it has possibly the most intriguing plot that is fit for an oscar movie. The visuals too will constantly amaze, from finely detailed industrial structures to the many weapon models (everything from machine guns to whale harpoons) . The gameplay is truly great, very good controls and the ability to basically use and throw almost everything in the game environement. Bioshock is one of those monumental experiences you'll never forget, and the benchmark against which games for years to come will, and indeed must, be measured. It is no wonder that Bioshock is the highest rated game by all the video game press today, right up there with GTA IV.
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on September 23, 2011
Probably about a year ago, I downloaded the demo, and I fell in love with it. I finally bought it about 2 months ago. I really wanted to finish this one and the 2nd before Bioshock Infinte, which looks amazing, comes out in October. It's a little creepy, which I like, and there's different outcomes depending on how you play the game. I don't want to spoil anything, so just trust me when I say it's a must have. There's a lot of game play too, so don't worry about playing it for a 3 days, and already finishing it.

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR.... BUY THIS!!!

If you want to save money, get it used. I got mine used, and everything was like new. I think I saved about $10.
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VINE VOICEon April 30, 2011
+ PROS:

+ Beautiful, detailed world to explore in a first-person perspective
+ Several upgradable weapons & superhuman abilities
+ Morality-based game endings
+ A completely justifiable purchase at Greatest Hits pricing

- CONS:

- Some areas are unmarked on the maps
- Easily missed trophies can make the game frustrating

PLOT:

The year is 1960. The game starts with a plane crash and our main character (Jack) is the only survivor. After swimming to a lighthouse, we reach a bathysphere and descend into the underwater society of Rapture...a world created by Andrew Ryan. He was frustrated with the rules and regulations of the surface world, so he started an attempted utopia - which has fallen into a decidedly dystopian state.

As we explore Rapture, we learn its inhabitants have undergone some horrifying changes. The scientists/geneticists of Rapture learned how to splice DNA so anyone could gain new abilities: telekinesis, pyrokinesis, cryokinesis...but repeated gene splicing proved to be as addictive as heroin. These de-gene-erates are shadows of their former selves, and will kill anyone who gets in the way of their lust for ADAM - the substance that makes Rapture go `round.

GAMEPLAY:

BioShock is presented in a first-person shooter view. Jack's right hand takes control of the various weaponry including guns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and so forth.

His left hand is in control of the Plasmids - these include abilities such as throwing bolts of electricity, encasing enemies in ice, hurling fireballs, and much more. These abilities can be found, bought, or created throughout the game.

The transition between plasmids and hand-to-hand weapons is very smooth - just a press of the L1 or R1 buttons.

Jack also has the ability to hack machines like security cameras and gun turrets to turn the tables on his enemies, and he can hack safes and vending machines to get more goodies or buy items at a discounted price. You can also hack door codes to get into locked areas.

Research photos can be taken of each enemy, which provides damage bonuses and other upgrades.

A good portion of your time will be spent trying to upgrade Jack's abilities for the dangers that are surely to come as the game continues. The only way to purchase new abilities is with a substance called ADAM, and ADAM can only be obtained by taking it from small girls genetically altered into "Little Sisters". Each Little Sister has a protector - a "Big Daddy."

Fighting a Big Daddy is akin to a mouse fighting a gorilla, but if you defeat him, you have the option to either Harvest or Rescue the Little Sister...and the choices you make will affect the game's ending, similar to the morality gameplay mechanic in Fallout 3.

A FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER GAME? I THOUGHT YOU DIDN'T LIKE THOSE?

To be perfectly honest, I usually hate first-person shooter games because they rarely offer much in the way of storyline. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a good story.

BioShock is one of the only shooter games that made me forget I was playing a shooter game, if that makes any sense. The storyline compelled me to push further into Rapture, I found myself genuinely concerned for the plight of the Little Sisters, and I had a sense of true satisfaction when I finally finished the game and eventually earned the Platinum trophy.
It was only afterwards that I realized I voluntarily played a shooter game all the way through, three times. And I consider that time well spent.

TROPHIES:

There are 54 trophies to earn and 12 more if you purchase the BioShock Challenge Rooms package.

At times it feels like game designers throw in trophies for the sole purpose of making us insane...but this is one of the few games I've encountered where earning trophies actually makes you a better game player.

For example: The first time through the game, you might rush through and not do the photo research, which in turn makes the game harder. While you earn the research photo trophies, you unlock damage bonuses and upgrades (such as automatic hacks for turrets). When you start playing the game on Survivor difficulty, since you know researching enemies will make the game easier, you'll be eager to play the paparazzi early on to make your battles less time-consuming.

CONS:

There are very few cons to this game, but I feel they are worth mentioning.

Some of the levels branch into other areas, but they are not marked on the maps. If you're a trophy hound, you will definitely be backtracking a lot, and you'll get lost without a strategy guide. Thankfully, there are plenty to be found out there.

Some of the trophies can be missed (such as Weapon Specialist) and you'll have no idea why or how you missed them until it's too late. Since the game autosaves, unless you had a backup at an earlier point, you have to start all over again. Again, this is preventable by checking a strategy guide.

FINAL VERDICT?

BioShock took me a while to love, but it grew on me and I consider it a worthwhile gaming experience. It's probably the only shooter game I've ever played that made me forget I was playing a shooter game, and that's not easy to do.

To say that Ken Levine did a top-notch job creating BioShock sounds like I'm selling the game short. I would definitely recommend it.

A special shout-out to my compadre AJ, who asked me "Would you kindly buy this before you leave the store? This shooter's got soul, so give it a shot."
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on August 17, 2011
Really every gamer should have at least played this game, its nothing short of amazing. Unique combat due to plasmids (which is rare for an FPS), immersive game play, and an interesting story line. I had played this on a roommate's X-Box a couple years ago, and had to get it for my PS3 to replay it and collect trophies.

I'm not sure how much more difficult survivor mode is from hard (PS3 exclusive mode)since it had been awhile from my last play through and I'm also playing with vita tanks off, but so far it is very challenging, I've been needing to use tons of environmental advantages on the big daddies, and still barely getting them down. It's description says every bullet counts, but so far I find myself constantly capped on ammo, its every med pack that counts.
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VINE VOICEon November 9, 2010
Because this game has been around for a few years, I'm gonna skip over some crucial gameplay elements and just list some nitpicks I think newcomers ought to be aware of. I really like this game, and recommend it to every fan of action gaming and/or immersive narratives like "Half-Life 2" or "Dead Space". But, it has some flaws that I think are worth discussing.

The basic gist of "BioShock" is that after a plane crashes, you quickly find solace in a lighthouse (I think) that leads to the underwater city of Rapture. When you get there, unspeakable horrors --- past and present --- await. Rather than just shooting your way out of trouble, you quickly acquire Plasmids. These Plasmids (and other tonics, etc) give you enhanced abilities. You will acquire defensive abilities (i.e. less damage from bullets), offensive enhancements (i.e. stronger damage when using a wrench), and superpowers (i.e. electricity bolts, telekinesis). Along the way, you are guided via radio to survive the ordeal, while doing some exploration to discover Rapture's secrets.

How you experience Rapture is my first nitpick. Let me be clear about this --- Rapture is one of the most magnificent creations in any form of entertainment. Designing this city to be both beautiful and logical must've been both a true joy and a huge pain in the ass. However, I personally felt a bit overwhelmed from start to finish. Quite frankly, I found the arrow guide at the top of the screen to be a big distraction, so I turned it off. This in turn made the levels very confusing, making the map feature a Godsend. I know it's a strange gripe to say the developers and artists went too far when most games feel like they lack ambition. But after seeing all of these beautiful rooms and creations, I sometimes asked myself, "So what?" Strange reaction, I know.

The mission objectives boil down to going to a room, finding an object, going to another room, and using your Action prompt further the story. Pretty much every shooter does this, but if you're looking for a different tasks like "Survive for a time limit" or "Protect this important character", there is very little variety overall. I suppose that would've made "BioShock" too complicated since the greatest strength is searching the area for all kinds of ammos and power-ups.

One other issue I found is the amount of radio chatter and the number of audio recordings. Like the overall level design, it's a tad overkill. Because Rapture has been through all kinds of devastation, it wouldn't have made sense to have a lot of story developments unfold before your eyes. However, the recordings are often placed in inconvenient locations, with enemies and security bots waiting to attack you. So, you often have to go back and listen to the recordings later. Same deal with the radio instructions: You usually get them at a time when you can't hear them clearly. Maybe most players don't have these problems with the recordings and radio transmissions, but I often felt a sense of displacement with the game. "BioShock" does a great job of putting you in awe, but a little more clarity would've been great. I got the basic idea when I reflected on it all, but the first-time playthrough was disorienting.

Some hardcore gamers may gripe over the Vita-Chambers. When you die, the default setting is that you simply revive at a nearby chamber, and continue the game exactly where you left off, with your enemies as damaged as they were before. The great news is that if hate that you can't die, there's an Option to turn off the Vita-Chambers if you want to survive the old-fashioned way. "BioShock" continues to provide options for gamers for your personal tastes. One customizable option that was a problem no matter what was the subtitles: They're too much in the way when they're on, and I could barely hear what people are saying when they're off. Then again, maybe it's just my personal tastes.

The concept of personalization carries over to the shooting mechanics, which may be too loose for FPS fans, especially since a single hit can really disorient you. In the grand scheme of things, I think the variety of ways to play "BioShock" makes up for it. For example, you can choose to use your guns, rely on your powers, or get up close and whack `em with one of the best melee weapons in video game history: The Wrench. The initial confusion with picking all those upgrades & power-ups soon reveals itself to let you tailor your own playthrough.

If I may compare these comments to another PS3 game, some people didn't like how "Metal Gear Solid 4" went from a stealth-centric game to a more action-packed experience. What those naysayers might've forgotten though is that the traditional MGS gameplay was still there for them to enjoy if they wanted to; they didn't have to go with the flow of the new options if they didn't want to. With "BioShock", if you want to stick the traditional FPS methods, you can. But if you hate shooters, there are still plenty of options with for you to enjoy "BioShock".

Speaking of the PS3, it was reported by some reviews that the graphics were overall better but the framerate issues remained. I only experienced the occasional framerate stutter when I did the software update after downloading some mandatory PS3 updates. If there's a way to avoid the upload or stay offline, I recommend it. For whatever reason, "BioShock" was literally flawless until this update for me, and I think getting connected to the downloadable content might've affected the game a bit. Still, this is a VERY minor quibble, and maybe it was just my console. Check message boards and discussions for more info.

So...why have I decided to tell what's not great about "BioShock" instead of giving it the high praise it deserves? Simple, because I get frustrated when I play games that receive endless 10-out-of-10s, Perfect scores, and Game-of-the-Year awards when there are much better titles --- in my opinion --- available of the same kind. "BioShock" is not the best first-person game I've ever played, but it's still pretty damn good, and easily worth buying with its low price. I will give "BioShock" this much credit: There's really nothing else like it, and that alone makes it worth a peek. If you're more forgiving and less picky than I am, please stop reading and buy this game right away. Rapture Awaits!
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